by: Stefan Halter [ ]
Itís been a while since weíve last seen a set of separately available British WWII weapons in 1/35 scale and injection molded plastic. The only one I can really think of is the ancient but still quite useful (when it comes to the weapons) Italeri Allied Equipment set. Bronco have had a sprue of nicely done British weapons and so have Tamiya but to my knowledge unfortunately neither was ever available separately. Now Master Box jumps into the gap with what is hopefully a comprehensive set of up to date British WWII weapons.
The set consists of one sprue containing the following:
6 British Mk I or Mk II helmets
5 Sten submachine guns in different versions, including one ammunition clip each
4 Lee-Enfield rifles in two versions with or without bayonet
1 Lewis light machine gun
1 Bren Mk I light machine gun
1 Vickers Mk I medium machine gun
1 Boys anti-tank rifle
1 PIAT (Protector Infantry Anti Tank)
1 Enfield Mk II Revolver
The molding is good, however, there is some flash present, which is quite unusual of current molding. No pin marks are evident and the usual mold seam should clean up quickly.
The kit has no other contents than the single sprue packaged in a plastic bag. Assembly instructions are on the back of the side opening box.
The six helmets are provided in two versions, there are three each with and without the rivet on the top. Other than that, the helmets have no details especially for the interior, which is unfortunate as they would have been useful for dioramas laying on their back. The basic forms look accurate however. Whether they are Mk I or II I canít say as to my knowledge the difference is internal.
Sten Submachine guns:
The set contains the following Stens: One Mk II, two Mk III with different stocks and two Mk V, with or without the pistol grip under the barrel. The Sten was introduced in 1941 as an easy to produce and cheap alternative to the Thompson bought from the USA, and proved to be a very reliable design. So reliable in fact, that late in WWII Germany manufactured copies in small numbers to issue to the Volkssturm.
The Mk II has the correct scale length at 22mm and also correct details for this version. Some may want to drill the additional holes in the shoulder stock.
Two versions of what the box claims to be Mk III are in the box. The Mk III can be easily distinguished from the others by the seam on top of the gun where the two stamped metal housing parts were welded together. Both do not have this feature. I would therefore consider one another Mk II with a skeletal shoulder stock and the other a Mk I with a different version of skeletal shoulder stock. Unfortunately, both stocks are molded solid due to molding constraints. Maybe someone will find a better solution to replicate this type of shoulder stock. Details otherwise conform to the Mk I and II, but the Mk I would be 2mm too short. Bronco have provided a skeletal shoulder stock which is of course a bit overscale but in my view still the better solution.
The Mk V has the correct wooden stock and is provided with (pre June 1945 production) and without the second pistol grip. Both have accurate details and the correct length.
The set contains 4 Lee Enfield rifles in two versions, the No. 1 Mk. III and the No. 4 Mk I. This was the standard rifle of the commonwealth forces during WW I (No. 1 Mk. III) and WW II and is considered one of the best bolt action rifles ever. The box claims that one is actually a No. 1 Mk I, but I donít see any difference between the two No. 1 other than the bayonet. The No. 4 Mk I is also provided with and without bayonet. Both types have the correct details and length. However, with the No. 4 Mk I, the Bronco and Tamiya items seem to be more detailed.
Lewis light machine gun:
The Lewis light machine gun was an US design and chiefly used by the British in WWI. However, during WWII the gun was reintroduced and used mainly on vehicles. I have yet to find a picture of it in Infantry use during WWII. The gun consists of three parts: The barrel including the drum magazine has a hollowed out muzzle. The stock, pistol grip and breech are the second part, the third being the bipod. No accuracy issues here, but I would have liked to see some extra magazines.
Bren Mk I light machine gun:
The Bren gun, basically a Czech development, was the standard light machine gun of commonwealth forces during WW II. The Mk I was introduced right before WWII and its production proved quite complicated. Therefore, more simplified versions were developed with the Mk II being introduced in 1942. The kit piece accurately depicts a correct length early Bren gun with two grips, one above the barrel, the other under the stock and includes the bipod as separate part. It is for use in an early war setting and for a NWE 1944/45 setting you will have to find the more likely Mk II or later somewhere else (e.g. Tamiya).
Vickers Mk I medium machine gun:
Certainly the most valuable piece of the set is the Vickers machine gun. Though widely used in both World Wars, it has to my knowledge never before been represented in styrene. The Vickers was basically an updated Maxim water-cooled Machine gun. It was introduced in 1912 and served with the British army until 1968. The gun itself consists of two parts, the gun and the trigger/handle assembly. Unfortunately the gun and mount are one piece and therefore the mount is solid. The kit has two versions of the tripod at different heights, a nice feature. Unfortunately one of my tripods was broken. The kit also contains the water can (three parts) but no pipe, this would best be replicated with wire (which allows it to be adapted to the ground itís placed on). There is also one ammo can with ammo belt molded on and an option for open or closed lids. In addition, there is also a small section of ammo belt to feed the gun. I would have liked to see some extra ammo cans.
Boys anti-tank rifle:
The Boys Anti tank rifle of .55 cal was introduced in 1937 and by the start of WW II was already outdated. It was only capable of penetrating 12 mm at 100 meters. It was produced in large numbers (63í000) until 1942 in Canada and the UK. The kit contains a Mk I example with the correct details and length.
PIAT (Protector Infantry Anti Tank) :
The Boys Anti tank rifle was replaced in 1942 by the PIAT, which was a reactive hollow charge weapon. Its effective range was at about 100m and while it proved an effective weapon it was difficult to load and dangerous to fire. The kit contains a one piece loaded PIAT. The round and launcher is in one molding which makes detailing very bad - the round canít really be discerned in the open topped launcher. Also, the PIAT is about 2 mm too long, which is quite noticeable (see photo). Add to that, that in my example there is a molding flaw due to which the stake is missing and you have a practically useless PIAT. Itís too bad that MB didnít take more time to make it as good as the one included in DMLís old British airborne figure set.
Enfield Mk II Revolver:
The Enfield Mk II Revolver was the standard side weapon in the commonwealth. The set contains one example with correct details and dimensions. There is no holster.
WellÖ Personally Iím not at all satisfied with this set. Considering there is only one sprue in this set, each weapon is only included once and there are no additional details (such as extra ammo cans), I would really expect this to be a highly detailed kit, possibly with PE slings. A multi piece PIAT with separate round and a multi piece Vickers machine gun mount can be expected nowadays. Add to that the relatively high price for one sprue of medium quality molding and I have to say I canít recommend this set other than that the Vickers, which to my knowledge has never before been available in plastic. For all the other weapons, the ancient Italeri set is just as well, or get the Tamiya figures with all the weapons for almost the same price.