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CMK - German soldiers with Panzerschreck (F72161) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer CMK
Scale 1/72
Set Code F72161
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Cream
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 -1945


Review 

Acknowledged as one of the most important maker of 1/72 WWII Germans in resin, CMK supplies to the hobby figures covering a multitude of topics more or less considered in the scale. The company surprises the target groups not only through an excellent sculpture, but also with innovative approaches, some of their sets including useful resin or photo-etched accessories. One tender combining in a brilliant manner these attributes emerges “German soldiers with Panzerschreck”, the set aiming at an anti-tank team handling the renowned rocket-launcher.

In mass production catalogues, sets dedicated on anti-tank teams are nearly inexistent, Italeri’s “German Anti-tank troops” standing out as the single option in the field and soldiers are endowed only with Panzerfausts. Nevertheless, a large quantity of the most representative anti-tank WWII German weapons like Panzerschrecks and Panzerfausts are made available by various sets targeting infantry. Plastic Soldier’s “WWII German Heavy Weapons” clearly distinguishes on the matter, with two Panzersheck teams and two figs with Panzerfausts. Furthermore, persons interested in army-men with such weapons might find appropriate solutions in cottage industry proposals, several clearly focusing on anti-tank arms of the WWII German infantry.

The lack of tanks and anti-tank cannons imposed the German Command to grant special attention to close-combat anti-tank means for the infantry, in order to develop troopers’ capacity of protecting and successfully fighting enemy armour. Following the experience on the Eastern Front, within the period 1943-1945 there had been issued to troopers new and effective anti-tank weapons, fully capable to destroy or seriously damage from close distance even enemy’s heaviest armour. Faustpatrone and Panzerfaust 30, 60, 100, (and final 1945 versions 150, 250) m, Raketenpanzerbüchse 43 and 45 were some of the most important recoilless weapons used by the German soldiers to attack the enemy armour. In the early stages of WWII, assaulting a tank with grenades or mines was considered an act of heroism and medal awarded, but in a couple of years it became a common action due to the advance of new weapons, enabling even children, women or old people to fruitfully engage a tank. Because of their efficiency in penetrating armour, easy concealment, and possibility of firing in any moment from almost any location, such weapons terrorised the armoured vehicles crews, forcing them to work in close cooperation with the infantry.

Perhaps one of the most effective and liked by users anti-tank weapon was the famous Rackette PanzerBuchse, nicknamed Panzerschreck (Tank Terror), highlighting the significance and trust given by the soldiers to it, or Ofenrohr (Stovepipe) due to its shape and smoke produced when fired. In fact, the huge flash and blast represented the main draw-backs, revealing the emplacement of the weapon. Likewise, for the same reason, it was not indicated to fire Panzerschreck inside closed spaces, the room being immediately filled by toxic smoke.

Developed after captured American M9A1 Bazookas, the German Command decided to increase the caliber from Bazooka's 6cm to 8.8cm, the German version receiving the name Raketenpanzerbüchse 43 (RPzB43) followed quite soon by Raketenpanzerbüchse 45 (RPzB54) and later by a shorter barrel version, RPzB 54/1. Basically the rocket launchers were the same, the difference resting in the front shield of RPzB54, emplaced for protecting the firer from the escaping propellant gases which could cause serious burns. The earlier model did not have the shield, so the firer should have worn gas mask and steel helmet for protection. Following front-line experience, as reference images attest, the soldiers started adapting various models of shields before the standard steel shield clamped around the barrel was provided for RPzB54, which implicitly became heavier, weighting 11 kg, the previous model having 9.25 kg. Fired from the 1.64 m length barrel, the 3.3 kg rocket projectile could penetrate up to 160mm armour. Likewise, a model developed close to the end of war was RPzB 54/1, with a shorter barrel but an improved rocket, the range increasing to about 180 meters, the previous models recording 120 m range.

Its performances and cheap production costs determined the German Command not only to order 289,151 Panzershrecks but also to carefully organize the units using that weapon. Usually, a RPzB section was formed by two, no. 1 firing the launcher and no. 2 loading the weapon, but occasionally, a second-in-command and a runner might be encountered, the runner bringing ammunition from the rear, and both replacing casualties and engaging crews from damaged tanks. As a specialised soldier, also having to carry the Panzerschreck,, the firer received pistol as personal weapon and the loader was endowed with Kar98K, even if he had to transport the ammunition. Likewise, the section could have additional Panzerfausts and other anti-tank close-combat equipment. The section had allocated ten rounds per rocket launcher, and generally the firing rate was two projectiles/minute. Theoretically, Panzershrecks were issued to infantry divisions, light divisions, mountain divisions, and regimental antitank companies, such weapons not being officially delivered to armoured and Panzergrenadier divisions. The frequent tactical unit was the three launchers section, emplaced behind infantry positions though sometimes one RPzB was set forward, especially if tank attack was imminent. In case an enemy vehicle came within the action range of two launchers, both fired for being sure the vehicle would be destroyed and a team would not leave the target to the other.

