Plenty InThe Tank
Kursk, the World War II battle of late summer 1943, was all about tanks, more than 6,000 of them, the largest tank battle in history. It is appropriate then that Kursk complete World War II starter set from Battlefront Miniatures is all about tanks, too, albeit a more modest 21 of them. Nevertheless an impressive force when arrayed on the tabletop battlefield. Set in the Flames of War 1/100th scale WWII battles’ environment, Kursk is Battlefront Miniatures offering as a starter set for the Mid-War period on the Eastern Front. So, then, let’s consider what’s inside the box:-
- 2 x Panzer IV (Late) Tanks
- 2 x Panzer III (Late) Tanks
- 2 x Panther Tanks
- 1 x Tiger Tank
This seems a reasonable representative mix of the German tanks involved at Kursk though the newly developed Panther tanks were only 259 out of a total tank force of 2,928 and the Tigers a little less at 211 tanks.
- 7 x T34 Tanks
- 3 x Valentine Tanks
- 4 x SU-85 Tank Killers
The Soviet tanks are dominated by the T34 which is accurate enough but I have a bit of an issue with the other two tank types.
First the Valentine was present at Kursk as part of a combined Lend/Lease force that included Lee/Grants as well but there weren’t that many of them. What did comprise nearly a third of the total Soviet tank force was the T70 so that would have been more representative. Maybe they reckoned you’ve already got T-70s in the Eastern Front Starter Set – Stalingrad. What’s that? You haven’t got it? You should and then you’d have all the infantry you need too!
Secondly, according to the sources I’ve consulted, the SU-85 Tank Killer didn’t arrive with Soviet front line forces until August 1943 and the Battle of Kursk took place in July 1943.
- 1 x Complete A5 Flames of War Rulebook
- 1 x Flames of War Quick start guide
- 11 x Unit cards for all the Tanks involved
- 20 x Red and Grey Dice
With these you can immerse yourself in the Flames of War battle system and fight out tank battles on your tabletop. The Rule Book also contains a short history of all of World War II, incuding, on Page 15, details of the Battle of Kursk itself.
Also the box of the set, in common with other Flames of War Starter Sets, has artwork depicting a number of counters and markers on its sides namely:-
- 2 x German Objectives
- 2 x Soviet Objectives
- 7 x German Pinned Down – Baled Out markers
- 14 x Soviet Pinned Down – Baled Out markers thus one for each vehicle in the set
- 21 x Destroyed markers - again one for each vehicle in the set
You are encouraged to cut these out to use them. This rather ruins the integrity of the box but, in fairness, once you have built the models you will probably want to store them in alternative containers.
Models Of Perfection
I’m always very impressed with the quality and level of detail of the Flames of War models, particularly when you consider the small scale, 1/100th, involved. The Tiger tank pictured for example is only 3” (75cm) long. The mouldings are crisp with little or no flash and go together well. We are provided in this set with reasonably comprehensive, exploded diagram, assembly instructions, including placement details of optional equipment and armament variations.
The SU-85, built by replacing the 122mm Howitzer of the SU-122 with a high-velocity, 85mm, ex-AA cannon, was one of a series of Soviet Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs) that were built on the same chassis as the T-34 tank. This streamlined its production not only for the Soviets in World War II but also for Battlefront in this set! This means we get 11 identical chassis sets with 4 x T34 tops and 3 x SU-85 tops, which is fair enough.
I love the Flames of War Starter sets and have nearly all of them now. They each offer fantastic value for money in the level of high quality models and equipment they provide in their jam-packed boxes. Their Achilles heel, though, is that they don’t always relate to their subject matter as well as they might.
In this set, for example, the secondary description of “German vs Soviet – contains 21 tanks” is perfect, whereas the headline “Kursk - complete World War II starter set” is less so. In the real battle, as well as the tanks there were over 2 million troops and over 17,000 artillerry pieces and here we have none. However if you combine this set with Eastern Front Starter Set – Stalingrad (Sov vs Germ) you can have a more complete picture and could re-enact, in small scale, the battle of Kursk (though not, ironically, Stalingrad as you’d need some city terrain for that!).
So there you have it, a great value set to kick you off into the world of Flames of War. Models you’ll enjoy building, painting and pitting against each other in fun, action packed, table top battles and if historical accuracy is important to you then do the research and provide it yourself!