Softskins of the Afrika Korps in 1/72 Scale

The German Afrika Korps (Deutsches Afrikakorps) arrived in Libya in February 1941, following Mussolini’s appeal to Hitler for assistance in light of Italy’s dismal performance fighting the British in North Africa. Within weeks of arrival, Rommel’s Afrikakorps had reversed Mussolini’s fortunes, handily defeating numerically superior British forces time and again in rapid succession, and in the process becoming a source of fascination for many a WWII buff despite their eventual defeat in 1943.

Countless books have been written on this subject and the reader is directed to them. This post is merely intended to provide collectors a survey of Afrikakorps-specific prebuilt softskins available in 1/72 scale. The reader should note that major manufacturers such as Dragon and Panzerstahl have also produced more than a dozen prebuilt Afrikakorps tanks, but information on these is readily available and not the subject of this post.

By my count, there are approximately 20 prebuilt Afrikakorps softskin vehicles. Photographs are provided below. To provide perspective on the size of the vehicles, included in the photos are figures from six of the eight different Afrikakorps sets released thus far. They range from the Airfix set released in 1973, more than 40 years ago, to the Caesar set, released in 2010. The name provided for each of the vehicles and soldier sets is the one given by the manufacturer, thus the lack of consistency in the use of “Afrikakorps,” “Afrika Korps,” “Africa Corps,” and “DAK.”1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda1. Altaya Opel Blitz 3.6-36S (Kfz. 305), 21.Pz.Div., Medenine, Tunisia 1943. Other than the lack of weathering and fake window flaps on the canvas cover, this is a neat little piece that would greatly improve with a simple umber wash.

Figures: Zvezda 6143 German Medical Personnel set. In my view, Zvezda is now producing the best 1/72 scale figures on the market.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda2. Left: Hobby Master HG3903, Opel Blitz German Cargo Truck, 21st Panzer Div, North Africa 1942. This little truck is a beauty. Note the crispness of the DAK palm tree. The divisional and tactical markings on the fenders are an added plus.

3. Right: Hobby Master HG3911, Opel Blitz German Cargo Truck with 20mm Flak 38, DAK, WWII. The Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun is metal and is detachable. About the only quibble with this piece is the lack of divisional markings on the fenders and rear.

Figure: Matchbox PK35 Sd.Kfz. 232 plastic kit. This is one of two figures included in this 1/76 Matchbox kit. The figures themselves are actually 1/72 scale, however.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda4. Left: Hobby Master HG4501 Horch 1a with 20mm Flak 38, DAK 1941. This vehicle came with a Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun worthy of comment in its own right.  Regrettably, I did not photograph it.

5. Right: War Master Steyr 1500 A/01 + 20mm Flak 38, 10th Panzerabteilung, Tunisia 1942. I failed to include the Flak 38 on this vehicle as well.  Though War Master gets credit for including the swastika on the palm tree, they managed to place it facing left, which is incorrect. One wonders whether the “error” was by design to get around laws in various countries that prohibit Nazi symbols.

Figure: Revell 2513 Africa Corps. This particular figure in the Revell set is one of the most ubiquitous in Afrikakorps dioramas, probably due to its casual pose as the vast majority of a soldier’s time is spent not in battle but performing pedestrian daily activities.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda6. Left: Dragon Warbirds 50120 Me 109G-2 Trop & Kubelwagen, III./JG 77, North Africa 1942. This hard-to-find Cyber Hobby exclusive aircraft model included this kubelwagen. Of note are the balloon sand tires, designed specifically for the desert campaign.

7. Center: Altaya Kfz. 15 Horch + 10.5cm le FH18M, Art.Reg. 119, 11.Pz.Div., Kursk USSR 1943. Admittedly, this model is not marketed as an Afrikakorps vehicle, but given the wide use of the Kfz. 15 Horch in North Africa and its dunkelgelb base color, the straightforward application of DAK palm tree decals would easily do the trick.

8. Right: Dragon 7434 Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Mid Production w/Zimmerit & Kubelwagen. This vehicle, which was included as a plus in a Dragon Tiger kit, is identical to the one in the Dragon Warbirds 50120 set described above except for the standard tires and darker desert yellow.

Figure: Airfix 1711 Afrika Korps. Despite its release 43 years ago, the Airfix Afrikakorps set remains one of the most beloved among collectors, for obvious reasons — this was Airfix sculpting at its pinnacle.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda9. Left: Dragon 60514 Sd.Kfz. 223 Leichte Panzerspahwagen, 21.Pz.Div., North Africa 1941.

