Articles

Italeri - WWII PAK 40 AT Gun with Servants (6096) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Italeri
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6096
Year 2007
No. of Figures 12 / 2 Guns
No. of Poses 6
Additional Items PaK40, Ammunition Box
Size Tall
Material Soft Plastic (“Super Special Material – Let’s Glue It”)
Colour Cream
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Good (Super Glue Gel)
Conversion-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943  - 1945

 

Review

The standard German anti-tank gun starting with 1941 has been a genuine point of attraction for many Braille Scale representative manufacturers that have tried depicting the famous PAK40 alone, or inside boxes featuring the cannon together with its related crewmen. Under the Italeri label this is the second kit including such a gun, the company reissued several years ago the ESCI "German Anti-tank Guns", where it could be found along with other two artillery pieces, a PAK40 with the barrel in firing position as well as eight poor sculptured servants, a far not enough number for covering all three the guns delivered by the kit in case. Nevertheless, the present set is the first including a cannon and crew exclusively created by Italeri, and this is easily seen, especially the figures situating in the high standard of sculpting of the first years of the XXI century.

Developed at the beginning of WWII, PAK40 entered in service in late 1941 and saw the first major combat in May 1942 at Kharkov. The gun was manufactured in more than 23,500 pieces, almost 6,000 variants of this gun being emplaced on different vehicles such as Panzer IV F to J, Panzer V (Panther), SdKfz 251/22, SdKfz 234/4 etc. Capable to destroy almost all Allied vehicles PAK40 followed the German troops on all fronts, representing one of the most trusted and reliable artillery pieces while its qualities and large numbers explain its numerous presence in the scale comparing with other guns. More or less successful representations of PAK40 and its crew come from ESCI/Italeri "German Anti-tank Guns", HaT “German PaK 40 Anti-tank Gun” and Airfix "Opel Blitz and PAK40", a set with the gun in 1/76, but crew in 1/72. In addition, Preiser dedicated for PAK40 an excellent set of five figures, "German PAK40 Crew", which greatly match with the best interpretations of this cannon, made by Roden and Dragon regrettably, inside kits without crewmen.

The box incorporates two identical sprues, each containing one gun, an ammunition box and six figures. The artwork features a PAK40 in action and on the back of the box there is provided both the assembly and painting instructions. In spite of not consisting the objective of the present review, few words must be said regarding the cannon, a fast-build version coming in nine pieces requiring gluing and manufactured in Italeri's soft plastic, “Superspecial material - Let's Glue It". The soft plastic discovered by the company is mostly like a combination among soft and hard plastic that for achieving a strong bond accepts pretty well only super glue, though Italeri has claimed that any standard model glue can be used. Accurate in size, after assembly, the gun looks quite nice for a fast built, but still there is an undesired inadvertence at the wheels that are positioned in the wrong place. It is pity that such a mistake interfered and is hard to correct the fault. However, the model probably will please the main target group of the set, the wargamers, which may not be disturbed by the error, but it is quite annoying for a diorama builder or modeller, particularly because the company could easily avoid the mistake. As a bonus, there is a fair detailed ammo box, and due to the fact that the lid is lifted, we could see inside three projectiles looking more adequate for a PAK40 than those held by the soldiers. The ammo box may be utilized in connection with the crouched soldier wearing great coat since he holds nothing in his hands and the pose appears appropriate for such a task.

Fortunately, the set delivers something that will satisfy the diorama builders and collectors, specifically the attractive figures accompanying the gun. In general, in sets related to PAK40 we get five soldiers, but here there are six of them which are apprised as a progress while the crew of such a cannon was composed by eight with the prime mover driver. According tho the poses and objects held, we receive the chief of section who was responsible for seeing that all duties are properly performed, all commands executed and all safety precautions observed, the gunner who set the announced deflection and laid for direction, no. 1 who loaded and fired the gun and no. 2, 3, 4 who handled the ammunition. The set just miss the no. 5 who also handled ammo and no. 6 who drove the prime mover. Based on just mentioned issues, it might be highlighted that the Italeri kit covers pretty satisfactory the necessary of a PaK40 crew.

