Pegasus Hobbies - German Mortar Teams (7204) _________(EXT)
|No. of Figures||23|
|No. of Poses||13 (23 due to different gear)|
|Additional Items||3 Granatwerfer 34 with 3 spare ammunition boxes; 2 Granatwerfer 42 with 3 spare ammunition boxes|
|Optimal Period||1939 -1945|
Pegasus Hobbies has already accustomed not only the 1/72 war-gamers and collectors but also static model builders with special figures kits, distinguished through magnificent quality of sculpture and uncommon subjects in the field. This time, within “German Mortar Teams” the manufacturer succeeds to treat a rather rare and attractive topic, namely two of the main WWII German mortars and their crews. Of course, it is about Granatwerfer 34 and Granatwerfer 42, key representatives of a lethal weapon that according to statistics, inflicted the largest number of victims during WWII. Another interesting aspect of the kit is featuring two variations on the same pose, more precisely ten figures are the same, but the gear that they carry makes the difference between them. In this regard, first of them have just the belt while the others have got the standard gear worn by German soldiers. Taking into consideration such aspect, it might be assessed that all figures of the set are dissimilar, so a more attractive tender and a plus point for the manufacturer.
Likewise, the present kit has marked a premiere at Pegasus Hobbies, respectively the use of another material than it was used to manufacture previous figure sets, replacing the soft plastic with the hard one. The innovative Pegasus Hobbies hard plastic registers a major propensity, combining both the quality of hard plastic of easy gluing with any standard modelling glue (polly-cement), but also borrowing the bending property from the soft one. Unlike the classical hard plastic, when breaking some parts, especially the sensitive ones such as barrels of weapons or thin body parts is quite frequent, here the hobbyist can have no fear in this regard, the material permitting a large range of bending and also capable to return to the initial shape. The attributes of the material corroborated with the fact that most of the troopers are here delivered with separated hands and heads allow a wide area for customization with the straight result of acquiring some out of ordinary and eye-catching new poses.
Since the beginning it has to be highlighted that Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Mortar Teams” benefits by two editions, the one and only difference between them resting in the insertion of Kar98K ammunition pouches to the mortar crews wearing “Y” straps and gear. Within the first edition of the kit, no figure possessed ammunition pouches, an approach that was criticized by some modellers. As the company has performed with few other sets of figures, in searching for perfection, the manufacturer took into consideration hobbyists’ remarks and strived to fulfill all their expectations through issuing a second edition. Due to the specialized role of the mortar crews and bearing in mind the different personal weapons carried by them, Pegasus Hobbies adopted the right decision in not endowing with ammunition pouches as well the crewmembers without “Y” straps and gear. In this way it has been granted to modellers the liberty of arming and eventually gearing the crews as they desire. In this purpose, proper solutions are provided by various Preiser, Dragon or Caesar kits featuring sprues with separate gear and weapons. Moreover, while both these parts and the figures from Pegasus’ “German Mortar Teams” are made of hard plastic, the endowment process is fast, simple, and durable, a true pleasure for any hobbyist.
Taking profit by its indirect fire, the mortar confirmed its versatility not only against infantry, common vehicles or buildings, but also with lucky shots, against light armoured vehicles. The most frequent types of mortars used by Germans during WWII were Granatwerfer 36 (50 mm - light mortar)Granatwerfer 34 (81.4 mm - medium mortar), and Granatwerfer 42 (120 mm - heavy mortar), two of them being put forward by Pegasus Hobbies with “German Mortar Teams”. Intensive instruction sessions and long routine gained on the battle field permitted the German mortar crews to utilize their main weapon to its maximum potential. Installing it in firing position and engaging the enemy in a matter of seconds, those troopers were greatly appreciated both by friends and foes.
Granatwerfer 34 (GrW 34) was the first mortar developed during the Third Reich and lately became the standard medium mortar. Produced for the first time in 1932 by Rheinmetall, the weapon entered in service in 1934 after its adoption by the High Command and remained in use until the end of war. With a minimum range of 60 and a maximum of 2400 meters, its firing rate was established by the skills of the crew and varied between fifteen to twenty-five rounds per minute. For increasing the range, to the mortar shells could be attached a powder filled fabric tube set around the tail fin of the shell. Although being known as 8 cm mortar, the true calibre of Granatwerfer 34 was 81.4 mm and could launch various bombs, not only conventional HE, but also smoke, target illumination and target marking shells. Mounted in various vehicles, including armoured ones as well as having a shorter version specially designed for paratroopers (8 cm Kurzer Granatwerfer 42, nicknamed Stummelwerfer), the 81.4 mm Granatwerfer 34 was the most frequent mortar, encountered on all fronts. Due to the advantages provided by mortars, since the beginning of war the German strategists decided to endow infantry platoons with a Granatwerfer 34 operated by three soldiers. After a short period, KStN enclosed in the scheme of a large number of WWII German companies a special mortar group/squad usually endowed with two Granatwerfer 34. Each weapon was attended by a varying number of soldiers according to what kind of company was about. Generally, the mortar implied a crew of seven or eight, but no matter the specific of the company, the weapon kept being operated by three army-men, the rest representing riflemen, commander and driver or horse(s) leader(s).