Quite large amounts of Panzerschrecks are accessible in 1/72 scale but CMK’s interpretation absolutely sets the standard, as the most detailed and accurate, a must-have for all the fans of this weapon. The metal tube strikes from very beginning, the kit being commercialised in the well-known CMK transparent clear plastic and cardboard box. The tube is fixed on the inner side of the box with a scotch band, immediately noticed and admired as well as the photo-etch sheet including parts for the weapon. The pieces for each figure come on individual slots and in the background the artwork illustrates two soldiers in quite close poses with those submitted by the kit. Moreover, behind the artwork there is assured an assembly guide for the Panzerschreck. Printed on both sides, the instruction sheet for the rocket-launcher fails in giving very clear instructions, particularly at what distances should be fixed on the tube the pieces from the photo-etch sheet.    

Empty on the inside, the tube does not require drilling and its rear end is a remarkable achievement, missing only the electric socket located at the rear left side and the wire connecting it to the firing mechanism. On the photo-etch sheet there are placed the cocking lever, trigger, and shield as well as two strips that should be bent in order to obtain the square steel guard protection of the cocking lever and trigger, the second strip having to be modelled for representing the shoulder rest. The cocking lever and trigger are perfectly done and also the shield, featuring the observation window on the left and other fine details. Except the electric socket and wire, other missing characteristics are the fore and back sights, but all these elements could be easily scratch-built by the most exigent hobbyists.

The tube did not receive any guidance for the parts, so for a properly construction it is highly suggested to study reference images and books. The assembly of this Panzerschreck is really tricky, being dedicated to experienced modellers and involves a lot of extra study, care, and patience. For fixing the parts, super glue gel is the best adhesive, giving few seconds for eventual readjustments and creating a strong bond between the pieces. Likewise, the same glue will be deployed for putting together the figures and adding the weapon to the firer. Nevertheless, the soldiers’ assembly is much more facile, those being delivered with separate arms, heads, and weapons, the parts going very well in positions. It would be wise checking before permanently gluing the relation between the arms of the firer and the Panzerschreck components, how those fit in palms and how the shoulder rest match the body. By simply not attaching the shield, hobbyists obtain the RPzB 43 variant, but it would be a pity having in mind the outstanding details the shield received as well as its thin thickness.

The two troopers embody a section in combat, with the firer in crouched position preparing or firing the weapon and the loader on the way for bringing new rounds. Though crouched poses are the most common in the 1/72 scale for Panzerschreck firers, the present one does it extremely convincing, not suffering at all from flatness. Furthermore, the weapon fantastic goes into his palms, his fingers coming out as a masterwork of sculpture and emphasizing the entire action. Dressed in camouflage smock, trousers, ankle boots with gaiters, and steel helmet with camouflage cloth, he is properly armed with pistol in holster and as back gear the soldier received gas mask container, Zeltbahn, bread bag, and canteen. His attire fully matches the Late War appearance of the main weapon he handles and together make perhaps the most genuine assemble firer-Panzerschreck of Braille Scale.

His comrade preferred putting on the Zeltbahn over the uniform, shod marching/jack boots, and on the head he received steel helmet with bands for net or foliage. As it can be straightforwardly noticed, the fig incorporates few rare items in the field of 1/72 Germans, it is well acknowledged the limited presence of troopers with Zeltbahn on them as well as helmets with bands, in spite the fact both were intensively worn by WWII Germans. Likewise, even if differently dressed than his team-mate, the two miniatures perfectly go together, putting the accent on the Late War appearance of the German Army, with mixed clothes due to shortage of equipment. Generally, Zeltbahns were worn directly over gear but this soldier did not follow the usual practice and adjusted the “Y” straps, belt, bread bag, canteen, and mess-tin over it, a quite strange manner, particularly the “Y” straps. As personal weapon, also attested by the artwork, he theoretically was endowed with a Kar98K, which is in full accordance with reality but the manufacturer failed to provide the entire weapon, on the related slot being available just the shoulder stock. This is perhaps because of a mould error or transport breakage, the weapon missing from two boxes bought before writing the present review. Nevertheless, it is not big deal, lots of separate Kar98K being on disposal in various Preiser or Dragon figure sets, Moreover, it should be pointed out the soldier misses any ammunition pouches, so he is able to receive any weapon, though Kar98K is the most advocated for respecting KStN. Of course, the just indicated manufacturers provide related ammunition pouches together with the weapons, so the modellers should also take into consideration to add such important stuff to the mini. Over the Zeltbahn appears the sling of the weapon and it should be paid little attention for correctly setting the chosen rifle or submachine-gun. For those whishing to emplace his weapon in other locations or to replace it with a pistol in holster, an alternative is appraising the sling as the strap of a gas mask container and to adequately adjoin one. In order to attest his role as a loader of a Panzerschreck, the sculptor put in his right hand a projectile and in the other the wooden ammunition box accommodating two RPzB projectiles. Again due to the sensitivity of the part, in both my boxes of this set, the projectile arrived broken, but luckily, the parts were not lost and I could rebuild one. The manufacturer tried something innovative in the field of Panzerschreck loaders, which are certainly extremely rare in the scale, but at the end, the pose does not astonish. Still, it has the advantage that can be set in dissimilar stances, either with both feet on the ground or only with the front one, as fast running. 

