35068 – “WSS Panzer Crew Set 44-45” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Yoshitaka Hirano (modellers may recognise the name as being that of the owner of the Yoshi range of products: he has also done various sculpting commissions for other similar model manufacturers). The two Waffen-SS Panzer Crewmen, both wearing camouflage clothing, are portrayed in fairly neutral stances, perhaps discussing a course of action or best angle of attack. Released in June 2008, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Artur Miniszewski.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35066 WSS Panzer Officer 44-45 and 35067 WSS Panzer Crew 44-45.
35066 WSS Panzer Officer 44-45
35066 WSS Panzer Officer 44-45 portrays a senior SS NCO leaning forward with his weight placed on his leading left leg, perhaps from behind a wall or vehicle. There is nothing specific that would identify the Officer with a particular late-war front although he wears garb not uncommon amongst officers during the latter parts of the war (and France in particular): the combination of a privately tailored camouflage field tunic and Panzer denims made of telo mimetico.
The officer wears a privately-made field tunic in camouflage material, resembling the M1943 other ranks’ tunic in cut. It was not uncommon to see such jackets liberally decorated: on his left breast pocket he displays his Iron Cross First Class underneath which hangs the silver wound badge (a WSS Panzer officer of this rank would most certainly have been awarded the tank assault badge, which is perhaps concealed by the binoculars). On his right breast pocket he wears the silver star of the War Order of the German Cross. The German Cross, which was introduced on 28 September 1941 and comprised two grades: silver and gold. The Silver Cross, which is more than likely what the subject wears, was for NCOs and officers who had performed several acts of bravery or their role as commanders, whilst the Gold Cross rewarded outstanding merit in leading troops. This decoration was instituted to provide an intermediate decoration for those who already held the Iron Cross 1st Class, but did not qualify for the Knight’s Cross.
He wears the (unpopular) new system of sleeve rank patches, introduced in August 1942, for wear on camouflage garments and working denims. These were rectangles of black cloth about 100mm wide, and “stacked” one on top of the other. Stylized oak leaves were added for officers. Against regulation (some WSS officers were known to have worn the insignia on both arms), he wears the insignia on both arms: this insignia was worn on the upper left arm only.
The insignia he wears, consisting of three green rectangles on black cloth denote his rank to be that of SS-Oberscharführer (the SS equivalent of a Wehrmacht Feldwebel or a British Warrant Officer II).
His camouflage trousers are field-made in Italian M1929 forest-pattern “telo mimetico” camouflage cloth, to resemble M1942 Panzer denims with an added second thigh pockets. The trousers, closed at the ankle with a drawstring, are worn tucked into his ankle boots.
He carries a holstered P08 Luger pistol on his Wehrmacht issue M1934 officers’ brown leather belt (it was not uncommon for SS officers to replace their SS issue belt with the army opposite as the SS buckle clasp was rather weak and broke under field conditions) and a standard issue set of binoculars, the modest 6x30, finished in black.
35066 WSS Panzer Officer 44-45 is presented with two heard gear options: the ‘old style’ M1934 Schirmmütze and M42 Feldmütze field cap.
35067 WSS Panzer Crew 44-45
35067 WSS Panzer Crew 44-45 portrays a gangling young of a Panzer Crewman, perhaps a driver, indicating direction, an incline or perhaps an angle of attack using his right hand while the other, balled in a fist, is placed on his hip. The tanker wears an item of clothing fairly generic to WSS Panzer crews during this period: the lightweight camouflage version of the Panzer uniform.
The WSS made widespread use of camouflage clothing, including for its armoured troops; the Waffen-SS produced its own camouflage version of the Panzer uniform, cut in lightweight drill material and printed in the so-called ‘pea pattern’ camouflage colours. Unlike the combat smocks it was not reversible. Generally the only insignia worn with this uniform were the shoulder straps.
The left breast of the jacket bears what appears to a tank assault badge and perhaps a wound badge. Attached to his WSS edition waist belt is his holstered side arm, the ever-efficient P38 pistol.
Like his senior, the Panzer crewman is presented with two headgear options: a M42 Feldmütze field cap; and a bare head with swept back hair featuring standard issue goggles pushed up on his forehead.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of twelve (12) pieces - six pieces for per figure. The kit is packaged in a small, clear acetate box with each figure’s parts inside its own small zip-lock bag. A small card displaying the painted set of figures, as well as the individual figures is supplied.
Figure 35066 WSS Panzer Officer 44-45 consists of the following six (6) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Schirmmütze;
Head wearing Feldmütze; and
Holstered P.08 pistol.
Figure 35067 WSS Panzer Crew 44-45 consists of the following six (6) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Feldmütze;
Bare head wearing goggles; and
Holstered P38 pistol.
