As part of their continuing crusade to depict every conceivable unit that participated in the conflict between Soviets and Germans between 1941 and 1945, Zvezda produce this set of Red Army Air Force ground crew for their Art of Tactic game system. Sets like the complementary one on the Luftwaffe are quite common, but for some reason the Soviet air forces have received scant attention, and this is the first ground crew set in our scale.
The set comes with what for this range is quite a generous five poses, all of ground crew engaged in various tasks. The first man pictured is carrying an ammunition box, and the second is leaning over a bomb, but it is the group at the end that catches the eye. This threesome is of a man standing by a drum and using a pump, the hose of which is being held by a second man. On the box artwork this is directed into a can, but there is not one in the set. The third figure, with his back to us, is a portly gentleman carrying a bucket. It has been suggested that some at least of these figures are based on characters in a Soviet film "Only Old Men Are Going To Battle", made in the 1970s, but that hardly matters for modellers. The single poses are reasonable enough, as is the man with the bucket, but those pumping from the barrel are a bit niche. Now this is a game piece of course, and Zvezda are entitled to make the set as interesting and unusual as they like, but anyone looking to use this set to populate some model Soviet airfield is unlikely to want lots of men pumping from a drum.
All the men wear ordinary overalls and the pilotka sidecap, so accuracy is fine for this simple subject. The sculpting and design are first rate, thanks to four of the five figures having multiple parts. Everything fits together in true Zvezda style, with perfect precision, needing no glue. Even the delicate pump is really nicely done, and of course there is no flash or unwanted plastic. As a game piece Zvezda have also included a single base to hold all these five poses, but the results look a bit ridiculous as men crowd together doing their own thing, so fine as a game piece but modellers will want to use the individual bases pictured.
This has all the usual Zvezda quality of production and research, and the poses are very natural and highly appropriate. The three-figure group is very nice but as we have said not the most useful if you want to fill a busy airfield with crew figures. That said, this is another high quality Zvezda product, and it also has the advantage of not repeating any ordinary plastic figure set yet made at time of writing, so particularly useful.