Concerning the other mortar found in the Pegasus Hobbies’ box, Granatwerfer 42, at the beginning of Russian campaign the German Army started to confront with the Russian heavy mortar 12 cm PM38. The high velocity of the weapon made a strong impression on Germans, so the captured mortars were renamed 12cm Granatwerfer 378(r) and rushed against their former owners. Furthermore, the High Command decided to start producing the German version that in fact was almost a straight copy of the Russian PM 38, under the name 12 cm schwere Granatwerfer 42 (12 cm GrW 42) and should not be confound with the shorter version of the 8 cm Kurzer also named Granatwerfer 42.Entered in service in April 1942 the 12 cm schwere Granatwerfer 42 could fire four types of smoke and explosive Wurfgranate 42, having the advantage of matching also with Russian ammunition. With a maximum range of 6050 meters, the rate of fire was set between six to ten rounds per minute according to the abilities of the crew. Due to its 280 kilos, a two wheels trailer weighting 120 kilos was designed to transport the weapon and in this way it could be towed to the fighting emplacement by the crew. For infantry battalions, the designated tractor for 12 cm Granatwerfer 42 was Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO), but images of the period shows the mortar towed not only by various lorries, but also by armoured halftracks or even horses. Moreover, within Panzer Grenadier Battalions, the 12 cm GrW 42 had to be towed, at least on paper, by Sd.kfz 251/1. That mortar was issued to all German infantry battalions, the heavy companies featuring a special 12 cm mortar platoon. According to the organisation scheme of a June 1944 Grenadier Battalion, the heavy company featured the 12 cm mortar platoon composed by HQ and four squads. At its turn, each squad rested in one mortar operated by squad leader armed with MP40, gunner, four riflemen and driver, all having Kar98K as personal weapon. Nevertheless, aware by the importance of MGs in providing firing support, in the 1st and 3rd squad a rifleman was armed with pistol and light machine gun instead of Kar98K. However, it could be noticed a big difference between the personal weapons of a Granatwerfer 34 and Granatwerfer 42 crew, one explanation relies on the fact that Granatwerfer 42 always benefitted by motorised transport, so rifles would not have represented an extra burden for the crew. On the other hand, as it was very common for the WWII German Army, not all the time the necessary number of 12 cm GrW 42 of a platoon could be supplied, the uncovered places being taken by the more widely spread Granatwerfer 34. Moreover, also due to equipment shortage and taking profit by the long range and high velocity of Granatwerfer 42, it was often encountered the situation when the mortar replaced the artillery pieces of the battalion, as well as vice-versa, le. IG18 utilised in the role of mortar.
Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Mortar Teams” come in the regular box used by the company for their figure kits, and presents as artwork a stylized image of some items and poses available inside, respectively a Granatwerfer 42 and four crewmen while a little behind there can be noticed the two phone operators and the officer. Likewise, a burning Sd.Kfz 251 in the background might suggest both that the tractor of 12 cm GrW 42 was hit by the enemy fire and that the troopers belong to a Panzer Grenadier unit. On the back of the box there is not duplicated the front artwork in black and white as the common practice of the company. This time the hobbyist receives a painting guide for the figures, but the model used for exemplification is in a pose not available within the kit as well as some assembly guidelines for the mortars. Two drawings offers information on how to put together the Granatwerfer 34, named on the box “Small Mortar” and Granatwerfer 42, designated as “Big Mortar”, both of them being accompanied by one crewman. Several lines featured by more Pegasus Hobbies boxes incorporated in the impressive Military Museum Collection make reference to the intention of this company to impose on the market a new standard of high quality and intensively researched figures. Considering the present product, as well as the rest of Military Museum Collection sets, it should be apprised the Pegasus Hobbies’ statement as completely covered and justified.
The two sprues of the kit deliver twenty-three figures, three Granatwerfer 34 (medium mortar, 81mm), two Granatwerfer 42 (heavy mortar, 120 mm), six ammo boxes for mortars (three for each type), a field radio perhaps an early version of Torn Fu, as well as ten separate bayonets and ten shovels with bayonets attached. Most of the figures are with detached arms, but there is no option on the matter, the manufacturer offering the exact number of parts necessary for putting together the twenty-three figures. With the exception of the gunners of each mortar illustrated together with the instructions for weapons, no other information on how the figures must be joined together is available. Theoretically and almost obvious, it is the manufacturer’s intention that the separate arms and heads to be attached to the trunk which is next to them on the sprue. For easing assembly, a pin is delivered on the arms or heads while the correspondent hole is emplaced on the bodies. Furthermore, each pin and hole system is shaped in a manner allowing setting the arms only in the positions designed by the manufacturer, so for conversions is recommended removing either the whole or at least a part of the pin. Likewise, the individually provided bayonets and entrenching tools have to be attached on almost all the soldiers and for better fixing, the same pin and hole system was chosen. Because of the sizes of holes, it is obvious that shovels should be glued on figures with equipment while the bayonets are allocated to those with only the belts. In addition, the sprues comprise separate bases for all the poses, but in case of having an image on how the figures fit in a place, these items are not necessary not only for the crouching or crawling soldiers, but also for the standing ones due to their very good balance. Nevertheless, this requires the removal of the peg located in each figure’s boot because the solution designed by the manufacturer for attaching bases to the minis rest in the classical hole and peg arrangement.
