Vienna fell to the Red Army in April 1945, and with the end of the war in Europe Austria was organised along similar lines to Germany, with the country divided into zones for the Soviet Union, the USA, Great Britain and France. As with Berlin the Austrian capital, although well within the Soviet zone, was administered equally by all four powers, which included joint police patrols. Indeed the image of four Allied police patrolling Viennese streets in a jeep became something of an icon, and inspired both the film 'Four in a Jeep' (1951) and even the design of a €20 coin in 2003. Such patrols continued until 1955, when the occupation of Austria came to an end.
The first thing to say about this very small set is it does not include the jeep, so all you get is five figures as pictured above. The first four are for placing in the said absent vehicle, as shown in the box artwork, while the fifth is apparently directing traffic. Starting with the man on the left these men come from the Soviet, American, British and French armies, with the standing man also being an American.
The first figure is wearing standard Red Army uniform including a shoulder board on the left shoulder and the famous pilotka cap. He has a pistol but is the most heavily armed member of the team as he carries the classic PPSh-41 submachine gun, although clearly in a relaxed pose. The pictured figure has been constructed as per the manufacturer’s recommendations, as have all the others, but this figure has been provided with an alternative left arm, which carries nothing, and an alternative head wearing a steel helmet.
Next there is the driver of the jeep, an American military policeman. Although he is wearing a pistol holster he is mainly concerned with doing the driving, so his hands are on the wheel. For this kind of duty he would be wearing a white helmet liner, which gave the nickname 'snowdrops' to American MPs. His uniform is regulation, but he has an armband on his left arm indicating his arm of service, although the white helmet and webbing was the most obvious sign of this. This man’s standing colleague is much the same but affords a clearer view of his uniform. He too has the helmet cover and armband, but also has both a pistol and one of several models of wooden club hanging from his waist. He also wears goggles to protect his eyes from the dust of the traffic, but would also have had a whistle on a chain, which is not visible on either of these figures. On his belt he carries a whitened first aid pouch and magazine pouch, as he should, but he should also have a lanyard for his pistol. We felt his leggings were rather too short but otherwise he is perfectly authentic. Preiser also include an alternative head for the standing figure, which wears a peaked cap.
Third in line is the Brit, who wears a peaked cap with the famous red cover (considerably exaggerated by the painter on the box) and wears his armband on the right arm, as per British practice. The pistol too is correctly positioned on the left, with the lanyard around the right shoulder rather than the neck. As he is on duty he too should have a whistle on a chain, but there is no evidence of this admittedly small item here. He wears a tunic or, more likely, battledress with a wide open neck to reveal his shirt and tie, which seemed a little too much to us as battledress was rarely opened this much, even in peacetime.
Finally we come to the French policemen, easily recognisable by his kepi cap. He too has an open-necked tunic and is armed with a pistol. In his right hand he carries a long thin item which we assume to be a baton or cane, but cannot know for sure. Like his American colleagues his armband is correctly on the left arm. This figure is also provided with an alternative right arm, which holds nothing, and an alternative head which wears a helmet with goggles.
This is one of those sets where you really need to see the contents as the name tells you little about what it contains. If you want your policemen in a jeep then the poses are perfect and very realistic, otherwise they are pretty much useless apart from the solitary standing figure. Although other vehicles were used, the jeep was the usual form of patrol vehicle, and we would have liked to have seen a model of this included in the set.
The usual good sculpting is on show here, aided as always by the unhesitating use of multiple parts to ensure the men are far from flat. Each figure is between three and five pieces (see picture of the sprue), so a little time is needed to put things together. All the parts fit well enough, and as the hard plastic takes glue so well these are quite easy to assemble. Good detail and no flash mean the result is some very nice models.
This is certainly an unusual subject, which makes something of a change from the usual combat sets. With no real accuracy problems and good sculpting these figures are certainly very usable, but only for deployment in a jeep or similar. This then is rather different from the usual more generic sets we tend to review, but as sets of post war military police go this is certainly the best we have yet seen, and makes for a really nice little group.