10. Center: Dragon 60498 Sd.Kfz. 222 Leichte Panzerspahwagen, Unidentified Unit, North Africa 1942. A quick comparison of this Dragon piece with its Altaya counterpart to the right immediately reveals why Dragon has been king of the 1/72 scale hobby. There is absolutely no comparison in terms of detail, finish, and weathering.

11. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 222, 10.Pz.Div., Tunis, Tunisia 1943. Given the existence of the vastly superior Dragon 60498, this Altaya 222 model is only for the hardcore collector.

Figure: Atlantic 88 German Afrikakorps. This hard-to-find set was maligned from its release almost 40 years ago (1977). Today, it’s highly sought-after by collectors.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda12. Left: Altaya Schwerer Panzerspahwagen (8 Rad), Sd.Kfz. 232, 5.le.Div., Agedabia, Libya 1941. Dragon has produced an Sd.Kfz. 232 that is immensely superior to this piece. Unfortunately, Dragon has not released one in an Afrikakorps desert livery.

13. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 250/5, Afrikakorps, Tobruk, Libya 1942. Desert campaign enthusiasts will immediately recognize this vehicle as Rommel’s “Greif.” In retrospect, it would have been more appropriate to use a Rommel figure for the photo. As is Altaya practice, neither vehicle has swastikas on the palm trees.

Figure: ESCI 206 Afrika Corps Soldiers. This ESCI set, their second effort at producing Afrikakorps soldiers, was summed up by Plastic Soldier Review (PSR) as a “perfectly solid effort.” The first set, now extremely hard to find, was somewhat unattractive.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda14. Left: Dragon 60294 Sd.Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Unidentifed Unit, El Alamein 1942. Photographs exist of the actual vehicle upon which this model is based. Unfortunately, the actual vehicle was an Ausf. B, rather than an Ausf. C, which is immediately apparent by the location of the hull side lockers.

15. Right: Dragon 60281 Sd.Kfz. 251/2 Ausf. C, Eastern Front 1942. Despite Dragon’s “Eastern Front” label, this piece is actually from the DAK, as can be easily concluded from the 21.Pz.Div. formation marking on the vehicle’s front plate. The actual vehicle upon which this model is based was an Afrikakorps 251/1 Ausf. C, rather than a 251/2 Ausf. C. To make it accurate, one need only remove the mortar from the back of the vehicle.

Figure: Caesar H070 German Afrika Korps. This 2010 release is the most recent Afrikakorps set on the market. According to PSR, the figures have “well-defined detail and faultless proportions” and the use of modern molds allowed Caesar to produce figures that are appealing from every angle without resorting to multiple pieces that require assembly, as Preiser often does.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda16. Left: Hobby Master HG5104 Sd.Kfz. 11, 33d Pz.Art., 15th Pz.Div., North Africa. This vehicle carries an interesting but non-standard Afrikakorps palm tree.

17. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 11, 15th Pz.Div., El Alamein, Egypt 1942. To my mind, this is not a bad effort by Altaya and the difference in quality between it and the HM piece is not that great. Note again Altaya’s failure to include the swastika on the palm tree on the port-side front fender.

Figure: Caesar H070 German Afrika Korps. See comment in previous photo.


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda18. Hobby Master HG5002 Sd.Kfz. 7 German 8 Ton Semi-Track, Luftwaffe, Africa 1942. While this is, in fact, an Afrikakorps vehicle, HM neglected to include the distinctive Afrikakorps palm tree. I pilfered the palm tree decals from the Airfix A02303 Sd.Kfz. 7 Tractor half-track kit.

Figure: Italeri 6099 D.A.K. Infantry. As can be seen in the photo, the detail on this figure is superb. In PSR’s words “detail is everywhere clear and sharp, while clothing looks natural and human proportions are spot on.”


1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, ZvezdaFinally, here’s a lagniappe photo of an Opel Blitz bus, widely used by the Afrikakorps in North Africa.

19. Roden 721 Plastic Kit, Opel Blitz Omnibus (model W.39 Ludewig-built, late). This model is not available as a prebuilt. I commissioned this piece from a master modeler in Poland.

