Armourfast - German Machine Gun Team (99007) _________(EXT)
|No. of Figures||24|
|No. of Poses||6|
|Additional Items||1 MG34; 1 MG42; 1 Lafette tripod|
|Optimal Period||1943 - 1945|
WWII German machine gun is quite a common feature of 1/72 mass production sets of figures, it is almost like an indispensable item in such sets. Nevertheless, the weapon really deserves this treatment, being used by the Germans throughout the war on all the fronts, accompanying and supporting the troops either in assault or in defense as tones of reference materials show. Furthermore, inside German Army there were established within Battalions MG Companies, Platoons or Groups. In addition, even each regular Rifle Squad, the basic component of a platoon regulated by KStN, was grouped around a machine gun, its power being mainly based on that weapon. In spite of its often presence in 1/72 sets, Armourfast's "German MG Teams" is the single mass production set dedicated to one of the most important and frequent German specialized weapon.
Well-known and intensively exploited machine guns are MG34 and its intended replacement, MG42. Nevertheless, the 414,964 manufactured MG42 proved to be insufficient for covering the needs of the German Army, so MG34 continued to be produced till the end of war, 354,020 and other 1,700 of its upgraded version, MG34/41 arriving in soldiers' hands. Both these great models are included in the set. Furthermore, the two legendary MGs were engaged by Germans in light/medium or heavy roles, the difference consisting from what device was fired off. In the light role, MGs were fired off a bipod attached to the weapon, close to the end of the barrel, while in the heavy machine gun role, those were fitted on a Lafette tripod that could also be adapted for anti-aircraft duties. The two roles as light or heavy MGs are brought to us here by Armourfast, the set incorporating not only MGs assigned in light role on bipod, but also set on a tripod as a heavy weapon. Another important issue related to machine gun consists in its ammo and how it was carried, both these MGs allowing magazine-fed and belt-fed ammunition. There were more types developed by Germans, the 50 rounds drum magazine and the box including in general 250 or 300 rounds being very common. A different magazine, designed for MG34 is the saddle drum with 75 rounds. Likewise, the 50 rounds belts had the option to be linked together for attaining an endless belt for avoiding losing precious seconds with weapon reloading, seconds that could make the difference between life and death. From all these types, the set offers us only ammo inside unopened boxes. With an impressive rate of firing, MG34 could fire between 800-900 rounds per minute while the MG42 fired 1100-1500 rounds per minute, it is normal that a lot of ammo to be carried by the soldiers handling such remarkable weapons. One of the most usual style of caring MG ammo is the 50 rounds simple belt rolled around the neck or weapon or in the drum magazine fixed on the MG, as reference materials portray. During a long part of war for each MG team in a Rifle Squad the Germans allocate three soldiers to serve the weapon, a gunner, a loader and an ammunition bearer. In the late war period the ammunition bearer disappeared and its load was transferred to the riflemen, but till that moment, the ammo repartition inside the Squad using a light MG was a 50 rounds drum magazine for the gunner, usually attached to the weapon, the loader had four more as well as 300 boxed rounds and the ammunition bearer carried two boxes, a total amount of 1150 rounds per gun.
Coming in the standard Armourfast box and benefiting by an artwork depicting a MG42 gunner, the set incorporates four identical sprues, on each being found six figures, a Lafette tripod, one MG34 and one MG42 for the tripod as well as a StG44. It has to be highlighted the great idea of the producer for optional MG to be displayed on the tripod, in this way the modeler can choose the weapon he needs. The MG is attached to the tripod through the pin and hole system functioning very good here and even the pieces do not require gluing. The tripod is quite simplified here, without the drop pads and other details, but both the MG barrels are accurate in size and pretty nice done. There are known two versions of the Lafette tripod, respectively M34 and M42, but still in reality the two versions are hard to be identified, so no problem with the use of 1/72 MG34 or MG42 on it. Moreover, both MGs offered here possess specific components of a MG mounted on a Lafette tripod such as the optical sight (not all tripods had the optical sight), as well as other pieces of the tripod sculptured on the MG part. The two MGs are easily distinguished from the first view, their barrels housings being totally apart. The MG34 has thinner round barrel housing with many cooling holes on both sides while the MG 42 was designed with thicker and squared barrel housing with oval cooling openings at the left and top side as well as a large cooling slit on the right side. After putting together the selected MG and the Lafette tripod, it is obtained the heavy MG delivered by the set, a quite nice piece. On the sprue there is a very attractive version of the famous StG44, the first genuine and parent of nowadays assault rifles. In spite the fact that it can be attached to more figures, this weapon is recommended to be used in connection with the prone loader of the light MG, later described. The reason bases on the fact that while the rest of figures (except him and the light MG gunner) have Kar98K ammo pouches, he does not have any ammo pouches, so it is more suitable to receive this weapon.