With reference to the mortars featured in the Pegasus Hobbies kit, both are in combat position and incorporate fine details imposing them as some of the best available in Braille Scale mass production kits. The Granatwerfer 34 is provided in three parts, namely base plate, tube and bipod incorporating also the traverse system and panoramic sight. All components are greatly sculptured and present some really small details individualising the weapon in case. A little bit over-scaled in thickness of the two legs, a quite normal aspect considering the size of the real item, the bipod abounds in details that turn it into an excellent piece. The paramount sight, the traversing hand-wheel as well as the guide tube and cross-levelling hand-wheel are nicely and authentically shown while the base plate features not only the handle used to carry it and the socket for the safety ball of the tube, but also complete details of the side facing the ground. Even hard to spot, those minor aspects attest once more the hard endeavours of Pegasus Hobbies in pursuing extreme accuracy, no matter the scale. At its turn, the tube outstandingly replicates the original, missing only few insignificant characteristics such as the rings utilised for fixing the strap during shoulder transportation. However, the tube is not drilled and this operation has to be done by the more exigent hobbyists while simply painting the opening in black could represent a satisfactory solution in wargaming. At the other end, the tube shows the ball shaped breech that has to be inserted in the socket of the base plate. Likewise, for easing assembly, a pin is offered on the bipod and has to be inserted in the hole available on the tube. Putting together the present Granatwerfer 34 is a fast and easy manoeuvre and it would be wise adjusting the elevation after assembling the figures in order to achieve an admirable interaction between weapon and its crew.
For obtaining an authentic picture of a mortar in action, ammunition is of key importance, and in this purpose Pegasus Hobbies provided separately three closed wooden ammunition boxes for GrW 34. Each features an authentically shaped handle that genuinely was made of rope, so thanks to the sculptors art, we can clearly see the wires of the rope. Besides, the modeller has the opportunity to organise the wooden boxes in various models of stacks, a common practice of the German mortar crewmen.
The popularity and wide-spread presence of Granatwerfer 34 on the front line is also transposed in the 1/72 scale, not only several kits being specially dedicated to it, but also few sets on WWII German infantry comprising a Granatwerfer 34 as well. Except the present kit, targeting only mortars and their crews are Armourfast’s “German Mortar Team” as well as Preiser’s “8 cm Granatwerfer 34 in combat” and “Infantry riflemen with mortar, lined up” while other Granatwerfer 34 are available in ESCI’s “German Soldiers” and “Afrika Corps Soldiers” as well as Italeri’s “German Elite Troops”, “DAK Infantry” and “German Paratroopers – Tropical Uniform”. Nevertheless, examining the existing offer on criteria such as scale, sculpture and number of details, it is obvious that Preiser’s “8 cm Granatwerfer 34 in combat” and Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Mortar Teams” make available the best Granatwerfers 34 in the 1/72 scale. Moreover, these last mentioned kits also complete each other extremely well in terms of ammunition, Preiser’s set supplying spare projectiles and metal ammunition containers for Granatwerfer 34 while Pegasus Hobbies offers the other version of transporting the same ammunition, namely the wooden boxes. In spite of a name similitude, Armourfast’ “German Mortar Team” records quite numerous differences, not only form the point of view of size and attire of the figures, dressed in the late war period style with camouflage smocks, ankle boots and gaiters, but also the 81 mm mortar is less detailed. Additionally, two Granatwerfer 34 mentioned above are issued under Esci/Italeri label, but those are ridiculous realized, without bipod, the tube being sustained just by the air. Exceptions make the mortars proposed by Italeri within their new sculptured sets such as “German Elite Troops”, “DAK Infantry” and “German Paratroopers – Tropical Uniform”, where the weapons are higher detailed and also include bipods.
As regards Pegasus Hobbies’ Granatwerfer 42, it has to be pointed out that this weapon is a real rare presence in the 1/72 scale, Attack producing one in resin. Still, Pegasus Hobbies’ mass production version is really on par with the much more expensive and without crew Attack proposal. This fact comes to reiterate the great efforts carried out by this manufacturer for providing high quality products capable to capture the interest not only of collectors or wargamers, but also comply with the expectations of static model builders.
