by: Darren Baker [ ]
The MG 08 machine was the main stay heavy machine gun of the German army during World War 1 also as an air cooled version it was fitted to the fighter aircraft of the day, to a lesser extent it saw limited service in World War 2 as a fortification defensive weapon and with troops behind the lines. This weapon had a rate of fire in the 500 – 600 rounds a minute range. The ammunition for this weapon was 7.92mm rounds in non disintegrating cloth belts of 250 rounds. ICM has now taken the leap and released a third 1/35th scale model of this iconic WW1 German machine gun with World War 2 troops.
The model is packaged in the now usual cardboard tray with a flip top lid and a second card lid with the model artwork on it favoured by ICM. The design of this packaging does mean that you can be reasonably sure that the model will reach you in its intended condition. Inside there is an instruction sheet. There is a single re-sealable bag containing three grey sprues.
The mouldings offered here by ICM are fair to good as some details could be stronger and crisper on the weapons set included with this release. As regards weaknesses the only one I would point out is that the holes that need to be drilled in parts (A1/19 and A1/22) do not have the needed drill size mentioned; I used a 0.45mm. Some of the parts are very fine and so require a lot of care when removing them from the sprue. This product actually provides two versions of the German MG 08 and I am surprised that is not indicated on the box.
The figures in this offering are very visually pleasing after examination under high magnification. The uniform is early war in that both the side and the breast pockets have the central pleat present that disappeared later in the war as material became harder to get hold of. The seam lines down the sides of the trousers are well depicted and are as good as any I have seen. Moving back to the jackets the eagle emblem on the right breast is present but view partially restricted by the webbing which I like. The belt buckle is hidden on one figure and on the other the detail is rudimentary as regards the circle detail but nothing clear on the inner face of the circle. The ‘Y’ harness is very well depicted with all the required detail being present. The straps for the bread bag are also moulded on the figure and the bags themselves are provided on the figure sprue. The crease detail on the clothing looks good to me in terms of natural appearance. The jack boots have good detail on all areas of the leather upper, but the lack of detail beyond the instep on the sole lets them down a little.
Both of these figures have their forearms exposed and I like that ICM has depicted watches moulded on both figures. The hands of the figures where it matters is exceptional in my opinion, with the detail present on the palms of the figure firing the MG being very highly detailed despite being hidden when in place. The hand of the figure on the ground supporting its weight being the only hand without good detail for obvious reasons. The heads have good detail for injection moulded plastic with all the needed facial features replicated, I especially appreciate the effort ICM has put into making sure the ears are well represented. The stance of the figures is interesting in that the loader is in the sort of pose expected of an MG 34 or 42 and I like the look. The gunner is in a set seated pose for firing the gun which is restrictive and such does not look natural, but I cannot see any other realistic pose the gunner could be in.
The figure sprue by itself is missing a lot of the needed detail and ICM has tackled that via the addition of a weapons and equipment sprue. This includes all of the parts needed for finishing the figures such as very nicely detailed M 35 helmets, gas mask cans and water canteens. Also included are mess tins which are only indicated for use with one of the figures, but other parts provided and not covered are bayonets in scabbards, entrenchment tools and there are two styles of binocular which I feel should be on display in a setting with one of these machine guns. Weapons wise there is a Kar 98 and 2 sets of 3 ammunition pouches and could be set up as a personal weapon for the loader. There is an MP 40 MG with a separate stock that can be set folded or deployed, this again is accompanied by 2 sets of 3 ammunition pouches. And we are still going with an MG 34 that has a separate breach and a choice of a deployed or folded bipod and not forgetting a tool pouch for the weapon. The ammunition belts for these are shown in the instruction sheet but that small sprue is not present in my offering, but two ammunition boxes are included by ICM. Lastly we have 3 pistols in the holsters, I believe that 2 of these are lugers and the remaining one a P38 pistol.
The mounted MG 08 can be set up in two firing modes by the modeller and you need to decide how you wish to finish it from the very start, you have the option of a setting it as it would with the user in a seated position, the other option is indicated to be a prone firing position. I drilled out all four of the holes so that you could see where they are located easily, but I have opted for a seated firing position as it looks the most natural. To begin with assembly of the support plate is easy to manage. The issue comes with stages 3 to 5 that take six pairs of hands. I suggest adding the plate assembled in stage 2 to the side and then add the other side followed by the parts in stage 3; this will give you a more stable structure to work with. Make sure you have the correct option for stage 6 and add it quickly before the gun pivot sets; this is the device for setting the height of the machine gun. If I said I enjoyed this part of the build I would be lying as I found it a pig due to large hands and ended up using two sets of tweezers for a lot of it.
The water cooled machine gun itself is a breeze to work with but the muzzle needs to be drilled unfortunately. If you are wondering about the disc on the barrel I have been told it was to help prevent the flash from affecting the sight of the user. The seam lines on this need to be taken care of, but that is it as regards extra work. I would suggest that those into scratch building skills make a new cocking handle as it is a weak detail on the gun in my opinion. When you come to adding the front support legs you get to understand what the holes you drilled are for. The expansion tank for the water cooled jacket has a good and surprising amount of detail provided, but the pipe that goes from the barrel the tank is not included, I used a piece of wire which took some work to make look natural in its position.
The machine gun is provided with two options when it comes to the ammunition boxes as there is a single and double ammunition box, your choice. In addition these boxes can be assembled open or closed and are aspects where I feel ICM did particularly well. The ammunition belt is supplied flat and needs shaping either by heat or manipulation; I went for glue as it is a softening agent that when applied to the mostly hidden face makes life easy and stops me getting scolded. The feeder portion of the ammunition belt is supplied as a separate part and so could be attached directly to the ammunition box to indicate ammunition coming into use. This is again supplied flat and shown flat coming out of the machine gun in the instructions; that is wrong as even with the rounds fired it would still sag being a cloth belt.
AN MG 08/15 is supplied with this set that is a very easy build that again needs the muzzle drilled out a little. A word of caution the instructions show the magazine incorrectly fitted and so I have included a picture that indicates the correct orientation. A water can which serves as a reservoir is supplied for this offering, but I did not build it; Sorry.
The gun goes together well if a little fiddly in some parts. The figures offered in this set are in my opinion first rate when it comes to detail and are some of the very best injection moulded figures I have seen. I would have liked to see a drill size mentioned for drilling the gun stand and also as ICM has proven their ability to use slide moulding I would have liked to see the muzzle of the MG 08 hollowed out. The extra parts on the equipment and weapons sprue that are not shown will make excellent additions in a diorama or vignette setting to encourage the eye of the viewer to peruse the entire setting rather than just a glance. The other plus is that the parts can also be added to the spares box and they are excellent spares to have.