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Soviet Machine Gun Crew

Zvezda 1/35 Soviet Machine Gun Crew WWII Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review June 2006 Manufacturer Zvezda
Subject Soviet Machine Gun Crew WWII Scale 1/35
Kit Number 3584 Primary Media 80 parts in olive styrene
Pros New sculptor for Zvedza producing nice, new figures; not a re-release of ancient Italeri figure sets Cons Not as advanced as recent DML figure sets, all styrene
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $6.98

First Look

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.