The Red Army was very enthusiastic about mortars during World War II, and produced thousands as a relatively cheap and simple way of providing support for their riflemen. As in armies elsewhere they used several different calibres, and there are two different sized mortars in this set of winter troops, so we will begin with a look at the weapons themselves.
Four of the six mortars in the box are of the larger variety, which the box informs us is the 120mm M1938. This weapon was often used in place of artillery, and was much liked by the troops. The model here has a large circular base plate and a barrel of about 25mm (1.8 metres) in length, which is correct, and in all respects is a great little model of the real thing. The smaller mortar is identified on the box as a 50mm type, but Pegasus tell us this is a printer's error, which is just as well as the model is certainly not 50mm calibre. In fact the box should have labelled it as an 82mm mortar, which is actually what it is (a BM37), and it is a nice model of the weapon with the one failing that the barrel is a scale 108cm in length when the BM37 had a barrel of 122cm.
How many times have we seen sets of figures with one mortar and one man to use it? Well here there are a good number of figures to man the weapons properly, with men bringing up ammunition and controlling fire as well as actually dropping bombs into the tubes. Most have at least one arm that is separate, which makes for some very realistic poses without any unwanted plastic. Some of the poses are best suited to one or other of the mortars, while others could serve either, and we really liked all of them, welcoming the more comprehensive coverage this provides.
All the men wear the standard Red Army greatcoat, which has the collar tabs as insignia rather than shoulder boards, so is most useful for the period prior to mid-1943. The only other item of uniform on show is the standard steel helmet, which is well done. Few men have much kit, with just the occasional water bottle or haversack to be seen. Even rifle ammunition pouches are rare here, despite most of these men probably having access to a rifle somewhere close by.
The sculpting is superb as usual, with excellent detail and everything looking entirely realistic and natural. The many separate arms fit with varying degrees of ease, although most are pretty good, and this does at least make it easier to introduce some element of variety for those that wish it. The mortar models are perfectly slender where they should be, but beautifully detailed - you can even see the individual links on the chain across the legs of the larger example. Flash is generally noticeable by its absence, and when it is there it is minimal, which always helps too.
The style of greatcoats suggests these figures are less appropriate for the last two years of the War, but for the rest of it they are perfect. Although the smaller mortar has a slightly short barrel these are otherwise accurate and beautifully produced models with lots of useful poses, so an excellent set overall.