by: Roman [ ]
Originally published on:
MiniArt is well known for their interesting figure sets in styrene and it seems natural that they decided to release a standalone kit of Soviet infantry equipment as they had already had some of the items included as personal gear. This particular kit would allow us to either detail and customize figures from other manufacturers (should it be styrene or resin) or use on a diorama/vignette, inside the vehicle, etc.
Packed in a standard figure set cardboard box the 4 sprues are kept together in a plastic bag. On the front of the box we see large images of the individual items and weapons, on the rear – painting charts, rifle assembly instructions and item charts in both Russian and English.
Let’s have a detailed look on individual items given in the set.
3 variant of 7,62mm rifles are included in the set (2 of each): Mosin-Nagant 91/30 rifle, Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle with PU optical sight and Mosin-Nagant carbine mod 1938. The first 2 represent further development of the weapon that was created for Imperial Russian Army in 1891. The story behind its development is rather impressive, as was the competition between two engineers Sergey Mosin and Leon Nagant and I recommend reading it elsewhere (wiki, f.e.). The interesting thing is that it was never called Mosin-Nagant in Russian or Soviet resources as only some elements of the design are borrowed from the Nagant rifle that showed lower performance during the Imperial Russian Army evaluations. Nevertheless, the rifle was used in all conflicts that were taking place on the territory of Russian Empire until its collapse, and later in the territory of USSR. The 91/30 variant of Mosin rifle is a shorter and lighter version of 1891 design initially developed for Dragoons (mounted infantry). This one was a standard and most widely used rifle in the Red Army from 1930 and until the development of famous AK-47 automatic rifle. However, the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 has been used by other nations in conflicts after the WW2 and it still can be found in various military units and in weapon collections. Carbine 1938 was a 20cm shorter version of 91/30 rifle and was used in artillery and other units.
The MiniArt rendition of all 3 rifles has very good detail and all 3 rifles have separate bolts. After removal of the parts from the sprues careful cleaning of mold seam is required for optimal detail. For the sniper rifle the bolt construction was different and there is a special part on the sprue for it. The PU sniper sight (PU stands for pricel ukorochenniy or short sight) is given as separate part and it requires drilling of the small hole on the mounting plank otherwise looking close to the original. This was the standard sniper sight for Red Army snipers (either with Mosin rifle or SVT-40). If you are not interested in making sniper rifles you can glue regular bolts and get 4 standard 91/30 rifles from the set. The 91/30 rifles could be equipped with bayonets and these require removal of the barrel tip. Note that Carbines could not be equipped with bayonet due to shorter barrel. Other additional items for rifles are ammo cartridges and 12 ammo pouches, sufficient for 6 soldiers.
These are represented by a Nagant revolver (1 piece), pistol TT (Tokarev, 1piece) and 2 Flare guns OP-26 (OP stands for pistolet osvetitelny or flare gun). The Nagant revolver was used from 1895 by officers and commissars until it was replaced by the Tokarev pistol, however the Nagant revolver was still in use during WW2. OP-26 was developed in 1926 and was used before and during WW2 until the appearance of OPSh-42. Two versions are given in the set – opened and closed. All small arms have holsters with accurate detail on both sides; OP-26 and TT have flare cartridge and a clip. The detail on pistols is impressive, however I recommend drilling out the barrel of OP-26.
A wide selection of grenades is included in this set – antipersonnel F-1 (2 pcs) and RGD-33, antitank RPG-40 and RPG-43. All of these have appropriate form and although safety cotter pins are molded together with the grenade body it looks reasonable due to the size of the items. The only criticism here is that the rules of usage of RPG-40 were printed on paper and glued to the body side in the original item. Here it is shown on the box art, but no decals are provided. One can try to paint a beige rectangle with some black dots on it, but the decal would have been better. Accessories and pouches for the F-1 and RGD-33 grenades, and these have some small folds and look good overall.
Here we have 6 aluminium canteens, 5 of which have canvas cover with straps that were used to hold the canteen on the soldiers belt and 1 without cover; all canteens have caps. Other food-related gear includes 2 aluminium mugs and 3 aluminium spoons. Both elements could be sanded a bit for the scale realistic thickness.
In total 10 helmets are included in the set, 5 of which are early type steel helm 36 (slalnoi shlem, SSh-36) and 5 are steel helm 40 (SSh-40). SSh-36 features were wide flares over the ears and large front rim, together with a ventilation comb on top. SSh-36 was in use during the battle of Khalkin Gol, Winter War with Finland and early WW2. Later on they were replaced with SSh-39 helmets and finally with SSh-40 from 1942. Both SSh-39 and SSh-40 had robust and simple design and were easier to manufacture. The difference between SSh-40 and SSh-39 was a number of bolts that were fixing the lining. SSh-40 had 6 bolts (and this is correctly depicted on MiniArt’s offering) while SSh-39 had only 3. That means that if you would like to equip your Soviet infantry with helmets in 1941 and do not want to use SSh-36 you have to remove bolts from SSh-40 and relocate them closer to the top. Both SSh-36 and SSh-40 have a liner on the inside of the helmet but no straps are provided.
Entrenching tool MPL-50 is cast together with canvas cover that was used to attach it to the belt (5 pcs) and one MPL-50 is provided without cover. The latter one can be sanded a bit for better scale representation. Other items included are a map case, field bag and binocular with binocular case. The field bag is marked as sergeants bag on the box, however this was also in use by officers and it had integrated map case. All of the bags have impressive detail with all of the buttons and straps.
All together this is a great set that will be useful for sculptors and modellers that would like to detail their Soviet infantry figures with accurate gear that has up to date quality. Many of the items could be used for diorama purposes too.