In 1943, the Red Army began the process of forming special assault engineer-sapper brigades. Among the main tasks of these formations were assault operations in cities and a breakthrough in heavily fortified enemy defences. A distinctive feature of the assault brigades was the equipment of the fighters with special steel breastplates, which protected the soldiers from the fire of small arms and automatic weapons, as well as from small fragments of shells.
The most experienced and physically strong soldiers were selected as part of the assault units. The personnel of the assault units underwent special training, which included hand-to-hand combat and the ability to use explosives. In addition, assault engineers used flamethrowers, which were especially effective in close combat. Also, these formations were distinguished by a high degree of saturation with automatic weapons – PPSh and PPS submachine guns, light machine guns.
ICM has released another of their 1/16th scale figures, and I will confess at this point that as this figure is not presented regimentally but is of the WW2 period it greatly appeals to me greatly. The model is packaged in a flip top cardboard tray, with an additional card lid. Inside is a single re-sealable plastic bag containing the two sprues for the figure, plus a square display base. The parts for the figure have been very nicely moulded, with great looking crease detail in the clothing. The body armour has been moulded off of the main portion of the model, and while not something I can recall having seen photographs of it does offer up a fairly unique looking result.
The various straps that hold the armour plate in place are clearly defined, and I see no issues with them. The uniform is the standard baggy uniform issued, which from memory was also reversible. The colours depicted here would be Spring/Summer/Autumn period. Rather than the Winter white, but if you do some scratch work and depict gloves on the figures hands you could show it as a Winter version. The equipment provided looks good and appropriate. The main weapon is a Degtyaryov machine gun (DP-7), with a drum magazine which sits on the top. A deployed bi-pod is provided separately, the vented area around the barrel has been very nicely replicated, by providing the sleeve in two halves to be sat around the barrel.
Moving on to the hands and face of the figure, we have a very nicely sculpted head with excellent ear detail. The only thing that people need to do is tackle a moulding seam that runs from the bottom of the ears down the sides of the neck and up over the top of the head from the top of the ears. A subtle hair texture is present, and so I cannot see any serious issues. The hands both have separate fingers, with the right arm also having a separate thumb, which has been done this way in order to correctly depict the hands holding the weapons. Something I would like to say here is that I am impressed at how ICM has managed to mould the arms and legs as solid pieces without sink marks. The one thing that I believe the modeller will have to source or replicate is an ammunition pouch for the Degtyaryov machine gun as I doubt that a soldier would be going to war with just the magazine on the weapon.
I removed most of the parts for the figure and get the clean up done as regards moulding marks. On this figure clean up is restricted to moulding seams that I tackle in a number of ways. I use a new No 11 scalpel blade to scrape the worst of the seam away; I then use a combination of sanding sticks and a fibreglass pen to make sure the cleaned area looks natural. Finally I brush glue such as Tamiya extra thin along the seam and that is usually the end of the task as that removes any fine marks that may be left.
Assembly of the figure is reasonably easy. Starting with the legs the fit is good where it matters with a gap at the mating surface for the torso, but due to the hem of the jacket/smock being separate parts this issue does not matter. The fit of the torso to the waist is very good and is finished off very nicely with the separate hem parts that give a nice undercut detail. The arms are single piece mouldings which position wise are good and fit in most areas is also good, but there is a gap at the shoulder joint of the left arm that needs attention.
The body armour is a separate piece at the front and again gives the modeller that nice undercut detail that makes the model look natural. The fit is good with a little filler again being needed at the left shoulder. I have not added all of the parts as I like to paint the heads off of the figure as it gives me more room to work within without hand shake causing an issue. I have checked the head fit to the figure and it looks good despite initial concerns.
The finer parts such as fingers and thumb have not been tackled at this time, but past experience of ICM means I expect a good fit of this smaller parts that cannot easily be added prior to painting having at least started.
This is a lovely figure in 1/16th scale from ICM due to very nice detail and fit of parts for the most part. Detail of the provided contents is good with little to fault that I can see. We do see some failings with the lack of sling for the machine gun and a complete lack of extra ammunition for the weapon that I am sure must have been present and I have provided some images to help with this missing element. I have enjoyed my work with this figure so far and that has to count for something.