Introduction & contents
is known for their imaginative and action packed figure sets – often times a diorama in a box. The set reviewed here is of the more conventional sort with a classic tank crew in different, but not necessarily connected, poses. Three of the figures are shown in action in the tank and two outside. There is no apparent interaction between the figures. According to the pictures on MB’s homepage, they are intended for a T-34/85. Though the T-34/85 was intended for 5 crewmembers, it was often only crewed by four or even three man crews due to a severe shortage of manpower. Since one figure represents a captain, it is however likely that such a tank would have had a five man crew as a command tank.
The molding is very good, no pin marks are evident and the usual mold seam cleans up quickly.
The kit has no other contents than the single sprue packaged in a plastic bag. Assembly instructions are on the back of the side opening box. One thing I generally don’t like about MB kits is the lack of parts numbering on the sprue and one has to refer to the back of the box to find out which part is which. Only a small gripe however.
On Russian Tankers Uniforms
In “Russian Uniformology” there are two distinct time periods of uniforms: The first used early in the war was the M35 type uniform with collar and rank insignia on the collar. The second was the M43 introduced in 1943. This uniform had the rank insignia on shoulder boards and the collar is a very simple one with two buttons and no lapels.
Tankers most of the times wore an overall over this standard uniform. This was generally black, though color often varied into blue or dark gray. From the resources at my disposition there was no distinct style for this overall with some having one pocket on the thigh, most having two, with some open topped and others with a flap. All have in common that there was no rank insignia. Another item often worn by tank officers is a black leather jacket with rank insignia.
All ranks wore the same padded headgear with provision for earphones. Early war these were often made from brown leather, later they were manufactured from black fabric.
In wintertime tankers were also issued special overcoats or if these were not available the regular overcoats or padded clothing of the Infantry. Since the set reviewed is of figures in summer uniforms, I will not go into detail here.
As mentioned, all figures represent summer uniforms. All but one wear the standard tankers overall. The basic uniform can be discerned from the collars and is the M43 type, correct for the period.
The one figure not wearing an overall is obviously an officer as can be seen from his shoulder pad rank insignia. The box top illustration shows four stars which would indicate a Captain. He wears the officer’s leather jacket over his M43 uniform. He is in a sitting pose smoking a cigarette and holding his headgear in his left hand. The detail on the figure is superb, with realistic folds, nice belt detail and down to the rank insignia. The face (as on all other figures) is also well molded but could have a bit more expression or character. On the other hand, it could also be interpreted as the typical soldiers “1000 mile stare”.
Next is a figure standing in the main hatch of the T-34, presumably the tank commander or gunner. This figure can be built in two variants with alternative left arms. One is holding the hatch, the other is supporting himself on the frame of the hatch. He is wearing his overall with one pocket on the right thigh, a style I have seen pictures of. The overall also has reinforcing pads on the knees and buttocks. Again the molding is very good with realistic folds. The head and headgear is made up of 4 parts: the head with face, the top of the headgear and the two sides with flaps. This makes for a very detailed assembly making the most of the molds. The padded headgear has the correct details as well. I built this figure to test fit and was impressed. No filler will be required here. The photos speak for themselves. This is the figure simply cleaned and glued together.
The third figure is of (presumably) the loader sitting on top of the turret with one leg dangling into the hatch opening and one hand leaning on the hatch. Again the figure is clad in overall and padded headgear made up in the same fashion as described above. Molding is again very good.
The fourth figure is the driver in driving position. This is obviously only useful if you have at least a partial interior in your T-34. The figure is obviously driving, not relaxing like most other figures. Uniform and headgear is as described above.
The last figure is standing outside the tank, leaning on the turret. He is holding his headgear. He is obviously not compatible with the driver since he would not be as relaxed on a driving tank.
This is a very good and useful set of mid/late Soviet WWII tankers. Though not meant to be displayed in the same scene together and not in very imaginative poses, they will nevertheless be very useful for anyone wanting a figure or two next to his Soviet Tank.
My limited book resources (generally on Uniforms of WWII and on the T-34) were supplemented by an invaluable internet resource on Russian Uniforms in particular:
Russian Uniform Guide
Another useful resource was the following table of ranks:
Table of Ranks