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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Introducing the Nebelwerfer

The Nebelwerfer, was a multiple-rocket launcher of the German armed forces. It literally means 'fog thrower' because it could be used to fire smoke or even gas shells. It was however mainly used to deliver conventional explosives. Developed during the '20s and '30s, the first production Nebelwerfer was available in 1940. It was towed into place using a PAK carriage. Each tube would fire a rocket that would spin around in the air for extra stability. Its fire control was electric, and it would fire each rocket sequentially over 90 seconds. The rockets were fired in a specific barrel sequence 1-4-6-2-3-5 so that the launcher would not overturn. The rockets would land within a several hundred square meter area. Because of the smoke trail left behind, the crew had to relocate quickly to avoid return fire. Several variations of this weapon were produced with different calibers and range, but the technology did not change much through the end of the war. From what I have read from witness accounts, being on the receiving end could be a nerve-wrecking experience not only because of the wide-area explosive effect, but also because of the loud, screeching sound that made by the rockets.

15 cm NbW 41 - Unknown manufacturer
Approximately 6,000 of these were manufactured along with 5.5 million rockets. It had a range of close to 7km. Another popular variation was the 5-barrel 21 cm NbW 42, which had a range of almost 8km. I got this one along with a batch of toy soldiers that I purchased on eBay. I have no idea who made it and it is the only one I have. For a plastic toy it has decent level of realism. The pivoting stabilizer at the bottom/front can be elevated to put it in the towing position. It came with a couple stickers on the side which you can still see. Maybe someday I will paint it to give it a more realistic look. The figures in this picture are FOV artillery crewmen.

Click here to see a post about Mortars
Click here to see a post about the German 88s


Mortars are a convenient way for an infantry unit to provide itself some indirect fire support at the local level. They are useful to help break up an enemy attack, or to attack targets out of direct line of sight, like those on a reverse slope or inside a ravine. This also allows them to be fired from a sheltered position. Light mortars can be carried by individual troops. Heavier ones were usually carried as separate pieces -base, barrel, bipod- by the members of the mortar team and quickly assembled when and wherever needed. These pieces can be quite heavy. The memoir of a Soviet soldier who was a member of a mortar crew, told the story of a man who was carrying the base of the mortar on his back, who suddenly fell to the ground while on the run and never got back up, having his skull crushed by the weight of the metal plate. As far as toy soldier manufacturers go, there has been a good variety of mortar figures made available, ranging from the very light mortars to some heavier caliber ones. Let's take a look.

21st Centruy Toys American Mortar Team - Picture 1
21 C Toys came up with this nice mortar set that includes 3 factory painted figures, the mortar and a sandbag wall for protection. This is the view from the front.

21st Centruy Toys American Mortar Team - Picture 2
Here is how it looks from the back. Note that the base is a bit too small and it comes with 'footprints' that indicate where the figures should be placed.  That makes the kneeling guy sit a bit too far from the mortar. Given the position of his hand, which seems to be reaching out, you'd think that he'd place himself closer to the mortar or he would be leaning towards it.

21st Centruy Toys American Mortar Team - Picture 3
Here is a better shot of the figures. I actually like to place them behind another sandbag wall, without the base. That allows me to set them the way I like them.

BMC American Mortar Crew - Part 1
BMC Produced a couple of mortar crewmen, but it did not give them a mortar. However there are other American mortars below that they could be attached to, particularly this guy who could just be the ammo handler.

BMC American Mortar Crew - Part 2
The second crewman. This guy is about to drop the shell into the mortar (or take a dive into the pool?), so you will need a standalone mortar like the one from 21st Century Toys for him to drop his shell into.

Britains Deetail American Recoilless Rifle Team
A Recoilless Rifle is technically similar to a bazooka, open in the back so that the recoil can escape through that opening, plus a rifled barrel. This one from Britains Deetail looks more like a heavy mortar to me so I've decided to list it here as well.

Charben American Mortar
Mortarman and mortar from Charben, made in the 50's or 60's, so that explains the odd position of the arm. Sculptures were optimized for ease of release from the mold back then.

