by: Darren Baker [ ]
World War Two is usually thought of as a mechanised war with machine facing machine on the battlefield. The troops were transported by trucks and early armoured personnel carriers, artillery guns were mounted on tank hulls in order to keep up with the tanks and mechanised infantry. However there were an incredible number of horses utilised in World War Two, with Russia and Germany said to have employed in excess of 6 million alone. During Germanys war in the East the German army would have been completely lost if it had not been for the Panje horse, which during the winter months in Russia was the only way of moving anything to anywhere.
The Russian military heavily utilised horses for transport during World War Two, and is the subject of this review of MiniArts Soviet Divisional Artillery. The set depicts a 76.2mm ZIS - 3 and limber being pulled by a team of four horses with its gun crew walking alongside.
The model is packaged in a large top opening box which contains assembly instructions on 3 A4 double sided pages. The instructions are printed in black and white on a heavy paper and utilises the line drawing format to explain the construction steps. The model itself is supplied on 10 light grey sprues.
The 76.2mm ZIS 3 Artillery Gun:
This part of the model is primarily made up of parts from kit #35032 Soviet 76.2mm divisional Field Gun ZIS 3 with crew. The crew has been removed and the wheels updated to a multi part offering of 8 parts, which should improve the look of the tread on the wheels. The parts have a reasonable level of detail and all look to be cleanly moulded. The age of the mould is starting to show as there is flash starting to show on the sprue frame and some of the parts, but fortunately the only parts suffering flash in this offering are not used. The gun is made up of 94 parts and is complete is 17 stages, and is also supplied with some rounds of ammunition and spent cases, which while there is no strict use for them on this kit they could be utilised in a diorama. It should also be noted that as the original wheels are not used they could still be used shown as a spare wheel.
The limber is a new part of this model and is available separately as kit #35115 Soviet Limber 52-R-353M Mod 1942. It is the wheels from this model that have been utilised for the artillery gun as well as the limber. The parts are again cleanly moulded with thought and effort put into hiding any ejector pin marks on areas that will not be seen, as far as I can see. The limber is made up of 84 parts and is complete in 15 stages. The wood grain effect depicted on the body portion of the limber is fair and should look the part when painted and weathered. All in all this is an excellent portion of the model with no obvious weaknesses.
The Horses and their Riders:
The motive power for this model is provided in the form of four horses and two riders, and are provided as two duplicate sprues from kit #35057 Horse Drawn Field Kitchen KP-42. Some careful thought has been applied here by MiniArt as it is possible to mix the two halves of each horse in order that you get four horses each with slightly different leg positions. Each horse is made up of six parts which are;
Two body halves
No gender has been assigned to the horses which I know is a sore point with some, and the bodies have no texture to them which means some very careful and time consuming work will be needed to rectify this oversight. There is a bright side to this problem which is that once all the horse tack and riders are applied the area that will need treating is greatly reduced. The horse tack provided is all of a fair quality with no obvious omissions, but I will admit that my knowledge of bridles and the like is limited. One thing MiniArt should be praised for is the effort they have gone to clearly show the correct way to harness the horses to the limber.
The riders provided with the model and also provided as free extra figures in kit 35057 represent figures in summer uniform, and consist of;
Two optional flat top heads (so that the two riders are not identical)
M1940 steel helmet
The figures are wearing the Obr 43 style of shirt and Sapogi boots, the detail on the Sapogi look good as does the obr 43 style shirt. The lower garment are, I believe, Sharovari breaches, I suspect they are as the re-enforcement triangle of material does appear to be present coming up from the boots and covering the knees. The riders are armed with Mosin Nagant rifles which are slung over the riders backs, the rifles are a little soft on detail which is a little disappointing. The only other equipment provided is two ammunition pouches for the rifles. It is a shame that water bottles have not been provided with these two figures.
The five figures provided walking alongside the towed artillery are one of MiniArts previously released products #35044 Soviet Infantry. Summer 1943 45. The four infantry/artillery men consist of;
Flat top heads
M1940 steel helmet or a Pilotka
The uniform consists of obr 43 shirts and Sharovari breaches, there are two figures with Sapogi boots and two wearing ankle boots and putties. The personal equipment consists of a water bottle for each of the four figures and a Myeshok which is a canvas bag. Two of the figures are equipped with Mosin Nagant rifles and four ammunition pouches, the other two figures are equipped with PPSh41 machine guns with separate drum magazines and a magazine pouch. If these figures are to represent artillery the PPSh41 machine guns will need to be replaced with rifles and suitable ammunition pouches. The creases in the uniforms are on the whole natural looking and well depicted, with the overall detail varying between fair to good. The facial features are on the whole very good and the hands for the most part acceptable.
The officer consists of the same basic parts with the option of M1940 steel helmet or officers peaked cap with overall detail being again fair, the creases rendered in the uniform are reasonable and look fairly natural. The equipment supplied with this figure consists of;
Holstered side arm
Binoculars (no case)
A map case
An unknown case?
This is an interesting product that MiniArt has released, and one that I am sure will be a hit with all the artillery fans out there. I really like the product and so have no concerns about recommending it to you all. It does however leave me with one concern which is that as MiniArt have started combining various products together and releasing them together, some offerings may disappoint if a very early release is placed with a new product due to the leaps in quality they have made in their history. At the end of this review are 6 pictures of the built and unpainted model.