Articles

Italeri - Anti Tank Teams (6131) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Italeri
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6131
Year 2009
No. of Figures 4 (32 with the Allies Teams)
No. of Poses 4 (16 with the Allies Teams)
Additional Items None
Size High
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Cream
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Medium (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1944 - 1945

 

Review 

During last years, in terms of WWII figure sets, Italeri has been one of the most prolific manufacturers, not only reissuing some of old Esci kits, but also supplying the market with brand new sculptured ones. These fresh kits have strived to cover the armies of the main combatants in WWII as well as various attractive topics, the manufacturer gaining the merit of succeeding to fill in several gaps in the field. With the same purpose, a quite interesting attempt was registered through WWII Anti Tank Teams, title promising a most exciting subject. Definitely a distinct and out of ordinary feature of the present set is enclosing in a single set representatives of four different armies, German, Russian, British and US soldiers finding their place in the same box. The solution chosen by Italeri emerges as an extremely rarely met approach in the 1/72 scale, where generally producers limit in depicting a single army in a specific kit. Likewise, it might be assessed as a more or less risky market strategy, often hobbyists preferring a particular army, so having nothing to do with the rest of figures. In this line, although making few references to the rest of minis and also featuring an image with all the sprues too, the present review will stick exclusively to the German Army troopers.

The uncommon approach of the producer within this set is reflected both on the front and back artworks of the standard Italeri box of figures, the front illustrating a soldier from each army holding in hands a representative anti-tank weapon, also made available inside. An excellent advance is offered by the back artwork, showing an image with all the poses divided on nations. In this manner the potential client is fully informed on the content and what he can acquire if buying the box. Furthermore, the same back artwork might be taken as an assembly guide for the mortar and machine gun endowing the US troopers. Each of the two identical sprues of minis incorporate the four distinct teams, also composed by four members

At the dawn of World War II, except Germany, no other country assessed the tank as a major weapon, but after Blitzkrieg was thrown over Europe, fully demonstrating the key role of tank, all nations rushed to reconsider the position occupied by such vehicles in the new warfare. Moreover, WWII distinguished both through the largest number of armoured vehicles ever produced and the biggest tank battles involving thousands of vehicles. Nevertheless, the appearance of a weapon requires counter-weapons, so tanks had to face not only similar vehicles of the enemy, but also various anti-tank cannons and tank-hunter airplanes. Unfortunately, not all the time such weapons were available at the right moment and the backbone of any army, the infantry, was in great need of weapons for protecting through its own resources against armoured vehicles. For that reason, a large range of anti-tank infantry weapons had been developed by all armies, rocket-launchers, anti-tank mines, small bombs and rifles or other specialized weapons starting to be more and more used by soldiers. In addition, the fear and necessity of weapons capable to offer a chance to the poor infantryman versus the tank could be reflected also by the field converted anti-tank weapons such as the famous Molotov cocktail or the bunch of hand-grenades tied together. While in the early stages of WWII attacking a tank with grenades or mines was considered an act of true heroism, close to madness, and directly medal awarded, the progress registered by the infantry anti-tank weapons turned such attack into an extremely common action. Likewise, even if many of those weapons still implied getting closer to the vehicle or engaging it from a short distance for successfully penetrate its armour, specialized anti-tank infantry weapons became one of the most fearful threat for tankers and their vehicles. Hard to spot, practically able to emerge in any moment from everywhere, those weapons brought terror and uncertainty to the armoured vehicles crews that tried to protect themselves working in close cooperation with their own infantry.

