Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Introducing the Italian Paratroops
Italy raised a few airborne units, but to my knowledge it did not carry out any airborne operations during the war. At some point, an airborne invasion of Malta was considered, but later the plan was dropped. The different airborne units were La Spezia, Nembo, Ciclone and Folgore. La Spezia, formed in 1941 and originally intended for the Malta operation eventually fought and surrendered in Tunsia. Nembo was formed shortly before the 1943 armistice and then it was crippled by malaria before it could see any action. A new unit on allied side was later formed with the same name. Ciclone was also being formed when the armistice was signed and did not see any action. The Folgore division was the most famous of them all. It in North Africa with distinction. During the second battle of El Alamein in the fall of '42, it held back the allied attacks of more than 5 divisions for about two weeks, inflicting heavy casualties to the Commonwealth's infantry and tank units, fighting on until it was out of ammunition. Most of the Itialian men were either killed or captured by the end of the battle. The survivors were organized into an independent battalion and fought on in Tunisia until they were also captured by mid 1943. In terms of toy soldiers, we have a couple sets from Waterloo 1815 and one from Atlantic. Let's take a look.
Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division
A good set for the West Desert campaign. I like how they reflect the relaxed dress code that existed in the North African desert. Note however how most of them retain their para helmets. The only thing I don't quite like about these guys are their bases, which make them a bit wobbly.
Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part I
These figures are manning a heavy machine gun. The man with the bullets does not quite get to feed them into the MG, but he's still useful to have close by. The spotter with the binoculars is doing a good job. I might just try to remove the plastic that joins the cap to the hands which looks a bit odd. The machine gun itself looks like it could take out more than just infantry. It could easily knock out soft-skin vehicles and maybe even some lightly armored ones, but probably not very effective against some British 8th army Grant and Matilda tanks.
Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part II
These other guys are the crew for the small howitzer. I am not sure about the caliber of the gun. I thought it might be a 37mm which is what was often issued to the paratroopers as it was easier to drop along with them during an airborne operation. However a reader recently commented that it's likely a 47mm Bohler gun. Apparently the wheels were detachable and it could be mounted on a tripod. It might not be clear from the picture, but all these figures come without a base, but they still manage to stand well on their own. One thing I don't quite like about the gun is that you can't change the elevation without messing around with the peg that inserts into the wheel carriage. All in all a good addition to the Folgore infantry.
Atlantic Italian Paratroops - Part I
This is an interesting set from Atlantic. The poses show more action than their average set. I am not a big fan of the guy jumping over the tree stump, or the guy who is just standing straight, but overall it is a very decent set.
Atlantic Italian Paratroops - Part II
It's good that they gave them an anti-tank weapon. I don't know however about the guy dragging the parachute since they did not really take part in any actual combat missions. I guess you can use him for a ficticious operation or some training scene. When you buy these guys, be aware that they come in a couple different boxes. The blue box only has 6 figures. The yellow box contains all 10 poses.
Click here to see a post about Italian Infantry
Click here to see a post about German Paratroops
Click here to see a post about the British 8th Army