As mentioned above, a German MG team had three servants for almost all the war, and this is what we get here. The figures and their MGs from a sprue could be grouped in two teams formed by three members, one team for the light MG and the other for the heavy MG. While for the heavy MG the gunner is given as a separate piece, the light MG has the gunner linked to it. On the box there is mentioned the inclusion of eight MGs, but it must be pointed out that the set includes twelve MGs. Probably the manufacturer did not count the optional MG for the tripod, which is a more than a fair thing due to the fact that with the provided pieces there can be made only eight operational MGs.
Because of their uniform and gear, these soldiers are appropriate for Late War period. All are dressed in camouflage smocks and an interesting aspect, rarely encountered in other sets as well as hard to identify if the figures are not studied very carefully, both M38 and M42 smocks are present here. Nevertheless, at 1/72 just an extremely small detail makes the difference between them, in many cases unseen due to the pose or gear of the troopers, namely the flaps of the two waist pockets of the M42 smocks. Regular trousers, ankle boots, gaiters and helmets covered by nicely detailed camouflage canvas, composed the rest of uniform. Regarding the gear, there are a couple of items of particularly interest, uncommon for all the other sets on WWII Germans and appearing just in the sister set, "WWII German Mortar Team" released by the same producer. First item in case, easier to identify, is situated in the middle of figure's back, and looks like a late war gasmask bag, a replacement of the widespread gas mask container. Such a variation is very welcome, bringing little diversity to 1/72 WWII Germans. The second item that may start debates and controversies is the small round thing emplaced between the shovel and the gas mask bag, on the left side of each figure's back (except the heavy MG gunner who does not have it). This may be a spare gas mask filter, its size and shape making such an interpretation quite appropriate. Some could wonder why so many components of a gas mask at a Late War set, especially being known that it was an accessory so rare used. In spite of their usefulness, Germans keep continuing manufacturing gas masks till the end of war and still, there were several specialized units wearing sometimes gas masks such as soldiers with flame thrower. The rest of the equipment is completed by regular objects, "Y" straps, Zeltbahn, bread bag, canteen and folding combat shovel for each figure while just a few were endowed with bayonets. Apart from the light MG gunner and loader, all the others have Kar98K ammo pouches, an accurate detail, most of soldiers dealing with the MG in a German combat unit possessing such a weapon. Nevertheless, the gunner was considered a specialized trooper and in this respect he had a pistol. An interesting feature is that the loader of a heavy MG was also assessed as a specialized trooper and had pistol, while to the loader of a light MG was given as personal weapon a Kar98K. The difference might rest in the fact that the heavy MG loader carried the tripod, a heavy item, being in the same situation with the gunner who had to carry the MG, so no room for a bigger personal weapon. The light MG loader had not such a burden and he was able to carry his rifle. Neither the gunners nor the loaders from here have pistol holsters, but the issue can be easily solved with pistol holsters from Preiser, super glue gel making a strong bond between the two kinds of plastic. The camouflage smocks offer the modeler the opportunity to enroll these figures in either Waffen SS or Wehrmacht, the distinction being done by the specific camouflage patterns. The thickness of the uniform makes them fine for warm periods, but still they could be engaged as well in colder seasons.
