Articles

Weathering Factory - German Tank Riders 1944 - 45 (72002) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Weathering Factory
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72-002
Year 2014
No. of Figures 7
No. of Poses 7
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material White Metal
Colour Silver
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1942 - 1945

 

 Review  

The terrifying winter experience of WWII Germans, in particular the one on the Eastern Front, puts forward a large array of topics for 1/72 figure creators, mass-production and cottage industry representatives making available an ample number of sets where the subject is analysed from various perspectives. The most common approaches target the usual winter attire, namely the greatcoat and M42 winter suit although it is acknowledged during that period there had been worn the largest variety of clothes, including very bizarre assortments.  

The seven miniatures composing the set, four dressed in fur anoraks and three in M42 winter suits, are commercialised under the name “German Tank Riders 1944-45” inside a clear plastic box, the artwork resting just in a label with the name of the set, the suitable period and other information, but no image of the figures. The content cannot be perceived through the box and unaware customers might remain indifferent to the top quality existing inside. However, at the moment the Weathering Factory kits are sold in e-shops, and there images are generously supplied. Each miniature together with its separate parts benefits by individual small bag and the whole content is once again wrapped in a special protective polystyrene paper. Although not getting instructions, assembly is not very complicated, parts cannot be mixed and only little care should be allocated to the arms and how they look in terms of normal connection to the shoulders. As for metal kits, cyanoacrylate adhesive must be utilised, highly recommended being gel one, the few seconds in which it allows readjustments appearing very important for best fitting the limbs. 

Tested by SS in cold areas as Norway and Poland since 1940, the three quarters fur lined anorak with integral hood, designed for mobile troops like Reconnaissance or Grenadier, was delivered just in limited numbers, according to regulations only 10% of the soldiers within the unit had to receive it. Exclusively produced for Waffen SS, the fur anorak reached with few modifications the Eastern Front in 1943 where the pull-over pattern was disliked by soldiers, considering it very heavy and lacking ventilation. The initial model was issued in various shades of grey and featured a front four buttons closure plaquet from neck to waist as well as two breast pockets, many versions also receiving two hip pockets. Following the increased front-line experience and the unpopularity of the garment, in early 1944 the second pattern, with a full length, button up front closure, arrived to units manufactured in various shades of gray or in Italian field gray or Italian camouflage. Likewise, it was requested Type I models to be returned to clothing depots for full button up front closure modification but in practice the pull-over model continued to exist until the end of war. After Italy surrendered to the Allies in September 1943, Germans captured large stocks of Italian clothing and equipment, and many Waffen SS units had their clothes made of Italian materials. Of note is that the fur anorak was worn without any insignia and there are no indications about such garment issued in Waffen SS camouflage patterns, so modellers have to limit painting these only in different shades of gray or Italian camouflage colours. On the other hand, the ample hood offers a lot of space and multiple choices for painting, various types of fur of all colours being utilised for padding that anorak. 

However, Weathering Factory did not stick to a single item of clothing, and from the total amount of seven figures featured by their second set, three of them dress the M42 winter suit. The unpleasant situation recorded during the first winter on the Eastern Front, where thousands of soldiers froze to death, and that the long greatcoat was not suitable for the fast warfare practiced by the German Army, it was decided to introduce in 1942 a parka and matching trousers, forming the two piece winter suit, perhaps soldiers’ favourite choice for winter garment. The parkas had detachable hoods and most were reversible as well as the inter-linked trousers. Even if regulations requested the winter suit to be returned to depots on April 15, at the end of the winter season, there were often cases when the attire was kept throughout the whole year. The first models were issued in mouse-gray, but in 1943 was introduced the camouflage, being available in nearly all Waffen SS autumn/winter or spring/summer and Wehrmach patterns. The other side was always white and according to regulations, had to be worn only in camouflage purposes in snow, in other conditions being forbidden its wearing in order to preserve it as clean as possible. 

