by: Adie Roberts [ ]
The American Expeditionary Forces joined the war under the guidance of General John J Pershing in 1917. The AEF fought alongside the French, British and Commonwealth Allied Forces in the last year of the war against German Axis forces. Some of the troops from the AEF fought alongside Italian forces in that same year, against Austro-Hungarian forces.
When they joined the war they did not have any light machine guns and were issued with the French Chauchat where it was officially renamed the Automatic Rifle, Model 1915, a total of 262,000 of these guns were made and used during the war.
ICM have put some thought into the WW1 U.S. Infantry Weapon and Equipment model kit bringing together some of the most recognised and widely used weapons of World War 1. In the box, which is I have to say, one of the sturdiest boxes for model kits and some of the other manufacturers could take some idea from this and improve their kit boxes. Two brown sprues full of weapons and equipment, one instruction sheet which combines the painting details.
Paints required are listed for model masters and include;
1597 Semi gloss Black
1567 Flat Tan
1764 European Green
1782 Bright Brass
1795 Gun Metal
1701 Military Brown
1790 Chrome Silver
When I first opened the box I thought I might have difficulty in naming some of the weapons which could not have been further from the truth. The detail in the moulds was very good and actually made identification quite easy indeed, the first gun that caught my eye was the Lewis gun or Lewis automatic rifle as the Americans like to call it. The detail was very good and to a surprisingly high standard with its separate pan shaped round magazine and air cooling shroud and bipod. For something so small, the level of small parts moulded on the gun is good and gives some sense of its original look. There is a little building here, with it coming with a separate magazine that has to be mounted on the top of the gun, although there were no fit issues. Ironically this was a gun that initially was first designed in America but after several rejections, Issac Newton Lewis retired from the Army and left the United States and left for Belgium in 1913 where he established the Armes Automatique Lewis company in Liege. Lewis had been working closely with the British arms manufacturer Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), who later managed to get a license to manufacture the Lewis machine gun in England.
Another light machine gun that is portrayed with good detail is the Chauchat, which was the light machine gun of the French infantry; the French troops often called it the FM Chauchat. With the entry of the AEF into the first world war they did not have any light machine guns and was widely used by the American forces ICM have done well here to have managed to get the level of detail with its under slung magazine and forward handle all looking good, the small indents along the muzzle making it look even more realistic, there is again a small bit of building with a bipod being fitted underneath it.
Next a Springfield M1903 Rifle, which was the standard issue rifle through the first half of the 20th century its simple but effective design and five clip ammo for ease of use. The bolt action rifle continued during the Second World War as there was not enough M1 Garand's to go around. In fact when used with a scope it proved to be a very popular sniper rifle and as such its life was extended through the Second World War on to the Korean War and even the beginning part of the Vietnam War. ICM have made a very good mould of the springfield and included all the detail you would expect to see.
Next is the Browning M1918 Bar machine gun or bar was a familiar sight during the Second World War, but did see some action during the First World War. There is also a left and right bar pouch. ICM's variant is again in good detail with clip magazine. The Springfield, this one has a bayonet fitted to it for close combat a tiny bit of building on this weapon, placing the bolt action bolt on to the top of the gun. There is also a very nicely detailed separate M1905 bayonet. M1903 Springfield rifle with rifle mortar which comes with a separate mortar grenade.
A Winchester M1997 trench gun with bayonet, this weapon a pump action shotgun proved to be very deadly at close range an M1997 bayonet scabbard. A trench knife which incorporated a brass handle with spikes, these were used to stop the opponent from grabbing the knife hand in one to one combat, it also provided a secondary function as a crude knuckle duster. Some Springfield pouches 2 sections and 3 sections a small pouch. A colt Army M1917 revolver and Smith and Wesson Army M1917 revolver a scabbard for each revolver. A lovely looking M1911 Colt pistol I could not believe that the Colt had been around for so long there is also a Colt in a pistol scabbard. M1 Grenade, shovel, shovel in case, Pickaxe. A wooden trench periscope a canteen, a respirator in bag, Officer bag , binoculars and finally an M1917 Steel helmet. I have to say I was surprised at how much detail can be made out of plastic moulds.
I have to say that ICM just seem to be going from strength to strength. There is a nice selection of weapons and equipment to give you a good selection for any diorama or vignette.