Figures: Various Afrikakorps Sets; Nikolai ARB04 Arabs in the Streets 2 resin set. Without a doubt, resin figures allow more detail than plastic ones as exemplified by the three wonderful figures from the Nikolai set. However, the short runs and resulting high cost of resin sets often present an obstacle for collectors.


I hope you enjoyed the photos. As always, comments, suggestions, and questions are always welcome.

Operation Detachment, Part 2: Prebuilt 1/72 Scale Models for the Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought from February 19 to March 26. Thus, a follow-up to the last post is still timely. Here’s a brief photo summary of prebuilt 1/72 scale vehicles available for the battle.

To my knowledge, there are eight such models for Iwo Jima, including the two amtanks reviewed in the last post. In alphabetical order by manufacturer, they are:

  1. Altaya DUKW 353, US Marine Corps;
  2. Altaya Type 97 Chi-Ha, 26th Tank Regiment, Imperial Japanese Army;
  3. CDC 3135 M4A3, “Black-Jack,” B Company, 4th Tank Battalion;
  4. Dragon 60331 M4A2, D Company, 1st Marine Amphibious Corps Tank Bn, Tarawa 1943 (Dragon mislabeled it; Sherman is actually from Iwo Jima);
  5. Dragon 60425 LVT(A)-4, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion;
  6. Hobby Master HG4402 LVT(A)-4, US Marines, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion;
  7. Hobby Master HG4407 LVT(A)-2, 10th Marine Amtrack Bttn., “Beach Yellow 1”; and
  8. Hobby Master HG4201 Willys Jeep with Trailer, 4th Marine Division, 2nd Battalion.

1. Altaya DUKW 353, US Marine Corps

This is an attractive model, though the detail is soft because of its diecast construction. On the plus side, the camouflage is very nicely done. To my knowledge, this is only one of two prebuilt DUKWs — the other being an Amercom piece, clearly a different casting, and without the canvas cover.
1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys2. Altaya Type 97 Chi-Ha, 26th Tank Regiment, Imperial Japanese Army

As with the DUKW above, this Altaya is an adequate diecast model. However, in terms of realism, it pales in comparison to the detail and finish of the all-plastic Dragon Chi-Has. It’s unfortunate that while Dragon released four Chi-Has, not one of them represents a vehicle at the Battle of Iwo Jima.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys3. CDC 3135 M4A3 (105mm), “Black-Jack,” B Company, 4th Tank Battalion

This piece is inaccurate in a number of ways and really only for the hardcore collector. To begin with, the real “Black-Jack” carried a standard 75mm gun — not a 105mm gun, as CDC represented it. Secondly, like other Sherman crews at Iwo, the crew of the “Black-Jack” added wooden planks to the side of the hull to provide additional protection. It was on these planks that the markings, including the name “Black-Jack,” were painted — not on the hull itself, as represented on the CDC model. Thirdly, compared to other 1/72 Shermans, the CDC series is significantly overscaled. Finally, its all-metal content results in soft detail, particularly when compared to the crisp detail of the all-plastic Dragon issues.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 4. Dragon 60331 M4A2, D Company, 1st Marine Amphibious Corps Tank Bn, Tarawa 1943

This is a terrific little piece though, once again, Dragon research leaves a lot to be desired. As the very name of this Sherman indicates, “Destroyer” was assigned to D Company. It is well documented that only the 14 tanks of C Company fought at Tarawa. All 14 carried the elephant with raised right leg and cannon shot coming out of its trunk, which is why Dragon incorrectly assumed that the design of an elephant with a raised foot meant the “Destroyer” fought at Tarawa. Still, this Sherman is a nice piece of work and I plan to do a detailed review of it in the future.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys5. Dragon 60425 LVT(A)-4, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion

Please see review of this piece in the previous post.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys6. Hobby Master HG4402 LVT(A)-4, US Marines, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion

Please see review of this piece in the previous post. 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys 1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys7. Hobby Master HG4407 LVT(A)-2, 10th Marine Amtrack Bttn., “Beach Yellow 1.”

This is another fine piece by Hobby Master. It’s a recent release and I’ve yet to assess its accuracy.