Marx American Mortar Crewman
A nice figure from Marx. We just need to find him a mortar now.

Toy Soldiers of San Diego American Mortar
Good set of mortar and crewman. The mortar actually came as separate pieces.

BUM American Mortar
These guys are allegedly American although they don't look like it. This set also comes with the barbed wire, but I did not include it in the picture to get a better shot. Note also that the figures seem to be clones. You can tell not only because the level of detail is a bit faded, but also because the original oval bases are now encased in larger rectagular bases. 

Monogram 1/35 American Mortar
These guys are allegedly 1/35, but they are actually smaller than that in my opinion. Not sure why one of the men has the helmet painted white. Must have been the previous owner's choice.

Revell 1/40 American Mortar
This mortar team is one of my favorite ones. In fact, they are the poses that made me get these figures. I really like how one of the mortar man is lying on the ground while dropping the shell into the tube.
Airfix British Mortar
Light mortar/mortar man from Airfix. That one would be an easier one to carry.

Airfix British Support Group Mortar Crewman
This one came with the infantry support group set. He would be a good #2 for the previous guy, if you ignore the fact that the shell seems to be of a heavier caliber.

Britains Deetail Mortar Team
Nice heavy mortar from Britains Deetail. This one can be operated with a spring to fire little shells.

Crescent British Paratroopers Mortar
Good to support your lightly armed paratroopers during an airborne operation.

Lone Star British Paratroopers Mortar
Here is another mortar for those Red Devils.

Britains Swoppets British Infantry Mortar Team
This is a nice little set, very well put together. Unfortunately the man dropping the shell into the tube is missing the shell, but if you assume that he just dropped it, then it works just fine.

21st Century Toys German Mortar Team - Picture 1
21C Toys did a great job with this one. As with the Amreican mortar set, not only did they give us a factory-painted, 3 man crew and mortar, but they also set it inside a very nice mortar pit to give them extra protection.

21st Century Toys German Mortar Team - Picture 2
This is how the figures look outside the pit. Notice the well-detailed facial expression. My only criticism is that they all seem to have the same face.

21st Century Toys German Mortar Team - Picture 3
Here is how the mortar pit looks from behind. Note that it even has some steps to climb into it.

21C Toys German Afrika Korps Mortar Team
I think these guys are a mix of the artillery crew set and the mortar team. The standing guy is the same as the one for the regular infantry's mortar team, except for the uniform colors, but the two kneeling guys are different.I have seen those also in the PAK 40 crew. Now, I don't know if the mortar team included thee figures, or maybe the collector who sold them to me mixed the sets. 

BMC German Mortar Crew
Another set of crewmen without a mortar. Again, you could set them up using the one from 21C Toys, but that would mean taking out the nicely sculpted guys from 21C. Hard choice.
Britains Deetail German Mortar Team
Same as the British heavy mortar, but with German figures.

Dulcop German
Light mortar and crewman from Dulcop. He's holdng that shell a bit too close in my opinion, but those are the trade-offs sculpturs must make if they want to cast the figure in a single mold without it getting trapped in the mold.

Italeri 'Elite German Troops' Mortar
Nice heavy mortar. The bipod comes detached, so you either glue it or have to set it up everytime you deploy the figure.

Timpo Swoppets German Infantry Mortar
Not an easy one to find, particularly in a good state. All parts seem to be there, including helmets, and as you can see, it was a fairly decent set. In addition to the actual mortar and its crew, it also comes with a few extra shells and a detachable bush which can be swapped for another plant of your choice if you have any spare ones :-). A nice addition to the collection.

Atlantic 60mm Italian Mortar
The ony Italian mortar in my collection. So he'd better be effective.
Might have come factory-painted.

 Atlantic Italian Heavy Mortar Team
I believe this set is actually representing post-WWII figures, but I think they can still pass for WWII guys. As you can see, there are 4 figures. The three kneeling guys are the mortar crew. The prone guy is supposed to be manning a heavy machine gun, but it was missing from the set when I got it. As it's the case with all other Atlantic figures, they come unpainted. These were painted by their previous owner, who actually did quite a nice job. All in all a good set.

