This set is subtitled as being the 82nd Airborne Division, which was created in August 1942 from the 82nd Infantry Division and was the first airborne division in the US army. It participated in the Normandy invasion and the action at the bridge at Nijmegen as well as many other operations, including Ardennes.
This set departs somewhat from the standard Esci formula by having only 14 poses, and with many of the Esci favourite poses missing, but the result is all the better for it. The most eye-catching pose is the man pulling in his parachute - an interesting pose that has the parachute being blown to one side rather than flat as in other sets. The figure has no base, but the parachute makes the model steady without one. Another pose is of a man packed up and ready to jump, though he lacks much of the kit that burdened troops when they jumped, including a weapon. The rest of the poses are more standard World War II fare, and all are useful except one. This one is the man holding his Thompson in his left hand by a handle it does not have and holding a hand grenade in the air in a very unconvincing manner (third row, first figure).
The uniform is the 1942 type, with slanted breast pockets and external cargo pockets on the jacket skirt, and has been correctly modelled with plenty of detail. However by the action at Nijmegen all US paratroopers wore the slightly different 1943-style uniform. The trousers show the large cargo pockets on each side, which is also good. Corcoran or Goodrich jump boots, which lace up all up the front, are being worn by all, and most wear their helmets with netting covers, though they do not seem to have placed extra compresses or other items on them as was common. One man is showing bravado by going bare-headed, revealing his Mohican haircut, though we understand this was characteristic of the 101st Airborne and not the 82nd (as is the eagle shoulder patch on the box artwork, and indeed the title 'Screaming Eagles' itself!). Kit is pretty minimal, as apart from their ammunition pouches, most men have just their water bottle and an entrenching tool. However in every respect the uniform and kit is accurately done.
The range of weapons being used by these men is a real strong point of this set. Amongst the weapons to be seen here are the M1A1 carbine, the M1 Garand rifle, a couple of Thompson submachine guns and a Browning Automatic Rifle. This reflects the variety used by these troops, although the M1A1 carbine was not widely issued to ordinary paratroopers, so having it being used by five poses in this set is too much. Again detail is very good and the weapons are correctly and beautifully sculpted. One man is using a .30 Browning M1919A4 light machine gun mounted on a tripod, but the tripod is at a 90 degree angle to the gun, which is to assist the sculptor rather than a likely usage, so a compromise we did not care for.
As always with Esci the sculpting is excellent and the detail beautiful. This is an old set and has been made many times, but on all the examples we have seen there is almost no flash, so these look great.
The poses can be a little two-dimensional, and a bit straight-backed, as was normal when this set was first made. Having two figures concerned with their parachutes rather than in action is a bit of a waste, although doubtless there are customers that are happy to see these perfectly valid poses regardless. The man unconvincingly throwing a grenade is the one real fly in the ointment for us, but otherwise the poses are quite usable.
This is a subject that has been made several times by some of the big manufacturers in the hobby, but when Esci made this product there was only the Airfix set as competition. Certainly this is the better product of those two, and the trademark Esci sculpting is always enjoyable. Other worthy sets have been made since, but despite the sometimes questionable poses and the less than ideal choice of weapons, this remains an attractive collection of military figures that has proved to be popular for several decades.