When it comes to German World War Two German infantry machine guns the MG 34 and 42 instantly jump to mind; MiniArt has given that consideration with one of their latest releases of a German Machine Gun Set in 1/35th scale and throws us a curve ball with the inclusion of a ZB-53 in the mix.
This offering from MiniArt is provided in one of their end opening boxes with the instructions on the rear and an artwork on the front. I am starting to wish that manufacturers would start heading away from these flimsy cartons due to their susceptibility to crush damage and they often pop open in storage unless taped shut; I should say that this issue is not a MiniArt specific problem and effects most manufacturers.
Inside of the carton is a single plastic bag that contains five grey sprues and a small card envelope with a photo etched fret inside; that is a good move by MiniArt as photo etch is easily damaged by crushing and the envelope seems to have worked as intended. An examination of the sprues indicates some very crisp and clean moulding from MiniArt, the mouldings being free of flash and ejector pin marks. On completion of the sprue examination I did find that one of the deployed legs on the bipod of an MG 34 was broken, but as the broken ends were firmly together I have applied some liquid polly which should hopefully overcome the issue.
In this set we are provided with two MG 34’s that have been slide moulded and so with a hollow in the muzzle which is pleasing to see. The breech of the machine guns has been supplied as separate parts and so they can be shown open in the process of being loaded. MiniArt has provided some very nice harnesses for the machine guns in photo etch with nice detail, but the details are very small and so may test the user. The last element of the MG 34’s is the option of a deployed or folded bipod.
The instructions on the box rear show the MG 34 with a drum magazine fitted; after some digging on the internet I found that the drum magazines were more commonly used when mounted inside aircraft and vehicles, but that is not an exclusive use. Also provided is a short belt of ammunition and an ammunition box and these are far more commonly seen when being used in a gun position or in use with mobile troops. MiniArt has supplied a frame for two drum magazines, which is a nice inclusion. Both the belt and drum ammunition cases have been supplied with photo etched handles which is again another nice touch if small detail.
The MG 42’s provided in this offering are again very nicely rendered by MiniArt. The breech of the machine gun is again offered as a separate part allowing them to be displayed open and being loaded, but a nice addition here is the supply of a separate cocking handle. As with the MG 34’s the MG 42’s are shown assembled with a drum magazine fitted and again the belt seems to be the more common layout. MiniArt has supplied the container for a spare barrel and that is a nice touch as changing the barrels as they got hot was common practice to prevent damage. MiniArt has also again supplied photo etched straps for both the Mg 34 and barrel container. A standard ammunition can is supplied along with an ammunition belt, but no spare drum magazines are offered with the MG 42. MiniArt has lastly supplied what looks like small oil cans, but the reason for this is beyond my knowledge.
ZB 53 (MG 37)
The ZB 53 supplied in this offering from MiniArt is a Czechoslovakian machine gun that had a troubled child hood. The weapon was designed to be a duel rate of fire machine gun depending on it being used on ground or air targets and the weapon had problems with the high rate of fire. The ZB factory persevered with the machine gun and this resulted in great exports around the globe, the UK even built them under licence as the BESA machine gun. When the Czechoslovakians came under German rule in World war two production continued until the early 1940’s. I suspect that the weapon was less than popular due to it’s nearly 40 kilo weight with its support frame which made this a static weapons system for the most part.
Unlike the other two machine guns offered by MiniArt in this set you only get one of these unusual ZB 53’s and I think I would have liked to see this one doubled up on as well. This machine gun is a quite complex build due to the number of small parts and the amounts of photo etch that has been incorporated. The support frame has four legs on it and is a layout I have not been able to find as all of the images I see show a tripod in use; with that said even the tripods have variations present which leads me to believe that the support frame may be an accurate depiction of something I cannot find.
The machine gun itself is also going to be a difficult build due to the small parts such as the handles and the photo etched parts covering the guards and the cone that will need to be formed from a tiny piece of metal. With this machine gun you get two ammunition boxes which I like and another nice length of ammunition belt.
I like this offering from MiniArt as it offers something a little different from the norm. I would have liked to see two of the ZB 53’s included to match the two MG 34 and 42’s in the set, especially so as a search reveals a more or less universal price of £9.99 which seems a little high for the contents, but I cannot hold MiniArt responsible for that. The use of photo etch and small parts has provided the modeller with five very nice machine guns that while not an easy build will look good.
Please note MiniArt has made big changes to their website so please take a look.