By the start of the First World War many saw the need for more close-support weapons for the infantry, especially where the war became one of entrenched positions. The means to provide that support, mainly machine guns and mortars, grew enormously as the war progressed and were undoubtedly an important element of most of the fighting. In the past companies have produced sets of infantry figures with at best a small number of machine guns, but with this set from HaT we finally see a product devoted solely to these weapons, and the focus of this first such set is the Imperial Russian army.
This set is bigger than most earlier sets from HaT, both in terms of the number of figures and the variety of poses. All the figures are intended to attend the three weapons included in the set, and in terms of pose choice they are a reasonable selection. However the sculpting leaves something to be desired. For example, one man is holding his head as if in anguish. This is probably supposed to be someone covering his ears, yet neither hand reaches his ears, but instead meet at the top of his head. One of the kneeling figures appears to hold a bomb for one of the mortars, yet clearly what he holds if much smaller than the bombs for either of the provided mortars. The sculptor also had problems with the spotter holding his binoculars in both hands - his left arm is mostly from elbow to hand, with very little above the elbow. However many of the figures are really useful, such as the man carrying ammunition and the field telephone operator, and will augment the infantry set already available.
There are three different weapons in the set. As shown above, the first is the Maxim gun. More properly the 7.62mm M1910 Pulemyot Maxima, this was the standard Russian infantry machine gun of the war, and as here it was often mounted on a Sokolov wheeled carriage. This is naturally a rather simplified model, but it lacks the water-cooling equipment that was a vital part of the weapon. In addition, the operator (final figure on second row) is holding the trigger from the side, whereas the gun was normally fired either while seated or lying prone so as to be looking directly at the target. Another crewman is feeding the ammunition belt, although this fails to reach the gun.
The next weapon is a French 58mm mortar. Again somewhat simplified in areas such as the fins on the bomb, there were several different designs of base for this weapon, including the one represented here.
Finally there is the 47mm Likhonin mortar - a simple but robust weapon. Once again we have a simplified model, but this time it comes in two parts. The bomb should have had a peg beneath it to fit into a hole on the base. However due to an error during the later stages of production this was omitted, although a similar effect could possibly be obtained by utilising part of the sprue.
The men should be wearing the classic gymnastiorka shirt, but here it has no front vent (to allow it to be put on), and on most figures it has a falling collar rather than the correct standing collar. The general standard of detail is fair, but not as sharp as some older HaT sets, although these figures can boast of having no flash. In summary then, a set that is let down by some poor sculpting but still has something to offer.