The MG 34 machine gun was an exceptional weapon. Issued from 1936, it is generally considered the most advanced machine gun of its day, and was the first true general-purpose machine gun. It could be carried by just one man, yet had a high rate of fire and could be used as both a light and medium weapon. Despite the introduction of the MG42 later on, it remained in service in large numbers right up to the end of the war in Europe, including in North Africa.
This simple little set contains two machine guns, each with a crew of three. The gun is nicely detailed and includes the sight and part of the ammunition belt each side of the feed, and although the barrel is a shade longer than it should be, the difference is not especially noticeable. It is mounted on the Lafette 34 tripod, also a sophisticated piece of equipment, so here it is being used as a medium machine gun. The tripod is a pretty good model, including some use of flexible moulds to minimise excess plastic. However the rear legs are a solid block, and the front leg is much too short, though it does correctly have the carrying back pads. Despite this, the accuracy is pretty good, and the compromises are largely so as to have the whole weapon as a single piece, which many will appreciate.
The three-man crew are of course the gunner, the assistant gunner feeding the ammunition, and the group leader directing fire. The first two are prone as the gun is set very low here, and as you can see they have no head. Instead the set provides a total of eight heads, four wearing a helmet and four a peaked cap, so all figures can have either item, both of which come with goggles around them. The head fits on a peg on the neck, and is a tolerable join but will need gluing. This does of course also mean there is some scope for altering the angle at which the head is held, which is good. The group lead is kneeling, and we have two of them, essentially exactly the same figure but one wears a helmet and the other a cap.
The men all wear standard DAK uniform of tunic, trousers and boots. Equipment is the usual bread bag, water flask and gasmask cannister, and the leader has an entrenching tool as well. The leader and assistant have the standard rifle ammunition pouches on the belt, but the gunner correctly has the M34 parts pouch instead, and presumably also a pistol, though this is hidden here.
These were originally metal figures, so they do not have the same elegance that can be found in the best plastic figures. The faces in particular are basic, and the detail is not that sharp, yet many will find these more than adequate, and again some flexibility in the mould has helped to improve the poses. The gunner has a large piece of flash along his right arm, but this is relatively easy to trim off, as is the small amount of flash found elsewhere. Occasional cavities and loss of detail suggest the mould is not always filled as well as it should be, but these are reasonable models overall.
They may not be the best-looking figures on the market, and there are a few compromises, but in essence this set provides what it claims, and offers some useful sustained machine gun fire support for your DAK infantry.