Delivered in four parts, respectively base plate, shock absorber unit,tube, and bipod, the weapon is effortlessly assembled, only few minutes having to be allocated in this regard. Although catalogued as a fast assembly mortar, the weapon is carefully detailed and features a great number of particular elements. Base plate is finely detailed not only on the side facing the ground but also on the upper one where we can recognize the socket for the safety ball of the tube as well as the four lifting handles and the two hooks for attaching to the two wheels trailer. All those hooks and handles are filled with plastic but this is quite common taking into account the scale and the difficulty of casting such parts. For getting a more accurate look, the tube requires drilling or at least wargamers should paint the muzzle with a black colour. Like for Granatwerfer 34 and according to reality, the other end of the tube presents the ball shaped breech that must be fixed in the socket of the base plate. The shock absorber unit includes the two-spring device and should be fixed on the tube through a pin and hole system, after that bipod being attached in a special location to the shock absorber unit. At its turn, the bipod seems to be a hair over-scaled in thickness, but the sculptor did well on it some of the most representative characteristics such as the traversing hand-wheel, the guide tube and cross-levelling hand-wheel. Moreover, the bipod legs incorporate the rings where usually was fixed a tensioning chain in the low area of the legs. Anyway, the most exigent modellers could add such a chain, the rings offering a helpful hand in this regard. As illustrated on the back of the box, the bipod was endowed with a piece right above the screw that has to enter in the location created on the shock absorber unit especially with this purpose. The assembling of Pegasus Hobbies’ Granatwerfer 42 is not complicated at all and it could be finalised in a couple of minutes with the remark that it would be again appropriate to set the elevation after assembling the crewman for getting proper handling of the mortar. As previously highlighted, Pegasus Hobbies’ Granatwerfer 42 does not possess its trailer, but the item is not necessary at all based on the fact that the weapon is depicted in firing position.
Spare ammunition is supplied for this mortar as well, three opened wooden boxes being brought in. Delivering them without lid, the manufacturer got the possibility to reveal the content, where two Wurfgranate 42 in the rack and other small details grab the attention of the viewer. In addition, the rope handles are clearly seen and greatly sculptured, too.
Concerning the crewmen, at the first glance ten poses are the same, but the carried items of equipment settlea pretty clear distinction between them. In this regard, ten figures have just the belt where normally the bayonet should be attached while the other ten have the “Y” straps, bread bag, mess tin, canteen, gas mask container and to these figures have to be added the shovel with bayonet attached. The only not duplicated bodies are those of the officer and two radio operators. After putting together the crewmen in standard approach, based on specific articles or special adopted stances, it is possible establishing which mortar they should manage. In this light, four figures are noticeably designed for Granatwerfer 34, four for Granatwerfer 42 and other two, pressing their ears with the palms, might take position at each mortar. Still, in order to set an equal number of five crewmen at both mortars, perhaps it would be suitable that one of those soldiers to handle Granatwerfer 34 and the other the 42 model. Anyway, bearing in mind the number of crewmen operating each kind of those mortars was seven or eight, the five figures provided by the kit cannot cover all the necessities. Likewise, five crewmen appears as a proper number for obtaining an excellent image of a mortar in the mist of battle, especially considering that reference images barely have caught a complete mortar squad. On the other hand, with slight modifications, more exactly dissimilarities at arms that should be glued, four of the crouched poses from here have been included in another Pegasus Hobbies kit, “German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew”. Moreover, just a single pose is identical in both sets, respectively the soldier preparing to open the ammunition box.The incorporation in two boxes of those figs emphasises the versatility and utility of Pegasus Hobbies mortar poses, these being extremely suitable for operating either mortars or various artillery pieces.
The uniform available for all figures is the one from the first part of the war, composed by M36 tunic, regular trousers, marching boots and at most of the poses the shirts are easily perceived under the tunics due to the fact that the tunics are not buttoned up till the last button. Almost all have steel helmet, the exception being made by the radio operators that wear M34 overseas caps. Because of uniform thickness, the figures can be used both in warm and colder seasons, naturally better places for them representing the warm ones. Although more suitable for the first part of the war, it is possible to employ them even in the latest stages, given that the early type of uniform continued to be delivered to troops till the end of the war. In addition, the minis can embody both Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units, collar boards and breast/left shoulder eagles painted by the modellers determining to which unit belong the soldiers.
Except the officer’s pistol, personal firing weapons are completely missing, the figures having only bayonets in scabbards or attached to the shovels. No more than the necessary number of bayonets and entrenching tools are given, so it must be paid attention not to lose any. Referring to the bayonets in the scabbards, these are very nice sculptured, especially the handles and the frogs as well as the shovels. Moreover, in the second edition of the kit, that in fact is the one available on the market, the mortar crews with “Y” straps and gear received Kar98K ammunition pouches while in the first edition, no figure featured ammunition pouches.
Since the first figure set launched by Pegasus Hobbies on the hobby market, the company was acknowledged as one inspiring their great majority of poses on reference photos. Obviously, the situation applies to “German Mortar Teams” and the interaction of the soldiers with the mortar is simply special. In terms of the series dedicated by this producer to WWII Germans, flat or stiff figures are unknown concepts and for achieving life-like minis, a key input is delivered by the adopted multi-part manner. The poses are extremely realistic and excellent realized, nine figures standing, twelve crouched and two are crawling. Expressing awesome dynamicity and to a great extent, totally diverging from mortar crews put forward by most other sets it also should be emphasized that after assembling the troopers in standard approach, those perfectly fit to mortars, looking as if they really do what they have to do. Besides, it is recommendable the mortars to be put together first, and then the poses to be studied and placed near the weapon immediately after there were glued the arms and heads. The procedure is essential for the crew to completely match their Granatwerfers, bearing in mind the arms of the figs can be readjusted until glue gets dried. Army-men bringing closer ammo, adjusting elevation, covering their ears with the palms for diminishing the noise, getting ready to drop on the tube the projectile, all are present here.
