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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Introducing the Polish Infantry

The Polish army leading up to WWII was not very well prepared for the upcoming conflict. It numbered about 1 million men, had about two hundred tanks, three times as many tankettes, and about 800 planes of all types. While Poland did anticipate that war with Germany was likely, they assumed they had more time to modernize and strengthen their military, particularly their armor and air forces. As war drew nearer in 1939, defense plans were drafted, but even those were too optimistic, assuming that Poland would be able to defend itself for several months, thus buying time to mobilize more troops and allow France and England to open up a second front against Germany. This defensive plan also called for defending right along the border, where the terrain was less favorable, as well as defending the 'Polish Corridor' which connected Poland to the Baltic Sea, with about a third of their troops. This was not very wise, because the Polish Corridor neighbored Germany to the west and German East Prussia to the east, and therefore could be cut off if attacked from both sides at its base. Polish armor was also thinly spread out as infantry support, instead of concentrated as dedicated armored units. As it turned out, when war broke out on September 1, 1939, the German attack proved too fast for the Polish. The Germans deployed their Blitzkrieg doctrine for the first time. This consisted of fast, enveloping armor attacks, supported by strong air tactical support, mostly provided by Stuka dive bombers and followed up by infantry units that would mop up or capture the remaining encircled defenders. In the first week of the war, despite some local successes, the surviving Polish army units quickly fell back towards Warsaw, and during the second week, the withdrawal continued towards Romania where the Polish command thought the could mount a more effective defense. Additional Polish troops which were being mobilized were ineffective, and many of them became casualties while headed to the front as their transports were bombed from the air. Unfortunately, by September 17, the Soviet Union attacked the Polish rearguard from the east, rendering the defensive plan moot. Poland, as a nation, never surrendered and fighting continued through October 6, when the last Polish forces were defeated. France and England did declare war on Germany on September 3rd, but no forces were deployed on time to help Poland in any way. At the end of the conflict, close to 875,000 Polish soldiers had become casualties or POWs. 66,000 of them were killed in action. About 120,000 men did escape into neutral Romania and eventually found their way to fight with the Allies. Comparatively, the Germans had 59,000 casualties, of which a bit over 17,000 were killed in action and they also lost about 10% of their attacking tanks and aircraft. The fact that the campaign only lasted 6 weeks, had somehow made me think that this was not a very costly conflict, but the casualty figures say otherwise. As far as toy soldiers, perhaps due to the brevity of the conflict, there had not been any Polish infantry figures made in 1/32 scale. After many years of waiting, that changed recently, when Speira Miniatures released a set of 10 3D printed figures. Let's take a look!

Speira Miniatures Polish Infantry
Speira Miniatures Polish Infantry - Part I
This is a nice bit of innovation from Speira. Both in the sense that they have released a set that has not been made before, and also that they released it as a set. All other figures you have to order individually. These guys however, can be ordered as a set of 10 figures (or you can also buy them individually), but I did enjoy the convenience of just ordering all 10 of them at once, instead of having to go through the selection/ordering process 10 times for each guy. As far as the figures go, they are all really good, except for the grenade thrower. I don't know why sculptors have such a hard time finding the right stance for these guys. I also ordered this set in Big 1/32.

Speira Miniatures Polish Infantry
Speira Miniatures Polish Infantry - Part II
These other five guys are really solid. Great combat potential. And their sculpting/level of detail is also pretty good. The MG team is certainly the cornerstone of the set. But the other guys don't come short of it. For instance, the guy on the right charging forward while firing his weapon at waist height is also very engaging. Look at his facial expression. He really looks like a bad ass sergeant. One thing to point out about these figures is that most of them are carrying around their backpack, which is something that I find a bit odd when going into combat. But it gives them a nice 1939 feeling. Overall, a great set to have! 

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