Airfix Japanese Mortar
A light mortar, reminds me of the one they made for the British Infantry set. Note how this guy also carries his shells in that bag. Not a big supply though. Hopefully the other guys in his squad are carrying a few more shells.

BMC Japanese Mortar
This time BMC did give the man a mortar, not to mention that the sculpting is much better than their usual.

Britains Deetail Japanese Recoilles Rifle Team
Just like the American one, I think this one can pass for a heavy mortar.

Hing Fat Japanese Mortar
A clone of the Airfix figure, with much less detail.

Cherilea 60mm Soviet Mortar
I mean, that the figure is 60mm scale. I don't know about the caliber of the mortar, but it could be close to 80mm.

Italeri Soviet Mortar
A very similar sculture to the German Elite Troops mortar, but this guy did come with the bipod for the heavy mortar attached to it.

Supreme Playsets Soviet Mortar
A recast of the above figure with some factory paint.

Cherilea 60mm Chinese Mortar
Another 60mm scale figure. The only mortar man in among the Chinese I have. Looks like an 80mm mortar, but the shells seem on the small side don't they?

Click here to see a post on American Artillery
Click here to see a post on the German 88s

Sunday, February 19, 2012

British Infantry - Part IV

In an earlier post I described all the British Infantry poses that I was in the process of painting. That post left out some poses that I decided not to paint. At the time I was aiming to paint 50 different guys with the goal of using them for war-gaming, so I left out the poses that were least appealing and those that were the least useful in a war-game. Then there are also a couple figures that I have managed to find after I finished painting that batch. Since I would like this blog to be as complete as possible and serve as a catalog organized by manufacturer I feel the need to remedy this. So here are the British Infantry soldiers who did not make the 'paint cut'. 

Airfix British Infantry Support Group
The 5 guys on the right are from the original set. The radio man on the left is a paratrooper, but it came with the set of recasts that I bought a few years back. Since I had already painted him with the paratroopers, I left him out of the British Infantry selection. The other guys are mostly standing around and I wanted action poses. The right-most guy needs a gun or a mortart to go along so I also cut him. And the prone guy is supposed to be feeding ammo to the vickers MG (not shown here) but I already had enough prone guys, so he made room for other action poses.

Atlantic British Infantry - Part 1
I have very mixed feelings about these guys. Some of them are nice and some of them are really bad. The man helping his mate is a very good pose. Similar to a Marx 'Battleground' GI. But the other two miss the mark when it comes to realism. The one on the right seems to be picking an apple from a tree, when in reality he is supposed to be throwing a grenade. The one on the left seems to be waving at his friends... not a battlefield pose.

Atlantic British Infantry - Part 2
Again, a mixed lot. The commander is good. I would have painted him if I had not had enough officers already in my selection. The other two prone guys were easy choices to cut. The one on the left seems to be doing push ups, and the other one comes with a detached Bren gun which you would actually expect him to be holding with both hands.

BMC British Infantry
Compared to BMC's Germans and Americans, the British are actually fairly decent. In this case, I wouldn't say that I cut them, but instead I chose to paint them with the British 8th Army instead. But I did let them contribute two poses to the batch of 50 that I painted.

Britains Herald British Infantry - Part I
The Britains Herald poses are fairly good in general. They represent post-war figures, but they still come in very nice poses. I ended up painting 10 of them. The mine sweeper guy did not get painted because I got him after I was done painting the other guys. The marching guy was eliminated because I wanted more active poses. The rest of the Heral British Infantry poses are in this other post.

Britains Heral British Infantry - Part II
This guy is more like a 50mm figure than 1/32. From waht I understand he was designed and manufactured as a test product -and just this single pose- when Britains was evalauting getting into the plastic market. In case of a failed experiment, they were going to be sold to the tourist market, hence the ceremonial stance. 

