The M-72, based on the BMW R-71, first entered service in 1941, and was widely used during the rest of World War II by the Red Army. The Red Army had pioneered the use of mass motorcycles in the 1930s for moving infantry, but they were also used as light cavalry had been a century earlier, for protection, reconnaissance, rapidly occupying positions and so on. Thousands of the M-72 were produced and used in this way, and indeed production in the Soviet Union or beyond would continue long after the war was over.
This game piece contains just a single bike and sidecar with two men riding. The sidecar was a normal part of the whole, but individual bikes were also used, so these too can easily be created with this kit. The whole vehicle looks very accurate, and includes a DP light machine gun mounted on the sidecar. As always this is a high-precision kit from Zvezda, with a number of often very small parts, so time is required to put it together, but the results are excellent. All the parts fit together so well as to not need gluing, yet produce a great-looking vehicle, making the experience a delight for the modeller. We have photographed it without a base, but the set includes a suitable base plus a marker flag like the rest of the Art of Tactic range. The tricky pose of riding the bike and holding the handlebars has been achieved by having the man's hands as part of the handlebars rather than his arms, which works well. The kit even includes a choice of front forks - one with these gripping hands for when a rider is mounted, and one without.
The two men both wear standard Soviet uniform of M1940 steel helmet, gymnastiorka shirt-tunic, trousers and long boots. The rider is armed with a PPSh 42/43 with curved magazine – this is slung around his neck and hangs in front of his chest. Apart from the appropriate ammunition pouches, he has no other kit, and neither does his comrade in the sidecar.
As a token for a reconnaissance or similar unit this works well, and is also a lovely little model of this useful motorcycle.