Articles

Preiser - German PAK 40 Crew (72518) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Preiser
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72518
Year 2003?
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items 1 PaK 40 Projectile
Size High
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Conversion-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1943 - 1945

 

Review

In order to achieve a more realistic look, in most situations a cannon definitely ache for the related crew, just ready to operate it. Diverging from a tank, armoured vehicle of truck where humans are not so visible, it is the true nature of the cannon to be surrounded by people operating it. Unfortunately, the greatest amount of 1/72 German artillery guns are issued without crewmen by producers and the need of such personnel is really stringent. ACE, the largest manufacturer of WWII German cannons, is a company delivering its products without gunners, Dragon, Roden, and Revell joining the same list which does not limit strictly to the given examples. On the other hand, for the immense satisfaction of hobbyists and an accurate representation of a gun in action, several kits on WWII German cannons feature the appropriate personnel. Nevertheless, as a general rule, the number of poses provided by such sets hardly covers the full team imposed by KStN for the gun in case. In this light, no spare figures to allocate for artillery pieces delivered without soldiers are normally accessible in such sets.  

Mass production kits incorporating more or less accurate guns and crews are ESCI "German Anti-tank Guns", Italeri German PAK 40 AT Gun with servants, Pegasus Hobbies German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry, Revell German Artillery, Hasegawa 88 mm Gun Flak 36, HaT German PaK 36, German 7.5cm IG 18 Gun, German 7.62cm PaK 36(r), and "German PaK 40 Anti-tank Gun", MAC Distribution 37 mm PaK 36 L and 50 mm PaK 38 L  as well as Airfix "Opel Blitz and PAK40", a set issued with the gun in 1/76, but crew in 1/72 scale. Easily noticed is the particular interest of manufacturers for PaK40, the 75 mm standard German anti-tank gun seeing action on all fronts starting with 1941. Produced in more than 23,500 pieces and with almost 6,000 variants emplaced in diverse vehicles such as Panzer IV F to J, Panzer V (Panther), SdKfz 251/22, SdKfz 234/4 etc, the cannon was capable to destroy almost all Allied vehicles. The qualities and the wide spread appearance of this weapon within WWII German Army might explain its vast existence in the scale comparing with other artillery pieces.

As always, Preiser understood the desires of modellers and paid enhanced attention to the sensitive and bizarre matter of guns with no crews. The answer consisted in a mini-set entitled "German PAK40 Crew", depicting, at least theoretically, soldiers operating a PaK40, but without including the cannon. While the largest amount of kits deliver only guns, it is out of ordinary but extremely helpful to have a set with troopers specially dedicated to artillery subjects. It has to be considered that the present figures are the scaled up versions of the original HO (1/87) smaller cousins. Preiser lists in this scale a PaK40 that is not duplicated in the upper scale as well. For this reason, proper places in compliance with the standard assignment of these soldiers might be the best interpretations of PaK40 made by Roden and Dragon regrettably, inside kits without crewmen. Likewise, in spite labelling the box as PaK40 crew, the figures nicely match with a large array of other PaKs, Flaks or field guns. According to Preisers good custom, the poses rely on authentic photos, an excellent approach especially for those wanting to build a diorama almost identical with the reference stuff.

Because of the material used for manufacturing them, namely hard plastic, corroborated with the way they are delivered in the box, respectively in pieces, from the minis released by this company there can be obtained unlimited variants of the same pose through conversions. The here reviewed product comes in several pieces, specifically body, arms and legs, no other spare arms or heads being supplied. However, the parts allow mixing in a multitude of ways, diverging from the printed instructions. As it is well-known, the great majority of Preiser troopers arrive without equipment, the modeller having the opportunity of endowing the figures as he wishes. It is not the case this time, bearing in mind that we get a mini-set, the box is very small and the classical Preiser equipment and weapons sprues could not be included. On the other hand, these figures may receive accessories extracted from the wide range of Preiser regular sets, mostly abounding in spare things for WWII German Army. With the same purpose, the astonishing Dragon sprues of equipment and weapons supplied by their new kits on 1/72 WWII German soldiers should be regarded as exceptional alternatives. The hard plastic pieces excellent accept any kind of standard modelling adhesive (polly-cement) and it should be stressed out that here all the components perfectly fit in their places. The featured army-men are not necessary gun servants; they can be also disposed in combat or relaxing poses as infantry troopers or emplaced in/on various vehicles through light or heavy conversions. Once again, the multi-part approach provides the necessary advantages for achieving lifelike poses. 

