by: Russ Amott [ ]
The 81mm mortar (8cm schwerer Granatwerfer 34) was a standard medium mortar used by the German army through the second world war. It was a smoothbore, muzzle-loaded weapon with a fixed firing pin, and was capable of firing 10-12 rounds per minute of high explosive or smoke. Range with a standard charge was 591 yards, with additional charges increasing range by the same amount up to four charges and maximum of 2,625 yards.
It was used extensively on all fronts throughout the war. Zvezda has now added to their “Art of Tactic” war gaming series by releasing a new set featuring the 81mm mortar and a two man crew in 1/72nd scale. As a bonus, there are two identical kits in the box. They can be used either for the war game or as model figures ready for a diorama.
The kit comes in a small, end-opening box with artwork on the front depicting the mortar in action. The rear of the box shows the completed kit, painted and on display. Inside are two identical sprues, each with two kneeling figures, mortar tube, stand, base and a diorama/gaming base on groundwork. There is also a large marker piece for war gaming and two long pieces not used.
The figures are generally well-molded, with gear depicted in nice detail. Both arms are separate for the loader, and one arm is separate for the assistant. The arms fit nicely into the bodies, with well-shaped cutouts. There are mold seams on the figures, and the faces and torso fronts suffer in the molding process, being less-defined than previous releases.
The mortar is also well-detailed, and the tube can be hollowed out with care for the detail oriented. The addition of a separate base plate means the set can be posed on a separate diorama base if the modeler desires. The included diorama/gaming base has a base plate and textured groundwork. There are pins on the figures to allow them to be mounted on this base.
The plastic material is in between standard styrene and the soft, flexible plastic used in more toy-like sets. It is glue-able and can be sanded or filed, but is soft enough to cut with little effort with a hobby knife. The figures snap easily together, but the mortar tube did not fit as well onto the stand. It does glue easily.
instructions & painting guide
The instructions are basic line drawings. Two identical gaming cards are included, one for each mortar team, but no painting guide is included.
Although the figures are not well-formed, they can still be used with other 1/72 scale kits, and with care will look very nice, although the facial features will be hard to clear up. As a simple, snap-fit kit it offers good quality and detail. In addition to war gaming, I think this would be an excellent choice for new or inexperienced modelers, especially younger ones getting into the hobby, as the set is very basic.