by: Darren Baker [ ]
When MiniArt announced a Special Edition release of Soviet infantry weapons and equipment I suspect most like me believed it would be the old offering with some new parts, that belief has turned out to be right as regards the plastic but there is more to it than that. So letís dive in and see what is being offered on this occasion from MiniArt.
This offering is supplied in one of the end opening cartons favoured by MiniArt, these are not the most robust form of packaging when it comes to storage but do display well. The contents are in a single plastic bag and contain four sprues plus a photo etched sheet. The sprues are very cleanly moulded with no obvious faults that I can detect, best of all the connection gates are easily accessed and small in size and number. Another plus in this offering is that MiniArt has made good use of slide moulding technology in order to offer the modeller something of an improvement over many other releases.
When it comes to Russian rifles everyone thinks of the famous AK 47, but before that there was the Mosin Nagant. This family of rifles were of a good quality of the time and served in many roles with modifications. In this release we get six rifles which provides two of each of the following:
91/30 Mosin Nagant Sniper Rifle with PU sight
91/30 Mosin Nagant Rifle
Mosin Nagant Carbine Mod 38
There was a big difference between rifles built before the war and those built during the war as regards build quality. During the war it was common to find rifles that were poorly finished and had tool marks present in many cases, but I have not been able to find information on how much this affected their record in use during the Great Patriotic War. The Mosin Nagant rifle is a bolt action rifle firing 7.62 rounds and had a five round internal magazine. The magazine was filled with a five round stripper clip allowing for quick reloading.
The 91/30 Mosin Nagant Sniper Rifle with PU sight proved a robust and reliable weapon, and that leads me to belief that the best quality rifles were issued for this purpose. The PU sight is of Russian design and is a fixed scope of a solidly produced design. The Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifle is identical to the sniper rifle but minus the sight. Looking at the instructions the modeller could produce four of the standard rifles just by leaving off the PU sight. The carbine version of Mosin Nagant is a rifle variant I could find very little detail on. What I did find was that the intention for the carbine was as a personal weapon for the troops performing roles behind the lines such as artillery units. I do have a concern about this weapon as the muzzle of the weapon is the same on all of these offerings and the carbine should have a shorter length beyond the iron sight and was the reason that these rifles could not be fitted with the standard issue bayonet.
As nice additions to these rifles MiniArt has supplied four bayonets that have been slide moulded and so fit straight onto the rifles, remember not to add these to the carbines as it will be inaccurate. Also included are two 5 round stripper clips that I feel add a nice touch as they can be eye catching touches left on the bonnet of a vehicle or next to a figure. There are 12 twin ammunition pouches with an excellent level of detail that is accurate. Finally to add that finishing touch to the rifles MiniArt has included photo etch rifle slings, these will require some skill to fit due to the fine connection points.
MiniArt has supplied two side arms in this set along with holsters for each that could be used in conjunction with the side arms or independently. The side arms provided are a Nagan M1895 revolver that fired a 7.62 cartridge and so a decent size, Unusually for a revolver the chambered round actually moves forward in a similar manner to a rifle bullet; the result of this is that the gas seal is better and so the bullet can travel at greater speed. This revolver came into use in 1895 and from what I can see is still in use in some countries. The other offering is a Tokerev TT-33 Automatic pistol that also fired a 7.62 round, do you get a feeling that the Russians have a thing for 7.62 rounds! A nice inclusion with the offering is a spare magazine for the pistol. Another inclusion in this offering from MiniArt is two OP 26 flare guns with a spare flare for them, one of these is open and the other broken open; MiniArt has also included a holster for this as well. I have checked these against reference and I cannot see anything inaccurate about any aspect.
MiniArt has gone to town here and supplied four types of grenade and I only wish there was more than two of each. The F1 grenade is the one most easily recognised as it looks like a Mills grenade with a very long fuse; a check of my reference indicates that this is a copy of a French design. This is a fragmentation grenade that is as dangerous to the user as well as it is to the enemy, that is because it has a potential kill range wider than it can realistically be thrown. The RGD 33 is another anti-personnel fragmentation grenade and reminds me of the German stick grenade. This grenade requires a fair amount of preparation before use but has the benefit of be more dangerous to your target than yourself due to the realistic kill radius being less than the distance it can realistically be thrown.
We now move onto the big boys of grenades with the RPG 40 Grenade. This grenade is a HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank offering that exploded on contact; the grenade was able to damage about 20mm of armour and so was effective against earlier German armour which if it did not penetrate could cause spall inside the vehicle. Due to the inability of the RPG 40 to cause damage to later German armour it was upgraded to the RPG 43 which is the other offering in this set from MiniArt. The RPG 43 (1943 on) could penetrate 75mm of armour if perfectly detonated; this is due to a shaped charge and so was only effective if perfectly landed on the enemy armour. The detail on all of these grenades is very good and they look very good matches for the real thing in miniature. Included for the grenades are pouches specifically for the F1 and RGD 33 grenades, but despite my searches I could not find specifics on the pouches.
So with the things that go bang covered I start on the equipment supplied in this set by MiniArt and here that covers an officerís map case with a good degree of detail. A pouch described as a sergeants field bag is included but is an item I have never heard of; a search online resulted in several images but none matched the sets part. The binoculars are a pleasing addition as one of those items that draw the eye of a viewer and I like that a binocular case has also been included. Other than the belt mounted cases and pouches I would have liked to see MiniArt include straps for the other items or at least buckles as they are hard to scratch.
The entrenching tools look good with MiniArt over five in the canvas mounting covers and one out and ready for use; I have noted that the wooden handles are different on the tools with the canvas covers to the one that is out ready to be used. There are six water canteens in this set of the aluminium type (early in the war some of these were made of glass) You get provided with five in the canvas mounting cases and one ready to be drank from; I would have liked to see more out of their pouches as they are hard items to find and add interest to a scene.
When it comes to protecting your head bone MiniArt has provided ten helmets in two styles. You get five of the SSh-36 helmets which were designed in 1936 and were replaced prior to the German invasion; however these helmets were still pushed into service early in the war as a case of needs must. The ridge on the helmet had me a little confused but it covered a vent in the helmet which allowed the wearers head to air. The SSh-39 helmet is the helmet fans of World War 2 will be more familiar with, but it is the SSh-40 that is actually the one most will think of. The only difference between the 39 and 40 models are 6 raised dimples around the helmet which I believe is an aspect of the helmet liner and so if these dimples are removed you have SSh-40 helmets. A look inside these helmets reveals that the helmet liners have been moulded inside the helmets which I consider a really nice touch.
The final items in the set are a must have item for any soldier and consist of four spoons and two cups. These are again items that create visual interest for the viewerís eye to pick up on. Along with the rifle slings on the photo etched fret there are a small number of awards in the form of medals and some shoulder boards. The shoulder boards are nice inclusions in the set, but the medals would rarely be worn in the field I believe.
This offering from MiniArt is a nice re-release of an earlier offering and the photo etched parts, especially the rifle slings that always improve the look of weapons where used. As regards accuracy issues the only one I am sure of is the length of the muzzle of the carbines. The selection of items offered here is a pleasing mix with a number of the more mundane items having the ability to draw the eye to specific areas where they are used. A great set to have available again.