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Airfix Kit Figures - Opel Blitz & PaK 40

Set 02315-5 and A02315

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These days the PaK 40 is widely produced by many manufacturers, but perhaps few were available in the late 1970s when this set was created. In any case the gun gets second billing after the Opel lorry, but unlike many, Airfix saw that if you are to provide a gun then you will need some gunners, which is why we have the above figures.

The first thing you notice is that no one is actually touching the gun, so calling them a crew is stretching things. The crawling man holds a shell, but the duplicated figure is doing nothing, which leaves the commander peering through his binoculars. In addition we had further issues with the poses. The man on the ground is in no position to either load the gun or pass up ammunition, which makes us wonder what he is there for, and in any case the shield of the PaK40 should mean he can crouch rather than lie flat without exposing any more of himself to danger. A highly important feature of any anti-tank gun is remaining undetected until they at least get their first shot off, so having the commander waving his hand in the air seems very unlikely unless he is on some training ground, and who is he waving to anyway?

The sculpting of the figures is adequate, with decent detail, but it varies. The man leaning forwards has had some ugly work done around his left shoulder, and the commander has no face whatsoever; his binoculars cover his eyes, but the rest of what should be his face is clearly visible, but seems to have been forgotten by the sculptor. On our example there was a fair amount of flash too.

The accuracy is a further cause for concern. The PaK40 began to appear in small numbers in November 1941, but production only really got going in 1942. Naturally the most active front at the time was in the Soviet Union, and the guns appeared after that first terrible winter when the German Army suffered so badly. So we would expect to see the signs of the more practical uniform, perhaps camouflage smocks, and surely at least the simplified version of the tunic. But no, the tunics here all have the pleats that mark them as early war, and every man wears the long boots which would also become less common later in the war. Also no one here has any form of kit at all - not even a water flask. While we accept that gunners tended to put much kit aside, these men should have at least something on them.

The last figure is the driver of the Blitz lorry. He is on the small side, and has had some flesh removed so he fits inside the cab, which is normal and does not show once he is in place. Presumably he has one hand loosely on the wheel and the other on the gearstick, so is a reasonable figure that could be placed in many vehicles.

So while it is good that Airfix made the effort, these crew figures are not impressive, and others have since made better examples which don’t force you to buy a lorry at the same time.

Although this product appears in a number of Airfix catalogues, it was never made up and photographed, so the above artwork was always used. However the kit does form part of the more recent set A06902 Luftwaffe Airfield Set, where the elements feature in a photograph of all the contents.

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