The WWII German designers are generally acknowledged not only for creating the most famous and powerful tanks that revolutionized the concept, but also for generating the largest and most potent range of infantry anti-tank weapons. On the one hand, the German engineers found inspiration in the best weapons of the enemies, taking and upgrading them and on the other hand, they succeeded to create new innovative and very successful ones. From a complex but not exhaustive list of weapons used by WWII German soldiers in combating adversary tanks, some of the most frequent were Panzerbüchse 38 and 39 (PzB 38 and 39 - anti-tank rifle), Raketenpanzerbüchse (RPzB 43) and its variant with shield attached RPzB 54, Faustpatrone 1 and Panzerfaust 30, 60, 100, (and final 1945 versions 150, 250) m, Tellermine 35, 42 and 43 (TMi 35) and variants, PanzerHandgranate 41,  SS-HL-Handgranate, (magnetic anti-tank grenade), Hafthohlladung 3 (also magnetic anti-tank grenade), geballte Ladung (six explosive heads of StiHg-r 24 or 43 grenade tied around one StiHg-r 24 with stick) and  Panzerwurfmine (hand-thrown hollow charge, close in size and shape to the Faustpatrone warhead, but with vanes made of cloth). Whilst using some of those weapons required the soldier to get near the enemy vehicle, Nebelhandgranaten 39 and 41 (smoke grenades) were developed in order to provide coverage during th attack. A variant of such grenade was the Blendkörper (blinding device) that released a gas irritating the eyes of the tank crew. For engaging the enemy vehicle for a distance, Gewehrgranatgerät (rifle grenade device) attached to Kar98K, Gewehr 43, StGw 44 or FG 42 could fire various anti-tank grenades Gewehrpanzergranate (GewPzGr 30, gross, and late war 46, 61 types). Moreover, depending on the situation, Flammenwerfer 34 and 41 proved successful against enemy armoured vehicles. Likewise, few other weapons mounted on carriages such as Raketenpanzerbüchse 43 "Püppchen" (RPzB 43  rocket launcher fired from a small two-wheeled gun carriage), schwere Panzerbüchse 41 (anti-tank rifle on a two-wheeled carriage)  or the remote controlled vehicles Sd.Kfz 300 Mineräumwagen Borgward BI and BII, Sd.Kfz 301 Borgward IVc (with a late version Panzerjäger Borgward B IVc Ausf m RPzB 54) and the well-known Sd.Kfz 302  Goliath were often deployed means against enemy armoured vehicles by German infantry or assimilates.

However, from the rich list of WWII German anti-tank infantry weapons, Italeri selected to depict just the Panzerfaust and considering the topic of the present reviewed set as well, it might be appreciated the manufacturer has lost a major opportunity for depicting some out of the ordinary and merely represented in the Baille Scale WWII German infantry means for fighting foe armour. Indeed, issued in millions of copies, the Panzerfaust series was the most spread weapon, proving to be efficient even to thick armour and allowing the user to fruitfully engage the enemy vehicle for a distance that could vary according to the type of Panzerfaust. Cheap to produce, light and easy to use, this single shot weapon, after launching the hollow charged warhead, the tube was thrown away. Still, when possible, the used tubes were picked and sent back to the factory for recharging. Firing off Panzerfaust was extremely simple and implied just lifting the sighting lever, removing the safety plug at the warhead and the weapon was ready for launching. All its characteristics made it appropriate for use not only by regular soldiers, but also by civilians after a very brief training. In fact, Panzerfaust (Tank-Fist) was described as a weapon for women and children and as statistics or photo and video sources reveal, thousands of copies had been distributed to old-men, women and children during the fight for Berlin. However, the weapon was no free of danger, special attention having to be granted to the back-blast of the weapon, varying between two to three meters behind the tube and which sometimes proved to be lethal. For this reason, except the instructions for use, on many Panzerfaust was printed a warning to take care at the released fire jet. Nevertheless, very often tank hunters expressed their preference for Panzerfausts due to their light weight allowing to carry more such weapons, ability of penetrating armour and possibility to be fired from a quite safe distance and even from the interior of buildings.

As the other four teams, the German one also rests in four members, but only two soldiers were endowed with anti-tank means by the sculptor, namely two Panzerfausts. Considering the shape and size of warheads, it seems that they received the 60 m version. The other two have nothing to do with tank combat, with their MG34 and MP40 perhaps they would have succeeded just to scratch the paint of the enemy armoured vehicle. Nevertheless, troopers armed with such weapons were really supportive for a tank hunter unit, while their colleagues attacked the vehicle they could shot down either the accompanying infantry or its crew when they tried to evacuate the damaged vehicle. Still, within a set so limited in number of figures and on such a topic, hobbyists would rather prefer to receive troopers armed with anti-tank means than with ordinary weapons put forward by tens of kits on WWII German Army.

Panzerfaust 60 m saw action starting with 1944, contradicting a little the M36 tunics, regular trousers and marching/jack boots, attire specific to the Early War period but worn here by all the minis. As it is well-known, the Early uniforms continued to be delivered to the units until the end of war, so no accuracy issue in seeing a figure in M36 tunic firing off a Panzerfaust. Anyway, on account of the Panzerfausts, it would have been better fit Late War garment, especially bearing in mind that Italeri excellent depicted it in their German Elite Troops and Pak 40 AT Gun with servants. At least, steel helmets are appropriate for the entire period of war and this time such items have been chosen for covering all the heads. The thickness of uniforms permits the use both in warm and temperate environments and even in the battle of Berlin these minis might find a place.    

