The North African desert campaign was one which seemed to encourage an individual approach to military dress by all ranks of all armies. This set of figures from Alpine Miniatures illustrates just two of the many variations of uniform seen in the desert fighting. These are relatively relaxed versions, featuring two DAK Panzer crewmen during a halt.
35074 – “German DAK Panzer Crew Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Yukio Honma, whom modellers may recognise from various sculpting commissions for other similar model manufacturers, including Pegaso’s Platoon range. The two Afrikakorps (DAK) Panzer Crewmen, both wearing tropical clothing, are portrayed in fairly comfortable stances: the one pulling something from his tunic pocket; while the other poses with his hands in his trouser pockets. Released during October 2008, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Artur Miniszewski.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1 and 35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2.
35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1
35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1 depicts a junior NCO off-duty during a halt (hence the lack of webbing and belts). Wearing one of the more familiar variations of the Tropical uniform, consisting of tunic, shorts and high-lacing desert boots, the crewman is portrayed pulling something (a packet of cigarettes?) from his right tunic pocket with his left hand balled on his hip.
He wears the tropical drill tunic manufactured in a sage-green lightweight material. The colour of all items of tropical dress varied sharply. Some batches were green, others a dark, nearly ‘mustard’ hue of tan, still others a light sandy shade. All weathered and bleached in short order subsequent to arrival in the desert, and any one unit might include uniforms of like cut although of shades ranging through every gradation from deep tan to mid-green.
Panzer officers fastened the small metal skull badges from the collar-patches of the black vehicle uniform directly to the lower collar. The Iron Cross 2nd Class is presented in the usual way; Tank Assault Badge and a Wound Badge are also worn. Notably he does not wear the famous Afrikakorps cuff-title which was authorised late July 1941 for all German Army personnel who had served in the theatre of operations for at least two months.
Shoulder-straps are of the usual design, but the ground colour is a light sandy tan. The twin rank chevrons, denoting his rank as Rottenführer (senior corporal) are woven in a sand-yellow shade on a greenish-khaki patch; this yellow colour replaced the silver Tresse in NCO’s rank distinctions. The faded blue-grey and brown collar-patches are characteristic of the tropical pattern insignia, as is the breast eagle (not visible here) in the same colours.
The shorts are rolled high. Regulations insisted that to protect the legs from the ever-present desert sores, flies, etc., only the high-lacing desert boots should be worn when shorts were used; although this tanker abides by the regulation, photos prove that this reasonable command was more frequently contravened than obeyed.
35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1 is presented with two head gear alternatives: the desert field cap (Afrikamütze); and Tropical sidecap.
The NCO wears the light, comfortable and stylish desert field cap, predecessor and direct ancestor of the 1943 Einheitsfeldmütze, and was exceedingly popular and almost unanimously worn as the preferred dress. The national emblem was woven in blue-grey thread on a dull brown background, and the cockade on a diamond-shaped patch of brown. The soutache of Waffenfarbe piping followed the upper edges of the diamond-shaped patch; here, in Panzer pink. Around the crown of the cap he wears a pair of amber-tinted sun and sand goggles.
He is also presented with the Tropical sidecap. The cap is not very frequently seen in photographs and appears to have been almost exclusively limited to Panzer personnel, who might find the peaked field cap awkward in the confines of vehicles. It was of thin olive drab material, with a single ventilation hole directly above the point of the “turn-up”. The upper section is somewhat different in profile to the common European version, being flatter and shallower. For all ranks it bore the eagle and swastika and the national cockade insignia. Other rank’ insignia were sometimes worn, in blue-grey on tan, and in flat black/white/red weaving on a tan diamond patch respectively.
35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2
35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2 is very simply portrayed in a casual stance with hands in pockets, wearing simply the tropical shirt and trousers.
The tropical shirt the crewman wears was very similar to the field-grey shirt worn in Europe, but as it was intended for frequent use on formal occasions in ‘shirt-sleeve order’ it was of superior finish and manufacture. The colour varied between a dark sandy shade and sage-green and frequent washing soon faded it to an indeterminate tone. The shirt is worn with rolled sleeves – note the desert goggles allowed to hang at the throat. Open-necked shirts were the normal dress, but scarves were worn at normal taste. The only insignia worn are the pink-piped shoulder straps as discussed above.
His long tropical trousers are worn loosely over his ‘desert sneakers’, an ankle boot very similar in appearance and manufacture to the foot of the long desert boot, and perhaps cut down from it.
Like his senior, the Panzer crewman is presented with two headgear options: the desert field cap (Afrikamütze); and Tropical sidecap. Note that while the Afrikamütze is the same as his superior’s, the box artist has incorrectly represented 35073 wearing the black Panzer rankers’ sidecap (note the differences in the caps above), which was quite often retained in North Africa. It has the regulation pale grey-on-black eagle and swastika in a “V” of pink Waffenfarbe.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of ten (10) pieces - five 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 35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1 consists of the following five (5) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Tropical sidecap; and
Head wearing Afrikamütze.
Figure 35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2 consists of the following five (5) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Tropical sidecap; and
Head wearing Afrikamütze.