The artwork of the box shows the assembled and painted versions of the figures available inside set around a PaK40 that is illustrated in shadowed tones for better suggesting the idea of not comprising the gun. Anyway, an additional warning referring to the non inclusion of the cannon is clearly printed on the box. In order to reveal the assembly guide, the box has to be cut on one side, Preiser applying the same method for all their 1/72 sets. The whole kit consists in a single sprue cut in two parts for entering within the box and furnishes the sharp number of pieces necessary for finishing five figures. A PaK40 projectile, accurate in size and shape, is also incorporated and the instruction scheme advices us to glue it in the hands of a crewman. The item can be assessed as optional if the holder is converted and requested by the hobbyist to do something else. Concerning gear distributed in hands, we get another PaK40 projectile and a pair of binoculars, the rest holding nothing, their palms having to accommodate the spare projectile as well as various devices of cannon such as hand wheels.   

Attire is specific to the last part of war and consists in M38 camouflage smocks, trousers, ankle boots, gaiters and helmets covered by camouflage canvas. Here most of smocks are worn tight up, but also a couple appear a little loose. Probably aiming to make a clear distinction between the gun commander and the other members, except pistol holster and binoculars, the leader was sculptured with riding boots, his subordinates receiving ankle boots with gaiters. Designed for mounted troops, the riding boots (Reitstiefel) were a little different than the regular marching/jack boots. The Reitstiefel boots had been worn not only by mounted soldiers, but also by officers serving in unmounted units. It was the practice of WWII German officers to shoe, as a form of elegance, riding boots even if they had nothing to do with horses. The differences between the two types of boots mainly consisted in narrower and higher leg as well as in a small, extended, leather crescent at the heel of Reitstiefel for securing the spurs in the proper position. In conformity with regulations, mounted troopers had to wear spurs on their boots but normally, the unmounted officer/NCO proposed here by Preiser has not spurs. On the other hand, dissimilar shoe-wear in the same squad/team does not contradict reality, plenty of images attesting such thing as a normal situation within WWII German Army.

Due to the thickness of uniform, the figures can be displayed either in warm or cold environments while for some, their trousers might be painted as camouflage ones, SS 1944 Pea Dot pattern representing a good alternative to the ordinary Feldgrau. The cloths are suitable for any period of WWII, but the ankle boots and gaiters make them appropriate especially after 1943. The same attire was worn both by Waffen SS and Wehrmacht troops, the related camouflage patterns and collar boards painted by each modeller establishing the membership of this crew. Being reversible, camouflage smocks allow plenty of diversity at painting, not only Wehrmacht and Waffen SS spring/summer or autumn/winter patterns (minus Pea Dot, smocks had never been issued in that) being suitable, but also a white side is applicable for winter. Nowadays, a single Preiser kit titled WWII German 8 cm Trench Mortar in Combat supplies soldiers dressed in the same way, the only distinction in terms of attire resting in the marching/jack boots shoed by all the figures from there.

In contrast with Preiser regular offer, for the PaK40 crew is not recommended fixing arms taken from other sets of the same producer, of course, except the above quoted one also making available soldiers in camouflage smocks. It should be drawn into attention that arms dressed in smocks appear a little thicker than the rest depicting various types of clothing and the sleeves feature a special end, visible in the 1/72 scale, too. Although a hair smaller, the figures from the mortar kit are recommended for arms and torso conversions of the PaK crew and vice-versa. If it is desired, other heads, palms and accessories can be attached, equipping them light or heavy, the content totally matching the rest of Preiser sets from this point of view. Gear of these PaK40 crewmen is scarce, the sculptor adding either none or only a single item of equipment per figure, respectively a canteen, two gas mask containers and for the gun commander a pistol holster. The large majority of references recorded in the period clearly attest the fact that PaK or other guns crews used to keep on them nothing or only few items of gear. Normally, that was adopted for better move while carrying out the numerous and hard tasks imposed by a gun in action. The soldiers armed with pistols, usually retained their personal weapon in its holster while those endowed with MPs or Kar98K rather put them down. Alternatively, sometimes the crewmen kept the weapon slung on the back, depending on the front line conditions and position of enemy infantry.

