From the day Italy invaded Egypt in September 1940 to the final surrender of the Axis forces in May 1943, the war in the deserts of North Africa had its own peculiar characteristics. Before the forced entry of the Soviet Union into the war in 1941, this was where much of the land fighting was taking place, with dramatic advances and retreats by both sides. In a largely empty landscape the tactics were very different to Europe, and much attention was paid, rightly or wrongly, to the 'pure' warfare conducted there.
The famous Afrikakorps were modelled by Esci in much the same fashion as their earlier World War II sets. The poses include many that were also seen in the German Soldiers set, and none are particularly specific to desert warfare. They included a man with a mortar once again, but this time he has a base to make him more stable. However the mortar itself is still without support, making it look very strange. We could not understand what the pose of the man holding his leg (third figure, middle row above) was meant to achieve. Our only thought was that he is meant to be a casualty.
The uniform has been properly done, with all the men wearing the usual ankle boots, and only the officer retains his high laced boots. The men mostly wear the steel helmet, as might be expected in combat, but the peaked field cap is also on show. Several of the men wear shorts, which were not supposed to have been worn in the front line, though in fact they may well have been worn anyway. The kit is fairly sparse, but is accurately modelled as far as it goes. Both riflemen and those carrying machine guns have the correct ammunition pouches for their weapon.
The normal mixture of rifles and machine guns is joined by the mortar already mentioned, a heavier machine gun (an MG34 by the looks of it) and a flame-thrower. The mortar should be the 81 mm variety, but if so then the barrel is too short. As far as we can see the flame-thrower is an early Kleif model, which is quite appropriate. There is also a man carrying a land mine, of which a great many were laid during the campaign.
Just about all Esci figures are in the same style, which may be because they all had the same sculptor, or perhaps there was just a rigid set of standards set by the company. Consequently these figures look very similar to the German Soldiers set, with the inclusion of the field cap and shorts being the only way of telling these apart. The poses are OK but a little stiff, but they cannot be faulted in the standard of detail. In short, not a collection to set the World alight, but a perfectly solid effort nonetheless.