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Esci

Set 8020

German Anti-Tank Gun

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released Unknown
Contents 8 figures and 3 guns
Poses 6 poses
Material Plastic (Very Hard)
Colours Dark Grey
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)

Review

Esci made a wide variety of armoured vehicles in hard plastic, plus a few sets of figures which are reviewed elsewhere on this site. We do not cover vehicles here, and normally that goes for artillery too but since there are a significant number of figures in this set, we've taken a look anyway.

To take the guns in the order we have shown them above, we begin with the 3.7 cm PaK. This light anti-tank gun entered service in 1936 and proved to be an excellent weapon. It was produced in large quantities and widely copied, but by 1940 the thicker armour of many tanks was making the gun ineffective (it got the nickname of 'Panzeranklopfer' - 'armour door-knocker' as a result). Nevertheless it continued to see service throughout the war, helped by innovations in the ammunition, and is therefore a useful model. This one is made up of 15 pieces, and fits together pretty well to produce what to our inexpert eyes is an accurate and well-detailed model.

Next we have the 7.5 cm PaK 40, a natural response to the ever thicker armour of Soviet tanks in particular. This too proved to be an excellent weapon, though it was also heavy and therefore needed towing into position. It first entered service in November 1941, and was used throughout the war. Once again we have a nicely detailed model with about 20 pieces. Odemars already do a model of this gun which we thought pretty accurate, but this one is the better example, mainly because the hard plastic allows for sharper detail and a more solid construction. However it is modelled in partial or complete recoil, which is a curious drawback.

The third piece of ordnance is the 2 cm Flakvierling 38 Anti-Aircraft gun. Originally developed for the navy, it entered service with the army and air force in 1940. Its four 2 cm guns required a crew of seven plus a commander, but it was well respected by Allied airmen. This model is shown on its trailer, and does not come with the triangular base which would be deployed before bringing it into action. Also, a review of many photographs of the original suggest this may have some accuracy weaknesses, although as always we do not pretend to be experts.

Finally we come to the figures. While some are meant for specific guns they are good general artillery figures. The inclusion of the machine gunner is perhaps unnecessary as this pose is a common sight in many packs of German infantry, but all the rest are useful. Sadly these rather old figures have disfiguring mould marks on their backs, and none come with bases so a trip to the spares box may be in order. However they are largely accurate and should prove useful.

This set has added significance today because, unlike the other Esci hard plastic figure sets, this one has recently been re-released by Italeri as set 7026. With their trademark lack of care Italeri have mislabelled the early gun as a 37 mm PaK 37, a designation that never existed, but apart from clarified instructions the kit is the same. HaT and Italeri too have made a PaK 40, so that is four models of the same gun! Nevertheless all the guns in this set were excellent pieces of design and extensively used by the Germans, and the models and figures from Esci do them some justice.


Further Reading
Books
"German Artillery at War 1939-45 Vol.1" - Concord (Armor at War Series No.7059) - Frank De Sisto - 9789623611435
"German Infantryman (1) 1933-40" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.59) - David Westwood - 9781841764627
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" - Amber - Chris Bishop - 9781905704460
"The German Army 1939-45 (1) Blitzkrieg" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.311) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855326392

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