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Weathering Factory - MG-Team Charkov 1942-43 with T-34 Wreck (72003) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Weathering Factory
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72-003
Year 2014
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items T34 wreck
Size Tall
Material White Metal, Resin
Colour Silver
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1942 - 1945

Review 

According to statistics on number of casualties, testimonies, books, filmed and photographed references, the most difficult periods for the WWII soldiers were the winter seasons, obviously with a plus for the Eastern Front where winter not only came much earlier and with lot of snow, but also temperatures often went below -40 C. Of course, the weather conditions were the same for soldiers of both sides, and not only the German and the other Axis troopers, but also thousands of Allies froze to death or were seriously injured by the extreme conditions.

During WWII, German Army sustained key battles in winter, both on the Eastern and Western fronts, Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad, Kharkov, Kiev, Ardennes, Budapest or Berlin representing few places where millions of soldiers found their end and for a large number of those poor army-men, the cause was not the bullet, but the awful weather. However, hundred thousands of WWII combatants did not die in epical battles, but in isolated clashes, unmentioned by historical books, very common especially in winter on the immense Russian territory, where human settlements were located at tens of kilometers distance. Intense fights took place even for the smallest hamlet while a house meant a shelter and that meant survival in the unmerciful temperature, where a human could resist few hours before freezing.    

Acknowledging the huge importance of depicting WWII winter Germans and the multitude of subjects that can be treated within the 1/72 scale, in 2014 Weathering Factory has started tackling those challenges and has supplied the hobby with brilliant miniatures, covering key gaps in the existing offer. Although there are over 50 sets on the matter issued in 1/72 scale, the great variety of clothes worn by WWII Germans in winter certainly requires much more, even it might be assessed that all possibilities and combinations will never be covered by the 1/72 tender. It should also be praised the notable incentives and hard work carried out by the German manufacturer in order to bring something new or insufficiently illustrated, these qualities being also supported by remarkable sculpture, top accuracy, and excellent anatomy.

Though the previous Weathering Factory two releases put forward army-men dressed in unusual and exciting attire as well as in SS fur anoraks and M42 winter suits, the third set in the list, titled “MG-Team Charkov 1942-43 with T-34 Wreck”, certainly delivers the most attention-grabbing garment combinations. It is about a makeshift camouflage and a white winter coat put over greatcoats by the MG gunner and loader, rare or never tackled subjects in Braille Scale. Likewise, a third figure embodying an NCO or officer is available and as title let us know, the kit includes an attention grabbing item, a T34 wreck cast in resin and supplied for giving the hobbyists the chance to instantly create a small but very attractive vignette. 

MG-Team Charkov 1942-43 with T-34 Wreck” arrives in the standard Weathering Factory clear plastic box, the artwork introducing the title and other information but without an image on the content. Each figure and the wreck received individual plastic bags, all content being wrapped in a polystyrene paper for additional protection, so nothing can be seen without opening the box. Little assembly in necessary, only few palms and the metal barrel of the wreck requiring glue and due to the materials the pieces are cast, it is a task for cyanoacrylate which makes an excellent job with metal and resin. Images of the assembled product might be consulted on manufacturer’s website (www.weatheringfactory-shop.de) or on few reviewing and e-shop websites.

Battle of Kharkov took place between 19 February and 15 March 1943 and represented a lesson of counteroffensive, masterly taught by the legendary Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. The battle had as direct results the annihilation of 52 Red Army divisions and facilitated a further major German offensive against Kursk, the biggest tank battle in the history of mankind. According to statics, it is apprised the German victory at Kharkov had delayed the advance of the Red Army into Germany by at least six months and many historians consider it as the last great victory of German army in the Eastern Front. In order to complete the environment, next to the figures the manufacturer had the brilliant idea of supplying the wreck of one of the 600 Red Army tanks that were destroyed or captured during that battle. Nevertheless, nothing restrains the modellers to add snow over the wreck and mud.

Consisting just in the front part of a T34, the wreck is beautifully cast, with crisp details and a perfect metal barrel. In conformity with the shell and bullet holes, this vehicle seems getting lots of hits before its final end. For easing the process and reduce costs and bearing in mind the T34 wreck was designed only as a background, the area of the hull was filled with dirt, getting in this way a smooth surface for the cast.

Feldgrau, black, green or even the regular camouflage schemes featured by WWII German attire appeared very disruptive in a white environment. Searching for better camouflage in areas with snow and corroborating that with the lack of sufficient M42 dedicated winter suits or other white standard attire, the German soldiers had to manage with what they could get from civilians or other sources. Images of the period reveal an impressive assortment of garments tailored directly on the front or even simply just put over the shoulders. White bedsheets were the most spread and easy to grab resource, but also funny photos present soldiers with drapes, tablecloths, macramé or similar white things.

