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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing the German Combat Engineers

The German combat engineers, also known as 'Pioniere', were not just entrusted with construction and demolition missions as is often the case with military engineers in other countries. Germany's combat engineers were often used also as combat troops, which is understandable given the shortage of men that they were often operating under and their expertise in demolition. There is a scene in the movie Stalingrad, showing a company of engineers freshly arrived to the city and going into action for the first time in that all-consuming battle. You get a glimpse of their equipment and techniques, as well as the huge casualties that they were willing to take -well, at least in the movie. In terms of toy soldier figures, this is a niche set which has only been pursued by Revell GmbH, not surprisingly, a German manufacturer. Unfortunately I suspect that at this time they are no longer being manufactured as they don't offer them anymore on their website and I have not seen them on the shelves of hobby shops for several years now.

Revell Deutsche Pioniere - Part 1
As you can see there is a good diversity of poses reflecting their many roles, such as construction, demolition, mine laying, mine removal, and combat.
Matchbox German Infantry and Revell Deutsche Pioniere - Part 2
These guys are actually 1/35 in scale, but they are close enough in size to mix with 1/32 figures as you can see in the picture above. When I painted these guys I thought they should have a few more guys in fighting poses to also reflect their combat role, so I recruited the four Matchbox guys in the back row. A very interesting piece of equipment is the 'Goliath' or SdKfz 303b/Gerat 672, which is operated by the man on the left. This was essentially a remote controlled tracked bomb which could be used against fortifications. This site has a good description of it. Thanks Bill for helping to identify it.

Revell Deutsche Pioniere - Part 3
Engineers were also tasked with river crossings and bridge building. In this case, we have a couple guys on a raft negotiating a section of a river. I must say that with that size of boat it would have taken many trips to bring a unit across a river. My guess is that the manufacturer wanted to convey the spirit of the role, without having to produce a much larger boat.


  1. Can you please tell me where I can get Rivell German engineers and Airfix Italians, can't find them anywhere
    Thank you
    I really enjoy your blog.

    1. Neither are in production anymore, so you can't buy them in stores or at online retailers. You need to hunt for them in the collector market, like ebay or at toy soldier shows.