ARM: Review - Zvezda 1/35 scale Soviet Machinegun Crew WWII

Kit Review: Zvezda 1/35 Scale Kit No. 3584; Soviet Machine Gun Crew
WWII; 80 parts in olive styrene; price about US $8.50
Advantages: new sculptor for Zvedza producing nice, new figures; not a
re-release of ancient Italeri figure sets
Disadvantages: not as advanced as recent DML figure sets, all styrene
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for any fan of the "Workers and Peasants Red Army"
When the USSR began the "Great Patriotic War" in June 1941, they
had two basic light caliber machine guns in service for their forces:
the DP series 7.62mm gas-operated and air-cooled light guns, and the
M1910/30 modernized Maxim water-cooled machine guns as their heavy
machine gun. The Maxims remained in service up until 1943 when the new
Goryunov SG43 air-cooled weapon replaced it. Modified several times
over the course of its service, most of the Maxim guns had been fitted
with a large "tractor radiator" type fill cap and placed on a
Sokolov two-wheeled carriage for use by infantry units by the time the
war broke out. Its one drawback was that it was quite heavy, and
required a mandatory allocation of at least two crewmen to operate (and
manhandle) the weapon on the battlefield.
Zvezda has recently - from the changes in their figures - acquired
a new sculptor, whose best figure so far is the "starshina" NCO
driver with the ZIS-5 truck. (He looks to be based on the mascot used
by M-Khobbi magazine, for those of you familiar with that cartoon
character.) This new kit offers four figures and four machine guns,
from which two complete Maxim machine gun teams may be formed.
The machine guns are very nice, as you have a choice between the M1910
modified (kit part A-1) or the M1910/30 with new filler cap (A-2) when
putting the guns together. The guns come with the complete Sokolov
carriage of six parts, and the machine gun also has separate handles
and a "ladder" type sight as well as a choice between open and
closed ammunition boxes, the open one coming with a section of
cartridge belt for attachment to the gun.
The teams consist of one running and pulling the gun and one in prone
position firing the weapon. The running teams come with "shadow"
bases, the first time I have seen them on a styrene figure since the
early 1970s. Some modifications have to be made to the figures to move
the gun, but they are simple and the directions show what has to be
moved and replaced. The runners also have standard steel helmets and
greatcoat/bedrolls, whereas the prone team have the "pilotka"
sidecaps. Two Moisin carbines are also provided, each having a separate
bolt assembly.
Overall the quality is very high, and it is quite different from the
early Zvezda figure sets from a number of years back. While the figures
are "solid" most sink marks are on the insides of parts where they
join (leg sets, waists) and each figure has a distinct personality.
(Zvezda has a new box art artist as well - A. Karashchuk - and he
is excellent, perhaps too good. When looked at through a jeweler's
loupe all four heads have distinctive Slavic features, but the ones of
the box art have one with the "starshina" mustache and a central
Asian not found on the sprues!
Overall this is a nice set and beats the ancient one that came with
the Tamiya GAZ-67B or their ChTZ T-34 kit.
Cookie Sewell
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