In a certain manner, the tank played a major role during WWII and the new strategies and weapons requested infantry to directly cooperate with the vehicle, especially for guarding it against close distance enemy’s infantry attacks. Obviously, the speed difference was considered and huge assortments of armoured vehicles were made available for the accompanying infantry. Likewise, as lots of filmed and images of the period prove, it was very usual within Allies and Axis units to mount infantry on tanks, those following to dismount and escort the tank in combat. There are known photos showing even an entire platoon mounted on a single vehicle, but commonly three to ten infantry-men used to ride an armoured vehicle. Nevertheless, not only in attack, but also when retreating, tankers permitted infantry to mount, many of them being saved from encirclements thanks to that. In order to prevent engine overeating, regulations imposed that some vehicles, such as Panzer VI Tiger, not to be ridden by infantry, but the proviso was many times encroached. 

Tank riders are an important addition to any armour and can change its appearance, adding life to the machine. The 1/72 scale benefits by several releases on WWII Germans, issued either by mass production and cottage industry companies, many of those targeting summer soldiers, such as Preiser’s “Motorised infantry/Panzer grenadiers”, HaT’s “WWII German Tank Riders”, and Caesar’s “German Soldiers with Tank Riders”. Likewise, few vehicle kits as Hasegawa’s “SdKfz.7 Half Track 8-ton” or Caesar’s “German Halftrack SdKfz.10 Demag D7” include several troopers appropriate for tank riding utilisations. On the other hand, troopers in winter garments riding vehicles are done by Warriors in “German Tank Riders Set 1 & Set 2”, MIG Productions in “German Winter Tank Riders”, Miniaturas Allemany in ”German Panzergrenadiers” as well as the fantastic all seasons Dragon’s “3rd Fallschirmjager Division Set 1 & Set 2”, inspired after a series of photos with paratroopers in Ardennes. However, considering the huge amount of 1/72 WWII German armoured vehicles and the pretty low number of figures in suitable poses for riding those, such miniatures are of great interest and utility. 

Almost all the infantry-men supplied as tank riders by Weathering Factory wear the SS fur anorak, only one getting the M42 winter suit. As regards the fur anorak, three put on Type I pulled version, a single one receiving Type II with full length button up closure. They come in two standing, two sitting, and one crouched poses and look great on any Panzer, StuG or other armoured vehicle from the enormous amount of fighting machines released for WWII German Army.

For the sitting figure in parka it is necessary to glue his Kar98K in the left, for best grip the palm being sculptured directly on the weapon. He is equipped with ammunition pouches, shovel, gas mask container with gas cape pouch rolled around, mess-tin, and canteen, while a toque wraps most of his face. As his Panzer Army comrades, due to his attire, this is the only rider suitable to belong either to Wehrmacht or Waffen SS, the membership following to be highlighted trough the camo scheme of the garment. Undoubtedly, advocated would be the second option in order to match the mates in SS fur anoraks. 

His seated colleague in fur anorak is armed also with Ka98K that must be glued in position but both palms are cast together with the figure. Still, the sculptor took the measures the weapon to go good in the designated spot, the soldier appearing really great and strongly reminding about a real tank rider from a famous photo taken at Harkov. His gear consists in ammunition pouches, bayonet, bread bag, mess-tin, and canteen and he has got toque as well.

The third tank rider stares to the left and preferred to stay crouched, with both knees on the vehicle or on the ground, and instead of helmet, he received a M34 overseas cap, allowing to be perceived a large amount of the toque, nicely folding on the head. As for his partner in parka, his left palm was sculptured on the Kar98K that must be set by the hobbyist. He preferred to take with him in that mission gas mask container, bread bag, canteen, bayonet, and ammunition pouches but gave up to the steel helmet. 

As spare parts there are supplied two Kar98K and a zeltbahn which can be allocated to any of these tank riders. At the first glance the spare rifles are useless in the set while all these troopers are armed and maybe it was producer’s intention to provide those as a replacement for the soldiers that have the left palm sculptured on their weapons. In this way, there is granted the opportunity of putting the rifles on the back or in other places but obviously, modellers have to search in their spare parts box two left hands holding or not other objects for replacing those sculptured on the weapons.

Although the images uploaded on manufacturer’s website show all these army-men mounted on a Panzer IV, evidently, the two standing Grenadiers might be deployed without hesitations not only on a vehicle but also on the ground. In fact, if not mentioned as tank riders, the first thought would have been to regular infantry and the one pointing with his palm, in conformity with the position of his head, looking a little up is ideal to be placed on the ground, near a vehicle, talking to somebody mounted and pointing the direction to follow or other information. The mini comes as single piece, only his Kar98K must be glued on the back or in front while the weapon lacks the strap. With little carving, the rifle can be fitted in the right hand, the place being very secure, too. He is equipped with shovel, bread-bag, canteen, and ammunition pouches as well as steel helmet hanging in font on the left hand side, his head being covered by a M34 overseas cap.

