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1/72 Zvezda - Soviet Air Force Ground Crew (6187)

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6187
Year 2015
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items 1 Drum; 1 ammunition box; 1 bomb
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Green
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945


 Since the very early stage of Braille Scale hobbyists have been accustomed to have at hand various WWII airfield maintenance units thanks to Airfix and Preiser’s efforts on the matter. Along the years, the mass-production collection has been enriched by different garage makers which have offered a considerable number of sets in resin and white metal, CMK and Miniaturas Alemany clearly distinguishing in the field. 

Most of the tenders aim at WWII German, US, and British maintenance units, the Red Army representatives being let aside for a long period, at least in terms of mass-production catalogue. Still, in 2015 the gap has finally filled in when the Russian company Zvezda decided it is the time that blank space to cease, launching a very interesting set dedicated to WWII Red Army airfield personnel. 

The kit contains five soldiers and few related accessories accommodated on two sprues and is commercialised in the mini-box series under the name “Soviet Air Force Ground Crew”. The front artwork of the box makes a good introduction over the poses, but a more truthful one can be visualised on reverse, where there are supplied images with the product and other information, including the link from where the game card can be downloaded. As classical for Zvezda, the kit is multi-part and theoretically does not require gluing, pieces following to fix by snapping. Still, such method works only for beginners, the great majority of hobbyists certainly will not be satisfied limiting just to snapping and will glue these figures. For properly achieving the designed poses, an assembly guide printed on a piece of paper is included in the box, drawing clear instructions on the matter.

With one exception cast as single piece, the rest of the troopers are split in four parts, with separate legs and arms. Assembly goes smooth while the product is made of hard plastic and the classical modelling glue, polly-cement confers wonderful results, a single drop being sufficient to strengthen the already fairly stable snapped liaison.

All the five miniatures arrive dressed in the same way, in overalls, shirts, and overseas caps, belts around waists being available, too. The overall pattern is identical, with a flapped breast pocket on the left hand side and two flapped side pockets on the trousers. Most of them received long boots, but perhaps for introducing some diversity, one has got ankle model or the trousers are over his long boots.  As regards accessories, the kit puts forward, separately from the figures, a small drum, two ammunition boxes, a hydraulic pump with hose attached, and an aircraft bomb. These are interlinked with the soldiers and one of the boxes and the hydraulic pump have palms sculptured on.

When creating the set, it seems the sculptor found some inspiration in a movie released in 1970' titled “Only Old Men are Going to Battle”. The adopted stances emerge as a strong point, very lifelike while carrying out maintenance activities that can be grouped in two main categories, ammunition reloading and fuel refilling. One of the men deals with an ammunition wooden box, staying straight and holding the box with both hands. The artwork shows his comrade as bending in front and preparing to lift a bomb from the ground, also provided by the kit. Nonetheless, he can be asked to pick up something else, the set supplying an extra ammo box that perfectly matches to replace the bomb, useful swap particularly if the modeller does not intend to display this maintenance team on an airfield.

However, the most interesting assembly is formed by three men carrying out a refilling task, taking out fuel from a drum and putting it in a bucket. For doing that, one works with a hydraulic hand pump, the second keeps the end of the hose with both hands, and the third holds a bucket. The third guy with bucket is optional here, another solution, also presented in the artwork, showing just the first two putting fuel in a canister. For sure, other recipients can be identified and such a gathering is unique in 1/72 mass production tender, representing a valuable asset for all hobbyists wishing to portray a refilling activity. The hand pump impresses with its accuracy, size, and very fine small details, but the provided drum does not strike with its sculpture. Certainly, this outstanding assembly deserve a better drum to drain fuel from, thus modellers might find better ones inside other kits. The pump end has to enter inside the drum and for a tremendously realistic appearance hobbyists might consider scratch building the jet of fuel and fix it to the end of the hose held by the second soldier. Anyway, such manoeuvre is not really necessary, the original assembly already catching the attention even without further improvements. 

