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Set 01757

Italian Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1980
Contents 48 figures
Poses 7 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey, Green, Tan
Average Height 22 mm (= 1.58 m)


At the time this set was released there had been few Italian figure sets made, unless you include Romans, so when this set appeared Airfix were filling a large hole in the range, although perhaps it would be more correct to say they were starting to fill a hole, since this is hardly a large set. Other manufacturers have since contributed many more such figures, for several theatres, so this modest collection from Airfix is no longer the sole standard-bearer for the Italian Armed forces in World War II, but it is one that continues to be popular with modellers because what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality.

The most obvious feature of this set is that there are only seven poses. Since Airfix have in the past produced up to 20 poses for some other sets, this is a major disappointment. The troops are firing, advancing, walking etc., so the basics are covered, but for example only having one advancing figure is not likely to please collectors, wargamers or any other kind of customer. This is in fact merely a scaled down version of their 1/32 set, which is a strategy Airfix were following a good deal by this date, so there is no room for any heavy weapons or other specialist troops, making this set little more than representative of the forces it portrays.

The uniform of the Italian army in Europe varied little between 1940 and 1943 or beyond, and these figures accurately represent it here. The rear of the helmet comes lower on the back of the neck than it should, but the quibble is very minor. With their trademark two ammunition pouches and the shirt and tie (the latter being worn on parade, and prohibited in the field from 1940), these men are instantly recognisable as Italian and very smart they look too. All the troops are using the standard M1891 Mannlicher Carcano rifle except two, which are armed with the 9mm Beretta M1938a sub-machine gun. These two are equipped with appropriate ammunition pouches for this highly regarded weapon, as you would expect. The officer is dressed similarly to his men, which was quite common, though his uniform would have been of better cloth. The only difference is that he wears the popular bustina cap, which is well sculpted here, and is armed with a pistol, most likely the 9mm Beretta M1934 semi-automatic. Strangely however he has his pistol holster on the less accessible right side of his belt, which is the reverse of the correct position.

Having moaned about the lack of poses, the figures you do get are excellent. Sculpting is perfect and the detail is crisp and clear with no flash. The poses are natural, and even the private carrying his rifle on his shoulder is well done despite the inherent difficulties in moulding such a piece. Having the officer wearing something other than a helmet is a common but not authentic habit many sets suffer from, though it does make this figure stand out. On the samples we have seen there is no flash either, although they have regularly been reissued by various manufacturers over the years, so the quality may vary. Nonetheless when first made these were of the highest production standards and as a result they look great.

This was one of the last sets Airfix created, and presumably by this stage they were looking to make sets as cheaply as possible. Given the choice of making many poor figures or fewer good ones, we would always applaud the emphasis on quality rather than quantity, as has happened here. These are very fine figures indeed, if rather too smart for battle, but if there had only been twice as many poses then this would have been a very hard set to beat. Since the tie was not worn in battle, that is a small but annoying problem with these figures, and the Beretta submachine gun were only made available to the Royal Army in any quantity from 1943, leaving those two poses with much more limited potential. Apart from those reservations, the figures are useful for any of the fronts, although naturally the usual look was much less smart in extreme environments like North Africa and Russia. As we have said, other World War II Italian sets have since appeared to boost the number of poses substantially, including some for the European theatre of operations for which these figures seem best suited, but figure for figure those in this set remain amongst the best yet made.


Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 4
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"The Armed Forces of World War II" - Orbis - Andrew Mollo - 9780856132964
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" - Amber - Chris Bishop - 9781905704460
"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rifles and Machine Guns" - Lorenz - Will Fowler and Patrick Sweeney - 9780754817581
"The Italian Army 1940-45 (1) Europe 1940-43" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.340) - Philip Jowett - 9781855328648
"The Italian Army at War - Europe 1940-43" - Concord - Philip Jowett - 9789623611503
"Militaria (English Language)" - No.4
"Militaria (English Language)" - No.15
"Militaria (English Language)" - No.12
"Militaria (French Language)" - No.77
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