1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys

1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys8. Hobby Master HG4201 Willys Jeep with Trailer, 4th Marine Division, 2nd Battalion

At least five manufacturers — Amercom, Cararama, Dragon, Hobby Master, and Zylmex — have tried their hand at producing the Willys Jeep in 1/72 scale. The Dragon, which is all plastic, is probably the best. Yet the weight of the diecast Hobby Master is satisfying to the hand and, at least in this case, there appears to be no sacrifice in detail in using metal. The Amercom model is an inferior copy of the Hobby Master, right down to the War Department number of the vehicle. By my count, there are 17  prebuilt WWII 1/72 scale Jeeps available and I intend to do a review of them in the future.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, Willys1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, WillysFinally, here’s a lagniappe photo of all eight of these vehicles so the reader may better appreciate the difference in the respective sizes of the vehicles as well as the various camouflage schemes. Also of note is the difference in size between the CDC and Dragon Shermans.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, WillysItaleri 6098 Iwo Jima Flag Raisers

For the sake of completeness, the reader should be aware that in 1977 ESCI issued a set of plastic 1/72 scale soldiers (ESCI 8062) depicting the flag raising at Iwo Jima portrayed in Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo. Though the ESCI set is now hard to find, Italeri reissued the set more recently (Italeri 6098). The set is a disappointment. In addition to the poor detail, the figures have disfiguring sink marks on their backs and pronounced seam marks along their sides. Moreover, being almost 40 years old, the set is beginning to show its age as the figures are rather poorly engineered — some with separate limbs — and a couple of hours of effort yielded endless frustration and a less than satisfactory result. I would not recommend this set to anyone except those of stout heart, steady hand, and monk’s patience.1/72, AFV, Altaya, Amphibian, Amphibious, CDC, Chi-Ha, Dragon, DUKW, ESCI, HM, Hobby Master, Italeri, Iwo Jima, Jeep, LVT, Marine, Marines, Sherman, Tanks, Tarawa, Type 97, WillysI hope you enjoyed the post. If the reader knows of any other 1/72 vehicles for the Battle of Iwo Jima, please do leave a comment or send me an email. As always, thanks for your indulgence.

Operation Eiche: The Liberation of Benito Mussolini in 1/72 Scale

I recently read Fallschirmjager at the Gran Sasso: The Liberation of Mussolini, by Oscar Gonzalez Lopez. The Fallschirmjager’s daring rescue of Mussolini on September 12, 1943, is one of the most famous raids of WWII and needs no recounting here. Suffice it to say that Lopez’s account is an excellent read with a somewhat new interpretation of the raid — essentially giving credit to Major Harald Mors, who planned the rescue operation, rather than the flamboyant Otto Skorzeny, who it is claimed was given credit at the time for propaganda purposes.

Here’s one of many photos taken during the rescue operation. Skorzeny, with binoculars, appears on the far left, next to Mussolini.

1/72, 6134, Bujeiro, Campo Imperatore, FA724005, Falcon, Fallschirmjager, Fi 156, Fieseler Storch, German, Gran Sasso, Italeri, Italy, Kriminalpolezei, Luftwaffe, Mussolini, Operation Eiche, Paratroopers, Skorzeny, TQD

On the book cover was this wonderful illustration by Ramiro Bujeiro, inspired by several photos taken during the raid, including the one above. In addition to the colors, I loved the way Bujeiro captured an entire event with just six elements: Mussolini smack in the center, Skorzeny walking behind him, the paratrooper representing the 82 Fallschirmjager who took part, the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch essential for the escape, the Campo Imperatore alpine meadow, and the Gran Sasso Mountain in the background.

1/72, 6134, Bujeiro, Campo Imperatore, FA724005, Falcon, Fallschirmjager, Fi 156, Fieseler Storch, German, Gran Sasso, Italeri, Italy, Kriminalpolezei, Luftwaffe, Mussolini, Operation Eiche, Paratroopers, Skorzeny, TQD

Following up on Bujeiro’s painting, here’s the recreation in 1/72 scale — just six elements.

1/72, 6134, Bujeiro, Campo Imperatore, FA724005, Falcon, Fallschirmjager, Fi 156, Fieseler Storch, German, Gran Sasso, Italeri, Italy, Kriminalpolezei, Luftwaffe, Mussolini, Operation Eiche, Paratroopers, Skorzeny, TQD

I don’t know whether this photograph was originally in color or was later colorized. Either way, I tried to capture the fall season look of the grass at the Campo Imperatore meadow.

