From 1943 the Soviet Union created assault sapper or engineering units, intended to spearhead infantry advances and particularly adept at urban combat. Such units became something of an elite, and were very effective as the Red Army moved westwards in the latter stages of the war in Europe.
As with all Art of Tactic products, this is primarily a game piece to represent such units. The complete piece can be seen here, and includes the four pictured figures plus a large piece of building, which is a nice model and very reminiscent of photos of such men taken during the war. The figures are also provided with individual bases, so make useful additions to the wider modelling hobby. The first two figures both carry the PPS-43 submachine gun, first widely issued in 1943, while the third holds a DP light machine gun of much older vintage. The last man is using a ROKS-3 flamethrower, again a later-war weapon, so all are for the period after Stalingrad, for example. All these weapons are appropriate for assault engineers, and all have been really nicely detailed. The flamethrower seems to lack the hose connecting the fuel with the nozzle, though this is actually sculpted pressed against the man’s body. This isn’t realistic of course, but to make it so would have required a separate and very slender piece, which was probably unfeasible given the brittle nature of this plastic, so is an understandable compromise.
All the poses are good. It is unusual to have a figure with a machine gun that is carrying it rather than using it, but it is still a perfectly valid pose. The first two figures are wearing the padded suit so well suited to winter fighting, and the other two wear camouflage clothing. The first two have long boots, the others short ones, but all wear the usual M40 helmet, and they all also wear the SN-42 body armour which helps to make these figures more distinctive. Like the weapons the clothing is beautifully sculpted, with the camouflage garments being nice and baggy.
The gunners all have appropriate pouches for their weapon’s ammunition, as well as bags for grenades or gas masks. The third man also has a water bottle, but the fourth has only a bag for grenades or mask. Neither of the last two have a personal weapon. The figure about to throw a grenade is also interesting because he has acquired a German Panzerfaust which he has slung on his back. All told these are excellent figures, beautifully produced as always, and a small but valuable addition to the available figures depicting these men.