US Infantry - Part III

In a previous post I described all the American Infantry poses that I have already painted. That post left out some poses that I decided not to paint. At the time I was aiming to paint 100 different poses with the goal of using them for war-gaming, so I left out the poses that were least appealing and those that were the least useful in a war-game. Then there are also additional figures from those manufacturers mentioned in that post that I have managed to find after I painted those figures. Since I would like this blog to be as complete as possible and serve as a sort of catalog, organized by manufacturer I feel the need to remedy this. So without further ado, I present to you the GIs who did not make the 'paint cut'.  

BMC US Infantry
The BMC GIs are not the best sculptures out there. The guy on the right throwing the grenade has arms so short that he reminds me of a T-Rex. The guy next to him dropping the mortar shell into an imaginary mortar looks more like he is ready to take a dive. The third guy from the right, I must admit that I overlooked him. He is actually not so bad and considering that I did not have 100 unique poses when I painted the GIs, he should have been included. I actually like how he is leaning back a bit. The fourth guy got cut simply because I already had enough prone guys (10 per company), so he was not needed and he was not the most 'active' pose. He could be useful however for a scene at Omaha beach when they are using the bangalore torpedoes to open a gap in the wire in order to exit the beach. Maybe later I'll get to him.

MPC US Infantry
The prone guy got cut also because I already had enough prone guys and he was on the skinny side. The other two are poses that I did not have at the time I painted the rest. Had I had them at the time they would have been included. Although notice how the guy on the right has an uncanny resemblance to one of the Marx figures in the post with the painted figures.

Reproductions of Marx 6" Figure
Sold as a SWTS figure, this guy is the sixth in the set. I actually find him acceptable when I look at him. Not quite sure why I left him out. I believe at the time I thought he looked short next to the other guys.

Marx US Infantry - Part 1
At the time that I painted the other Marx guys I only had the dark one. I left him out because he is leaning forward too much, with his feet too close to each other. A bit unrealistic in my opinion. The other two guys are old Marx figures from the Battleground set that I found at a large bin in a local Toy Soldier Show. The two battleground guys will definitely get the paint treatment at some point.

Marx US Infantry - Part 2
A nice set of casualty figures. The guy carrying the wounded buddy resembles the figure in the Atlantic British Infantry set. I wonder who produced it first. Definitely a nice pose. The guy on the right is one of the most realistic wounded guys out there. He reminds me a of that famous picture by Robert Capa of the guy being hit during the Spanish Civil War. Lastly, the wounded guy who is crawling impacts me due to its realism. You can almost feel this guy's pain.

Marx US Infantry - Part 3
Another 3 good poses. The stretcher bearer is missing the stretcher, but that should be easy to manufacture. Of course he will need another guy to help him but I have a few of these already. The wounded guy will go on the stretcher. The crawling guy is a nice variation to the prone poses who are entirely on the ground. All these guys will need to be painted and added to the company.

Marx US Infantry - Part 4
Here is another less common Marx pose. I actually found the raft a few years back without knowing what set it belonged to, and it was only recently that I found the rower. I have to say though that the raft feels quite a bit underscale. The man is actually pretty nicely done. 

Marx US Infantry - Part 5
Here is the larger version of the Marx raft. It comes with two rowers. Feels better proportioned relative to the size of the crew, although the raft still feels a bit brittle to have to go into combat on it.

Marx US Infantry - Part 6
These are some marching GIs. The flag bearer was apparently scuplted by a different hand as the marching guys, but they are still close enough in scale and detail that they can be combined into a scene together. Now I just need to find an actual flag for the guy in the middle. 

Marx Gallant Men US Infantry
The Gallant Men, were 5 figures modeled after the characters in a TV series. They were released in 1963 as part of a 'Gallant Men' playset. They are a bit hard to get and there seems to be a strong emotional attachment to them which makes them a bit pricey. From left to right they are Lt. Kimbro, Pvt. D'Angelo, Sgt. McKenna, Conley Wright (the war correspondent) and Capt. Benedict. All very well sculpted, probably better than the rest of the Marx GI figures, although unfortunately, they are not in the most active poses. The Gallant Men were notable for being able to take on large number of enemy forces and defeat them with minimum casualties, the Gallant Men obviously not among them.

Click here to see even more GIs.