The figures are overall very nicely sculpted. As we have become accustomed to from Alpine Miniatures, the casting is crisp and clean.
The heads are all well-sculpted, and each face matches the other of the twosome in terms of facial elements – it is only the headgear that distinguishes the two heads. The faces are cleanly sculpted and well defined, with well-textured hair noticeable from beneath the headgear. The headgear is well proportioned and nicely detailed. The casting blocks are positioned under the neck, so modellers can effortlessly remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
Figure 35067 WSS Panzer Crew 44-45 in particular has come under criticism for being too skinny. While the figure is lankier than 35066, I personally enjoy seeing the variation in body sizes. Once should also bear in mind that many of the WSS recruits by this stage of the war were little more than teenagers, and so the figure’s dimensions suit that point quite well.
The figures proper are well detailed and one gets a very good idea of the tailored fit of the officer’s jacket, the snugly fitted Panzer jacket and hang of the looser trousers. Folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. All the finer details such as SS runes, awards, belts, and the binoculars as well as pockets, button-fly fronts, are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. That said, I do feel that some of the seam lines, particularly on the jacket of 35066 were not sufficiently defined and are rather faint in places such as on the back. Recesses are provided for placement of the holsters, one on the left hip for figure 35066 and one above the left buttocks for figure 35067.
Casting is as one always expects from an Alpine figure: clean and crisp. For some reason most, if not all the Alpine figures I have had the opportunity to review have required minor clean-up of either very fine seams or flash between the legs: on this occasion, with the exception of a miniscule piece of flash on 35067, this pair of figures is free of that particular affliction. As per normal the casting blocks under the feet have been cut away and only a quick clean is required.
The arms, as with the rest of the figure, are well detailed and cast. The left arm of figure 35066 features a small notch on the inner arm at approximately the elbow. This facilitates the snug fitment of the pistol holster. The casting blocks for all the arms are the “traditional” Alpine U-shaped block which connects at the shoulder and elbow, with the exception of the left arm of figure 35066 which is placed on the inside of the shoulder.
Removing the pieces from the casting blocks was effortless. As always, I used a new knife blade, which easily cut through the resin with ease.
Clean up was non-existent, with only the bit of flash being the aforementioned smidgen between the legs of figure 35067 - nothing a sharp number 11 blade could not quickly sort out.
The arms line up easily with the shoulders on the torso. There was little, if not no, guesswork involved when lining the arms up to the shoulders. The heads easily slide into place and, as with all Alpine figures, are to a certain degree interchangeable between the two figures. The personal equipment consisting of only the pistol holsters fits onto the figure effortlessly.
It could be said that the Waffen-SS is synonymous with WW2 camouflage. It was certainly more widely used by them that any other German division, and perhaps even more than any of their contemporaries of the period. It is, however, often forgotten that camouflage clothe was used in both the official and unofficial, be it tailored or field-made, production of clothing. This figure set by Alpine Miniatures is a terrific example of official, tailored and field-made clothing as worn by a WSS Panzer crew.
The casting and sculpting is magnificent, as we have come to expect from Alpine. The only blemish on this record is the incorrect use of the sleeve rank patches, but that however is something easily corrected by simply removing the insignia on the right arm.
For the painter, as with most SS subjects, there are a number of interesting ways in which these figures can be presented. One need not paint these figures in any of the many camouflage schemes available to the WSS, but could revert to Feldgrau or Panzer black or even mix and match with camouflage.
This is the first set of figures Yoshitaka Hirano has sculpted for Alpine Miniatures, and as Taesung Harmms expands his stable of sculptors, I am sure these will not be the last Alpine figures we see from this sculptor. Recommended.
The following references were used for this review: “Waffenn-SS Soldier 1940-45”. Warrior 2. Bruce Quarrie. Illustrated by Jeffrey Burn. Osprey Publishing. 1993.
“The Waffen-SS (1) 1. To 5. Divisions”. Men-at-Arms 401. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“The Waffen-SS (3) 11. To 23. Divisions”. Men-at-Arms 415. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2004.
“The German Army 1939-45(5) Western Front 1943-45”. Men-at-Arms 336. Nigel Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“Waffen-SS Uniforms in Colour Photographs”. Europa Militaria No. 6. Andrew Steven & Peter Amodio. The Crowood Press. 2007.
“Waffen-SS in Combat”. Robert Michulec. Colour Plates by Ronald Volstad. Concord Publishing.
“Waffen-SS (2) From Glory to Defeat 1943 – 1945”. Robert Michulec. Colour Plates by Ronald Volstad. Concord Publishing. 2000.
“Panzertruppen. Les troupes blindées allemandes. 1935 - 1945”. François de Lannoy & Josef Charita. Heimdal. 2001.
“German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945”. Brian L. Davis. Military Book Society. 1973.