Hat have crammed a lot into this set so we'll get straight down to looking at it in detail.
The first two figures on row 1 man the heavy machine gun, which in this case is an MG 08. This was the standard German machine gun of the war, and after starting with around 12,000 examples production rapidly increased until in 1917 14,400 were being made each month. This was a water-cooled weapon, but the cooling system is missing from this model, which is simplified but accurate. The man and barrel come moulded as one piece and the supports are two separate pieces which need to be glued in place. We found the barrel was missing one of the pegs used to anchor the legs (annoying but not important). The two crew have the drag harness, as they should, but the buckles have been made triangular when they should be round.
The second pairing on row 1 is the flamethrower team. One man holds the projector pipe while another carries the fuel tank. This was a common enough arrangement, although we found we had to bend the two hose ends to make a realistic match without a kink.
Row 2 begins with the 08/15 light machine gun and crew. This was a lightened MG 08 to allow mobility and was first introduced in late 1916, although it was still quite a heavy weapon. The model is accurate in general form but it has a solid triangle where the bipod should be, though this is easily rectified with a knife.
Next we have a man holding a Lewis light machine gun and another carrying the round ammunition drums. The Lewis gun was an excellent weapon and the Germans gladly used those that they captured. It was normally fired from prone, so this figure is likely to be carrying his, but it was just possible to fire it from the waist (supported by a sling - it might be described as light but it was still pretty heavy) so he could also be firing. The final figure on row 2 is a general officer waving a pistol.
The first item on row 3 is a rifle grenade launcher. This is basically a rifle attached to a wooden framework and with a grenade inserted into the barrel - firing a cartridge would propel the grenade to its target. Such a contraption would be firmly fixed and not stand alone.
After the operator is what is described as a sniper. Sniping was an important part of the war, and in the static trench systems on various fronts snipers tried to control no-mans-land by crawling out into it and shooting at any unwary enemy head that appeared. Therefore snipers were mostly prone and expertly camouflaged. This figure can only be standing in a trench, and really the only thing that suggests his marksmanship is the telescopic sight on his G98 rifle.
Dogs were used by all sides during the war, and this one is described as a messenger dog. However it could just as easily be carrying weapons or other supplies. This unfortunate animal has its back legs welded solidly together - a two-part model would have been a better option here.
On row 4 we find a 7.6cm Minenwerfer or light mortar plus two crew. This weapon was fed like a mortar and fired by pulling a lanyard, and first made its appearance in 1916. The second heavy weapon is a model 1916 Granatenwerfer or grenade launcher, and in that year there were 12 of them per infantry regiment. Somewhere in the production process this model lost much of the grenade part, leaving just the fins, so these should be trimmed off to leave the weapon ready to be loaded.
Figure number one on the final row is an NCO carrying the 9mm MP18 sub-machine gun. This was a machine gun that was genuinely light enough to use in offensive mobile actions, and as such could have had a major impact. Luckily for the enemy it only appeared in small numbers in the final months of the war.
Figure two is using a field telephone, which many will find useful, particularly for wargames, and figure three is firing a 13mm anti-tank rifle. The Germans were very slow to develop tanks, but quick to produce effective counter measures such as this. The final figure is a spotter - a prone man using binoculars. He would be useful for virtually any infantry or artillery scenario.
All the figures wear the steel helmet and puttees, marking them as appropriate from 1916 onwards. Their uniform is properly done but some of the helmets are rather misshapen. In fact generally the sculpting is quite poor, with some very odd shapes and really quite vague detail. Although by definition most of the poses are quite static, we thought they were much too straight-backed and stiff, and so not lifelike for the most part.
All the weapons in this set are accurate in general form but lack small details and are therefore somewhat simplified. Some require gluing but fortunately the rather soft plastic is of a type that takes polystyrene cement well, and the parts fit together easily enough.
The First World War was like nothing that had gone before in terms of the range of weapons available to the infantry, and the Germans were often in the lead with such developments. To portray a battle of this war with just rifle-armed infantry on both sides is to seriously misrepresent warfare at the time, and sets such as this are vital complements to the infantry sets already available. HaT have provided a wide range of infantry weapons that any Great War enthusiast will find useful.