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Orion

Set 72018

German Paratroopers

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2006
Contents 24 figures and 2 vehicles
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Brown, Green, Dark Red
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

For some reason sets of German Fallschirmjägers have historically been either poorly executed or just very dull. The Fallschirmjägers themselves were neither, being a highly trained elite that were respected by all sides during the war. After their famous but bloody victory at the invasion of Crete in 1941 they were given few opportunities to use their airdrop training, and became more like elite infantry for the remainder of the war.

In order to make way for the Kettenkrad this set only has one repeated sprue of figures, delivering 12 poses rather than the usual Orion two sprues with 24 poses. The poses are OK, although we were not particularly enthusiastic about the officer with the grenade to his ear. The soldier wielding a knife is an interesting idea, as is the man about to throw a combined charge (several hand grenades wired together). The last two figures are for the vehicle, about which more in a moment.

There are any number of resources on the look and equipment of the Fallschirmjäger, so mistakes in accuracy are unforgivable, but happily almost everything is as it should be here. All the men wear the jump helmet, although this has been squared off much too much, giving a rather odd shape. The officer has a soft-looking cap, quite possibly the Meyer cap often worn in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean. They all have in addition the jump smock and in some cases other jump equipment like the external knee pads (which were generally discarded as soon as the landing was achieved). Kit is fairly light, as you might expect, but most of it is reasonably done and all pouches match the weapons. The one issue is that some of the figures seem to have the classic metal fluted gasmask case. Paratroopers were given soft bags for the gas masks as the metal ones could have been a hazard, although of course if these men are not part of a jump, as was common later in the war, then the metal case is fine. However one such man is also wearing knee protectors, so he must have just jumped and therefore is carrying the wrong item.

The detail is fair but you would not say these were particularly elegant figures. A little rough round the edges, with some extra plastic behind weapons or items out of place to make the sculptor's job easier. Nothing too serious though. Flash too is evident but quite low level.

The vehicle is the "kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz. 2", usually abbreviated to "Kettenkrad", literally 'tracked motorcycle'. It was produced in fairly large numbers and used from 1941 for various purposes from transport for commanders to towing small trailers and artillery. Its light weight and tracks made it very useful in rough terrain such as that in Eastern Europe. Originally designed as a light vehicle for paratroops and others, and with dimensions allowing it to be carried in the belly of a Junkers 52, it was used by most branches of the army. It had a driver at the front and could accommodate two squeezed in the rear seat. In this Orion set we are given the driver and one man, who sits rather more comfortably across the whole of the back. Indeed it is hard to image two figures in the back, but the model is of the correct width, so we must assume the paratroopers had slim hips and could live with the tight fit. The driver too is a very tight fit in the cockpit, and if he is intended to be permanent then cutting away some of the legs might work well. While inevitably simplified this is still quite a good model however.

Overall this is a respectable set of figures, although we would have preferred more poses instead of the vehicle. It offers some welcome variety for the sets already produced however, which must come as a relief to fans of the subject.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 7
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Fallschirmjäger: German Paratrooper 1935-45" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.38) - Bruce Quarrie - 9781841763262
"Fallschirmjager" - Pen & Sword (Images of War Series) - Jon Sutherland - 9781848843189
"German Airborne Troops 1939-45" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.139) - Bruce Quarrie - 9780850454802
"German Combat Equipments 1939-45" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.234) - Gordon Rottman - 9780850459524
"German Soldiers of World War II" - Histoire & Collections - Jean de Lagarde - 9782915239355
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"Weapons and Equipment of the German Fallschirmtruppe" - Schiffer - Alex Buchner - 9780887409646
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.96
"Military Illustrated" - No.153

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