The poses are fine, satisfactory matching the weapons and the six figures can be divided for creating two MG teams. From the point of view of poses, the soldiers are equally split, two are prone, two are crouched and the last two stand. The gunners and loaders of both MGs are clearly identified, while the ammunition bearer alternate. The light MG gunner and his loader are prone and together realize an ensemble in a pose often met in the scale. They serve a MG34, weapon sculptured together with the gunner, but what is unusual is the lack of ammunition for the loader, even if his hands shows his intention to hold an ammo belt. Separate ammo belts are hard to find in the scale, but a proper answer comes from 1/76 Pegasus Hobbies' German Army Infantry 1939. Inside that set there can be found two MG belts, greatly fitting with the figure in case even if the scales are unlike. In addition, his empty hands facilitate conversions, and it was previously highlighted, he is the most appropriate to receive the StG44. The heavy MG gunner and loader are crouched, the gunner is ready to fire while the loader prepares to open an MG ammo box that is between his legs. Also here could take place a discussion on the lack of ammo belt at the loader, but diverging from the light MG loader, the heavy one has a close ammo box. His pose suggests a loader ready to open it and then fix the ammo belt to the MG, thus the sculptor did not omit anything at this figure. He is also suitable for holding an ammo belt, but such an item should not get out from his box, it can not be possible because the box is closed and for this reason it should be found another position for the ammo belt. The sprue contains two standing figures that may well act as ammunition bearer inside each team, no matter which. One figure is clearer emphasizing this idea, holding in his hands an ammo box while the other has nothing in his hands and looks like surveying the enemy and ordering opening fire.
With or without removing parts like ammo boxes, these soldiers are quite suitable for fast and easy conversions. In this regard, there may be used the extra StG44 from the sprue as well as the Kar98K or 81mm Mortar projectiles located in the sister set that are greatly fitting with the present figures. Reciprocity is also valid, the soldiers from "German Mortar Team" could be effortlessly turned into appropriate MG crew, using the optional MG barrel and a tripod from another sprue. In this way it is attained diversity, increasing with several nice poses our own collections. Moreover, in the same purpose of bringing diversity, there can be used Preiser Kar98K, pistol holsters and other equipment items such as mess tins, the two kinds of plastic responding good at super glue gel. Regarding the uniforms of the soldiers, these are well detailed, plenty of small things like gaiters latchets and creases being evident. In addition, the "Y" straps are greatly sculptured, but the most impressive tiny details brought to us by the manufacturer are the SS ranks on the specific collars boards on tunics. There can be distinguished a small point on the left collar board, meaning that soldier is a Waffen SS sergeant and it should be appreciated the efforts of the sculptor for paying attention even to such elements not often seen in Braille. Although the figures are on the small side of 1/72, bodies are excellent proportioned as well as the facial expressions. Inside the set there are not disparities between the size of the gear or bodies from a pose to another. Flash is medium here, but easy to remove while excess of plastic does not exist at all. The material used finely accepts both enamel, giving to it a matt appearance and superglue gel. Except the prone MG34 team, all the others have bases that can be unproblematic removed, in one minute the operation is finalized.
In the 1/72 scale there are met more sizes of figures and the ones included here have small aspect. For this reason, corroborated with their garment, it should be revealed that these troopers match the best with Armourfast's "German Machine Gun Team" as well as with Pegasus Hobbies' "Waffen SS - Set 2", CMK's "Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry" and Caesar's Panzer Grenadiers from Parade Series.
"WWII German Machine Gun Team" remains for the moment the only 1/72 mass production set dedicated to a key German weapon, not only used by infantry, but also providing the machine gun armament of almost every armoured vehicle and even for Panzers (on Panzers there was used a modified version of MG34 with a heavier barrel for avoiding often replacements). Nice points of this set are the insertion of both principal MGs in light and heavy roles, the most interesting gear on the figures as well as the opportunity for converting these figures into mortar servants, switching the role with those from "German Mortar Team". The set provides valuable solutions to wargamers, collectors and even diorama fans, the level of sculpture and details being attractive for all target groups implied in 1/72 scale.