Russia’s winters and how they have impacted military operations over the centuries are well known, and that includes what is known in Russia as the 'Great Patriotic War' of 1941 to 1945. The winter of 1941/42 was particularly severe, and north of Moscow the average temperature during January was -35° Celsius, reaching at one point a chilly -52°. Such temperatures not only froze men and horses, they also stopped diesel from flowing in vehicles and oil from lubricating guns and machinery. While such extremes did stop operations, both sides knew they had to continue the war during the winter, and having suffered terrible casualties to the cold during the Russian attack on Finland in 1939/40 the Red Army was at least better prepared than the Germans when winter came again. Their experience would lead to uniforms and equipment that fared better in low temperatures, and therefore give them an advantage that helped to turn the tide of war.
As a 'Set 2' this builds on Set 1 of course, which we found fairly accurate but not particularly representative of the Red Army during winter as all the figures were dressed exactly alike. This second set is more diverse, and so gives a much better impression of the general appearance of Soviet troops in the later winter campaigns of the war. As with Set 1, many wear the ushanka hat and quilted telogreika jacket and trousers which were issued from 1942, along with long boots. In all cases the quilted jacket has been given shoulder boards, so all these figures are appropriate for the period after February 1943. Other figures wear the standard greatcoat that was worn throughout the war, which although warm was a less practical garment in which to fight a battle. It has been correctly sculpted too, but all have the collar tab insignia that dates them to before the reforms of early 1943, when shoulder boards were introduced, so these figures might reasonably be appropriate up to around spring 1943 perhaps. Between them then, these figures cover the whole war, but there would have been only a fairly short period when they would have been seen on the battlefield at the same time.
Weaponry is a correct assortment of rifles, the famous PPSh submachine gun, and the less well-known PPS-42 or PPS-43 submachine gun. This last weapon is held by two figures in the bottom row, one of whom wears the greatcoat without shoulder boards, yet looks like he could be an officer. The PPS-42 was produced in Leningrad during the siege, and only went into wider mass production in early 1943, at around the time that collar tabs were being phased out, so the combination of this greatcoat with this weapon would have been quite unusual and fairly brief, although more likely during the Leningrad siege. Support for the riflemen comes from two DP machine guns, both being fired from prone.
All the weapons have very nice detail, and generally everything is very well sculpted. Clothing hangs realistically and all the detail is clear and sharp. All the figures require some assembly - mostly attaching the separate weapon and one arm (see sprue). This makes for much better poses, but we found that many of these were a real struggle to achieve a proper fit between arm and shoulder, and often had to carve away some plastic to make a good join. While many customers are happy to put parts together to achieve a better figure, it really should be easier than this to make it happen, so we were disappointed by that. However there was no flash so the mould is well done.
This set contains a lot of classic poses - men firing or running forward - which you can never have too many of. We thought all the poses were very good and often very lively, with a good many men on the ground, on their knees or at least with their head down as if under fire. Many of these poses also appeared in the first set - in fact many are virtually indistinguishable from those in the first set apart from the addition of shoulder boards on the jacket and perhaps a slight variation in equipment. Still everything here is easily usable and very well done.
The men are generally quite lightly encumbered with kit, which is an observation rather than a criticism, and we were pleased to see more fixed bayonets than in the first set. All the kit is authentic, including the open grenade pouches a couple have on their belt. With almost any set you can point out that the real thing looked rather more dishevelled and tatty than the model, and that applies even more with winter troops, but we could see no good reason for having all the greatcoated men in helmets and all the quilted jacket men in hats - mixing things up a bit more would have been nice. However there is nothing wrong with anything here, and they are great figures technically - if only the parts had been much easier to put together, as past Pegasus sets have been, then we could have had no complaints at all.