Although relatively primitive, the First World War tank had shown what an important weapon it could be, and after a surprisingly long wait countries began to develop the concept further, and of course also began to consider what weapons might be used to defend against them. Anti-tank rifles could penetrate a tank but often did little damage, so by the 1930s a number of countries were developing anti-tank guns that could seriously damage a target. Poland recognised the need for such a weapon, and chose to make under licence a copy of the Bofors 37mm gun. This was an excellent weapon, and first started to be issued to Polish units in early 1937, including one to each cavalry regiment. By 1939 this had risen to four per regiment, and a full-strength Polish cavalry brigade (normally made up of four regiments) could number 18 such guns, including those for other units attached to the brigade.
The gun in this set has been issued before, in the Bofors 37mm wz.36 Polish AT Gun set, and is a well-made kit that goes together easily and is a good representation of this gun. The new element in this set is the four crewmen, who are all from the cavalry. This time we get a slightly more generous four poses, starting with a gunner laid out over the trail leg and operating the gun while his two companions feed shells into the breech. The pads on the trail were where the gunners lay on them to dampen the recoil, but as witnessed by the pads on both trails, there should be two such figures laying on them rather than the one in this set. With the low profile of the gun, the rest of the crew are sensibly crouching so the poses all make sense. The fourth man is observing potential targets, and the four combined make quite a tidy little gun crew, and an improvement on the infantry version released earlier.
All the crew are identified as cavalry thanks to the Adrian-style helmet (still widely worn in 1939), the breeches and long spurred-boots. Tunics and ‘Y’-shaped belts were all standard for the day and properly done here, as are the bread bag and gas mask canister each man has. The man with binoculars also has a case for them, so no concerns over accuracy. One of the gunners has his rifle slung over his body, but the others have none. However the sprue includes separate rifles should you wish to add them, and these are very nicely done, looking like the wz.29 carbine which is exactly what they should be. There are no slings for these rifles of course, but it is still a nice extra to include on the sprue.
The style of sculpting of this gun crew is very different from the last, and the figures are made in a much harder plastic – the same compound as the gun. The detail is pretty good but much less pronounced than the older figures, and we thought the sculpting was not so good, though it is of a similar standard to the other recent cavalry sets released by First To Fight. Perhaps the less demanding poses help, but these look less clumsy than the earlier sets of cavalry, although we would not describe these as attractive. The two men holding shells have a separate right leg, which avoids extra plastic, but is a bit fiddly to attach. In the same way both poses also have separate heads which are awkward and seem to give no benefit beyond slight variation in positioning – the heads are effectively identical. The net result is we felt the sculpting was adequate but not impressive, although we found virtually no flash on any piece of gun or gunner.
Like other similar sets, these figures come with no base, but some large round bases are provided (see sprue image). Given their proximity to the gun, these bases would only get in the way, so having them as an option makes sense in this case. This set delivers a nice gun kit we have seen before, plus some cavalry crewmen which are certainly a necessary element of the forces in action during the 1939 invasions. The crew are reasonable but not great, though the poses are good, so as a combined piece, perhaps in a game, the effect is reasonable. The most obvious omission however is a second gunner to lie on the other trail, producing a more realistic crew of five for each gun. Still if not a show piece then this is at least a useful addition to this increasingly comprehensive range of models.