It is 11.55 PM (Romanian hour) and I am very glad that I am able to post a single review on the topic of the month, before that to end.....:) Including the present one, this month I have succeeded to post only two reviews, but I really hope that during the next month finally to end topic of 1/72 WWII German gun&crew kits. I have written the review in a single day, today, and I hope you will not find it too acid. In addition, please forgive the inherent English language mistakes that here might be more than usual, having no time to correct it...:)
Because I assess these figures as some of the poorest ever seen in the scale, and having more of them, I decided to let one set almost unmodified and in standard positions, adding to them only few pistol holsters. Of course, I could not refrain to convert the same figures, getting them from the FLAK vehicles kits.
The gun is OOB, but without trailer for reasons explained inside the review.
Even done in a great rush, I hope you will enjoy the text and the images.
"88 mm Gun Flak 36"
No. of Figures
No. of Poses
1 FLAK36; Projectiles, Ammunition Boxes, Telemeter
Hasegawa represents one of the few mass production companies that has acknowledged the importance of figures within vehicle or artillery kits and has tried to provide a fair number of soldiers inside their related boxes. This approach is very welcome and in spite not impressing too much through quality and accuracy, the effort of offering several troopers for manning the machine has to be sustained and applauded. Along the years, from the large number of mass industry companies carrying out activities in the 1/72 scale, Hasegawa and Esci/Italeri are the best examples in the field of vehicle and artillery kits also accompanied by figures. Such sets, through their own resources, confer the modeller the chance to bring life around the main product, being a good source for raising the number of poses in our collections.
Though various versions of 88 mm FLAK had been intensively used by WWII Germans on all fronts since the beginning of war, being a representative gun of this army, its presence in the scale is extremely reduced. It is Hasegawa's plus point for bringing on the market this cannon, which moreover, is delivered in two versions inside two distinct kits, namely "88 mm Gun FLAK 18" and "88 mm Gun FLAK 36". Here it should be stressed not only that both sets benefit by identical figures as crewmen, but also that the box of FLAK36 incorporates as well the necessary parts for assembling the FLAK 18 version. Moreover, these are not the only kits where we encounter the same troopers, Hasegawa deploying them to operate other two cannons mounted on the Sd.Kfz 7 chassis and labelled as Sd.Kfz 7 w/ 4x20mm AA Gun and Sd.Kfz 7 w/ 37mm AA Gun. Differences between the crews in FLAK and those from the referred vehicles rest only in ammunition that can be glued in their hands. In addition, the vehicle kits duplicate a pose, for a total of seven figures per box, while the FLAKs feature only the six distinct poses.
As it was previously pointed out, in the 1/72 scale, the 88 mm FLAK benefits by a poor representation in mass production sets, an older release in the field belonging to Airfix, but in the 1/76 scale. In spite the huge interest of the target groups for such cannons, for years Hasegawa 88 mm FLAKs have remained the only available offers on the 1/72 market. However, it seems that in 2009 Revell is going to manufacture an 88 mm FLAK, and bearing in mind the high quality and accuracy of the products launched by this company, there will be a model that probably will make Hasegawa's to look old and obsolete.
The 88 mm FLAK was one of the most used cannons within the German Army during WWII, employed not only in its standard designation, as anti-aircraft gun, but also as an anti-tank gun. In 1941, during the African campaign, the famous Afrika Korps encountered serious problems in terms of weapons and supplies. In desperate situation, Rommel order to the troops to employ the 88 mm FLAK in fighting against enemy armour. For everybody's great surprise, in the new role the cannon was of great success, proving itself as one of the most reliable weapon in combating the enemy tanks. Its accomplishments in the field determined the German engineers to mount a modified version of the same cannon on the chassis of probably the most famous and feared German tank during WWII, the Sd.Kfz 182 Panzer VI "Tiger". Furthermore, various models based on 88 FLAK were used as main weapon of other German armoured vehicles such as Nashorn, Ferdinand, Elefant, Jagdpanther as well as on U-boats and military ships.
