The first German 3.7cm anti-tank gun was introduced in 1928 and was an excellent weapon. Later modified to be the Pak 35/36, it first saw active service during the Spanish Civil War, where it proved very effective. It was still highly effective during the invasion of Poland in 1939, but proved to be of little value against the heavier allied armour during the invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940, and equally poor against the bigger Soviet tanks in 1941. Larger calibre weapons were rushed into service as a result, and the Pak 35/36 had largely disappeared from the front line by 1942. However prior to 1941 it was a common sight in any German army, and with this set Caesar have added one to their enormous WWII range.
The gun in this set was made by S-Model in a good hard plastic, and it turns out very well. Nicely detailed, yet relatively straight-forward to put together, although it’s small size does make it a bit fiddly, especially placing the shield. However the result is a very creditable model, and although several others have made similar models this is as good as any of them.
Happily the gun comes with a small crew. Officially it needed just two crewmen to operate it, although others would be necessary to bring up ammunition of course. The two crew poses here are both kneeling with hands raised in very appropriate positions to really give the feeling they are operating it. The first pictured would be aiming and firing the weapon and the second would be loading the ammunition, so his hands look like they should be holding a shell. Neither man has a base but both 'stand' without one, and so can get right up against the gun as they should. The standing man pointing looks to be directing their fire and selecting targets, and is also a great little pose. With two of each pose you could use the duplicates to pass ammunition forward perhaps, but this crew are really well done and we liked them a lot.
No doubt mindful that the gun and crew take very little plastic, Caesar seem to have decided to add a few random infantry rather than multiples of the gun or crew. Some may wish for a different approach, but it means we get a few extra German infantry in winter gear. Like the gun crew they wear something like the M1942 winter suit, compromising warm hooded parka jacket and equally warm over-trousers, both made reversible with one side white. All wear helmets of course, but only the gun commander has a cover on his. Everyone wears most or all of the standard kit items (bread bag, water bottle, mess tin and gas mask canister) while one soldier also has an entrenching tool. All have the hood down, which is correct as otherwise it might impair vision and sound during action, so everything about the clothing and kit is perfectly good.
Two of the soldiers are firing a standard rifle while two more carry an MP38 or MP40 submachine gun. The fifth pose, the first in our top row, holds an StG44 assault rifle, so is clearly for the last year or so of the war. Each man has the appropriate ammunition pouches for his weapon, and the two kneeling crewmen have rifles slung on the shoulder, which we wonder may be rather inconvenient as they move to serve the weapon. The weapons are all fine, but the big inconsistency is that a gun that was largely replaced by 1942 is sold with figures that can only date from autumn 1942 at the earliest, or a good deal later in one case. That is not to say that such figures would never be seen in the vicinity of this gun, but we would have thought that would be very rare and only in special circumstances, so put together the set makes not a lot of sense.
We have said that the gun is a good, well-engineered model, and the figures are of the usual good Caesar standard. Lots of nice texture and pleasing faces, while even the finer details of the hand weapons are quite well done. The proportions are as always perfect, as is the complete lack of any flash. The gun crew have benefited from a sophisticated mould as their realistic poses with arms outstretched before them have been achieved in a single piece, but the man with the assault rifle does have extra plastic between arms and weapon, which is unusual for Caesar. Nonetheless for the most part this is the usual high production standard we have become accustomed to from them.
The crew poses are great, the infantry poses much more mundane, and not wildly energetic, but perfectly good and usable for all that. Caesar have made many similar poses in the past, so know what they are doing. That goes for the set as a whole, with everything being accurate and well-produced. Putting the whole lot together might not seem like a good idea, but individually everything here is at least very good indeed, making this a worthwhile set that brings nothing particularly new, yet is still deserving of consideration for a place in any table-top German army.