Aware by the major need of special items for camouflage in snow, and because the more specialized winter attire were not available in sufficient quantities, the German Army issued a white winter coat and a long white smock, kinds of sheets cut as garment with or without buttons, having various lengths and a generous hood for accommodating the steel helmet. In order the soldiers to distinguish friends from foes, the regulations enforced when dressing white clothes to have coloured strips on the arms or shoulders. Still, that detail often was skipped, so it is not obligatory to be reproduced when painting the soldiers.

It is more than welcome Weathering Factory has chosen to incorporate a fig wearing the long white winter coat while comparable miniatures are totally absent from the catalogues of mass production and cottage industry producers. The item can be immediately recognized after the large hood, shape, length, and front button closure. Because of the heavier look of the garment below, perhaps the white coat was put over the wachmantel, issued to troopers carrying out duties in extreme cold conditions and dressed over the standard greatcoat. Filmed and photographed references show the long white winter coat in great numbers, and the fact that finally modellers have a replica in 1/72 scale reiterates company’s attention and the outstanding knowledge on the existing offer in the field of WWII German winter garment. He covered the steel helmet with a superbly sculptured hood and due to the bulkier appearance of his over- trousers footwear is unclear, it might be marching/jack, winter felt and leather or ankle boots. Armed in conformity with KStN that stipulated for loaders of MGs in light role Kar98K as personal weapon, the trooper holds his rifle in the right hand while in the other keeps a bigger MG ammunition container and not the standard 250 rounds ammo box. It is more than clear it is not an over-scaling issue but company’s primal intention to supply such a container, visibly different than the one encountered within a previous Weathering Factory set, “Various Germans”. Likewise, the container is excellent detailed, with a crisp locking mechanism, and the objective of making available that item is more than benefic because of its inadequate representation in the scale. MG loaders are distributed on ordinary manner by 1/72 WWII German Army sets and often the containers they hold are either over-scaled or less detailed. Apart the over-scaled ones, another larger MG ammo box is proposed by Zvezda within their astonishing “German Paratroops 1939-1942”.

If the MG loader put on a more conventional item, the gunner oriented to an alternative camouflage, extremely easy to get even on the frontline, possibly a bedsheet with a hole in the middle and simply fitted over the greatcoat. The sculptor has marvelously succeeded to suggest such appearance, the makeshift camo garment being torn not only at the bottom but also in few places in front. Below the sheet and at sleeves the greatcoat emerges very clear as well as at the collar, raised for better defending the wearer against the very low temperature. In the same purpose the soldier, wrapped his head with a toque, giving up to the steel helmet and replacing it with a M34 cap. His winter look is completed by the leather and felt boots, more adapted to the cold season. The gunner stays in a still position, propping his MG42 in the ground and features two specific items in front, on the right the MG maintenance tool pouch and on the left the pistol holster, the personal weapon of MG gunners according to KStN.  

The back gear of both these soldiers is complex and complete, as well as fully adjusted to the awful conditions they had to perform. The common bread-bag, canteen, gas mask container with gas cape pouch rolled around, shovel, blanket, and surcoat or wachmantel are carried by each. The manner in which all items are arranged and hung on the backs is tremendously realistic and it seems the loader has got two shovels on the left hip, one in front and the other pushed a little back.

The third army-man commands the team and he can act as an NCO or officer considering his equipment and weapons. He put on a more conventional piece of garment, the SS fur anorak Type I, over-trousers, boots, and steel helmet. The higher rank is highlighted by the pistol holster hanging on the back as well as by the map case replacing the right hand side ammunition pouch of the MP38/40 he holds. The left hand side ammo pouch is in the correct location and in the proper angle, also including the small pouch for MP maintenance tools stitched to it.Except these items and weapons he is gearless, a marvelous approach for a first line NCO or officer. Pointing in the distance with the left hand, remarkable is how the finger stays, not straight but a little bent in an extremely natural manner.