A standard Hasegawa 1/72 box, featuring here as artwork the cannon in action, manned by few soldiers in poses pretty close with those encountered inside was issued for accommodating the five sprues of the kit, the decal sheet and the assembly guidelines. The parts of the crewmen are mixed with those of the cannon on two sprues and for four figures some assembly is necessary, arms being delivered separately as well as the bases. Likewise, a telemeter, few ammunition boxes and projectiles accurate in size are supplied, increasing the look of cannon in combat. Nevertheless, despite labelling it as "FLAK36" we practically get the older FLAK18 to which was added only a new sprue with the barrel suitable for a FLAK36. The barrel of the 36 version, named "Rohr Aufbau 9", was dissimilar, featuring three removable liners for facilitating the change in the battle field. Normally, the trailer is just the same as for FLAK18 and for this reason it is not appropriate for a FLAK36 whose carriage, "Sonder Anhänger 202" was different, the most obvious being that the wheels were grouped on pairs of two for each axle while FALK18 trailer featured for front axle a single wheel per side. This reason, corroborated with the fact that the new barrel is correct for a FLAK36, force those wanting to possess such a gun and do not want to invest time and resources in modifying the trailer, to adopt the easiest solution, of putting together the gun but without carriage. The manoeuvre is also facilitated by the good approach applied by the manufacturer who made the kit in two separate sub-assemblies, respectively gun and trailer. However, the parts are not very detailed, but at final these succeed to depict pretty fair a FLAK 18 or 36, according to what barrel the owner decide to install. In few hours, the kit might be assembled, the pieces fitting quite fine in their places. Anyway, assembly has to start after removing the quite large amount of flash found on almost all parts. The simplified model can be built out of the box, but no matter what barrel is used, both muzzle ends need drilling as well as the sight. Not only the chassis, but also the gun embrace the pin and hole system, a more than helpful thing for adjusting the elevation and direction of the barrel, as well as making possible to show the carriage in firing or transportation positions.
As usual at Hasegawa, the assembly instruction sheet draws clear guidelines for putting together both the cannon, and the figures. In addition, the same paper provides little information regarding the 88 FLAK as well as the colours chart. On the other hand, the decals are too thick, an annoying and well-known characteristic mark of Hasegawa, in this regard, being more suitable the replacement with decals extracted from other kits.
In the field of figures, Hasegawa's FLAK crew is definitely one of the poorest offers ever released concerning WWII Germans, gathering in the same place a rich collection of inaccuracies and moulding faults. Helmets completely wrongly shaped, uniforms presenting characteristics seen only by the sculptor and bizarre gas mask containers, added more as a joke than a close replica of the item embody just few drawbacks of these figures, while in reality the list goes much further. In fact, the present crewmen stand out only as merely bodies where the modeller can practice his abilities in converting figures. Luckily, the single positive thing is that they are made of hard plastic, in this way conversion process being facilitated. Preiser or Dragon arms, heads as well as gear and weapons are more than required for getting something from the present troopers, adding, replacing and covering the clumsy faults made by Hasegawa.
In general, the 88 mm FLAKs were operated by a crew of eleven, more precisely gun commander, layer for elevation, layer for line traversing, loader, four ammunition handlers, fuse setter operator, fuse setter/round handler and tractor driver, but here Hasegawa forwards only six troopers for the cannon. All of them wear a tunic whose identification can not be clearly done due to complete lack of accuracy, some strange trousers with pockets stitched outside and funny jack/marching boots of a length almost reaching the knees. If those were not enough, the weird attire is completed by some odd steel helmets, with a shape closer to a salad bowl than a WWII German helmet. If the heads are not changed, then it is better to paint the helmets as covered by camouflage cloth, in this manner being somehow hidden the dubious shape. Furthermore, the phantasmagorical appearance of all troopers is enhanced by the most hideous gas mask containers ever witnessed within Braille Scale, extremely small and with a strange shape. Except the commander, the rest received "Y" straps, but only two got ammunition pockets for Kar98K. In addition, one have the correct number of three small pockets on each side while the other features only two, but comparing with the other mistakes, this one looks almost innocent. The same figure with wrong ammunition pockets was endowed with an out of the ordinary item too, in conformity with its emplacement, below the gas mask container as well as with its shape, it can be interpreted as a humble tentative in showing a mess tin. No personal firearm or even pistol holster is brought by these soldiers, the only weapons being represented by bayonets fixed at the belts of two crewmen. Again, the assessment of these short plastic lines as bayonets is based only on guess and emplacement, it is truly impossible to state loud and clear that these are 100% bayonets.