Even if the reference materials of the period usually show the crew of an anti-tank gun dressed almost the same, Italeri took the decision to put on the “servants” a still feasible mix of various styles of uniforms, more addressed to the cold periods than to the warm ones. However, nothing restricts us in sending them into a warm environment, there were/are plenty of cases when the temperature of a chilly morning/night calls for a great coat, extremely useful for a soldier sleeping in a trench. In the view of garment category, the figures might be grouped in pairs, two soldiers wearing M42 great coats, two in camouflage smocks and two having parkas with hoods. All fighters wear regular trousers and two of them shoe ankle boots with gaiters while the rest have jack/marching boots. Most of them cover their heads with steel helmets with camouflage cloth, but two of them kept the M43 caps. A not so often seen in 1/72 and real nice garment piece is the toque which is found at five soldiers. Toques frequently appear in reference pictures, wrapping the neck and almost all the head of the soldiers, living uncovered just the face. Within cottage industry toques are more numerous, different sets made available by Warriors or Miniaturas Alemany standing out as proper examples on the matter. On the other hand, another mass production set including figures with toques was brought also by Italeri, "German Elite Troops". The soldiers from both sets looks like being sculptured by the same person, an excellent thing bearing in mind the fact that the figures perfectly match by size and outstanding complete each other. In order to underline the idea, even on the artwork of the here reviewed set there are illustrated several poses appearing pretty close to some encountered inside the "Elite" set.

All cloths are authentic and properly represented, but extra points should be granted for great coats and even more for the camouflage smocks, probably some of the best realized in the scale as well as for the camouflage cloths of the helmets on which can be seen the two tags common for some types of the item. The smocks are loose and small details like the strings from the placket and waist are visible at the first glance. Furthermore, the collars of the tunics are more than evident as well as the collar boards on which may be added Wehrmacht or Waffen SS symbols. The uniforms are suitable for being painted either with Wehrmacht or Waffen SS camouflage patterns, other colour choices being white for smocks and parkas or mouse grey for early parkas. It is obvious that the troopers wear several items specific for cold seasons, but in some extent, all of them may be used and in warmer times, especially inside the 1943-1945 period. Taking into account their role as gunners, the lack of gear is acceptable and in most of the cases these fighters have only the belts. For one of them the sculptor allocated a canteen, for another one correct Kar98K ammo pouches and the last important represents the binoculars given to the gun commander. Not only the gear is scarce, but also the weaponry, just the soldier with binoculars having a pistol holster and probably the pistol inside. Nevertheless, the lack is counterbalanced by the large number of projectiles compared with the number of figures from the set, three soldiers holding rounds and showing their role as gunners and all three wear different kinds of uniforms. Regarding the projectiles, it must be emphasized that there is a scale problem, most of them being closer to 88 mm than 75 mm that was the PAK40 calibre. It is primarily the case of the kneeling figure, but all of them are more suitable to serve a 88 mm gun such as PaK43/41, PaK43, FLAK 18, FLAK36 or allocated to vehicles endowed with 88 mm guns, Tigers Hummels or Nashorns hardly waiting them. Changing the projectiles with spare ones according to the calibre of the cannon the modeller wants to use in connection with this crew is an alternative for reflection. The figures may play a large array of roles, for instance, maintenance units for tanks or even emplaced in vehicles with open fighting compartments as Panzer or Strum Artillery truppen, the qualities of the plastic permitting fine fixing on the vehicles through superglue.

With reference to the poses, these are enough dynamic, realistic and fulfil great their task, as servants for an anti-tank cannon. They can be utilised with the provided gun, but as it was mentioned before, these minis conform to other duties according to various needs of the modeller. Two soldiers stand, three are crouched and one sits, all poses depicting the agitation around a gun in combat. Three figures hold projectiles, two of them rushing to bring closer ammo and a crouched figure preparing to insert a new round. The projectiles are held in various positions, most of them quite uncommon, but possible and realistic even if here it should be stressed that the way of holding them is not appropriate for a PaK cannon. At such guns the procedure required holding the projectile with the base in the left hand, in this way the loader avoiding to be hit by in the chest in recoil. Within our set the loader no.1 is most probably represented by the crouched figure in parka and preparing to insert a new round, but improperly, with the base in the right hand. The other soldiers with shells in hands keep them with the base in the right hand as well, but those are more adequate for playing the role of loader no. 2 and no.3. Definitely, the nicest loader is the soldier dressed in camouflage smock and he is the one having a closer to the 75 mm projectile representation in the scale, while his colleagues hold in their palms larger projectiles, more suitable for an 88 mm gun. The crouched soldier dressed in M42 great coat has empty hands and for this reason he is ready to receive different roles such as preparing to extract a round from the extra ammo box or pressing the split leg of the gun. A sat figure was specially created for manoeuvring the aiming devices of the gun and has a hand-wheel in the left palm. In fact, this wheel totally covers his hand, but the other palm is poor detailed too, without distinct fingers and contrasting with other similar body parts in the set from which several are really awesome. Perhaps the sculptor planned to put another hand-wheel in the right palm, too, but lately he gave up to the idea, forgetting to detail again the palm of concern. This figure acceptably but not impressively matches with the gun and he is the one to whom the sculptor gave a canteen. On the other hand, the best figure of the set is the gun commander, also crouched and in a quite common pose for soldiers with the same responsibility, but still remarkable through particulars and attitude. Dressed in camouflage smock and steel helmet with camouflage cloth, he is prepared, like an authentic gun commander, to order the opening of fire with the right hand in the air and the left pressing the binoculars on the chest. In addition, he is the only warrior of the set armed with a personal weapon, a pistol kept inside a very properly detailed holster. Not only his uniform, equipment and stance, but also the high level of sculpture, turns this figure into one of the best first line officers encountered in mass production or cottage industry 1/72 sets.