Apart from the early stage when Granatwerfer 34 crew was frequently fixed only at three men, for the most part of WWII, the weapon received a crew of seven or eight, depending on year and type of company. As easily can be noticed from studying various KStNs, still three soldiers handled the mortar, the others having various tasks within the team, including giving a helpful hand at carrying ammunition boxes. For instance, regulations provided for a 1942 light infantry company, a mortar group with two Granatwerfer 34, each weapon having attached a gunner, two gun assistants, commander, two riflemen, and driver. Except the two mortars crews, the group also possessed a group commander, a range-finder, an assistant armourer-artificer and a driver for the ammunition truck. Likewise, a 1944 Panzer Grenadier company (armoured) mortar group rested in two squads, each formed by seven army-men, namely commander, gunner and two assistants, two riflemen, and driver plus a group commander.
Grouping the crewmen around the weapons is truly a provocation and pleasure offered by the kit, various scenarios being more than feasible and valid in this regard. However, dividing the ten poses of clear mortar crewmen in equal parts for each mortar type and following the standard approach in assembling the crewmen, we might identify for Granatwerfer 34 the gunner, the two gun assistants and perhaps two riflemen supporting their team-colleagues. While most of images of the period attest Granatwerfer 34 crew crouched while handling the mortar, the same thing we get here and furthermore, in almost identical poses as shown by various references. The mini holding a projectile in the right hand up in the air is in fact ready to insert in the tube a new round and he might depict the gunner or an assistant. He was also the one transformed within the le IG18 Gun kit into commander, the arm with the shell being replaced with one pointing to a potential target. A mortar in action consumed plenty of rounds per minute and the figure about to open an ammunition wooden box emerges as proper and useful pose, portraying a gun assistant carrying out a related activity. Moreover, the pose is transposed without any modification in the le IG18 Gun set. The third crouched figure allocated to Granatwerfer 34 set out as one capable to fulfil more roles according to modeller whish or need. With the left elbow propped on the knee, he can either adjust the aiming devices or to be caught right in the moment immediately after handing over the projectile to the colleague who is going to let it drop on the tube. Theoretically, the right hand has to fit on an ammo box and for this reason there is one supplied on the base assigned for him. Still, in case of not wishing to base the troopers, a suitable solution for getting the same appearance is gluing on the figure one of the wooden ammunition boxes that are separately supplied. At its turn, this body also has been utilised by Pegasus Hobbies as a le.IG18 crewman, but the right arm has been changed with one matched for holding the gun. Finally, we have reached the last crouched pose that might be distributed for Granatwerfer 34, namely one of the two crewmen protecting their ears with the palms. In spite developing the same action, plenty of distinctions between them are immediately noticed. The figures hold their arms and legs in different positions, the facial expressions are totally unlike as well as the way of twisting the bodies. Both are kind of jolly-jokers within the mortar team, each could act as commander, gunner, gun assistant or even rifleman. The last member of Granatwerfer 34 crew is a standing mini bringing closer ammunition. Holding in each hand a wooden ammunition box, he tries keeping as low as he can. Considering that the 81mm mortar activated quite close to the enemy, the adopted stance appears as a very fine approach of the manufacturer.
Nevertheless, the above described allocation of figures for embodying a Granatwerfer 34 team is only hypothetically and aims splitting the teams in two equal parts of five. On the other hand, taking profit by several fact findings such as KStN provisions for a Granatwerfer 34 team implying only three members, the three such mortars offered within Pegasus Hobbies, and the presence of some poses suitable both for the 81 mm or 120 mm mortars, further organization schemes are more than plausible for Granatwerfer 34 crewmen. In this light, for setting up two teams without repeating the poses, modellers can use the soldiers covering their ears and the trooper about to open the ammo box as one team while the other is formed by the crewman with projectile in hand, the one holding his right hand on the wooden ammunition box and the standing figure with ammunition boxes in hands. However, such structures are simply suggestion of the reviewer and nothing refrain modellers of setting up the teams as they desire, which in fact is one main advantage of this kit, letting free the imagination of each of us.
