For most of us, the word “sniper” evokes the similar image – a lone gunman, camouflaged and undetectable, waiting for a clear shot at his target. And while military snipers are indeed elite shooters who hide, line up a target in their sights and pull the trigger, there is a lot more to the whole sniping process than that. There are countless variables to consider before actually squeezing the trigger; wind speed and direction, range, target movement, light source, temperature, barometric pressure, etc… the work that goes into getting a good position to take a shot is immense. That's the reason snipers always work in teams.
A sniper team
consists of a sniper and a spotter. Both are highly trained soldiers specializing in shooting targets from incredibly long distances, but they are also adept in stealth, camouflage, infiltration, and observation techniques. The sniper
is a team leader and coordinates the mission with command center. In the field, the sniper has the final word in determining all the mission details; infiltration route, sniping position and extraction route. The sniper fires a shot, while the spotter
detects, observes, and assigns targets for the sniper, and watches for the results of the shot. Using his spotting scope, the spotter also reads the atmospheric conditions and, in conjunction with the shooter, makes calculations for distance, slant range, mil dot related calculations, correction for atmospheric conditions and leads for moving targets. It is not unusual for the spotter to be equipped with a notepad and a laptop computer specifically for performing these calculations. The spotter also provides the team security in their immediate location and for this task he shoulders an assault rifle. Some military doctrines describe a third member known as the flanker
. His task is to observe areas not visible to the sniper or spotter and assist with the team's rear security.
Snipers Group, 82nd Airborne Division
is a new kit released by NATO in Miniatures
and it depicts a US sniper team in Middle Eastern theater of operations.
The figure kit arrived in a well designed and firm cardboard box. The box is printed in ACU pattern, features nicely painted box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitri Shevtsov) and the painter (Dmitri Baev). 4 zip-lock bags full of figure parts are additionally protected inside bubble wrap. The kit contains parts to build 2 figures and quite a number of accessories… 22 pieces altogether. The parts are cast in grey resin and are almost completely clean of all imperfections: there are no air bubbles, but I did notice a seam line on sniper's left side going all the way from the boot to the face… some careful sanding and the problem should be solved. Also, the spotter figure has a molding scar on his back which could be a bit trickier to recover as some folds on the uniform need to be resculpted. NATO in Miniatures spoiled us rotten with perfect castings of their figures and this is the first time I noticed imperfections in any of their kits I reviewed so far. Not a big deal, especially since most vignettes built from this kit would probably show the spotter leaning on the wall, but something to note anyway.
The figures represent US sniper team following their target from the sniping position. I have included a photograph which probably served as a sculpting template; comparing the photo with figure sculpts reveals a pretty good match. The sniper consists of 9 parts: full body with the head, right arm, left arm, secondary firearm in drop leg holster, knife/bayonet and weapon parts with both hands attached. I had no problems whatsoever in building the figure; the fit of the parts is absolutely perfect. I would suggest attaching the arms to the torso first and then adjusting hands with the weapon to the arms. The sculptor did a great job on a very difficult prone position and the figure seems very well balanced… when placed on the flat surface, the figure looks really good. The spotter consists of 4 parts: full body with head, right arm, left arm and spotter scope. Again, the fit of the parts is perfect.
Both figures are wearing Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
. One of the most visible changes adopted by the US Army since Operation Iraqi Freedom began has been the fielding of ACU; the new uniform replaced old Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU). One of the main goals of the change was to have a uniform that worked in all environments and held up to the rigors of combat duty as well as the strictures of day-to-day work in garrison. A great deal of time and money was spent on the ACU development and the Army Program Executive Officer Soldier did extensive testing with soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan and at home in the US. Considering all the testing the uniform went through, it is surprising such a mediocre product finally emerged. Although the overall layout and organization of the uniform is good and the pockets are generally more useful and easier to access, in “New Army Uniform Doesn’t Measure Up” Eric Coulson (US Army Officer, Iraq) identified a number of ACU weak points: Velcro, durability, fire protection and camouflage pattern. Coulson also suggests key modifications required for an improved Army uniform:
- a new camouflage pattern (like the “multicam” pattern being tested for Land Warrior),
- new material (Nomex or some other fire-retardant material instead of the 50/50 cotton-nylon blend)
- return to sew on patches and buttons.
Link to Coulson’s ACU review can be found in the reference section of this article. The sculptor did his job on ACU really well. All the details of the uniform are present and the folds have a very natural feel to them. Tactical gloves and knee pad protectors add to the realism; the sniper figure even has shoulder patches sculpted on his pockets… the lower ones are modeled in the shape of 82nd Airborne Division patch, while the upper shoulder features US flag patch.
The sniper is armed with M82A1 Barrett
, recoil operated, semi-automatic anti-materiel rifle developed by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing. The M82A1 is known as the Special Applications Scoped Rifle (SASR), and it is also nicknamed the “Light Fifty” as this weapon chambers powerful .50BMG ammunition, originally developed for Browning M2HB heavy machine guns. The long effective range along with high energy and availability of highly effective ammunition such as API and Raufoss M213 allows for effective operations against targets like radar cabins, trucks, parked aircrafts, etc. M82 also can be used to defeat enemy snipers or criminals from standoff range or when targets are behind the cover, but the anti-personnel work is not a major application for Barrett M82. The gun is fed from the large detachable box magazines, which hold 10 rounds. M82A1 rifles are often equipped with Leupold M series 10X telescope sights and fitted with folding carrying handle and a folding bipod. M82A1 can be fitted with carry sling but according to those who carried it in the field, M82 is way too uncomfortable to be carried on sling due to excessive length and heavy weight. It is usually carried in special carry soft or hard case.
The “Light Fifty” in this kit looks fantastic. 4 weapon parts are extremely small and delicate but once you manage to clean them from the carriers and fit them correctly, the M82A1 turns into a real gem. The secondary firearm of the sniper figure is included in the Drop Leg Holster.
The spotter is sporting Leupold Mark 4 Spotting Scope 12-40x60mm
. It features either a Mil Dot or Tactial Milling Reticle for tactical cooperation and range estimation (this same reticles are available in Leupold riflescopes), and it can be outfitted with a variety of performance-enhancing accessories. Powerful, with bright, clear optics, it’s also supremely rugged and waterproof.
The accessories included in this kit are:
- Interceptor Body Armor (IBA), different setups with various MOLLE pouches attached (2x)
- Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) (2x)
- M4A1 Carbine, different setups (2x)
- Tactical Light Illuminator
- small sport locker bag
- small spotting bag (for laser range finder and other optical devices)
Kudos to NATO in Miniatures for including so many extra pieces in the kit; all the accessories should be pretty useful in building a small sniper team vignette.
This figure kit is great in many ways: the anatomy is spot on, the poses nicely balanced and the fit of the figure parts is perfect. The uniforms and equipment are sculpted to the highest level, but it’s in the amazing amount of details where the kit really shines: the sunglasses on spotter’s forehead, sniper scope caps and the weapon itself, the unit patches, etc. The last thing I must compliment is the amount of accessories included in this kit; the box incorporates all you need for a sniper team vignette.