To use the phrase ‘heavy weapons’ when discussing paratroops seems like a contradiction, since of necessity paratroops had to be lightly armed, and didn’t even jump with their rifles as they were too bulky. However some form of weapon larger than a hand gun was always desirable and great efforts were put into providing ones that were light enough to be dropped without destroying them. This set contains some of the answers to that problem as used by the famous ‘Green Devils’, Germany’s Fallschirmjäger, who famously made their reputations during the conquests of Belgium and Crete.
We begin with the two weapons models, for although they are certainly light as models, they are the closest thing to heavy weapons the Fallschirmjäger had. First in the bottom row is a 7.5 cm Leichtgeschütz 40 or LG 40. This was a recoilless gun, where part of the exhaust gases were vented to the rear, counteracting the force of the shell. With no need for a recoil buffer or recuperator it was very light, so could be dropped by parachute, and did the job well. The model here is very nice, and includes both the tripod carriage and the small steel wheels (which would be removed before firing). Though later superseded by the 10.5 cm version, this gun first saw action in Crete, and while a fairly simple model it looks good here. The many small parts make it fiddly to assemble, and it is made with quite a soft plastic, which does not help, but is worth the effort.
The other ‘heavy’ weapon is the 2.8 cm Panzerbüchse 41 or sPzB 41. This was an anti-tank rifle mounted on a wheeled carriage, which in this case is the correct paratrooper version. This light version was introduced in 1942 and proved very effective despite its size thanks to the tungsten-cored ammunition. Here again the weapon has been correctly modelled, including the small wheels with pneumatic rubber tyres and the thick shield. Another fiddly model due to the small parts and the soft plastic, it also suffers from having no means to connect gun with carriage – the peg that is supposed to fit into a hole under the gun has been placed underneath the carriage, between the wheels! Still a lovely and accurate model, so another success.
Both guns had a crew of two or three, so these are clearly the kneeling men in the second row. All are in reasonable poses that are nicely three-dimensional thanks to the usual Caesar clever mould, for none of the figures require any assembly. All four kneeling men wear the paratrooper helmet and jump smock (which were worn even when there was no jump), so the uniform is fine. They have no side arms but two have pouches for a submachine gun and the others have the rifle ammunition bandoliers hanging around their necks, so you can guess what weapons they have close at hand. Their kit is standard battle order, namely breadbag, water bottle, gasmask canister with cape wrapped round it, bayonet, mess tin and entrenching tool, all the same as for the general infantry. None have bases but two perch precariously while the others fall flat on their faces if not hanging on to the gun.
The five standing figures are perhaps little to do with the weapons directly, though still useful. They are in general fighting poses and are uniformed the same as the kneeling figures. Some only have part of the full complement of kit described above, but that is no problem. No one here has any sort of a cover on the helmet, which was a bit of a surprise however. Four of the five carry a submachine gun, either the MP38 or MP40, which was issued fairly generously to paratroops, though rifles were certainly carried by some. All pouches are correct, but the third figure in the top row has no visible pouches, and a more interesting weapon. He carries a Fallschirmgewehr 42 (FG 42) assault rifle, which again was specially developed for paratroops. Unfortunately it lacks a magazine, so his first job is to locate some ammunition.
As you can see the poses are fairly lively and naturally done, and the crewmen work well with the weapons, two holding ammunition for them. The man looking through binoculars is leaning forward in a very natural way, so we liked all the poses. Detail is excellent throughout, and as usual we could find no flash anywhere. Ideally we would have liked bases for the kneeling men, though we understand why they have not been provided. However little touches like the grenades tucked into some belts add greatly to the appeal of the set.
The LG40 was later replaced by a larger calibre version, and the sPzB 41 gradually disappeared as it became increasingly difficult to source the tungsten for it, at which point the Panzerfaust took over its anti-tank role. Since both the sPzB 41 and the FG 42 only appeared in 1942 they have a more limited time span, by which time there were no more jumps. Yet everything here has been very nicely done and for the mid-war period these are really great models which require a bit of patience to assemble but deliver what they promise.