A key element of these figures is the real possibility of being converted in maintenance personnel belonging to various armies, so the content is not limiting only to the Red Army. Overalls were and still are common attire to all persons performing maintenance activities and perhaps due to the overseas caps and long boots, these figures ideally fit to depict WWII Germans. In 1/72 scale, the pilotka caps they wear perfectly match the WWII German M34 overseas cap and the here depicted long boots are actually identical with the famous jack/marching boots appearing in most Zvezda sets on WWII German Army. Even the stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse, specific to the boots of that army, are visible. Though the WWII German soldiers dressed more than twenty models of overalls, a common type was without the left hand side breast pocket and also trousers did not feature flaps. Thus, for getting a better German look, recommended would be removing at least the trousers pocket flaps, the breast one being optional, some patterns of overalls put on by Germans revealing it. On the other hand, due to cut of the upper part and the separation between the trousers provided by the belts, these overalls can be interpreted as the well-known two piece drill uniform or just drill jacket and regular trousers. Either taken like that or just as overalls, such garment offers to hobbyists lots of options for painting. The most usual colours of WWII German overalls were various shades of gray, green, and black as well as blue and camouflage for Panzer men.

In addition, an extremely interesting aspect making these figures excellent to embody WWII German soldiers is the hydraulic hand pump. That item looks exactly like the model intensively utilized by WWII German Army, featuring lots of specific details. Especially in the early years of war, single-engine fighters were commonly refuelled directly from fuel tanks mounted on trucks or drums by using hydraulic hand pumps. Although generally encountered at Luftwaffe, such pumps were utilised by ground troops as well, thus it is an extremely useful and welcomed item to be engaged in connection with Panzer or other motorised units, as well as hard to find in 1/72 scale. A similar hydraulic pump, but without hose, is incorporated inside the excellent Attack  “German fuel set”, supplying lots of related accessories that can be more than helpful in conjunction with these figs. 

Likewise, buckets were utilised by soldiers of all armies, so no issue to be raised in this regard. Moreover, the ammunition boxes handled by two figures could be German as well, similar types being often seen in service with that army. As previously hightlighted, for the figure bent in front reaching out his hands for grabbing the bomb, while the projectile is provided as separate piece, there is no problem to replace it with the second box included in the kit or even with more representative items for the WWII German Army as ammo boxes, shells, canisters, drums, tools etc. 

Not restraining to the WWII Russian Army, but converting and enrolling these figs within other armies is highly recommended not only due to the simple transformations required, mostly based exclusively on painting, but also by the top sculpture the miniatures received. Anatomy is remarkable both in proportions and details, faces being tremendously realistic, with crisp eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, and hair. Palms feature perfect fingers, neither long nor short, and correctly grabbing objects. A genial and funny touch is the big belly of the soldier with bucket, practically he remarkably embodies the actor starring in the movie “Only Old Men are Going to Battle” that provided ideas for this set. Hardly are met in the scale similar figs, so properly respecting the normal proportions and brilliantly succeeding to reproduce a quite fat man without exaggerating. Clothes and footwear are also nicely done and due to their simplicity, fit to be painted in numerous ways. 

Mould and cast respect the high standards imposed by Zvezda during the last years, the product recording a small amount of flash, no excess of material thanks to the multi-part approach, and fairly crisp small details. Painting is easy, enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils finding a good base on this hard plastic as well as polly-cement that perfectly bonds the parts. Being a tender designed for gaming as well, the manufacturer has supplied bases, individuals for two figs and a larger one, able to accommodate the three guys performing refilling together with the related gaming flag. Snapping onto the bases is ensured by the pins in the boots but of course, modellers have the option of removing those and set the soldiers directly in the diorama or on other stands. It is also good to know that even without bases, all these miniatures possess a wonderful balance. 

Regarding the relations established with similar troopers available in various sets on WWII German Army, there is a large array of options, best surely being the specific set issued in the same time by Zvezda and targeting Luftwaffe ground personnel. In the tall side of the 1/72 scale, noteworthy matches in terms of size and clothes are also achieved with soldiers included inside most of CMK, Miniaturas Alemany, and Orion sets featuring army-men wearing drill attire. The maintenance troopers supplied in important numbers inside different Preiser sets are little smaller and for avoiding visible discrepancies, proper placements diminishing that should be identified if using them in the same scene. 

Outstandingly responding to gamers and collectors as well as static modellers needs, Zvezda's “Soviet Air Force Ground Crew” distinguishes through its uniqueness, interesting tasks performed in a natural manner, and great sculpture. Moreover, the capacity of supporting easy transformations for depicting soldiers of various other armies  sets out as a major feature of the kit, making it  extremely versatile, a must have for all hobbyists wishing to illustrate not only airfield activities, but also soldiers carrying out maintenance for tanks or other ground vehicles.  


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