A crucial part of a mid-late Finnish war gaming army is the anti-tank artillery element. As Finnish armour was very much rag-tag the need for efficient anti-tank weapons was crucial in their defence against a tank heavy nation like the Soviet Union. The Soviet 45mm PstK/38 (Model 1938) and the German PstK/40 (Pak 40) were two of Finlands most important acquisitions, they captured about 700 of the 45mm guns from the Soviets and they purchased about 210 Pak 40s from their (then) German allies.
The models I have chosen to represent this important part of Finnish defences are the Italieri Set 6096 PAK 40 AT Gun with Servants and the Plastic Soldier Company Russian 45mm anti tank gun set...
This is a lovely little set and despite appearing steeply priced a £11 you get a big bang for your bucks (sorry couldn't resist that)! You get four 45mm light AT guns, each with the option of three versions of the gun with varying lengths of barrel, four crewmen per gun and a nice little selection of live and spent shells, ammo boxes and separate Soviet small arms. That's £2.75 per gun, which is similar to the price of Zvezdas version of this gun, but the Zvezda kit only comes with two crew and no accessories.
The crew - a total of 16 figures - are the usual PSC fair, they are slightly chunky and on the larger end of the 1/72 scale. But they are nicely posed, multi-part and - importantly, like the gun itself - made from a hard plastic. Personally I think the faces aren't as nicely featured as the PSC Russian Infantry set.
Italieri Set 6096 PAK 40 AT Gun
Italeri's quick build set is just as good value as PSC's 45mm gun set. AT £6.50 you get two guns and a very generous 6 man crew, though accessories only amounts to a ammo crate for each gun.
However, unlike the PSC gun and crew the Italeri offering is made of a soft - oily feeling - plastic. Luckily, though, the components are all very crisply moulded and there is a minimal amount of flash or seam lines to deal with (with a very sharp scalpel preferably).
In fact the gun is very nicely detailed for a quick build model and it really looks the business. The 9 component arts of the gun kit snap together quite nicely although there is an annoying case of gun droop which you will have to fix at the gluing together stage. The barrel bore will also have to be drilled out.
But it is perhaps the gun crew that has attracted the most compliments from various reviews around the web. Six crew for each gun is, as I said, quite generous and probably more than a war gamer needs but it is the quality of the poses and level of sculpting that marks them out as being special.
The German crew is generally dressed in later war winter uniforms, with great coats and camo smocks. There are some very nice poses, all in single piece, and I would hazard the opinion that you might be hard pressed to find better interpretation of this sort of crew in any expensive kits from some of the premier manufacturers or even third-party resin makers. At £6.50 for two of these crews I suspect that anyone making a display version of this gun might be tempted to buy a box just for the figures!
For quick build models they represent very handsome interpretations of these guns with very fine extras that will make for some very pleasing war game displays. The only challenge will be for my feeble painting skills to do justice to the excellent Italeri figures.
Both model sets are highly recommended.
Edit: I note that some reviewers describe the Italeri Pak 40 as being made out of hard plastic, I disagree but admit it isn't the same flimsy soft plastic that some figures are made out of. I'd therefore say that it's a medium-hard plastic that doesn't work as well as hard plastic.
More information about these guns in Finnish service during WW2 can be found here: jaegerplatoon.net - Finnish Anti-Tank Guns Part 2