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CMK - U-VII 88 mm cannon crew in action (F72131) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer CMK
Scale 1/72
Set Code F72131
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Cream
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

 

Review 

 

When needing U-Boot and other Kriegsmarine 1/72 crewmen, then CMK is the first to check while the Czech manufacturer addresses the topic within a large amount of sets, trying to cover a multitude of stances adopted by WWII German sailors and U-Boot crews. Nevertheless, most of the times, personnel created for U-Boot finely works for battle vessels and vice-versa, when the U-Boot was navigating on the surface many crewmen having similar tasks as on any battle-ship. 

Taking a look on CMK’s offer regarding Kriegsmarine, it is virtually impossible not remarking that most sets are dedicated to U-VII type, nine of them posting in titles a reference to the famous U-Boot. It is normal to be like that while U-VII Klasse was the most spread, fighting from the beginning to the end of war. Its C variant represented the most ever produced submarine, 568 boats being built between 1940 and 1945. However, much more CMK sets feature U-Boot, vessel, and port figures, so modellers can easily populate a submarine with a complete crew only appealing to the catalogue of this company. Some years ago Revell issued a brilliant 1/72 U-Boot VIIC and a Schnell-boat, the need for related crewmen becoming evident. For this reason, Revell released a quite good soft plastic figure set, “German Navy”, but the topic did not let indifferent aftermarket companies like CMK, Warriors, Andrea, and Hecker&Goros which have pushed much ahead the subject and made available lots of sets either in resin or metal. 

The space provided by a U-Boot for figures is quite limited and directly depends how hobbyist wishes to depict the boat, in surface combat, on patrol, entering/getting out of port, at dock, inside (section) etc. Still, CMK considered all such possibilities and puts forward miniatures able to cover all alternatives, as well as dressed for different environments.

As many WWII U-Boots, the VIIC type was endowed with 88 mm naval cannon as main deck gun, utilised to attack smaller vessels or to give the final hit to damaged ships, sparing in that way one of the fourteen torpedoes that were on board plus other five in tubes. With the same cannon were engaged various targets on the shore but not aircrafts because of its 30 degrees elevation angle. Still, in desperate situations and if possible, the 88 mm gun cold fire airplanes such as U-242 which on 10 October 1944 hit a Russian aircraft with the 88 mm deck gun. The main cannon of a U-Boot had a crew of three to five, commanded by the second watch officer. In 1/72 scale, not only CMK delivers a crew for the main cannon, but also Warriors in “U-Boat Crew Set2 (Main Gun Crew)”, its soldiers wearing battledresses and not foul-weather attire like CMK, so the two offers do not overlap.

Titled “U-VII 88 mm cannon crew in action”, the CMK set is marketed in the ordinary clear plastic box fixed on a cardboard with an artwork revealing the three figures of the kit in action, next to a vaguely drawn cannon. The three slots composing the kit are perceived in the box, and strictly ensure the pieces necessary for creating three figurines, no extra accessory being available. The manufacturer gives no assembly guide for putting together the crewmen, but the operation is uncomplicated while each slot includes the parts for a single figure split in head, body, and arms.  Additionally, the artwork offers enough indications for how these soldiers might look at the end, the artwork being appraised as a painting guide, too.

It is well-acknowledged the impressive diversity of items of clothing worn by the U-Boot crewmen as well as the more permissive regime in terms of beards. Still, these members come shaved and equally dressed, in foul-weather waterproof gear, intended to embody soldiers sailing in rough waters such as Atlantic Ocean or in other cold areas. Furthermore, all of them wear the Southwester hat although one has it not on the head, but on the back, secured with the chin strap and appearing on the figure almost like a hood. Footwear is little dissimilar, two shoe ankle boots and the third has got either sea-boots or marching/jack boots. The foul-weather cape was cut large for allowing wearing over the leather jacket and had a large collar that could be turned up and buttoned for extra protection. Waterproof garments were mandatory for properly carrying out tasks on the bridge, deck, or conning tower while navigating in cold or rough waters and regulations enforced each Kriegsmarine vessel or U-Boat to have on board such specialised items of clothing. However, variation in terms of colours and models were often encountered due to the large number of suppliers, generally manufacturing for civil market, too.

Bearing in mind the assigned role, as crew for the main deck gun of an U-Boot, gear and weapons are inexistent on these figures, only the commander receiving binoculars as well the related case, secured by a strap across the torso. The case is supplied as separate part on the slot of the mini and it must be glued in the position indicated in the artwork while its strap is very visible. According to the size and shape of the case and binoculars, this officer uses the more powerful 10X50 binoculars, regularly met in Kreigsmarine endowment.

As title suggests, the sculptor portrays the three crewmen as preparing to fire the gun, one holding the projectile, another operating the breech or hand-wheel and the third, embodying the commander of the cannon, looking through binoculars and ready to order opening the fire, signaling it also with the right hand. For the main cannon there were allocated 220 projectiles and U-Boot gunners could fire 15 to 18 rounds per minute, the here presented crew interacting pretty fine with the weapon. Apart from the soldier with projectile, the poses of his comrades fit to any cannon such as the 20 or 37 mm anti-aircraft ones, also mounted on U-VII. Nonetheless, these two figures match well in various places not necessary near a gun, even in the conning tower they will not look odd.   