The second standing infantry-man looks like an NCO or officer, holding binoculars and armed with a MP38/40. Even if he misses the pistol holster, item that generally emphasises the rank in Braille Scale, the figure categorically might embody a front-line officer, as already manufacturer has underlined on its website. Such interpretation is in full accordance with KStN which stipulated for low rank officers like platoon commanders MP38/40 as personal weapon. The sculptor decided to depict the MP38/40 separately and without magazine, which is definitely more uncommon but very realistic. Again the sling misses, so hobbyists may place the MP where they want and eventually scratch-build or simply paint the associated sling. He has got just the left hand side pouch but without the small pouch for maintenance kit stitched to the left, and the right hand side pouch is now replaced by a map case. Both arms have to be set in position by modellers and those can be arranged as the officer looks through binoculars held with both hands or as he has just removed the device from the eyes or prepare to take a peak. Based on the fact that figures staring trough binoculars abound in the 1/72 scale, the last mentioned possibility might be considered and it should be appreciated the manufacturer left the gates open for such options. Moreover, while the binoculars are sculptured only in the left palm, the other might be displayed at a hair distance from the object in a extremely normal manner. The officer or NCO is the single miniature of the set wearing Type II SS fur anorak introduced in 1944, the buttoned up front closure emerging extremely clear, detail facilitated by the adopted stance. In addition, he wears gloves and the extended cuffs give the impression he has got camouflage gloves, so painting them in various Waffen SS patterns sets out as a certain alternative. 

Most often, images taken with tank riders features also one or few crew members of the vehicle and it is more than great Weathering Factory paid attention to that detail and has incorporated two Panzer troopers dressed in winter suits, with M43 caps, and ankle boots. In accordance with their role, they are armed with pistols in holsters, and except those, the connected belts, and binoculars held by one of them, no other items of gear are featured. Taking into account their attire and equipment, they can easily embody other units, not necessary Panzer, parkas and matching trousers being commonly worn by Infantry, Panzer Grenadier, Assault Artillery, Signal, Reconnaissance, Artillery etc. In this regard, the difference can be made by the M43 cap and the colour the modeller decides to paint it. Furthermore, the camouflage pattern might be matched with the location of the eagle on the M43 cap, if it is about Waffen SS, it can go on the left hand side, but that place is not really mandatory, exceptions with eagle placed in the centre, the normal position for Wehrmacht, being often encountered in SS, too. Of course, if allocated to other units than Panzer, these two army-men can embody officers or specialised soldiers while they have only pistols on them.

According to the information published by the company on its website, the two figs in parkas and with M43 caps embody Panzer crewmen and considering that winter tankers do not represent a common presence in Braille Scale, it should be appreciated the effort in keep covering existing gaps within 1/72 tender on WWII Germans. The first Weathering Factory set also encloses a tanker in parka but in another stance, with fur cap, and without feet, designed for hatch emplacements. This time the sculptor has taken the excellent decision of providing full tankers, increasing in this way the number of crewmen necessary for a Panzer. In fact, the reference photo inserted as background for the previous set reveals a couple of Panzer crewmen in winter suits on the vehicle, so it is awesome having 1/72 replicas although they are not in the same hypostases.

Cast as full figures, the tankers’ stances are very fine, one of them keeping both hands in the trousers pockets and the way the bottom of the parka turns up simply highlights the stunning attention paid by the sculptor in order to bring on the market top accurate figures. Of note is the fact modellers should consider painting the other side of the parka which is now visible, white if the jacket is finished in camouflage or gray and vice-versa if the outer side was done in white. Evidently, the same thing applies for the inner side of the hoods and the visible parts of the collars for all those wearing the parka. Ranked as Panzer soldier and his comrade as Panzer commander in the informative image supplied by the producer, while no distinctive features apart the non-significant binoculars emerge, nothing keeps away the hobbyist to switch the ranks between these two army-men or to assess both as privates. This figure is intended for outside utilisations and the attractive stance can be deployed either on the vehicle, on the ground, or even inside open top armoured vehicles such as Nashorn, Hummel, Marder, Sd.Kfz.251 etc. 