Having as starting point for few of the poses a familiar reference image which is a much praised incentive, Hasegawa's final product lamentable failed in portraying the army-men appearing in the photo in case. In standard approach, the poses reveal the gun commander, layer for elevation, layer for line traversing, loader, ammunition handler and another trooper with a telemeter. The gun commander, cast as single piece, is easily spotted, not only the lack of "Y" straps and the binoculars held on the chest, but also its stance, pointing with a rigid hand a potential target, attesting this fact. Likewise, a pretty similar pose, but much better done from all points of view, can be met inside Esci's "German anti-tank gun". Except this figure, there are also other three standing, to one having to be added both hands and a telemeter while to the other two the guidelines inform us that we must glue not only the hands, but also a projectile. The crew of this FLAK is completed by two figures that need to be located on the two seats of the gun. One was done as single piece and to the other it should be fixed the right arm. These are probably the funniest figures of the entire odd gathering while they completely miss the bottom part of their tunics. Looking for other values, a good usage refers strictly to the seated troopers, they can be deployed as drivers in armoured vehicles where to be hardly perceived, like Sd.Kfz 251, their bodies being utilised only as modest supports for carrying Preiser heads.
In spite of the multi-part approach, poses still remain flat and as it was stressed above in much too many occasions, the level of details is extremely poor and the set proliferates nothing more than a huge list of mistakes. In fact, it looks like the sculptor created these figures for being awarded with the first prize at a competition aiming the most bizarre and inaccurate appearance of WWII Germans. However, the negative impression is enhanced by poor anatomy, with indistinct fingers and noticeable differences between the size of bodies and heads from pose to pose, for instance one of the loaders comes with a head closer to the size of a pumpkin than a human body part. Hasegawa appreciated that all those were not enough and decided to make the modeller's life even "better" through delivering the figures with a huge amount of flash, few soldiers with holes resulted from a bad mould and marking each body with a circle in order everybody to see from where was fixed the figure when entered the mould. Though that circle is not the copyright one and after reading this review you may wonder who would want to produce these figures, it is good to know that the FLAK kit, as well as others belonging to Hasegawa, are commercialised under various legal or less legal copies, for sure the main target being here the gun and not its crew.
Issued in the same plastic like the gun, the parts of the figures greatly accept standard modelling glue (polly-cement) and paint, either enamel, acrylics or artistic oils being well received by a material capable to maintain the work of the modeller even at heavy handling. A further remark on Hasegawa's hard plastic underlines its sturdiness, its level in this respect being a little higher than the one encountered at most of the other mass production manufacturers. The need of bases, for those who want such devices, is fully satisfied here, being delivered separately, but it is good to know that the standing figures have a good balance and can stay even without additional support.
In terms of compatibility with other figures, if the modeller decided not to throw them away, the present crew that is enclosed in the medium and tall side of 1/72 scale, might be joined by Preiser, Airfix, Esci/Italeri and other companies related products. Putting them together with other soldiers should be done only after trying to "embellish" Hasegawa's troops with heads, arms, weapons and gear extracted from sets providing such extra parts, Preiser and Dragon detaching as good examples on the matter.
For sure, after the launch of the FLAK36 kit, the informed customer rather has bought this kit than the older one with FLAK18, while the here he got both versions of the barrel and could assemble either the 18 or the 36 type. Bearing in mind that Hasegawa 88 mm FLAKs have stayed a long period as the single mass production available offers, this fact conferred to the kits in case a great popularity. Moreover, providing identical figures as crewmen not only for the 88 mm FLAKs, but also for the FLAKs mounted on Sd.Kfz 7 chassis, the company has saturated the market with these poor troopers. For those not collecting 1/72 WWII Germans or do not want to practice their conversion abilities, perhaps binning Hasegawa's FLAK crew is the best choice. If not, then prepare for spending more hours in front of them, trying hard to get something, but despite all efforts, at the end the result could not be the expected one, while at least the faults of tunics are almost impossible to be corrected. Because of the long time required for putting together the cannon, even the wargamers might refrain to purchase the kit, so these figures have just a collectable value as well as a training one for modellers wishing to exercise their skills in the field of conversions.
THE STANDARD POSES (WITH FEW PISTOL HOLSTERS ADDED)
SPARE PROJECTILES AND AMMUNITION BOX
THE GUN WITH CREWMEN IN STANDARD POSES