by: Andras [ ]
MiniArt in the last decade or so established itself out as a “plastic aftermarket company” as well as developing plastic models of higher and higher quality. Alongside “proper” scale models, they are producing plastic buildings, figures and accessories for dioramas that we would normally expect smaller companies to produce using resin in a much smaller production run.
In this set MiniArt has issued five German machine guns; two of each of the iconic MG34 and MG42, and one of the lesser known ZB-53 -in German service known as MG37(t).
The MG34 and its successor the MG42 both were very widely used recoil-operated air-cooled general purpose machine guns, both with incredible rate of fire (900 round per minute and 1200 round per minute respectively), and both were reliable, simple constructions. It’s probably unnecessary to introduce the MG34 and MG42 in much detail- these were the quintessential German machine guns which can be seen on almost all contemporary photos. They have been used as an area-denial weapons due to their incredible rate of fire by the infantry, but they were mounted on armoured vehicles, and some variants on airplanes as well. (There’s an interesting discussion by a youtube member on the differences between the Bren gun and the German machine guns MG32/42 which is worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXQygRVvEmM)
The ZB-53 was a gas-operated, belt-fed, air-cooled Czech design which was used similarly varied roles as infantry weapon as well as vehicle mounted machine gun, using the same 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge as the MG34/42. It was licence built by the UK as the Besa machine gun, and was captured and put into service in high numbers by the Germans after the Munich Agreement. The vehicle variants were slightly different (different barrel) which might limit their use.
The MG34/42 were used on the Lafette 34 tripod as well as bipods, but MiniArt has only provided the bipod option. The MG37, however, is supplied with a tripod.
What you get in this set:
The set comes in the typical envelop-style MiniArt box with a very nice cover art showing the contents of the model lined up next to each other. The instructions are on the back. The parts are in a small bag, with the PE in a small paper envelope with the MiniArt logo. Lately all new MiniArt kits seem to come with these envelopes; not sure how prominent the damage was to the PE frets during transit before, but additional protection of the delicate brass sheets is welcome.
The guns are made up by a surprisingly large number of parts, especially the tripod for the ZB-53 (relative to their sizes, of course). The detail is impressive, but that comes with a price: tiny plastic and even tinier PE parts (the buckles for the gun straps are given as individual PE parts which need to be cut accurately- a very delicate process with a high chance of the part flying away into the great blue yonder if you are not careful. (Use the sticky side of some masking tape to hold the small parts in place.) The plus side is that you can show the guns in the process of reloading.
All guns come with some extras: ammo holders, ammo belts, extra barrel holders.
Overall the detail is impressive, but so is the complexity for such small items. These guns are certainly not for the beginner. If you decide you want to put the time and effort into these guns, the results will talk for themselves, but in general, I think their main appeal is for the maximalists among us.