by: Russ Amott [ ]
In February 1944, the Soviet army hoped to encircle six German divisions in an isolated salient in the Korsun/Cherkassy area east of the Danube. The Soviets had visions of repeating Stalingrad and destroying the German forces completely, but of the approximately 60,000 soldiers encircled, around 40,000 were able to escape. Dragon Models have released a Generation 1 kit in late 2008 intended to represent a small scene from this incident.
The one-piece box depicts four German soldiers in the 1943-style reversible padded winter uniform, white on one side and field gray or camouflage on the other. Two figures are studying maps, and the other two are on the lookout for trouble or a way to escape. Although labeled as Cherkassy, the set can be used to model any group of soldiers in later-war winter clothing.
Inside the box are three parts sprues. The largest, labeled "SS Officers, Cherkassy" contains all four figures and their equipment. Two smaller sprues are labeled "6005" and "6006" and contain the weapons, consisting of 2 (two) KAR 93 Mauser rifles, 2 (two) MP 40 machine pistols (one with folded wire stock and the other with the stock separate), two Russian PPsh 41 submachine guns, and one FG42 light machine gun.
The figure bodies are nicely molded with good detail for the uniforms and boots. One figure is wearing gaiters, two have the winter pant covering the upper portion of their boots, and the fourth is wearing the familiar jackboot. Pockets, collars and seams are all clearly-defined and well-detailed. Entrenching tools, gas mask containers, binoculars and other gear are detailed on both sides. There are four helmets and one fur cap included. Two of the helmets have cloth coverings, one fitted and the other a piece of white cloth for camouflage. One of the steel helmets has a strap but only the top line of the strap is molded, giving the helmet a stepped appearance.
My sample had some light seam lines on the figures and much heavier seams and some flash on the small parts. The heads suffered the most, with heavy seam lines and significant loss of detail around the ears. One figure is wearing what appears to be a balaclava or similar covering for his head, and as a result has the cleanest appearance. The facial expressions are OK. The poses are nice because of the potential for variety they offer, either on their own or with other sets and vehicles.
The weapons are from old moldings, but are relatively clean. Detail is not sharp, but if you elect to use them they will look nice with some careful cleanup. Two maps are included on a small slip of paper. Assembly instructions are printed on the rear of the box, with each assembled unpainted figure shown in a pose. Painting instructions are detailed on the lower portion of the box back, with GSI, Gunze and Model Master color codes given.
I partially assembled the figures to check for fit between the legs and upper torso. It took me about 15 minutes to clean up the seam lines on the legs and a couple more for the torso. They went together with some 1mm gaps at the front and rear of the torso joint and a similar gap between the two leg halves. The other figures fit well when assembled and very minimal seam filling was required for the legs. Upper and lower body halves will have to be shaped carefully but will fit well.
Overall the kit isn't bad, as many of the details are quite sharp. Many modelers replace the heads from kits like this with after-market resin ones, but some (like me) will end up using them. I think this is a good representative set for winter settings and I recommend it.