Tanks were a problem for all armies in the Second World War, particularly the heavier models, which could easily withstand hits by the standard 37mm guns widely employed. For the American Army the Bazooka partly solved the problem, but work was also done on developing a larger calibre anti-tank rifle, and the result was the M20 75mm recoilless rifle. Introduced from March 1945, the war ended before this weapon could be used in large numbers. Although too weak to pose a threat to the heavy tanks, it was fairly mobile and performed well against lightly armoured vehicles as well as bunkers, and was a general close infantry support weapon. Although very late to World War Two, it was widely used during the Korean War, again against lighter targets than the T34s it faced there.
The only anti-tank weapon in this set is the M20, and unusually it is moulded as a single piece, including the machine gun tripod on which it is mounted. Despite that it is actually a quite good model, nicely detailed and of the correct size. There has been some simplification, as usual, and the main missing elements here are any form of sight, and the breech block lock (which actually also included the trigger). We don’t see any technical reason why a reasonable effort could not have been made to include these, even in a basic form, but if you want this degree of authenticity then you will have to make them yourself. More fundamentally, however, it has been mounted on the tripod the wrong way round – the tripod should have the longer leg to the front, to allow the necessary elevation – and as we have said you cannot change this on a one-piece model.
Moving on to the crew, each sprue has two of the gun plus the seven poses shown, which is a bit odd, although lets treat this as an extra gun on each sprue! The crew includes two men holding shells, one man actually firing the weapon, an officer (pointing), a radio-man and two men doing nothing very much (one of which is trying to cover his ears). Obviously this selection does not really cover the manning of both guns, but for a single weapon this is fairly generous, as it only needed a couple of men to actually operate it. Consequently this is a good range of poses, and there is at least a more realistic interaction with the weapon than many gun crews in this hobby. Although we don’t normally comment on boxes, here it should be noted that the M20 had a ferocious back-blast, so was never operated as shown on the photo-shopped box artwork!
The crew figures all wear the same uniform. This would be fatigue trousers and either the fatigue jacket or possibly the M1943 field jacket – these look very similar at this scale, and the figures largely hide the front of their jacket anyway. Either way, this is authentic, as is the helmet and boots, so no problems with uniform. Webbing is basically a belt with appropriate ammunition pouches and a water bottle, and again is perfectly accurate, both for World War II and the Korean War.
Several of the figures also have personal weapons. A couple are carrying the normal M1 Garand, which was common for both 1945 and the Korean War. The commander has a Thompson submachine gun slung, which despite no longer being in production by 1950 was still being issued and was widely used in Korea. Its replacement, the M3 ‘Grease’ Gun, is being carried by a couple more poses, and the remaining two figures are unarmed.
The sculpting is pretty good – perhaps better on the M20 than on the figures. The detail is pretty good but a bit soft, particularly noticeable on the faces and the finer elements of the weaponry. However there is virtually no flash or other material to remove, and the proportions of the figures are good.
The M20 was not a great anti-tank weapon, but it certainly had its uses and is a valuable expansion of the available arsenal of the US Army. Although Strelets do not specify a conflict for this set, the weapon, uniforms and kit are all appropriate for both 1945 and the Korean War. We thought the M20 could have had a bit more effort put into creating the breech lock and some sort of basic sight, but the only real accuracy problem here is with the tripod being the wrong way round – cutting and regluing would resolve that one. Since the sculpting is pretty reasonable and the poses are good, there is much in this set to recommend, although duplicating a couple of the key poses would have made the sprue no bigger, yet would have more adequately allowed all eight guns to be operated.