The same destinations can follow his comrade although the main objective for this miniature seems to be the hatch, as it can be seen on manufacturer’s website. In the left hand he holds binoculars in the air and maybe that arm is designed to be propped on the hatch while the right is also little far from the body, greatly going on the hatch border. Both upper limbs are delivered separate and has to be glued in position paying attention to the normal fit at the shoulders area, few angle variations being possible for better going in the location settled on by the modeller. He is sculptured without space between legs for sneaking thorough narrow hatches and he can do it not only for Panzers, but also for other armoured vehicles with fairly large hatch openings. Nevertheless, as previously pointed out, this figure brilliantly occupies position inside open top vehicles as well as mounted on the vehicle or on the ground, laying his right hand on something.

The overall sculpture charms the viewer, the marvellous carved fur on collars and hoods making a strong impression when holding the miniatures for the first time. Likewise, anatomy is admirable, with very fine proportions and impressive facial details featuring perfect eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, and ears for those not wearing toques. Palms respect the size of the bodies, even could be a hair larger considering that most of them should have worn knitted or leather five finger gloves. Anyway, palms are also remarkably carved and fingers not only appear crisp, but also grab the objects in a natural manner. The sculptor strived and succeeded to catch the true appearance of the SS fur anoraks, the length being perfect and small details as buttons, chest pockets, fur, creases, and the way the hoods hang imposing these items of clothing as some of the best available in Braille Scale. An important feature of any set is maintaining the same size of weapons and gear for all figures and this is happening here, no significant variations being recorded. Moreover, these are beautifully sculptured and are comparable, both in size and details, with Preiser or Warriors products, just to cite two companies acknowledged for their marvellous work in the field. 

Made of white metal, the miniatures arrive with an insignificant level of flash and seam lines, also getting out from the mould without excess of material, only one or two small residuals, revealing the fixation points during casting, being encountered on each figure. Just like the flash, these are instantaneous removed with any blade, the material being sturdy but in the same time allowing such surgeries. Except cyanoacrylate for assembly, white metal requires priming before painting and obviously, after cleaning the miniatures. If correctly primed, enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils finely stay on the material and for preserving the work, a matt varnish could be useful, especially if the miniatures are going to be often handled. 

Not only the Panzer soldiers and the seated tank riders, but also the standing figures come without bases, which is great because the hobbyist is not forced to lose time and energy with extracting the troopers from their bases. It is well-known that regularly in case of metal miniatures, it is quite complicated and effort consuming to get rid of the stands if not needing them. On the other hand, those really wanting toy-soldiers on bases can instantaneously glue the 1/72 fighters on special devices, either scratch-build or from other minis or even bought, on the market activating companies commercialising a huge number of bases of all shapes and sizes.

Released in the tall side of the 1/72 scale, hobbyists find for these soldiers lots of comrades dressed in winter attire, either adapted to tank riding purposes or on foot and in non-combat stances. In this field, best companions, apart the other Weathering Factory troopers, are put forward inside various sets by Warriors, Miniaturas Alemany, Juweela, El Viejo Dragon, TQD Castings, Tracks&Troops, MIG Productions, and D Day.  Likewise, winter WWII Germans are delivered in fairly large amounts by the mass-production Revell, Dragon, Caesar, Pegasus Hobbies, Esci, Italeri, Strelets, Zvezda, as well as few Preiser figs.

Tank riders dressed in SS fur anoraks, accompanied by Panzer soldiers in M42 winter suits definitely emerge as an important and most useful release for 1/72 scale WWII German figure collectors, diorama builders, and even gamers. The seven miniatures proposed by “German Tank Riders 1944-45” are more than sufficient for populating a Panzer or another armoured vehicle, superlatively interacting between them and with the machine, giving to it a more human and interesting appearance, of brilliant authenticity and in full accordance with lots of reference images and filmed documentaries. Likewise, the top-notch quality of the figures, in very lifelike stances, and their compliance with similar army-men increase the value of the set, the ratio price-quality being more than fair. Furthermore, seven characters per box are not quite often encountered in 1/72 metal miniature sets, most of the times these incorporating three to five troopers, so another plus-point of the present tender. 

 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 10
Poses Quality 10
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 9
Sculpture 9
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 9