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Zvezda - German 75 mm Infantry Gun with Crew (6156) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6156
Year 2012
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items 1 le.IG18
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Average
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

Review   

Reviewing the list of kits issued or announced by Zvezda on German Army for “Operation Barbarossa” and the other board-games, it might be dropped the conclusion the manufacturer intends to cover not only infantry but also their main support weapons. In this regard there have already been launched MG34 in heavy role, 8.1 cm GrW34, PaK35/36, and le.IG18, other niceties waiting in the pipeline. In addition, the company has put forward the 10.5 cm leFH18/40 cannon, the standard divisional light gun howitzer, as well as anti-aircraft artillery, 2 cm FLAK 38 and 8.8 cm FLAK 36, both often manned by infantrymen and employed versus ground targets. Zvezda’s good interpretation over Leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18 (le.IG18) from “German 75 mm Infantry Gun with Crew” represents the subject of the present review, and except this, few years ago Pegasus Hobbies released the brilliant "German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew", including two four member distinct crews but a single gun, ACE also sending their interpretation over the cannon inside a kit without any figure.

Just like its bigger brother leFH18, the smaller le.IG18 was developed by Rheinmetall in 1920' and entered in service in 1932. The cannon was designed for providing close artillery support for infantry and fought till the end, over 8,000 copies being manufactured. It could fire different projectiles, mostly HE but also hollow-charge shells in anti-tank role. According to regulations, the gun was issued directly to infantry or Panzer Grenadier battalions, in special to those missing a regimental gun company and because of that le.IG18 was manned by infantrymen and not by regular artillery gunners. Firing 7.5 cm projectiles, it could attack the enemy with both direct and indirect fire, like a mortar, that ability probably directly contributing to its long service. Three versions of the gun appeared, the standard as portrayed by Zvezda, another for Mountain Troops/Gebirgsjager (le.GebIG18) recognised after tubular legs and optional differently shaped shield as well as a special version for Paratroopers/Fallschirmjager (le.IG18F), with tubular legs, without shield, and smaller wheels, only six pieces being produced. Two types of wheels were ordinary for le.IG18, wooden-spoken for horse-drawn transportation, towed by four or six horse teams, and metal disc wheels with rubber tyres for motorised transport.

Packed in the now classical Mini-Box, the kit rests in two sprues, one for the cannon and the other for the two crewmen, game base, and accessories like flag and trench representations. In the same gaming purpose, a card is supplied, forwarding an excellent reference image with a heavily camouflaged le.IG18, only two crew members starring in the photo, those might inspire the creation of the present 1/72 figs. Customers find in the box the assembly guide delivering full information for putting together the gun and its crew, highlighting the basing option for gaming and possible displaying purposes, too. The front artwork depicts the gun in action, operated by the two soldiers that will be encountered inside without ammo pouches and gas mask containers though in the artwork those items clearly emerge at the front figure. On the back of the box, the purchaser is informed in Russian and English on the content and receives four images, one with the assembled but unpainted model, two with the crew-masters, and one of the game card. 

Zvezda’s le.IG18 is split in twelve parts and as habitual for products issued under “Art of Tactic” label, putting together is extremely easy, practically the kit coming as snap fit and not compulsory involving gluing. Dealing with hard plastic, the standard modelling glue (polly-cement) eventually can be deployed and indeed, it is a true pleasure working with this plastic, the bonds being extremely strong and fast drying.

Concerning the gun, a special remark should receive the rivets, correctly emplaced and in scale, a master of crafting stressing those fixed in the lower part of the specific box type carriage. Due to few number of parts and perfect fit, clear guidelines and almost total absence of flash, it is a matter of minutes finishing the gun both by experienced and unexperienced hobbyists. Thicker and ruder than Pegasus Hobbies version, the present sighting mechanism and the panoramic sight Rundblickfernrohr 16 (Rbl.F.16) still possess tiny fine points as the range indicator gear, upper prism micrometer head or main azimuth scale. The barrel seems a hair under-scaled and should be drilled but the breechblock with the breech closed looks good enough, around being identified the firing lever and the breech-mechanism lever. Properly shaped and with nice rivets, the shield arrives dimly wider than those proposed for the other 1/72 le.IG18 guns. Folded down in combat mode, it hosts a spare barrel on the left hand side but at the interior the fixation devices were ignored. On the carriage the two boxes with spares are less detailed and mainly at the one fitted in the middle a small gap remains after assembling the model. Furthermore, the spade emerges too small and lacks some characteristics but the two aiming stakes are in position on each side of the carriage. Likewise, a fine thing is that diverging from their PaK35/36 where the traversing and elevation wheels have not been included, this time the manufacturer provides both. As a cannon towed either by motor vehicles or horses, le.IG18 received two types of wheels, metal disc with rubber tyres or wooden-spoken ones for horse-drawn utilisations. Zvezda offers only the choice for motorised vehicles with pneumatic tyres but remarkable wooden ones are at hand in Pegasus Hobbies and ACE kits proposing both wheel alternatives. Besides not drilled muzzles, a draw-back of Zvezda artillery sets is not making available spare ammunition rounds and ammo boxes, much better would be the company start considering such stuff. Luckily, Pegasus Hobbies and ACE versions bestow lots of rounds and ammunition boxes, opened and closed, the container being the wooden one. In order to display the gun in full action and if having any of the other kits, importing several ammo boxes from there for setting next to Zvezda’s le.IG18 sets out as an excellent decision.    