Gear is complete for all of them, including Y straps, gas mask container with gas cape pouch attached, canteen, bread-bag, mess-tin, Zeltbahn and shovels with bayonets attached. The board range of items carried on them is quite amusing taking into account the role intended for these figures, respectively tank hunters. Such troopers definitely needed to be light, mobile, and speed, many times an extra kilo making the difference between life and dead. In this regard, often tank-hunters took off from them all the useless gear, keeping just the anti-tank means and sometimes the personal firing weapons. However, few images present German army-men firing off anti-tank weapons and still retaining gear, so particularly the gas cape pouches fro here are welcome while they are fixed on the gas mask containers not only with the two straps, but also with a single one.  Both approaches are accurate, although according to regulations, it was forbidden to wear fixed on the container the gas cap pouch for fear that the straps, in general made of leather or rubber, not damaging the cape. The practice on the front line was exactly contrary, efforts for hampering the soldiers from wearing attached to the gas mask container the gas cap pouch proved to be in vain. Starting with 1942 it was recognised as suitable that place for the pouch, but it had to be fixed to the free end of the sling that was extended in this purpose.

The whole arsenal of the Italeri German anti-tank team rests in two Panzerfausts, a MG34, a MP40, a Kar98K, and two pistols in holsters, the figures featuring the appropriate ammunition pouches for the weapons in use. Well, a bizarre arrangement of the ammunition pouches is recorded at the guy using the MP40. In this regard, the right ammunition pouch is pushed back, closer to the buckle being worn a pistol holster. The situation is quite odd, while in spite being quite frequent a soldier to have both MP40 and pistol, he almost always would have worn the holster behind the MP40 ammunition pouch and not vice-versa.      

The team members are in three standing and a single crouched poses, the large number of standing combatants somehow denying their main task. As tank-hunters or at least soldiers providing fire cover for the colleagues attacking the vehicle, still they would have tried to keep as low as they could. Per total, poses emerge quite flat and shared by plenty of similar sets on the topic, possibly an exception making the MP40 gunner which is very persuasive in what he is doing. An inaccuracy in terms of firing Panzefaust registers at both of the troopers with those weapons. Looking as if they are right in the moment of releasing the deadly charge, none have raised the sighting lever. In the way their Panzerfausts were done, those army-men would have been more appropriate to carry and not fire them. Moreover, apart from the strange arrangement of the right MP40 above described, another unusual gear display might be discovered on the crouched figure. This trooper wears the shovel on the right hip while not only regulations, but also the largest majority of references imposed and showed the shovel on the left hip. For many modellers, this might be taken as a fault in terms of accuracy, but at lest here is limited because within Italeris German Elite Troops there is duplicated for all the minis. Still, very few photos show German army-men that inverted the correct location of the shovel in the same way as featured on the crouched tank-hunters, so an exception is acceptable and maybe welcomed.

The small number of figs definitely permits a brief observance of all the team members, but before starting analysing them, it has to be pointed out that Panzerfaust was correctly fired from the crook of the arm although sometimes was accepted, and some references demonstrate, the weapon was fired from the shoulder, exactly like a Panzershreck or bazooka. In spite disobeying regulations in keeping the shovel, the crouched figure seems to fire his Panzerfaust it in the right manner, and he is also the only figure not holding a personal weapon. Still, he wears Kar98K ammunition pouches, so it might be apprised that he put his rifle down while handling the anti-tank weapon. The other guy making use of Panzerfaust decided to maintain his rife on him and he is in a stance proving that he is ready to fire off the anti-tank weapon. However, he holds the tube under his arm and if a soldier would have done it in this manner, than he could say good-bye to his arm and life, being impossible to survive the back-blast.

With reference to the other two poses that are aimed to provide fire cover to their comrades while attacking the enemy vehicle, the trooper with MP40 is caught right in the moment using his weapon. With the shoulder stock opened, but firing off his MP40 from the chest, he puts a lot of effort in and we almost could notice the recoil of the weapon. Except the MP he was endowed with a pistol, too and it was previously stressed, the sculptor pushed back the right ammunition pouch in order to make space for the pistol holster. Related to the MG34 gunner, he seems running to another foxhole although he holds the MG quite bizarre and possesses no ammunition for his weapon. Anyway, an assistant could carry the ammunition, but such a figure has to be searched in other sets, luckily on the matter being supplied plenty of them. As specialised soldiers, MG gunners were endowed with pistols, and the one from here received not only pistol, but also MG gunner pouch, in other words, no accuracy problems. Likewise, it has to be praised Italeris incentive of depicting MG gunners in various stances, not just the classical ones in firing postures.      