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 both faces in the twosome match in terms of facial details – it is merely the headdress that differentiates the pairs. The faces are cleanly sculpted and well defined, with well-textured hair visible under the headgear. The headgear is well proportioned and nicely detailed – with even those aforementioned ventilation holes clear. The casting blocks are positioned under the neck, so modellers can effortlessly remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
The figures proper are well detailed and one gets a very good idea of the fit of the tropical jacket, the rolled up tropical shorts and hang of the loose-fitting tropical trousers and shirt. Folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. All the finer details such as insignia and awards as well as pockets (including the trousers’ fob-watch pocket), button-fly fronts, and the trouser‘s built-in fabric belt are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. The inclusion of even three eyelets on each side of the jacket under the arm to accommodate the belt hook hangers does not go unnoticed.
Casting is as one always expects from an Alpine figure: clean and crisp, with the only clean up being the usual minuscule amount of flash between the legs of figure 35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2. As per usual the casting blocks beneath the feet have been cut away and no more than a quick clean-up is required.
The arms, as with the rest of the figure, are well detailed and cast. The casting blocks for all the arms are placed on the outside of the elbows and inside of the shoulder for figures 35072 and 35073 respectively.
How They Measure Up
Two frequent questions in modelling communities are “how tall is the figure?” and “how tall is this figure in comparison to my other figures?” While I obviously cannot explicitly help you with the latter, I can help with the former and thus by implication assist you in comparing the size of these figures with those you already have.
The average height of German males during the 1940s appears to be between 5’8” (174.5cm) and 5’10” (178.1cm). Therefore a 1/35 scale figure should measure between 49.9mm and 50.9mm, barefoot and heel to top of head.
With regards to the dimensions, I took 4 measurements: 1) foot to shoulder height; 2) foot to eye level (i.e. bridge of nose); 3) foot to highest point of head (incl. head gear – both figures were measured while wearing Tropical sidecaps); 4) shoulder breadth. For your convenience and the nature of the chapter I've added in my calculated "real" proportions after the measured sizes. The first value in millimetres represents the figure measurements, the second value the "real" size in metres (calculated by simply multiplying the millimetres by 0.035), and the third an imperial value (calculated by using Excel's CONVERT(number, from_unit, to_unit) - all values rounded).
|No.||Figure 35072||Figure 35073|
|1. Foot to shoulder height||42.5||1.49||4’11”||42.0||1.47||4’10”|
|2. Foot to eye level||47.5||1.66||5’5”||47.0||1.65||5’5”|
|3. Foot to highest point of head||52.0||1.82||6’||51||1.79||5’10”|
|4. Shoulder breadth||11.5||0.40||1’4”||11.5||0.40||1’4”|
Thus, by eliminating the exaggerated height due to boot heels and the cap points, I estimate that a more true height of figures 35072 and 35073 to be 50mm (1.75m or 5’9”) and 49mm (1.72m or 5’8”) respectively. Given that 35073 stands with sloped shoulders and a slight hunch, he may even be closer to 50mm (1.75m or 5’9”), but the slight perceived difference in height works well for the figure.
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 35073 - 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 right hand fingers of figure 35072 German DAK Panzer Crew #1 fit snugly around the pocket item, and the balled left hand finds a slight recess on the left hip. Both wrists of figure 35073 German DAK Panzer Crew #2 slide easily into the pockets.
The heads easily slide into place and, as with all Alpine figures, are to a certain degree interchangeable between the two figures.
While no doubt some may find the poses featured in this figure set inanimate, I must admit to being rather fond of them. I find the figures rather versatile given the relative state of relaxed undress, and a nice difference to the usual action poses we see DAK soldiers in. This figure set by Alpine Miniatures is a terrific example of the various aspects of the tropical uniform and the manners in which it was worn by the German Afrika Korps.
As we have become accustomed to from Alpine, the casting and sculpting is magnificent, with only a barely noticeable amount of flash on one figure.
For the painter, given the number of variations in the tone of the tropical uniforms materials, there are a number of interesting ways in which these figures can be presented. Furthermore, given that Panzer troops were issued with the same uniforms as infantry, this set need not only be portrayed as the former.
This is the first set of figures Yukio Honma has sculpted for Alpine Miniatures, and as Taesung Harmms expands his stable of sculptors, I certainly hope these will not be the last Alpine figures we see from this sculptor. Recommended.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject: “German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945”. Brian L. Davis. Military Book Society. 1973.
“Afrikakorps 1941-43”. Elite Series. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Ronald B. Volstad. Osprey Publishing. 1991.
“Rommel’s Desert Army”. Men-at-Arms Series. Martin Windrow. Illustrated by Michael Roffe. Osprey Publishing. 1976.
“The Panzer Divisions”. Men-at-Arms Series. Martin Windrow. Illustrated by Michael Roffe. Osprey Publishing. 1972.
“The German Army 1939-45(5) Western Front 1943-45”. Men-at-Arms 336. Nigel Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“Afrikakorps in Action”. Bruce Culver. Illustrated by Ron Volstad. Squadron/Signal Publications. 1979.