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First to Fight - 7.5 cm leIG18 German Infantry Gun (PL1939-031)_________(EXT)

Manufacturer First to Fight
Scale 1/72
Set Code PL1939-031
Year 2015
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items 1 le.IG18
Size Small
Material Soft Plastic/Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement/hard plastic & super-glue gel/soft plastic parts )
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

 Review 

Since their first set on 1/72 WWII Germans launched in 2014, First-to-Fight (FtF) has proved to be one of the most active manufactures in the field in 2015, impressing not only through the large number of related sets, but also with the efforts of covering gaps in terms of weapons and equipment. In addition, the tender proposed by FtF does not limit only to figures, the company making available various vehicles and cannons, corresponding to the primary goal of the entire line, namely the very early stage of WWII. The vehicle kits labelled FtF do not incorporate figs but fortunately, the cannon ones feature few crewmen. Anyway, in terms of cannons, the offer proposed by this maker is quite limited at present, counting just the anti-tank PaK35/36 and the infantry gun le.IG18.

Regarding FtF cannons, the first entrance was “PAK 36 German Antitank Gun”, followed at some months distance, in late 2015, by “7.5 cm le.IG18 German Infantry Gun”. Both kits are multi-media, with the cannons made of hard-plastic and the crew of soft one, the weapons being certainly better than the troopers in terms of design, sculpture, cast, and obviously, material.  

However, the second FtF cannon kit represents a quite big disappointment concerning figures, diminishing the policy applied by this manufacturer until now, focusing to introduce new things for 1/72 WWII German soldiers. Perhaps for commercial and cost reasons, the company rushed to come on the market with a fresh kit, issuing a bright new cannon but moving the crewmen from the PaK35/36 kit to the le.IG18, too. Incorporating the same crewmen for two cannons is not an honouring policy, although for those buying this offer first, everything might look good.

The kit, accompanied by no. 32 of “September 1939” magazine lands in the customary package, the box and the magazine being wrapped in a plastic bag. For consumers that have already purchased the PaK35/36, the front artwork of the le.IG18 kit gives some hints on the matter, presenting the three figs in close stances with the miniatures available in plastic. On the reverse of the box there are supplied the assembly and painting instructions as well as few data about le.IG18 in Polish, German, and English. Much more information and images are placed inside the magazine but all the written things are in Polish language. The incorporated reference photos are nice and present the development of the cannon, its mountain version, also revealing it in combat and during transportation. The painting guide is again displayed as well as images with the finished model and the diagram for achieving a simplified scheme of KstN171.10.01.1937r for InfanterieGeschutzKompanie, recreated with various figs released by FtF.

Hope dies last and only after opening the box and seeing the same crewmen as for the previously released cannon, it is virtually impossible the customers not to feel frustration. Nonetheless, it is not FtF inventing this trick, the same strategy being encountered at Mac Distribution’s cannon kits, identical crewmen operating PaK35/36 and PaK38 guns. In some extent, to the list can be added the case of the same kit issued or reissued by two distinct companies as the well-known Esci/Italeri and Italeri/Revell examples. Still, the situation is different, the first mentioned circumstance implying the same manufacturer and definitely it is unpleasant and disagreeable. The feeling is further enhanced by the fact the kit rests in just a single cannon and sprue of figures while the PaK35/36 received two guns and two sprues with crewmen. Anyway, the content is clearly described in the front artwork, the producer highlighting that three figures and one gun are in the box. 

The soldiers in reference were ample analysed within the review done for FtF’s “PAK 36 German Antitank Gun”, the kit where these figs starred for the first time, so for further information, please visit also that review. It should be stressed the miniatures match fairly well both cannons, especially bearing in mind that only one crewman holds a projectile. This can raise some issues because PaK35/36 was a 3.7 cm calibre gun and le.IG18 had a 7.5 calibre, obviously firing different types of shells. However, due to the way the soldier holds the projectile, with both hands and close to the body, corroborated with the quite small dimensions of those shells in the 1/72 scale, the discrepancy is not so evident and a method to further diminish it is painting thicker the le.IG18 round. Removing the projectile without adding something related to cannons like an ammunition box is not a solution, the towing harness practically restricting the utilizations of the figure only in that purpose.  

A nice feature envisaged by FtF for two crewmen of the PaK35/36 and le.IG18 is the special harness across their chests, employed when manually towing the cannon on the battlefield. Indeed, as many photos of the period attest, both guns portrayed by FtF could be towed into action by the crew, thus there is no accuracy problem. The third member is the commander, easily spotted after the looking through binoculars pose, and gear, featuring through others, binoculars, map case, and pistol in holster. With the reservation in terms of projectile, thanks to their stances and endowment, these three soldiers fit to occupy positions both near a PaK35/36 and le.IG18. 

On account the figures were previously made available as well as that the PaK35/36 kit puts forward them twice, for modellers owning both kits a good choice would be trying to get something new and practice their conversion abilities. The soft plastic deployed by FtF, despite making lots of fluffs and not impressing with the way of hosting paints, has the great ability of properly reacting to cyanoacrylate, super glue gel making a real strong bond and fixing not only parts made of the same material, but also those cast in hard plastic or resin. Swapping heads and adding extra gear are facile methods for increasing diversity, being highly advocated particularly this time, when most of the poses, with hands sculptured on the bodies, are not suitable for major alterations. 

