While Poland had spent a high proportion of its revenues on the military during the 1930s, it was inevitably at a tremendous disadvantage compared to its bigger and industrialised (and very aggressive) neighbours, Germany and the Soviet Union. When those countries invaded Poland in 1939 the Polish artillery could only deploy a fraction of the guns put against her, many of which were of Great War vintage, and while the excellence of the crews meant they did great damage on the aggressors, the weight of numbers the Germans and Soviets could bring to bear meant the final result was predictable.
The figures in our top row are all directly serving the gun, and follow the usual pattern of figures carrying shells and in general positions by which they might be operating the gun. The first in the second row is using a field telephone, and beside him is an officer. The last two figures are for riding on the horse-drawn or mechanised limber that would pull the gun. All the poses are pretty good, and do what they need to do without drama, so are very suitable.
By September 1939 all the infantry had been issued a smart and modern uniform developed during the 1930s, and all these figures wear it. The uniform consists of the tunic with four external pockets, trousers and short anklets over short boots. The men all wear the M1931 Polish helmet, while the officer and riders wear the peaked square-topped field cap. However in 1939 the artillery continued to wear the old 'Adrian' style helmet, and also the long boots rather than the anklets, so these men are not artillery as such but rather infantry gunners, suitable for the small anti-tank guns for example. Only the mounted man and officer are also suitable for the artillery as they wear the long riding boots, and neither have the newer helmet. Every man also carries a breadbag and gas mask bag, and the men have the standard rifle ammunition pouches for their rifles. The officer has a holster for his revolver, a gas mask bag and another pouch on a strap, which is pretty standard of officers in any army of the day. As infantry gunners these are accurately done, and fine for the 1939 period, but most are not suitable for Polish artillery of the time.
As well as the figures there are a couple of extra items to be discussed in this set. In our second row you see an extra head, which wears the Podhalański hat with a feather attached to the band, which was based on a traditional hat from the Podhale region in the Carpathian mountains and worn by mountain troops from that area. This has uses for a parade, but not for action. Lastly there is a wheel, which may not seem much use on its own, but much of the Polish field artillery of the day was made up of the old French Model 97 75mm gun, a weapon available in several HaT World War One sets. For those Polish brigades that had been mechanised by 1939, this gun was upgraded by having new suspension and solid steel wheels with pneumatic tyres to replace the wooden spoked wheels, so the four wheels in this set can be used to 'upgrade' those models for use with these men. They will only convert two guns, but this is a useful and very thoughtful extra from a company that we have long associated with such extras, so bravo HaT!
The sculpting is OK but a bit soft and light on the finer detail. Although these men make few demands for such detail, the sculpting still feels good rather than great, though there is no flash at all. The first figure in our top row has a separate right arm which has a peg that fits well into the shoulder though it will require gluing. This takes little effort and does make for a better pose, though generally the poses are good and the proportions similarly so.
There are several other sets depicting Polish forces of 1939 now, but this was the first set of men manning guns, so it represents a welcome addition to the available range. They are not suitable for the field guns of the artillery, but work well serving the light infantry guns, so the title is rather misleading. Fairly well produced, this set may not be spectacular but it does a reasonable job and anyone wanting to game or model this campaign will certainly find this set useful.