With reference to the Granatwerfer 42 team, in a five member approach, this might be formed by the troopers evidently designed by the sculptor in this regard as well as by one of the crouched soldiers protecting his hear with the palms. While for Granatwerfer 34 most crewmen were crouched, for the mighty 120 mm Granatwerfer 42 most of the team members are standing. This is a correct depiction on account the long range of the weapon, as well as of the fact that most images of the period reveal many crewmen of this heavy mortar as standing. Moreover, the weapon could be fed only from a standing position and while operating far from the enemy lines, its crewmen had no particular reasons to fear or to try exposing a low profile. For portraying the Granatwerfer 42 team, Pegasus Hobbies selected some poses drawing the impression that the weapon is during preparation of opening fire. At first view, the figure bending a little in front, with the left hand on the waist and right waiving in the air, might look a bizarre. Still, after putting him next to the mortar, his role becomes obvious, he is the one designed to spin the elevation handle. As it is also revealed by assembly instructions, the right palm has been done for perfectly accommodate the handle and it would be a pity for not taking profit by this advantage. It is better assembling the mini first and while putting together the mortar, to check the compliance of the weapon elevation angle with the right palm of this figure in order that the handle to fit in the palm. Another standing crewman has to play as the one loading the weapon and he is about to take a Wurfgranate 42 handed-over by a comrade in a crouched pose. This last one holds the shell with both hands, a proper approach considering the 15.6 kilos of the projectile for the 120 mm mortar. The trooper is repeated in the le.IG18 kit, but there he received completely new arms for keeping the gun round in the appropriate manner. The ensemble formed by the soldier forwarding the Wurfgranate 42 and his team mate preparing to grab it is really unique and successfully succeeds to illustrate a scene repeated thousand of times by mortar crews. The palms of the standing figure have been shaped to take in the projectile and targeting the most spectacular picture, ideally is that the standing figure to have his palms on the projectile, especially on account that those have been especially shaped to encompass the shell. Definitely the process is facilitated by the separate arms advance and it would be recommended to glue first the ones of the crouched soldier and then to match accordingly the arms of the standing crewman. Not only separate ammunition boxes are provided, but also one dragged by a crewman in a very credible stance reflecting all the efforts put in for pulling such weight. The same option without lid was chosen by the manufacturer for this box, too.
Except the mortar teams, within the kit there is proposed another one, but this time aiming radio operators. Indeed, communication was of foremost importance for mortars in general and their heavy versions in particular, due to the long range of those weapons, the crews needing information for fire coordination. In this regard, within the platoon HQ of the 12 cm Granatwerfer 42 platoon regulations provided for several radio/telephone operators, generally armed with Kar98K. For instance, KStN enclosed in the platoon HQ of the 12 cm mortar platoon belonging to a heavy company in a 1944 Grenadier Battalion three such operators armed with Kar98K while their leader was endowed with MP40.
An atypical ensemble inside Braille Scale WWII German Army kits, where most of those offering a radio have limited to a single operator, a two member team sets out a more than welcome approach. For achieving the noteworthy poses of the two army-men operating the radio, Pegasus Hobbies has combined various elements revealed by few images of the period. While one is holding the receiver close to his ear, the other, with headphones, is writing pretty fast in a tablet, probably the fire coordinates for the mortars. Because wires miss, for conferring the operators a more genuine appearance, it would be advisable to scratch for both of them wires either of metal or melted sprue. It is not complicated at all, the cooper ones should be fixed with super glue gel while those of melted sprue with standard modeling glue, the hard plastic utilised by the manufacturer excellent reacting to both adhesives. Likewise, except the bayonets, the operators do not possess other weapon or ammunition pouches, but they could represent soldiers far behind the front line, so no need for wearing on them a fire weapon. The calm atmosphere might also be induced by the M34 caps worn by both soldiers. However, in case of wanting arming them, either ammunition pouches or pistol holsters extracted from Dragon, Preiser or Caesar separate equipment sprues easily fulfill such desire. On account of personal firing weapons granted by KStN to radio operators activating within a schwere mortar platoon, Kar98K ammunition pouches should not be disregarded for these figures.
The field radio, perhaps an early version of Torn Fu. is provided separately from the figures and in this light, its operators can be arranged in a multitude of positions, photo or video materials shot during WWII representing proper sources of inspiration. The radio features some details but it comes closed as well as without battery and antenna. At least the antenna might be effortlessly scratch-built and glued on it while in case of owning two such sets, sacrificing one radio, with slight modifications, this can be turned into the standard battery case of Torn Fu radio.
Pegasus Hobbies’ “Germans in Berlin 1945” discloses a radio operator with the same type of Torn Fu. as the one here included. In fact, there the radio is operated by a woman and it is issued in soft plastic. Furthermore, a mini on a field phone is met inside the same manufacturer’ kit titled “Waffen SS – set 2”, another difference being established by its operator, an officer dressed in camouflage smock. Definitely Pegasus Hobbies deserves appreciation due to the fact that it has carefully studied the market tender for identifying the gaps within sets targeting German soldiers in WWII. The company has succeeded to bring a fresh breeze in the field, a good example being the communication stuff, but not only these, the list being much longer.
The three teams are commanded by an officer that due to its stance, although quite standard, immediately captures the attention. This figure makes a strong impression on the viewer and can be assessed as one of the greatest in the scale thanks to the educed dynamism and force, completed and highlighted by an awesome facial expression, with his mouth wide opened. However, few might find a little too theatric the pose, but certainly similar or very close attitudes are reflected by plenty of reference images of the period, the mini perfectly portraying the prototype of the German officer, yelling orders to his troopers. Sculptured as a single piece, the details on the mini are exceptionally done and in full accordance with reality. Dressed exactly like the rest of his unit, including the steel helmet, he proudly shows off with an Iron Cross at the neck. Moreover, this is the only figure having a fire weapon, namely a pistol in its holster. In addition, he received binoculars and the hole on his back is designed to accommodate a bayonet, like for the rest of the troopers not wearing equipment. A bayonet could be an useful weapon in war for various purposes, but not often met at a German officer, although special officers/NCO bayonets, with blade a little bit shorter than the regular ones, had been released, so more than feasible to be worn on the front line by an officer.
