When war broke out in 1939 the German Army had two main calibres of mortar, the 5cm and the 8cm, known as light and heavy mortars respectively. In time, after the invasion of the Soviet Union, they also adopted the heavier 12cm model, and the 8cm became a ‘medium’ mortar. Despite the appearance of the new heavier mortar, the 8cm ‘schwerer’ Grantwerfer 34 (sGrW 34) was the main German mortar for the whole war, and over 75,000 were eventually made, serving on all fronts.
This is a very small set. You get just two mortars and a total of four men to crew them. Both the mortars have a barrel length of 16mm, which scales up to 115cm – about the correct length for the sGrW 34. The barrel, base plate and base are all one piece, yet the detail is quite good and so has been made with a flexible mould. The two bipods are separate, and have their own slender base as shown. The difficulty as so often is that the area of connection between barrel and bipod is small, so gluing it produces a fairly fragile model. However details such as the sights are nicely done, so when assembled they look pretty good.
Two of the crew figures are reaching up with a round to place in the barrel, and another is handling the next round, while the fourth is bringing forward two more boxes of ammunition. All of these are perfectly valid and useful poses, though having just two men per weapon is a bit minimal (even if some other sets offer just one crewman). While you could have chosen so many other poses, these are reasonable.
The sculpting of the men betrays their origins as metal figures originally made by Adler Miniatures. The style is of metal figures, with larger heads and a slightly less refined look, but again they have a lot of undercutting, showing a flexible mould which few plastic sets can boast. Detail is good but occasion issues with failing to completely fill the mould cause problems, and the handle of the entrenching tool on most of the men is the most obvious example, as this is often much too short or even broken. Some of the items of kit have no straps (a hard thing to sculpt admittedly), and one water bottle in our sample had not filled properly either, leaving a high-gloss blob instead. While the flexible mould means no flash or loss of detail on difficult surfaces, the faces are not at all appealing, with very deep-set eyes.
The men wear helmets with either a cover of netting for camouflage, a collared tunic of some description, and anklets over short boots. This is all accurate, as are the items of kit such as bread bag, water bottle and gas mask canister. All wear rifle ammunition pouches on standard belt and braces, but only one man actually has his rifle on him.
The inclusion of a few extra ammunition boxes is a nice touch. From the cross pattern they all look to be metal canisters containing three rounds, which is fine, but they cannot disguise the fairly meagre contents of the set. Accuracy is good but we were not fans of the style, and other sets offer rather more with your mortar than you find here.
Since this review was originally compiled, we have been told that customers receive the two mortars but also two copies of each of the figures and ammo boxes shown, not the single copy we received. We cannot therefore be sure of the quantities you may get if you order this set.