The "fog of war" has often cost commanders a sure victory or staved off certain defeat. In today's world of satellites and electronic eavesdropping, it's impossible to imagine the Japanese fleet sneaking up on Pearl Harbor, or McClellan having Lee's entire campaign orders in his possession, and yet failing to destroy the Confederate army in detail.
Technology has perhaps had its biggest impact in the area of communications: if you want to reverse the outcome of any pre-WW 2 battle, give one side radios. By the start of the Second World War, telecommunications turned out to be one of the reasons the Wehrmacht had such easy early successes (and with the breaking of the Enigma Code by the Allies, why they ended up on the losing side so many times later). German units had radios, and command & control centers had miles of field telephone lines.
One of the most-visible applications of the technology was in artillery fire control. Indirect fire meant that cannons could be far behind the lines and still pound enemy positions thanks to guidance from spotters. Now Grey Matter Figures, a UK company better-known for its Fantasy, Sci-Fi and, more recently, 1/32nd scale resin aircraft upgrades, has entered the 1/35th scale market with a set of Fire Direction Control equipment.
what you get
Inside a smallish zip lock baggie you get:
1 field telephone switchboard with the front panel open
3 "adjustable" tripod legs
2 aiming stakes
monocular "aiming circle"
1 sprue of wingnuts
carrying case for aiming circle
1 length of wire
The product has been designed by Armorama member Jerry Rutman, who has a long history of creating both superb models & dioramas, as well as resin kits and upgrades for a variety of aircraft. He has recently turned his attention to designing important items like this for armor modelers, and it's a great thing, too.
The set is for a battery survey team allowing for more-accurate fire. The trick was to line the monocular sight up with 2 aiming stakes, then triangulate the results with at least two known points. The battery's guns were then adjusted to correspond to the results.
Finding out the fire coordinates was only half the job, though. The set's telephone switchboard reflects the fact that, according to Jerry, "most German commo was field telephone-driven, and each gun would have a phone going to the battery HQ. In addition, the FOs would have phones going to the same switchboard." Given the strict hierarchical command structure of the German army, the field telephones were then hooked into higher HQs, the supply team, etc. Jerry mentions seeing pictures of these boards set up with 10-15 wires hooked up. The phones were standard field telephones.
The casting is terrific, with no flash or "beards," but be warned, the components are extremely delicate and will require careful handling. The detailing, especially on the phone switchboard, is outstanding, and the set should build up into a nifty addition to any front line diorama. You red legs out there will want this set.
It's a great time to be a modeler in 1/35th scale, with lots of outstanding items like this coming out. I hope that Jerry and Grey Matter will continue with this sort of thing, as these items really pump up the realism of the scenes they're used in.
Thanks to Grey Matter for providing this review sample. Please remember to say you saw it reviewed here when ordering from their website.
Highs: Superb casting, a real addition to dioramas, unusual subject matter.Lows: A bit pricy for some. Very delicate, will require careful handling.Verdict: Highly recommended. If you're doing a fire control scenario, you definitely want one.