As several times stated along the present review, at the first view ten poses are the same, but the gear they carry makes the difference between them. For the figures wearing only belts, bearing in mind the existence of a large number of reference pictures illustrating mortar crews without pistols or ammo pouches while performing their main duty, especially those attached to heavy mortars, it might be assessed these have deliberately been un-reproduced by the sculptor. Such an idea is also sustained by the second edition of the set, where the figures with gear received Kar98K ammunition pouches, and it would not have been difficult to add the same items to the troopers with belts. On the other hand, considering that most of minis are delivered with separate arms corroborated with the great attribute of hard plastic for responding to standard modeling adhesives, through simply mixing the arms the hobbyist can bring further distinctions between the poses. This simple trick facilitates the achievement of some quite interesting and out of ordinary poses, and also important, the minis will differentiate not only through gear, but also due to the adopted stances. Moreover, on account of the large number of separate weapons, gear, and even body parts manufactured in hard plastic are offered by various Preiser, Dragon or Caesar figure sets, the modeller has plenty of conditions to extra increase the diversity. In this regard, it would be harder to remove the gear added by the manufacturer on some figures and probably the ideal solution is putting together in standard poses those with gear while potential conversions to be carried out on the soldiers featuring only the belts. Likewise, not only endowing them with various items of gear, but also arming them with pistols, ammo pouches or other weapons could set out as an interesting facet for the lucky owners of “German Mortar teams” boxes. Harder, but not impossible, is converting the stances of the soldiers covering their ears with the palms. Of course, a surgery intervention is not so much required on them considering that simply gluing different equipment as well as emplacing them in diverse angles in relation with the mortars or other related things it is more than enough for achieving complete dissimilarity.
Easily recognised not only after their fully lifelike poses, but also based on the marvelous quality of sculpture, Pegasus Hobbies figures set out as a distinct mark, and the ones here provided will strike again the interested target groups. The uniforms are extremely well reproduced, maybe some of the best available in Braille Scale. Abounding in crisp small details like buttons and shoulder boards or natural creases, their garment illustrate also some amazing characteristic features of the real items, respectively the specific back and sleeve stitches of the tunics and the ones on the outer side of trousers. Such details come to reiterate the terrific skills of Pegasus Hobbies’ sculptors and their fascination for transposing in the 1/72 scale true authenticity. On the figures with gear we find superbly sculptured and emplaced items such as nicely shaped “Y” and gas mask straps as well as great gas mask containers, canteens, mess tins or bread bags. Genuineness is even pushed much forward through representing on the belts the famous “D” rings used by WWII Germans for hanging various equipment pieces. Much easily perceived on the figures wearing only the belts, it is not often the case when modellers have the chance of encountering such a delight in the scale. For entirely spoiling us, the producer decided to present also the studs of boots, a particularity that other manufacturers scarcely have focused on, but typical for all Pegasus Hobbies’ sets on WWII German army. Normally, it would have been a waste of time to include studs for the soles on the ground and that is why only those of the crouched soldiers with the soles raised from the ground divulge this pleasing detail.
The anatomy is simply stunning, with very fine proportions of bodies and outstanding facial expressions where eyes, eyebrows, noses and moths are perfectly sculptured. Likewise, the palms clearly show all fingers and some of them benefits by awesome torsions for allowing a perfect contact of the crew with the weapon. What sets apart the Pegasus Hobbies mortars is featuring details on the other side of the base plates, elements that theoretically can not be perceptible while are set on a diorama, but it honors the manufacturer. Similarly, the accurate ammo boxes and correctly shaped and finely detailed projectiles can only increase the charm of the set. Disproportions between the size of weapons or gear at different poses are not present at all while flash level has been kept at an unimportant level. Being a highly manufactured hard plastic set as well as because of the multipart solution adopted by the manufacturer, excess of plastic has been completely avoided. Additionally, it must be stressed that all parts of both weapons and figures perfectly fit in their locations thanks to guiding systems drawn up for easing the assembly. Moreover, even to not experienced modellers the whole process takes less than an hour, so a very fast assembly for a high quality product. The small pin found either on the sole or knee of each mini has been designed for fixing the trooper on the related base can be fast eliminated in case of not wanting to put on the allocated stand. As common for almost all sets of artillery or mortar pieces, the interaction between figure and weapon has been planned without considering the bases. In order not to throw away a perfect relation between the crews and mortars, not basing the troopers might emerge as a recommended approach, while no matter the thickness of bases, the terrific link between crewmen and mortars will suffer. Particularly for wargamers, basing on the same device the mortars and their crews does not harm at all this much praised liaison. Moreover, it is good to underline that not only the crouched soldiers, but also the standing ones benefits by an ideal balance, being capable to maintain equilibrium without supplementary support. Alternatively, several bases made available by the kit incorporate few details such as mortar ammo boxes or Kar98K put on the ground in order to better suggest the activities carried out by the crewmen while operating the weapon. Nevertheless, nothing keeps away the modeller that does not intend to base his figures to add such items either from those available in the set or in his own spare box. Issuing the kit on WWII German mortars in hard plastic seems the best solution while the material brilliant receives enamel and artistic oils, not influencing the qualities of the paint and it is also exceedingly able to safeguard the work of the painter even at intensive handling.