On its website the manufacturer presents the MG gunner and loader as appropriate to portray Herr or Waffen SS soldiers while the commander is only for Waffen SS, which is more than correct based on the attire these army-men received. Obviously, even if the title stresses Kharkov, they can take part at any Eastern or Western winter battle. Moreover, the period 1942-1943 might be prolonged until the end of war, even for the NCO or officer wearing the Type I SS fur anorak. The three quarters fur lined anorak with integral hood was tested in Norway and Poland since 1940 but reached the Eastern front starting with the winter 1942/43. The piece of clothing was delivered exclusively to mobile troops of Waffen SS, Type I being issued in various shades of grey and had a front four buttons closure plaquet from neck to waist as well as two breast pockets, many versions including two hip pockets. Due to its weight and lack of ventilation, the pull-over Type I was not enjoyed by soldiers and in early 1944 Type II, with a full length, button up front closure started to be worn, fabricated in various shades of gray or in Italian field gray or Italian camouflage. Although  it was requested Type I models to be returned to clothing depots for full button up front closure modification, the pull-over pattern remained in service till the end.

A special rubric should be dedicated to an alternative manner of painting the two MG team members and should be applied in case the hobbyist focuses on a scene not involving snow environment. It is well known the great attention paid to camouflage and the impressive creativity of WWII German soldiers as well as their huge potential in adapting the available resources in that purpose. In addition, lots of photos and videos of the period show them with improvised camouflage by modifying standard items of garment, Zeltbahns, or from camouflage canvas. Furthermore, if there were not the soldiers themselves, then sometimes the rear-front tailor units delivered unordinary items of clothing to their comrades, built from the resources they had at hand, particularly from camouflage canvas deployed as tarpaulins or in other purposes. In this light, a proposed reinterpretation of the white winter coat could be a tailor-made long vest with hood and buttons in order to be easier dressed. Regarding the MG gunner, instead of using a bedsheet or other white thing, he has cut the garment from camouflage canvas, such possibility being occasionally reflected by images of the period but no image of video has been discovered by the reviewer in terms of a long vest with hood made of camouflage canvas. Still, considering the creativity of WWII Germans, such makeshift garment could have been possible and the just two mentioned interpretations have been applied when painting the soldiers accompanying the present review. 

All the three figs are tremendously lifelike, in spite doing almost nothing and the whole attitude is supported by an impressive anatomy corroborated with awesome facial details thanks to sharp noses, eyes, eye-brows, mouths and cheeks. Fully encompassed in the overall proportions of the bodies, palms arrive with proper fingers and on account the winter attire and gear, at least the MG team members should have worn the knitted five finger gloves. Clothes are irreproachable and the fur anorak is gorgeously shaped, being apprised as one of the best in the scale. The sculptor paid enhanced attention to all the small characteristics, not only the length, fur, creases, pockets, and buttons but also the drawstring of the ample hood and the small vertical slash at each outer side of the skirt being immediately spotted with great pleasure. Likewise, the makeshift white camouflage and the white winter coat as well as the greatcoats beneath are spectacular and all efforts have been put in carefully carve all details. Noteworthy is also how there is illustrated the appearance of loader’s greatcoat, thicker and perhaps it is about a wachmantel, very indicated for a freezing day in the Russian steppe. Gear and weapons are not only nicely modelled but also the size corresponds to etalons in the field issued by Preiser and Dragon as well as by other renowned manufacturers.

For best painting results, the metal figures should be primed after flash is removed, the here presented product featuring just a small level of flash and no excess of material. Super glue gel does an excellent job for the limited number of parts involving assembly, the durable bond being capable to take some shocks. The figures are not based and no separate stands are delivered, in case such items are needed, modelers must get them from other places. Anyway, these troopers mainly aim diorama builders and they can be instantly glued in position on the vignette or diorama base.

Weathering Factory makes the figures in the tall side of 1/72 scale which is more than great because they perfectly match with winter comrades released by mass-production manufacturers as Caesar, Revell, Pegasus Hobbies, Strelets, Italeri, ESCI, and Preiser as well as with most similar troopers forwarded by cottage industry. Considering the still poses, great partners are available in Warriors, TQD Castings, El Viejo Dragon, Juweela, D-Day and Miniaturas Alemany tenders and certainly, the other Weathering Factory soldiers, until now all sets of this company depicting soldiers in non-combat positions.  

Novelty in the field of WWII winter Germans characterizes Weathering Factory in general and the multimedia “MG-Team Charkov 1942-43 with T-34 Wreck” in particular, with its top-notch sculpture, cast, and lifelike appearance. The proposed camouflage items often put on by front line troopers but almost inexistent in Braille Scale, reinforces the important position the company intends to gain within the list of 1/72 figure makers. The fact that inside the set there is available a beautifully released T34 wreck increase the appeal  of the tender and the possibility of instantaneously reproducing a small scene from the outskirts of Kharkov or other places on the Eastern Front it is highly appreciated and may address not only to static modellers and collectors, but also to gamers.

 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 10
Poses Quality 10
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 9
Sculpture 9
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 9