KStN enforced a seven member crew for le.IG18, except the gun commander who had pistol, the rest being armed with Kar98K, the weapon distribution induced by FtF being in full compliance with regulations. The cannon was often towed into action by its crewmen via a special harness and those that pulled usually kept rifles in front when performing that task. While that harness is not available on other 1/72 plastic minis except FtF’s, the incentive of the manufacturer for illustrating it is much praised, giving a nice and accurate touch to the team. Of course, a three member crew is not sufficient for covering the needs of le.IG18, but numerous references show le.IG18 manned in action only by two or three soldiers, the rest of the crewmen being hidden around. 

In a certain manner, the le.IG18 cannon constitutes the key piece of the kit and a new product of this manufacturer. Nevertheless, it is not the first kit on the subject, Pegasus Hobbies and Zvezda previously releasing better 1/72 leIG18 models that benefit by the services of superior crewmen, ACE also delivering this gun but inside a kit without figures. 

The le.IG18 submitted by FtF generally looks fine but little overscaled, slightly larger than the best le.IG18 available in the scale, proposed by Pegasus Hobbies. The FtF model arrives very clean and the carriage abounds in small details as rivets, handles, aiming stakes, and tool boxes. The wooden-spoken wheels are the strong point of the kit and some of the best in Braille Scale due to proper size and featured rivets. The barrel and breech also emerge fine, the firing lever and the breech-mechanism lever being crisply reproduced while on the shield the modeller can discover a correctly emplaced spare barrel. Moreover, the shield makes a positive impression with its perfect rivets and other niceties, the only drawback being the cast close sight visor. However, the sighting mechanism and the panoramic sight Rundblickfernrohr 16 (Rbl.F.16) is top-notch done, revealing extremely tiny characteristics as the range indicator gear, upper prism micrometer head or main azimuth scale. An encouraging thing is that manufacturer did not forget to add the traverse and elevation hand-wheels, important elements omitted for their PaK35/36. On the other hand, the spade seems too small, and in direct comparison with prior 1/72 versions of le.IG18, the FtF kit can be assessed as the weakest, to this evaluation contributing not only its size but also that the instructions printed on the back of the box which are fairly unclear, parts do not fit so well and are not numbered in the guide. Such issues make a difficult built from this kit, not recommended for beginners though the number of pieces composing it is fairly low.

In service from the beginning till the end of WWII, le.IG18 represented an artillery weapon designed for providing close support to infantry, over 8,000 pieces being manufactured by Rheinmetall. The gun was issued directly to infantry or Panzer Grenadier battalions, especially to those without regimental gun companies and was operated by infantrymen. Its 7.5 cm shells could engage directly and indirectly the enemy, like a mortar, a feature that probably brought a major contribution to its maintenance in service until 1945. Three versions of the gun appeared along the war, the standard here illustrated, another for Mountain Troops (le.GebIG18) recognised after tubular legs and optional shield as well as a special edition for Paratroopers/Fallschirmjager (le.IG18F), also with tubular legs, without shield, but with smaller wheels, only six pieces being made. For horse transport, by six horses according to regulations, there were conveyed wooden-spoken wheels, but the gun also received metal disc wheels with rubber tyres for motorised transport. FtF has included only wooden-spoken wheels, thus this model is mainly appropriate for horse transport. As proposed by the manufacturer, the cannon can be finished in dark gray for early war, but also in dunkelgelb or camo patterns for late stages of WWII.

As widely known and recognised, the FtF figures are not sculptured in an exciting manner, even if these sometimes introduce fresh things in the scale. Of course, this time the quality is the same, but the miniatures do not come with anything novel, being already encountered in another set of this company. Likewise, the soft plastic mould shows weakness and cast is unattractive. Moreover the soft plastic deployed by FtF makes lots of fluffs and without priming does not host so fine enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils. On the other hand, the hard plastic of the gun is very good and acts as normal, excellent receiving any type of colours and polly-cement. The figs are set on huge individual bases that completely change the interaction ratio between the crewmen and the artillery piece. In this regard, it is more than necessary removing the miniatures from the initial stands, arranging and gluing them at the same level with the cannon, either on other bases or directly in the diorama.

Mainly created for gaming, the FtF troopers are in the small side of the scale and perfectly fit the size of other troopers issued by the company. In addition, they excellent collaborate, through others, with Caesar, Airfix, HaT, and Esci army-men wearing the same kind of clothes and equipment. 

Although awaited with interest, FtF’s “7.5 cm le.IG18 German Infantry Gun” kit proved to be a disillusion, mainly because the crewmen assigned to handle the cannon have already been proposed by the same company within their kit dedicated to PaK35/36. Such policy is not honouring and hopefully will stick just to this case. In spite looking fairly fine, with a plus-point for the excellent rivets displayed on shield and wheels, the cannon itself is slightly overscaled and more true to size versions of the same weapon are easy to get in the scale, often accompanied by nicer crewmen, too.    

Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 7
Poses Quality 7
Details Quality 7
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 7
Recommendation/Utility 6
Reviewer’s Opinion 7