1/72, 6134, Bujeiro, Campo Imperatore, FA724005, Falcon, Fallschirmjager, Fi 156, Fieseler Storch, German, Gran Sasso, Italeri, Italy, Kriminalpolezei, Luftwaffe, Mussolini, Operation Eiche, Paratroopers, Skorzeny, TQD

For those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Mussolini: TQD Castings TQD112 WWII Era Kriminalpolezei metal figure set with machine gun cut out;
  • Skorzeny: Italeri 6134 German Paratroops (Tropical Uniform) set;
  • Fallschirmjager: Italeri 6134 German Paratroops (Tropical Uniform) set;
  • Aircraft: Falcon Models FA724005 Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, “Gran Sasso”;
  • Meadow: Styrofoam base painted with acrylic colors to look like Campo Imperatore;
  • Background: Photo of actual Gran Sasso Mountain.

I hope you enjoyed the post.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Luftwaffe Flakartillerie 88mm Flak Gun Crew in Action in North Africa in 1941

This photo is from Waldemar Trojca’s 8.8cm Flak 18-36-37, Katowice-Speyer 2005. Erwin Rommel used the 88mm Flak gun extensively as an antitank weapon in North Africa, having learned its value in that role in 1940 at the Battle of Arras, in France. Some mistakenly claim Rommel was the first to use the 88mm as an antitank weapon. All that can be said with confidence is that he was among the first.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s the recreation. The original photo doesn’t depict the detail or disarray surrounding the gun but photos of other 88 guns do. Thus, as you will readily notice, I took lots of artistic license.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s a view directly facing the gun. The 88s could take out enemy tanks a mile away but you first had to spot them. The soldier up front has a range finder, while the officer on the right has binoculars. At the far right are scissors binoculars, which are sometimes present in these scenes. I “borrowed” them from the Revell German Armoured Infantry set.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here are a couple of photos of the gun itself. The gun suffers from several inaccuracies, which I’ll cover at some point in a separate review.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s a close-up of the gun.  Note the awesome kill rings.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

I converted the Altaya Flak 37 from its traveling position to a stationary gun and then pilfered the trailer. The trailer is plastic with metal axles that had to be cut from the metal base of the gun. I painted the trailer desert yellow, applied decals, and gave it a wash. The detail on the trailer is quite nice as it is plastic and compares well with the Airfix and Hasegawa kits, though it’s not as detailed as the Revell kit.

Note the detail work on the towing bar and on the “forks” to which the gun attaches. Because the plastic is very hard, it was actually easy to carve them out. For the first time in many years, I reluctantly applied decals using Microsol on very old Afrikakorps palm trees from Almark. The result exceeded my expectations and I cursed myself for not having tried decaling sooner.

This photo also shows the brass ammunition and wicker ammunition baskets well. Note that I drilled out two holes in one of the baskets. It turned out to be easier than I expected.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The crew was included in the Italeri 8.8cm Flak 37 AA Gun kit. Of note is the soldier with a Hermann Meyer cap, to my knowledge one of only two modeled in plastic. (The soldier talking to Rommel also wears a Meyer cap but that figure is made of white metal.) Plastic Soldier Review (PSR) described this set as follows: “All the figures are crisply sculpted and crisply moulded, and while some of those handling ammunition have a little excess plastic, no one has any flash and these are very good quality figures . . . . At an average 24.5 mm the height of the men is good, so with the very good detail these are excellent.” (See PSR’s review at http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/ShowFeature.aspx?id=48.)

While I had the figures painted previously, I decided that I would paint shoulder straps, buttons, belt buckles, and other details. This is a Luftwaffe Flakartillerie regiment so shoulder straps are silver on a red base. I developed a headache as I focused my eyes on these suckers. If you’re over 50, don’t try this at home. 🙁 

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The Rommel figure came from the ACE Desert Fox’s Kfz.21 kit. I have several different painted Rommel figures in 1/72; this is the best of the bunch. As previously mentioned, the officer talking to Rommel wears a Meyer cap, clearly identifying him as Luftwaffe. He comes from an SHQ white metal set that includes a Rommel figure leaning over a map. This vignette is based on a well-known photo of Rommel talking to Generalmajor Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, wherein he wears a Meyer cap.1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The half-track is Hobby Master’s Luftwaffe Sd.Kfz.7 8-Ton Semi-Track, with decals poached from the Airfix half-track kit. Disappointingly, Hobby Master lazily released it without markings despite the promise implicit in their pre-production photos, which included the DAK palm trees. I had intended to apply divisional markings to the half-track as well but held off because I wasn’t sure to which division the gun belonged. Trojca attributes the gun to the 1./Flak Rgt. 33, which was attached to the 21.Pz.Div., while Panzerstahl attributes it to the 1./Flak Rgt. 43, which was attached to the 15.Pz.Div. In retrospect, I wish I’d given the half-track a wash to bring out its details. The tarp and Jerry cans are from ValueGear.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Note the faded Luftwaffe marking on the helmet of the soldier with the dark tunic. To my old eyes, he came out better than I expected.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Finally, this bird’s-eye view shows the entire layout well. Note the tracks in the sand. Kinetic Sand is simply amazing.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

