Army infantry rifle company had a weapons platoon, consisting of two .30 Browning
light machine guns, three M2 60mm mortars, and one .50 Browning heavy machine
gun. These weapons platoons could be split among various platoons or squads as
strategically necessary to provide appropriate covering fire, though the mortars
typically remained together in the rear area.
ages, modelers had to make do with Tamiya's "U.S.
Gun and Mortar Set" issued in 1976. In the late 1990s, SOL offered a
couple resin paratrooper figures wielding .30 and .50 machine guns. In 2003 we
finally got a couple good bazooka boys from DML. Then, in 2004, came Academy's
excellent "U.S. Machine
Gun Set," the first of a series of resin figures from Warriors using
the M2 HB (heavy barrel) .50 machine gun, and this trio of weapon teams.
This review will compare some of the key elements of this DML set to other offerings.
Light Machine Gun Team
The .30 came in several versions. The old Tamiya
set has the M1917A1 water-cooled model with the large cylindrical jacket, the
similarly-designated tripod, and water can. DML previously offered the M1919A6,
with the bipod, butt stock and carrying handle, in its "Pusan Perimeter"
set from the Korean War. This set features the M1919A4, with the M2 tripod. This
tripod was standard gear for AFVs that used the .30, if crew needed to employ
the gun in a "dismounted" role.
am not impressed with the .30 and tripod in this particular set, especially in
comparison with the gun from Academy's offering. The DML gun is noticeably smaller
coming in at 38" whereas the Academy gun is 42" (the correct length
is 41"). The DML gun looks less substantial all the way around and details
are softer. It does have a very nice elevating mechanism attached to the underside
of the receiver.
the other hand, the Academy tripod has locking levers for both sides of the graduated
traversing bar that spreads between the two rear legs and helps stabilize the
gun; these locking levers do not exist in any of the photos I've seen (you can
also check out the .30 in the Uniforms
and Equipment section of this site). The DML tripod does not have the locking
levers. If you want to use the Academy gun, you could clip off the levers on the
tripod. The front leg is a separate part, so you may need to adjust the height
of the gun by how steeply you set the angle of the front leg, in order that the
gun's grip fits into the gunner's hand.
ammo boxes are also differently sized between the manufacturers, again with DML's
being smaller and less sharply detailed, as is the belt of .30 ammo. I'll be more
inclined to try to use Academy's gun and ammo when I put these figures to use.
notes: the grip of the .30 was not wood, as some modelers mistake, but was plastic
and should be painted black. The tripod is gun metal in color and not olive drab.
The belt linking the ammo rounds was a white fabric or metal links.
figures wear the M1941 combat jackets, woolen trousers, and canvas leggings, typical
for 1942 onward. They would be appropriate for the Kasserine Pass, Salerno, Anzio,
or Normandy. They are without any extra packs or gear, having only their Colt
.45, canteen, and trench knife on their persons. Given the absence of backpacks
and web suspenders, that suggests they are in static position, perhaps entrenched,
rather than on the move.
sculpting of all the figures is up to DML's usual high standards, even if the
weapons aren't. There are the usual light seams to remove and heads to replace.
60mm Mortar Team
Tamiya included this mortar in its "U.S.
Infantry Weapons Set" in 1981. In some ways, the details of this mortar
are better defined than DML's, although the latter does a better job with the
collimator sight. DML's base plate is a tad larger, but the Tamiya base looks
more like the real thing (except for the simplistic underside). Tamiya's tube
is a bit longer than DML's, but I'm not sure which is more correctly scaled because
the measurement I have for the mortar is overall length and I'm not quite sure
where that ends off on the bottom of the base plate (all the way to the extended
significant difference is between the M49A2 60mm rounds. Tamiya's one-piece round
is more substantial looking (to the point of almost making it look too large for
insertion into the mortar tube), but has only four fins. The DML round is almost
puny in comparison, but the separate fin piece does have multiple vanes (it's
so small I can't count them, and it's attached to the sprue in such a way that
some of the detail will be lost when it's removed from the sprue). Personally,
I might be inclined to go with Tamiya's rounds (two are included in their set,
vs. three in the DML set). It would have been nice if both DML and Tamiya had
included rounds in their packing tubes and some wooden boxes.
the advantage here tilts to DML.
figures are similarly outfitted as the machine gun team. While they could be in
a temporary position, you could also put them in a mortar pit, with their packs
and M1 carbines (typically issued to mortar crews) close at hand.
57mm Recoilless Rifle Team
The M18 57mm recoilless rifle was used primarily
by airborne units, first appearing in Europe in March 1945 during Operating Varsity,
the massive airdrop across the Rhine River. The gun could be fired from the shoulder,
or mounted on the M1917A1 tripod. The 57mm round was designed to counteract the
recoil. Like the bazooka, there was a back blast zone behind the breech, so the
loader had to remain clear of the read end.
weapon, with the tripod mounting, shows up in the old Tamiya set. You can build
it with the breach open or closed. You do not have that option with DML's gun.
single DML round realistically captures the dimpled casing, where actual perforations
helped dissipate the blowback gases. It far outclasses the two undetailed Tamiya
is a nice photo on the last page of Steven Zaloga's The G.I. in Combat
that probably served as the inspiration for Ron Volstad's posed pair, right down
to the ammo pouch for the carbine sewn onto the gunner's jacket sleeve. The kit's
paratrooper figures nicely complement the poses in DML's "U.S.
Airborne (Operation Varsity)" set. They wear the M1943 jacket and trousers
with the extended cargo pockets. The loader has a couple bandoliers looped around
his chest to arm his M1 Garand. The gunner is equipped with the M1A1 carbine with
the folding metal stock. The M1943 entrenching tools appear to be the same from
DML's old Rangers set, where the backpack strap was extended over the handle of
the shovel. You'll want to whittle that off if you use these shovels. Personally,
I've always felt these have been among the weakest of DML's accessories, as the
spade (or at least its cover) is far too elongated compared to photos. You might
want to take your X-Acto knife to the backside of the bandage pouches so they
sit a little more solid against the paratrooper's helmets.
HB .50 Machine Gun
What have we here? DML has tossed in an unadvertised
.50, and it's as sadly undernourished as its .30 cousin. The Academy version is
more robust in detail and accuracy. Even the old Tamiya .50 is more interesting,
and at least has an attempt at a cocking handle, unlike the DML. There are no
instructions for assembling it and the tripod, but they aren't really necessary.
looked in vain for an extra pair of arms for the .30 gunner, thinking there might
be an old switcheroo that would allow the figure to man this weapon, but no go.
This must be for a future offering.
the long draught is almost over with just a few significant holes to fill. Now,
all we really need are some good 81mm and 4.2 inch mortar teams, and some G.I.s
to fire off the Ma Deuce.
- The American
Arsenal, Greenhill Books.
Operation Overlord, Smithmark Publishers, Inc.
Issue Collector's Guide: Army Service Forces Catalog, U.S. Army European Theater
of Operations, by Henri-Paul Enjames, Histoire & Collections.
US Army Handbook 1941-1945, by George Forty, Barnes & Noble Books.