As it was pointed out along the review, the niceties on uniforms are marvellous and accurate, the garment items featuring plenty of fine points like buttons, strings, creases and other small things that should enchant an exigent viewer. Questionable elements are the back strap of the great coats that appears a little too short and the M43 caps that look over-scaled. Several palms may come out also over-scaled, but still respect possible human proportions and furthermore, considering all attire, it is more than plausible that the sculptor’s intention was to show the troopers with larger palms as wearing gloves with five fingers. Such idea is supported by the rest of anatomy that is gorgeous as well as by the facial details, assessed as some of the best in the scale. Discrepancy between the sizes of soldiers does not exist, but a tinny difference among the projectiles held in hands and from the ammo box is noticed. Flash is kept very low and easy to be taken away. In addition, excess of plastic subsist on several figures, especially in the contact zone between the projectiles and the bodies. In most of the cases, either is painless to be removed or due to the pose, the excess is hard to be observed. The biggest amount of undesired extra material registers at the crouched figure preparing to load the gun, thickening the projectile and is impossible to get rid of it. A multi-part approach would have avoided the issue, but Italeri chose to cast all the figures as single pieces, and even the most performing mould shows its limits in such cases. With the exception of the sat soldier, the warriors come with bases and are more difficult than usual to be detached due to the toughness of the plastic, the most intricate being the crouched crewman dressed in greatcoat. On the other side, the "Superspecial material - Let's Glue It" has several advantages such as marvellously accepting the paint, assuring to it a proper base and qualities for resisting to intense handling as well as genuine aptitudes for conversions. The last propriety is of major importance, because in this way it is given a quite good solution to the sensitive problem of converting soft plastic figures. In spite of accepting various kinds of soft plastic used by different manufacturers, the strongest bond is achieved with the same material that can be found inside several sets of the same producer as well as with the soft plastic used by Pegasus Hobbies in their sets, a material expressly created for admitting super glue. Moreover, another solid liaison is established with hard plastic, a key issue of foremost importance due to the fact that in this way figures may be endowed with various accessories issued by  Preiser and Dragon.

The fighters incorporated inside the present set provide an ideal base for conversions due to the lack of gear and weapons, so the number of poses may be easily increased mixing either parts from the same set or from other soft and hard plastic kits, good choices in the area existing inside the sister set, "German Elite Troops". Except the content of the just named set, excellent companions for this PaK40 crew, not only from the point of size, but also uniforms, should be looked for inside Italeri "German Elite Troops", Pegasus Hobbies "WWII German IG18 Gun and Crews", "Waffen SS - set 1", Preiser "German PAK40 Crew", Caesar "German Infantry with Winter Gear", Revell "German Infantry", as well as some from Pegasus Hobbies "Germans in Berlin 1945" and Revell "German Engineers". Put together in the same place, almost all the figures from these sets perfectly match the size differences of gear, body or weapons being insignificant.

Leaving aside the cannon, the troopers featured by "PAK40 AT Gun with servants" are a very useful and pleasant addition to the 1/72 WWII German soldiers, a more than attractive set both for wargamers and diorama builders. The crewmen may be functional for a large range of guns and vehicles, while the multiple conversion possibilities increase the utility and value of the present set. An aspect that should not be neglected is that if there are not replaced, the rounds held are suitable only for 88 mm or larger cannons while the way of holding the projectiles, with the base in the right hand make them inappropriate for PaKs. However, these crewmen certainly will impress the customers either through their facial expressions or other apparently insignificant details that raise the charisma of a small figure. Furthermore, with little money can be purchased several troopers from which some overcomes through qualitative niceties many much more expensive hard plastic, white metal or resin minis. In this regard, it should be brought up again, the awesome figures dressed in camouflage smocks.

 

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