As pointed up a little before, thanks to hard plastic, all poses effortlessly can be converted in accordance to the needs or imagination of hobbyist. The present figures are ideal not only for manning mortars, but also they perfectly fit to various cannons or even with few more transformations they might be turned into excellent soldiers either advancing or firing off personal weapons. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the large number of WWII German cannons launched on the market without crewmen, no matter the type of cannon, granting for these troopers such a role is assessed as one of the most suitable and highly advocated. Likewise, the awesome quality of these minis fully complies with even the most detailed cannons made by Revell, Dragon, ACE or other companies. Simply adding some projectiles in their hands and adjusting few poses in order to interact with the selected cannon set out as a small effort with great results in achieving a realistic scene of a cannon operated by crew.
On account of size of body, helmet and gear, it can be identified that the mortar crewmen put forward by Pegasus Hobbies are fit in the tall side of 1/72, lining up to the tendency registered after 2000 at most mass production and cottage industry manufacturers. Corroborating the size also with the type of uniform for establishing the compatibility of the present minis with others produced by various manufacturers, it should be assessed that the best one is achieved with the inter-linked set of the same company “German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew” as well as Imex’s “German Troops”, Dragon’s “7.5cm PaK 40 w/Gun Crew + 3.7cm PaK 35/36” and even Hasegawa’s “German Infantry Attack Group”. Another common point shared by almost all the quoted sets is the hard plastic used to manufacture them, so parts exchange between these sets is further facilitated. Nevertheless, considering the quite large available offer of WWII Germans dressed in M36 tunics, due to minor differences in size, emplacing in the same location both Pegasus Hobbies’ mortar crewmen and figures included in “German Soldiers”/Italeri “German Infantry”, Revell “German Armoured Infantry”, Atlantic “German Infantry”, Airfix “German Infantry” (only the figs released in 1/72), Zvezda “German Infantry 1939-1942” and “German Machinegun MG34 with Crew 1939 – 1942” as well as most of Preiser sets dedicated to the German army in WWII is more than viable and reasonable. Moreover, because of their small appearance, Caesar’s minis from “WWII German SIG 33 Infantry Heavy Field Cannon and Crew” or “WWII German Army” are pledged to be set at a little distance from Pegasus Hobbies ones in order to diminish the differences in size. Still, although wearing M43 tunics, Caesar’s “WWII German Infantry – Late War” are perfectly suitable for Pegasus Hobbies’ figures from the size point of view. On the other hand, taking into account that inside the box there are five mortars and depending on the number of crewmen established by modellers for each weapon, it might occur the situation that at least one Granatwerfer 34 to remain without personnel. The issue can be solved using crewmen from other sets, especially those from Esci’s “German Soldiers” and “Afrika Corps Soldiers” being suggested due to the weird appearance and lack in details of those mortars.
Certainly, epithets are scarce for praising this master creation of Pegasus Hobbies which quality rivals and even overcomes most of the much more expensive resin or white metal kits. Accessible at a very fair price, fully supporting the policy of the company for rather encouraging the hobby through promoting high quality products than getting immediate material advantages, the “German Mortar Teams” undeniably sets standards in the field and satisfies even the most exigent static model builders. Likewise, the really fast assembly as well as the inclusion of bases for all figures should please collectors and wargamers who have the great opportunity to add to their troops some exceedingly detailed minis targeting a more than attractive topic.Furthermore, it must not be ignored the utilised material, hard plastic offering the possibility for plenty of conversions on the figures, the equipment and gear from Preiser or Dragon being recommended in this regard. For non combat diorama fans, this set definitely represents a great choice since it incorporates a bunch of unarmed and un-geared poses, perfectly suitable for such scenarios. Not in the last time, the present soldiers are fit from top to bottom for manning not only mortars, but also the large amount of artillery pieces that comes without crew. Of foremost importance in emphasising the huge endeavors carried out by this manufacturer in serving and pleasing the interested parts represents the release in 2008 of the second edition of the kit, where Kar98K ammunition pouches have been added to the troopers wearing “Y” straps and gear. For all its remarkable qualities and specific features Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Mortar Teams” value has been fully recognized by all target groups, not only diorama builders, but also wargamers and collectors rushing to acknowledge it as one of their favourite figures kits on WWII German topics. Such an assessment actually means something while the subject is the most popular among hobbyists, hundreds of mass production and cottage industry sets being available in the 1/72 scale.