The artwork introduces the two figures as belonging to different units according to the camouflage patterns, the firer with a Waffen SS camouflage smock and the loader having a Wehrmacht Zeltbahn. Obviously, wise would be painting the two soldiers as enrolled in the same unit, various Waffen SS spring/summer or autumn/winter and Wehrmacht camouflage patterns being suitable for both garment items. Likewise, the items of clothing make possible the deployment of the minis either in cold and warm environments since 1943 if the rocket launcher is displayed without shield, as RPzB43.

Overall assessed as good, the weak point of the sculpture emerges the Zeltbahn, in spite providing many folds, the creator did not succeed to catch the real look of that popular item, especially in front not clearly appearing the specific triangle formed when Zeltbahn was worn as a piece of clothing. On the other hand, the smock is nicely detailed as well as the collars of the tunics worn below where the hobbyists should paint collar boards in compliance with the selected unit. The camouflage smock and the other pieces of clothing are fairly detailed but the nicest impression make headgear, on the camouflage cloth of the helmet we can be able to recognise specific characteristics and the bands of steel helmet really strikes. Most of the time CMK distinguishes though perfect anatomy and here is the case as well, the bodies recording ideal proportions and the facial details really amazing, put in valour by nicely carved eyes, eye-eyebrows, moths, noses, and ears. Palms respect human dimensions and crisp fingers, particularly firer’s left hand ones make the strongest impression over the viewer, wondering how it was possible not only to sculpt, but also to cast in resin so thin details considering the sensitivity of the material.

Concerning the metal Panzerschreck tube with photo-etched parts, words are not enough for praising it, as undoubtedly the best reproduction of the weapon that can be got in the scale. The rocket itself, made of resin and held by the loader in the right hand does not much impress with its shape, the propellant tube is a hair too short, the tail end fins are covered, but the body with the bursting charge and the steel nose come out quite clear with the mention that the small tube between those completely miss. Anyway, Panzerschreck rockets are scarcely found in mass-production tenders, emerging as one of the most important gaps, especially bearing in mind the large number of RPzBs handled by 1/72 WWII Germans. An opened Panzerschreck ammo box puts forward Hasegawa in “German Infantry Attack Group”, where there could be perceived the parts of an unassembled rocket and one trooper from Plastic Soldier’s “Late War German Infantry Heavy Weapons” has got in the right hand such a rocket.      

CMK deploys for their figs a high quality resin, able to successfully absorb minor shocks like accidental drops and the same do the glued parts. Painting the figs raises no problems, resin ideally housing enamel, acrylics or artistic oils and if the modeller goes for enamel, then even the metal weapon does not require priming. With the exception of Kar98K problem, casting is fine, without obvious air-bubbles or excess of material as well as a small amount of thin film. The minis miss bases, and not only this, but also the considerable efforts of putting together the weapon, the material, and the price turn CMK’s “German Soldiers with Panzerschreck”  to mainly address to diorama builders and collectors, though the assemble would look good on a wargaming table, too. 

Until now CMK has not spoiled the interested parts with figs in camouflage smocks, their other offer being included in “Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry”, However, situated in the tall side of 1/72, the present figs find plenty of companions dressed in camouflage attire to accompany and compiling these criteria, best matches are assessed Pegasus Hobbies’s Waffen SS Set 1 and even Set 2, Dragon’s “LAH Panzergrenadiers”, Preiser’s PaK40 and mortar in combat crews, Revell’s “German Infantry” etc. 

The incentive of providing a metal Panzerschreck must be highly welcomed and thanks to CMK’s efforts, collectors and static modellers have at disposal the most accurate 1/72 replica of this famous weapon. Moreover, the figures designed to operate it are fine and put forward some hard to find items such as Zeltbahn worn over the uniform or helmet bands for foliage or net. Although the price of the kit might limit the target groups, the provided quality justifies it and the pleasure of holding and working on an outstanding metal Panzerschreck makes the paid sum to pass easier.   

 

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