When general war broke out in 1939, the German Army was surprisingly ill-equipped for anti-tank warfare. Like most armies it mostly had rather bulky anti-tank guns, and the only portable weapon for the infantry was the anti-tank rifle, but this rapidly became useless against most tanks as they quickly developed armour too thick for it to penetrate. Later in the war such weapons as the Panzerfaust family would solve the problem, but in the early years all the Germans had were two models of rifle, the PanzerBüsche 38 and 39. It is the PzB 39 that is depicted in this small game set, which is as well as it was by far the more numerous on the battlefield.
Two figures are holding the PzB 39, the first and third as shown above, with one using it and the other carrying it. Both the weapons have the twin magazines mounted on the side of the receiver, and both have the folding buttstock fully extended. The detail is very good, and these are really nice models, so while they have been modelled in this hobby before, never as well as here. The remaining two soldiers carry ordinary rifles, and are also important members of an anti-tank squad since the gunners would need protection. Finally the last rifleman also holds a concentrated charge - essentially a hand grenade with the charge from six others wired round it. This was also used as an anti-tank weapon, but was both dangerous to use and not greatly effective in most cases.
As we have said, these were early war weapons, when soldiers had to make do until new weapons that could handle the modern tanks came along, and were withdrawn by 1943. The uniform of these men is also early war in appearance, with smart tunics and long boots. All have standard basic combat kit, so bread bag and water bottle on right hip, entrenching tool and bayonet (even for the gunners) on left hip, and the combat pack of cook pot over tent quarter over what should be a bag but looks like a gas cape wrapped around a gas mask canister. The two PzB gunners correctly have pistols on their belts, on the left with butt facing forward, and the walking man has two large ammunition pouches for his weapon, so again everything is correctly done.
As always the sculpting is exceptional, highly detailed and very crisp and clear. All the figures require some assembly, and this time we found the joins a bit too tight - certainly once in they don’t ever come out again. The two standing figures have their own base, and the two prone men have one single base as shown here. Also, as this is a Zvezda Art of Tactic game piece, all four can be grouped (very unrealistically) on a single base as shown here.
So, another cracking set of figures for an aspect of the German Army that was important for a time, but would disappear later in the war. As a game piece there is little in this set - just the four figures - but what there is is great and very well done.