There is a problem in my kit, either due to poor transportation or other reasons. In this light, my loader, who should hold the projectile, arrived without the shell and most of its right arm. Still, the upper part of his arm is present and there are clear clues the arm in case was broken. Unfortunately, the part did not remain in the box but it should be stressed that other sets show the arm in case, so the manufacturer must not be blamed of a cast fault, it is simply my bad luck. For this reason, I had to add another right arm and I oriented to a Pegasus Hobbies one in greatcoat because of its thickness, closer in size to the left arm already on the figure. With some slight modifications to the greatcoat sleeve, the two arms properly combine, as well as the dimensions of palms. This mini can hold in his palms a projectile or weapon, but also nothing sets out as an option.     

Anatomy fits the CMK’s renowned standard, with proper proportions and excellent facial expressions, where the modeller or viewer can easily distinguish the eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, and ears. Palms are a hair too big but this permitted an admirable depiction of the fingers. On account they wear foul-weather capes, those did not feature too many details to put in valour sculptor’s skills. Anyway, the back of the capes disclose nice panels, the attire possessing very realistic creases, pocket flaps, and closures, too. Furthermore, the Southwester hats come out really nice, folded in diverse ways and truly respecting the natural form. Footwear and what can be seen from the trousers do not impress but emerge fair.   

Even if the product is cast in a high-quality resin, neither bridle nor fragile, as always when dealing with such material, some prudence should be shown when detaching the pieces from the slots in order to avoid potential breaks. Likewise, the marks where the parts were stuck to the slots must be carefully removed, and this is uncomplicated at all, just require more attention and time. Level of thin film and flash is actually low and no large and annoying air-bubble was discovered in this set. The pieces match fine in positions and no gaps between remain but obviously, some awareness should be granted to the relation arms-shoulders in order to catch a realistic perspective. While it is about resin, the adhesive providing great success in joining the pieces is cyanoacrylate, superglue gel giving few seconds for eventual readjustments. In case it is needed for eventual conversions, the same glue can durably fix hard plastic or metal parts to resin. As a set principally targeting static modellers, bases are let aside and definitely such stuff would have been useless while these crewmembers have to be emplaced next to the main gun on the deck of a submarine or on another Kriegsmarine vessel, places where bases would look ridiculous.

In the tall side of the scale, the crewmen find plenty of comrades to work with, not only inside the rich CMK tender, but also inside Warriors, Hecker&Goros, Andrea or Revell sets. Of course, best would be colleagues dressed in foul-weather or cold environments attire as well, such figurines being put forward by lots of sets. Crewmen wearing Southwester hats are met within Hecker&Goros’ “U-Boot Crew f Revell U-Boot VIIC” and “Deutschland 1939-45 U-Boot Crew”, Revell’s “German Navy”, and CMK’s “U-VII crew (guard with binoculars)” and “U-VII crew on sentry”.

Due to the foul-weather waterproof clothes, converting these three soldiers in something else than U-Boot/Kriegsmarine personnel is a little bit tricky, but actually not impossible. In case of having the set and not needing sailors, than, at least the heads with Southwester hats should be changed either with ones wearing a continental head-cover or with bare heads, Preiser and Dragon supplying enough choices inside various hard plastic sets. Moreover, the foul-weather waterproof cape should be painted as a leather-coat or raincoat, occasionally worn by officers or even as a tailor-made Kradmantel, of course the closure system, pockets and other details being totally different. Although references on the matter are not so common, it is well-acknowledged that officers and certain NCOs had to procure their uniforms either from military depots or private purchase, so a coat with a similar cut with the here represented one could appear at continental troops, too. Likewise, there are numerous photos showing WWII German army-men wearing items of garment completely unknown, from civil sources, tailor-made, from enemies or even field modifications of their own or captured attire. Based on these facts, such a coat might be worn by terrestrial units and the images accompanying the present review reveal the cape painted in two variants, as standard version of a foul-weather waterproof cape and as a tailor-made motorcyclist’s protective coat or raincoat, the back panel of those items of garment looking fairly close in the 1/72 scale. Concerning the bare-headed soldier, who definitely can keep his initial head, the just stressed approach is unfeasible considering in his case the Southwester hat is kept on the back, emerging like a hood. Still, a more interesting advance might be followed in terms of his garment. Because of the stance, some folds appear in the waist area, making it thicker. For this reason, corroborated with the “hood”, his attire can be painted as a parka worn over a greatcoat, such possibility being illustrated in some of the below images. WWII Germans used to put various clothes over greatcoats, either in camouflage or warm purposes. In addition, a scratch-built belt with various items of gear and a weapon in his hands would perfectly transform the U-Boot crewman into a genuine infantry trooper. 

Concentrating on a quite limited subject, these crewmen are a welcome addition to the hobby and in general they can occupy various places on a U-Boot or Kriegsmarine vessel, highlighting a presence in rough waters. Even if the commercial value is not so high, it certainly has to be much praised and appreciated CMK’s incentive of giving modellers the chance to populate their vessels with figurines covering diverse hypostases as well as appropriate to work in different climates. On the other hand, with several modifications, the just reviewed crewmen can be turned into soldiers belonging to other branches, including continental ones, so a supplementary plus-point for a highly specialised set.   

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