In terms of level of details, the new sculptured Italeri minis have been making a very good impression, uniforms featuring small and nicely done buttons, collar and shoulder boards, breast eagles, authentic creases, and other stuff pleasing the modellers. Moreover, the same figures has become famous for their highly detailed faces, with perfect eyes, eye-brows, ears, and mouths depicted in such a way for reflecting the attitudes adopted by the army-men. Nonetheless, such perfection was facilitated by the larger available space for the sculptor, heads and bodies, weapons and gear appearing a little over-scaled. For instance, the MG34 here delivered is clearly larger than the similar item portrayed by various other sets. Still, the figures can be enclosed in the 1/72 scale, within the high category, and matches the best with troopers put forward by a couple of Italeri kits namely DAK Infantry and German Paratroopers  Tropical Uniform as well as Forces of Valor's "German SS Cavalry Division". Anyway, differences between humans are normal and even some hilarious photos showing WWII German soldiers reflect this aspect. A little more intricate is for weapons and gear the over-scaling issue, those items having with few variations the same size. For instance, differences could be registered at helmets size, but still the ones presented here are too big. In order to diminish or somehow hide this, a proper method rests in painting the helmets as covered by camouflage cloth, even if manufacturer did not provide any clue for such an approach.

While flash is kept at a reasonable level, in some places the mould has given errors, none of those minis escaping of excess of plastic that comes into sight not only in classical places, at the junction of weapons with body, but also at the back of some figures, under the shovels as well as in other areas. Removing the undesired excess will take some time and not always can be reached, for example, the one below some hands being really a mission impossible although it over-sizes them.  The material is the now standard Super Special Material "Let's Glue It", a pretty hard plastic that cannot be glued with standard modelling glue but answering very well at super glue gel and also accepting and maintaining enamel and artistic oils even at heavy handling. The sturdiness of the material implies an extra effort, particularly to the crouched one, for getting rid of the bases if it is desired such thing. On account of the size of minis, it is pretty tricky emplacing the present Italeri product in the same place even with troopers in M36 tunics, also encompassed by the high part of 1/72 scale such as Pegasus Hobbies German Mortar Teams and German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew, Imexs German Troops, Dragons 7.5cm PaK 40 w/Gun Crew + 3.7cm PaK 35/36, Hasegawas German Infantry Attack Group or Atlantics German Infantry.

Conversions are possible and somehow facilitated by the material, but the great number of similar troops as well as the over-sized appearance makes this operation almost useless. In this light, for hobbyists that cannot stay away from making any conversion, perhaps it would be better to focus their attention to the crouched Russian soldier firing off a Panzerfaust, even if he does it in an awful manner. Simply replacing his head with one covered by a German standard or Fallschirmjager helmet as well as removing the Russian canteen and adding few gear items of German origins can transform the figure in a genuine Heer or Luftwaffe soldier. The worn padded jacket and the PPSh41 should not worry, due to the awful Russian winter experience, the Germans used to take garment pieces from their opponents and furthermore, they started to produce their own padded jackets, issued mainly to Luftwaffe ground units. Likewise, PPSh41 was a highly appreciated trophy, plenty reference photos and videos highlighting the intense use of the weapon by WWII German units.

Italeris endeavour in approaching in a novel manner a striking subject, as well as their intention in covering various armies within the same box should be left at the market appreciation. In terms of the German team, its members are not so persuasive both because their weapons and poses interfere with figures already available in a great number of sets. However, in spite their few mistakes in accuracy, they definitely have a collecting value and might complete other Italeri kits featuring larger size minis. More addressed to wargamers than static model builders, perhaps except the Russian team, the British and US paratroopers could be a nice add for those interested in the topic and quite practical for wargaming purposes. Some of the low scores featured below might raise several question marks, but it has to be underlined that these refer exclusively, like the entire review, just to the German anti-tank team, not considering the others that might increase the whole value of the set.

 

Historical Accuracy 8
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 8
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 8
Sculpture 8
Recommendation/Utility 6
Reviewer's Opinion 8