The norms provided for that a PaK40 to be operated by an eight member team, the chief of section being responsible for seeing that all duties are properly performed, all commands executed and all safety precautions observed, the gunner set the announced deflection and laid for direction, no. 1 loaded and fired the gun, no. 2, 3, 4, and 5 handled the ammunition while no. 6 drove the prime mover. With reference to the stances that we get, these are truly more than suitable for artillery guns. The manufacturers intention was that from the standard poses, three to be fixed on the split legs of a PaK while another crew member is crouched and prepared to bring the new round. The commander is the single standing, leaning forward and ready to order to his team to open fire. Taking a quick glance to his crew for being sure that everything is all right before firing, he holds the binoculars in the left hand as he just took them from his eyes while the right is somewhere in the air in a suggestive motion for giving orders. Enhanced by a superb facial expression with open mouth, dynamicity and eloquence are fully reached here and this figure might be assessed as one of the best first line officer/NCO existing in Braille Scale.

From the ones designated to be attached on the split legs, it should be emphasized the laying one, as an impressive achievement in the field of multi-part figures. It is also the mini requiring more attention during the assembly process because it is achievable to fit extremely natural in its position. Created for laying on the left split leg of a PaK (practically not restricted only to that), in standard advance the trooper represents the gunner operating the traversing or elevating hand wheels. Nevertheless, the other two sitting soldiers are pleasant and more than useful in bringing their contribution in handling a gun in the mist of the battle, too. One of them, having a gas mask container with rolled gas cap pouch, can be emplaced not only as he is featured by the artwork of the box, sitting on the right split leg of the PaK40 and operating the breech, but also as ridding the split leg and spinning the hand wheel. An almost identical stance is encountered in a well-known reference image of a PaK40 in action, but there the soldier rides the other leg of the gun and handles the traversing hand wheel. So, it is more than feasible to switch positions advocated by the artwork for the gunner and no1, changing their roles. In this way the poses will better match the photo in case. Likewise, it is possible either that the person who arrange the figures and took the photo for the artwork not to know the sculptors intention, or most probably, the reference image/s to be dissimilar with the one above described. The last sitting trooper included in the kit has the propensity to immediately catch the attention because the artwork and the instructions advice us to glue the projectile in a strange manner, with the warhead down. Evidences attesting this method of holding a projectile are extremely difficult to find, but the situation is plausible. Bearing in mind that Preiser bases their figures on authentic photos, it is likely that such an image to exist. Nonetheless, in case of not enjoying the proposed position of the projectile, nothing keeps away the modeller to adjust it with the warhead up. This soldier might act as no. 3, and he features a canteen as well as another interesting detail, namely a glove in the right hand. Gloves were often used by troopers working with projectiles for preventing burnings or other accidents, so another plus point for Preiser work. Holding a projectile in hands, the crouched figure can be assessed as no. 2 and his pose suggests the readiness of immediately raise and bring the new round. The soldier received on his back a gas mask container, but without gas cap pouch while his helmet is not secured on the head by strap, conferring in this way more space to the sculptor for a brilliant work on facial details. The lack of weapons or ammo pouches on these army-men imposes stressing the need of arming them or at least, show equipment linked to a weapon. A draw-back of the kit could be considered the absence of pistol holsters and ammunition pouches, the manufacturer should have included such items on the sprue of figures, as the company have done it within other kits. Preisers WWII German Troops on Leave, a set delivered in an identical type of box but featuring on the sprue quite sufficient weapons and gear as well extra options for body parts, sustains this opinion. The easiest and most facile solution for inarming them is adding pistol holsters to all and luckily, these are available in large amounts on the regular Preiser and Dragon spures of gear.             

According to poses and objects held, it can be considered that Preiser kit brings the chief of section, the gunner, no. 1 as well as no. 2 and 3. The set miss no. 4 and 5 who handled ammunition and no. 6 who drove the prime mover, but for these positions within a PaK40 team, soldiers issued by this company, other manufacturers or even conversions done on the here included figs emerge as valid solutions. In case that the hobbyist intends to dispose the troopers at a gun, it is mandatory before gluing or immediately after fixing the pose, to fit the arms and palms in relation to what he wants the crew to do. The palms are sculptured for perfectly hold the hand wheels or other devices of a cannon. The usage is not necessary restricted only for Pak40, they may be emplaced at other types of guns. Such a situation requires special attention to the 75 mm projectile that should be substituted with one adjusted to the calibre of the employed artillery piece.