A seven member crew was allocated by KStN for le.IG18, all soldiers being armed with Kar98K apart the gun commander who had pistol. The cannon was often towed in action by its crewmen via a special harness and those that pulled usually kept rifles in front when performing that task. Submitting just two crewmen, Zvezda certainly is far from covering the stipulated number but even like that, when emplaced around the cannon they bring a nice touch to the device. Moreover, there are numerous references, including the one from the game card, showing le.IG18 manned in action only by two crewmen, the rest being hidden around, especially when enemy was pretty close. 

Figure assembly is something smooth, arms and left legs having to be snapped in position without or with glue, the second modality starting to be more intensively advertised by the manufacturer which in the guidelines of the last sets has begun promoting the glue alternative. Again parts go well in places without any modification and no gap emerges. Both soldiers are crouched, life-like, and perfectly interacting with the weapon. One holds a projectile as preparing to load the gun and the other arranges something at the sight with the right hand, the left excellent grabbing the hand-wheel. Due to their roles they terrifically embody gunner and loader, though other roles within the team fit, too.

Dressed in M36 uniform, with marching boots and steel helmets they are lightly equipped with bread bags, canteens, and bayonets. Surprising is the miss of Kar98K ammo pouches, especially bearing in mind that weapon was allocated to such gunners and Zvezda has previously added the referred pouches to the PaK35/36 crew, so uncomplicated to duplicate. Perhaps it was an omission but does not affect at all the top quality of figures and if needed, tons of Kar98K ammo pouches are waiting on Presier, Dragon, and Caesar sprues with separate equipment. Additionally, from the same sources can be taken other types of ammo pouches, pistol holsters and weapons, so the lack confer more liberty to modellers having at least one figure set and its accessories by the above mentioned producers. Appropriate for warm and temperate environments, with no ammo pouches and weapons, these crewmen might embody soldiers at training not necessary on the battle-field, plenty of images with le.IG18s being shot during instruction sessions.    

The level of details on the figures is top-notch, uniforms and anatomy enchanting the viewer. Bodies retain the same proportions applied by the manufacturer in all their sets, anatomically correct and with authentic facial details, eyes, eye-brows, noses, ears, mouths, and cheeks coming out perfectly carved. Likewise, palms make a very nice impression, matching the body proportions and with sharply reproduced and naturally gripping fingers. Attire and footwear as well as the items of equipment abound in small details such as buttons, collar and shoulder boards, genuine creases, folds, and stitches. Extremely neat are the bayonet frogs, reiterating Zvezda’s fantastic skills in 1/72 figure domain.

The deployed hard plastic has exceptional propensities, permitting a first-rate cast, without excess of material and with flash and seam lines in average to small amounts. Moreover, it greatly support shocks, being very elastic, modellers finding a perfect host for enamel, acrylics and artistic oils, the colours fully integrating and remaining in position even if the product is exposed to heavy handling. Further upgrades or conversions are easy achievements, not only Preiser, Dragon or Caesar separate gear and weapons being immediately fixed with polly-cement, but also mixing limbs and heads between various Zvezda figure sets lead to the creation of some captivating poses, able to operate mortars, cannons, MGs or even to simply act as riflemen. However, not only the figures are effortlessly converted, but also the cannon, transforming the standard version into the rarer mountain le.GebIG18 version not being extremely intricate if having the Zvezda’s PaK35/36 kit, where two versions of tubular legs are given, in transportation and combat modes. The barrel, sight device, and hand wheels of le.IG18 may be set on the free pair remained unemployed from PAK35/36, obviously, modifying a little its chassis. Although the metal disc wheels with rubber tyres work, wooden-spoken ones can be borrowed from Pegasus Hobbies or ACE kits.

The large base, mainly aimed at the board-gaming provides enough space to accommodate the cannon, crew, and gaming flag, fixed by snapping, related pins being set on boots, knees and cannon wheels. No smaller stands for soldiers are distributed and it might be the case hobbyists intending to emplace the figs on other bases or dioramas having to remove the pins.

Possibly, a two member crew is sufficient in board game or wargaming but definitely diorama builders will not declare satisfied by such number. Highly recommended reinforcements might be brought again from Pegasus Hobbies’ le.IG18 kit where there are provided two types of crewmen, one in camouflage and one in M36 uniform but a single gun. In this regard, leaving the army-men in camouflage smocks to operate their own gun and gathering the Pegasus crew in M36 uniforms around Zvezda’s cannon and figs there is obtained a six member crew, almost in line with the provisions enforced by KStN, only the commander armed with pistol missing. The miniatures of the two producers share almost the same proportions, attire, quality of poses and details, so Zvezda’s le.IG18 kit gives the impression was specially designed for Pegasus Hobbies spare crewmen of the identical gun. Nevertheless, if not having that kit, suitable completions are available in a huge number of sources, 1/72 WWII Germans in Early War uniforms made in the tall side of the scale, as the present ones are, emerging as the most numerous tenders on the market.

With “German 75 mm Infantry Gun with Crew” Zvezda brings another gem, the level of accuracy, proportions, and small details being reasonable, particularly for a fast-build. Except drilling the muzzle, even static modeller can build the kit out-of-the-box without fear. In addition, it should not be forgotten the excellent compliance with Pegasus Hobbies kit on the same gun, from there modellers might import for Zvezda cannon various types of ammunition boxes, wooden wheels, and most important, as emphasised few lines above, four crewmen fully compatible from all points of view with the two soldiers that have been here reviewed. A little below than the other 1/72 le.IG18 guns previously launched, Zvezda’s edition comes at an unbeatable price, rewarding any penny invested.   

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