For those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Gun: Panzerstahl 88043, 8.8cm Flak, 43rd Flak Reg., 15.Pz.Div., Deutsches Afrikakorps, 1942; 
  • Trailer: Altaya 8.8 cm Flak 37, 2.Pz.Div. Moscow Area 1941 (cut out from metal base) (decals from Almark T1 Afrika Korps Palms);
  • Half-Track: Hobby Master HG5002, Sd.Kfz.7 8-Ton Semi-Track, Luftwaffe, Africa 1942 (decals from Airfix 2303 kit, 88mm Gun & Sd.Kfz.7 Tractor);
  • Crew: Italeri 7512 kit, 8.8cm Flak 37 AA Gun with Crew;
  • Field Marshal Rommel: ACE 72289 kit, Desert Fox’s Kfz.21 with Rommel Figure;
  • Generalmajor Ramcke: SHQ DK20, Rommel Command Group;
  • Dog: Preiser 14165, Dogs and Cats;
  • Scissors Binoculars: Revell 02511, German Armoured Infantry;
  • Ammunition Baskets: Hasegawa 31110 kit, 88mm Gun Flak 18 (4 baskets); and Fujimi 76026 kit, 88mm Flak 18 (4 baskets);
  • Ammunition: Thor Hobby A7203, Brass WWII German 88mm L/71 Gun Ammunition (Set 2);
  • Sandbags, Crates, Fuel Drums, Jerry Cans, and Tarp Roll: ValueGear, various sets;
  • Grass: Noch Scenemaster, Spring Grass Tufts;
  • Sand: 150-101 Kinetic Sand by Waba Fun. Had to wrest it from my kids. 😈 

I hope you enjoyed the post. Please forgive the long-winded narrative and thanks again for your indulgence and encouragement.

The Elephant with a Broom: Cleaning Up During the Blitz

With all available resources dedicated to the war effort, there was a relative dearth of heavy equipment for cleanup during the Blitz. Always at their best in the face of adversity, the enterprising British enrolled the services of an unlikely ally — the circus elephant — to help them dig out of the rubble, harnessing the immense strength of these beasts in lieu of cranes or tow trucks. The photo below perfectly illustrates the point.CIRCUS ELEPHANTS USED IN WWII FOR HAULING AFTER BOMBING RAIDS

Here’s the recreation.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here is a photo in full color.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here’s a close-up photo with lots of light to show more detail, including the burnt tree and the jagged edge glass on the window.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the whole scene.1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, VerlindenFor those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Elephant: PaleoSculpt Realistic 3D Models, printed in 1/72 scale with a 3D printer;
  • Elephant Harness: Made from scratch with thin aluminum and staples;
  • Chain: A-Line 29217 Brass Chain, HO scale (27 links per inch);
  • Vehicle: Classix EM76622 Ford E83W Thames Van;
  • Figure: Dapol C002 Railway Workmen;
  • Building (Left): Matchbox PK85 Sd.Kfz 232 Armoured Radio Car with Diorama Battle Display;
  • Building (Center): Dragon 60347 Ferdinand with Diorama Buildings;
  • Building (Right): Italeri 6087 Walls and Ruins;
  • Cobblestone: Verlinden 2066 Cobblestone Street (made mold and cast pieces w/ hydrocal plaster);
  • Tree: IMEX 533 Southwestern Alamo Accessories;
  • Debris: Pegasus Hobbies Bricks 5199 (Red) and 5196 (Gray) crushed with a hammer;
  • Other Debris: Broken matchsticks and dirt from my backyard sifted with my wife’s kitchen sieve. Very Happy

Here’s the original notional photo.  Note the 3D printer horizontal lines on the elephant, which had to be sanded.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden