Though the US Marine Corps made up only 5% of the total US armed forces in World War II, its many actions made it one of the most famous units of the whole war. From films such as 'Sands of Iwo Jima' (1950) to modern television series such as 'The Pacific' (HBO 2010), their exploits in World War II have always been in the public's conscientiousness. Having already made a set of US infantry for the European Theatre of Operations, it was natural that Revell would soon turn to the Marines in the Pacific with this set.
The poses in this set are unusual in that they clearly follow a particular theme. That theme is a beach landing, which of course was the most famous of the Marine's tasks as they recaptured one island after another in the Pacific. Consequently we do not find the standard set of World War II poses, but instead have a far more original collection with several men kneeling or advancing while keeping low. This is a refreshing change, and some great poses have been created. We particularly liked the man crawling forward with carbine in front of him and the man waving his comrades on. The marine with rifle over his head is clearly wading in deep water as he comes ashore.
The original box artwork shown above (but not the later re-release version) shows the men in a khaki shirt and green trousers, and these are indeed the items worn by these figures. This is authentic, but was an intermediate uniform issued to Marines during 1942 which was quickly replaced by the fatigues which were worn when in combat from the invasion of Guadalcanal onwards. The khaki shirt has the correct two breast pockets, and the whole uniform is properly reproduced here. However the question must be asked - why did Revell choose this uniform rather than the one habitually worn during the bulk of the Pacific campaign, namely the pale green two-piece utilities? That uniform differed from the one worn here in having just a single breast pocket, and the shirt (officially a coat) was worn outside the trousers. By late 1942 the old 'dishpan' helmet had been replaced by the M1 helmet as worn by all here. However none seem to have any sort of cover, which once more points to an early stage in the War. Some of the poses wear leggings, which again are correct by regulation, but in practice many men abandoned these in the Pacific as they chafed, were too hot and held water when wading.
Two thirds of the poses have a full pack which closely follows the correct Marine pattern. In many cases this includes the entrenching tool, but there is some variety here which is reasonable. In practice many men tended to discard much of their webbing when fighting in the jungle, keeping just the canteen and ammunition pouches. This was to aid movement in difficult conditions, and may also have been true when initially wading ashore like these men, although it is unclear to what extent this might be so. As a result, such packs may be more to do with regulations than actual practice, so we should say this arrangement is correct but not at all typical. Otherwise the standard pouches are present on all the figures.
The Marines utilised a number of rifles, carbines and machine guns, and it is pleasing to report that many are represented here. Three of the poses carry the old M1903 Springfield rifle, which was carried early in the War, and another four poses have the M1 Carbine. There are also figures carrying an M1918A2 BAR, an M3 submachine gun (the famous 'Grease Gun') and a Thompson submachine gun. Finally, one man carries an M2 flamethrower, which was much used in the Pacific campaign, as were all these weapons, although the Springfield was replaced by the later battles. It should be noted however that the M3 'Grease Gun' and the M2 flamethrower were introduced in 1943/44, so well after the uniform depicted on these men. There are no heavy weapons, but this is entirely in keeping with the theme as it would be difficult to set up heavy machine guns, mortars etc. whilst trying to establish an initial beachhead. All the weapons are very well sculpted, and are about as accurate as the limitations of the mould will allow, particularly for the flamethrower.
This is another top class sculpting effort by Revell, with very natural-looking figures that are well detailed and beautifully posed. Flash is not excessive, and there are no areas of excess plastic to remove. Their choice of uniform is puzzling, however, and means some of the weapons do not match it, and we would have much preferred the utilities with which the Marines would conduct the successful Pacific island-hopping campaign. As with so many sets of soldiers, the reality would have been much more scruffy than these figures, but this is certainly one of the more attractive sets in the vast array of World War II sets on offer and has considerable appeal.