The bodies are well proportioned, with expressively faces, Preiser being acknowledged as a master in this field. The whole anatomy is great, fingers being in their places and clearly distinguished while facial details please the viewer. Even if not abounding in details, the uniforms are satisfactory reproduced, the level of sculpturing the breast placket and its string varying from pose to pose. The collar boards of tunics worn below the smocks and authentic creases of trousers appear quite natural. Furthermore, a special remark aims the cuff ends of the sleeves, the soldiers here depicted seem to wear them turned inside, a fact highlighted by their end larger appearance. This look of smock sleeves is sustained by plenty of references, soldiers often wearing them just like that. Comparing with the premium quality separate gear available on special spures of the producer, the few items sculptured on figures do not make a strong impression and if needed, might be replaced. Flash is present but easy to remove, hard plastic not causing any problems in this regard. In addition, the manufacturing material provides good support for any enamel, artistic oils or pigments, accepting these very well and keeping the work of the modeller even after heavily handling.

As for any Preiser kit, bases are not included and anyway, at least here such devices are not needed. In standard approach, three troopers should be glued on the split legs of a gun and the crouched one has a perfect balance. Moreover, even the standing gun commander received a good stability, particularly if flash from its soles is correctly eliminated.

From sizes of body and gear as well as type of uniform criteria, the present reviewed army-men are absolutely compatible with those enclosed in Pegasus Hobbies "Waffen SS - set 1" and with some from Italeri "German Elite Troops" and Pegasus Hobbies "Germans in Berlin 1945". Slightly smaller, mass production sets such as Caesars WWII German Panzergrenadiers Set 1 and WWII German Panzergrenadiers Set 2, Pegasus Hobbies Waffen SS - Set 2 and Armourfasts WWII German Machine Gun Team and WWII German Mortar Team bring a large amount of troopers wearing camouflage smocks. The differences in size are so insignificant and these figs might join quite good the Preiser PaK40 crew in the same setting. 

Other sets with PaK crews made of hard plastic are Esci "German Anti-tank Gun", Mac Distributions 50mm Pak 38L and 37 mm PaK 36 L (figures are the same in both MAC kits) as well as  Airfix "Opel Blitz and Pak40". Taking into consideration the level of details, the figures from the just mentioned sets are inferior to Preiser, being also dressed in the first part of war specific uniform. Similitude between them is that all are manufactured in hard plastic. Targeting wargaming, the market registers two offers of PaK40 and crew kits issued in soft plastic. It is about Italeris German PaK 40 AT Gun with servants and HaTs "German PaK 40 Anti-tank Gun", both featuring not very detailed guns, but most of their crewmen wear camouflage cloths. In this regard, although a little taller, Italeri kit brings several great companions for completing the positions left uncovered by the Preiser crew inside a PaK40 team. Moreover, gun crews, other than PaK, may be found in various Hasegawa sets and in the excellent Revells "German Artillery" that practically scales up and gathers within the same box several Preiser products as well as in Pegasus Hobbies German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry. This set is definitely special, offering two distinct teams, one dressed in M36 tunics and the other in camouflage smocks. The soldiers from the last team match with Preisers PAK 40 crew to the highest degree, having not only almost the same size and camouflage smocks, but also ankle boots and gaiters. Furthermore, through minor conversions, Pegasus Hobbies German Mortar Teams sets out as a reliable choice for troopers in M36 tunics able to perform as gun crews.

In spite the fact that Preiser has accustomed their clients with figures dressed in M36 tunics, for several years the present minis has represented one of the few options for camouflage smocks, before Pegasus Hobbies, Aromourfast, and Caesar to launch their great offer in the field. Although including just five figures, "WWII German PaK40 Crew" is an extremely attractive set, not only due to its versatility in fitting to diverse artillery guns, but also its content can be effortlessly transformed in first line infantry soldiers. In the meantime, they are suitable for taking place in/on various types of vehicles, tanks or assault guns as mounted troops. The great need of crewmen for the huge number of guns issued without personnel boosts the value of this Preiser kit, making it quite popular between 1/72 static models builders. Nevertheless, the small number of parts requiring assembly, their easy fit as well as its sculpture recommends the product as an appropriate alternative for wargamers, too.

 

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