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Zvezda - German Medical Personnel 1941-1943 (6143) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6143
Year 2012
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1940 – 1945

 Review 

Although recognised that 1/72 WWII Germans represent one of the most developed subject in the scale and the best sold figs, mass production and cottage industry depicting them in lots of hypostases and attire, it should be strongly emphasised there are major gaps in the field in spite hundreds of sets available, particularly the plastic companies having to cover lots of aspects. However, no matter the material are made of, 1/72 WWII German medical personnel is almost inexistent, until 2012 except CMK’s resin “German Hospital Staff” no other manufactured rushed to fill this blank space in a specially designated set, even if the hobby community repeatedly asked for medical staff. With a doctor and four nurses in dissimilar poses, the CMK set aims at embodying personnel from a hospital and has no connection with the front-line, the main place were soldiers got their wounds and from where they were often evacuated by combat medics. Based on the environment they carried out duties, medical personnel might be split in two, on the one hand combat medics (stretcher bearers/orderlies) and on the other hand classical or field hospital staff gathering doctors, nurses, and eventually adjacent personnel like pharmacists, stretcher bearers, cookers etc.

Next to CMK’s tender Preiser brings a nurse in “WWII German Troops on Leave” and Plastic Soldier in “Late War German Infantry 1943-1945” submits a combat medic, easily identified after the Red Cross armband and vest with a large version of the same cross worn over tunic. A similar medic is available in Orion’s “Volkssturm” carrying a wounded soldier on the back, his membership being highlighted by the two medical pouches. To these offers could be added other two quite poor, out-of-production for decades and hard to find in the market, Atlantic’s “Hospital” and “Medical tent” as well as one promised for years by StreletsR “WWII German Field Staff and Hospital” but not appeared yet. Since 2012 all those have been joined by Zvezda’s “WWII German Medical Personnel”, strengthening company’s excellent knowledge of the commercial availability and collectors, gamers, and diorama builders’ most innermost needs. The kit proposes two outstanding ensembles of two figures, embodying stretcher bearers evacuating wounded comrades, so another topic in premiere from Zvezda while previously medical personnel had never got their own set. 

Like in any modern warfare, the WWII front-line medics were of major value, the conditions they performed in and the immense contribution brought in saving lives during WWII being fully acknowledged and regarded with deep gratitude. Within WWII German Army the medical activity was highly detailed and enforced, Sanitatsdienste being organised in special battalions, companies, transport units etc and KStN provided a stretcher bearer (Krankenträger)within most infantry platoons. The WWII German stretcher bearers, similar with combat medics/orderlies from other armies, had some medical training and were identified after two medical pouches with first aid items. They could have a red cross armband on the left arm and as some reference images and films reveal, pretty rare the WWII German stretcher bearers worn additional identification marks such as an extra armband on the right arm, white vests/aprons with red cross or red cross flags and extremely rare, red cross painted on helmet, particularly on the Western front, maybe inspired by US medics. As a specialised soldier and bearing in mind his duties, including that of evacuating wounded comrades, the WWII German stretcher bearer was armed with pistol. In the same platoon could be assigned another soldier for assisting the Krankenträger, mainly to transport the stretcher and also having basic knowledge on first aid. Such trooper armed with Kar98K acted as a regular rifleman but had on him essential medical items like bandages and could wear red cross armband when performing related duties. Both the stretcher bearer and his eventual assistant had the same waffenfarbe of the platoon they served and not the blue medical one. It had also to be mentioned that all WWII German soldiers were instructed how to properly dress a wound and received a large and a small field dressing kept in a special pocket located in the bottom right front panel of the tunics. Likewise, civilians assisting military medics or Red Cross personnel in removing wounded persons from the field wore the Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer’s (Hilfs-Krankenträger) armband when carrying out that task. 

Except explicit red cross symbols, the key item of gear in identifying a Krankenträger were the two medical pouches worn in front exactly like Kar98K ammo pouches, but different in shape and size, mainly made of light tan leather, as also the artwork of the box indicates. The top of the pouches had fold back lids and contained various first aid tools and items such as bandages, field dressings, morphine, vials etc. Identical in design, such pouches were marked either with "K" for Kragenträger (stretcher bearer) or "S" for Sanitäts (Medical personnel), the difference consisting in the contained items, listed on a tag fixed on the inner side of the lid. Furthermore, the two pouches were stamped with "L" and "R" for left and right hand side but featuring dissimilar content, too. Nonetheless, such marks are stressed here only at theoretical level and impossible to be seen on 1/72 figs when the pouches are adjusted in position.  

After a pretty long description of WWII German medical branch but assessed as somehow useful bearing in mind hobbyists have rarely the opportunity to get such figures in 1/72 scale, it is time to revert to the superb Zvezda kit dedicated to those brave men, titled “German Medical Personnel 1941-1943”. Packed in the usual “Mini-Box”, the front artwork makes a first introduction of the four soldiers available inside and on the reverse there are supplied three images of the unpainted army-men together with information on the content and a photo of the game card. After unwrapping the box modellers find an assembly sheet, a game card, and a single sprue supplying, as earlier pointed out, the parts for putting together two ensembles of two figures, so four poses in total. A special issue raises the front artwork image, the soldiers’ clothes and gear are correctly illustrated except the steel helmets of the stretcher bearers that are painted in white and with big red crosses in front although they have got summer uniforms. WWII German combat medics did not paint red crosses on helmets and when they did, those were not so big, in general a small white circle with a red cross in the middle. Furthermore, though these medics are dressed for a fine climate and the entire scene pictured by the artwork seems to take place in such environment, their helmets are painted in white, so another even bigger mistake. Occasionally WWII Germans painted or gave a white varnish on helmets for camouflage purposes exclusively in winter when it was snow otherwise there had never existed white helmets in other seasons. In this light, it might be better not providing on the back of the box images with painted soldiers in case those would have duplicated the front image. The artwork is confusing and hobbyists have to disregard it and paint the combat medics’ helmets in standard colours and even without any red cross, exactly like for the troopers. One of the stretcher bearers has in the artwork the correct left arm red cross armband and maybe his comrade as well and those symbols can be perceived on the figs, too. The reference image displayed in the wargaming card brings an ideal photo introducing a fully accurate team activating within an infantry platoon, as enforced by KStN and formed by the stretcher bearer and an assistant which can be immediately recognised after the Kar98K on his back while the stretcher bearer is armed with pistol. They transport a wounded soldier on a stretcher and they are dressed for winter, the assistant marching in front and the stretcher bearer at the rear, maybe for better hearing what the wounded soldier would ask. 

Product assembly quickly finalises through the snap fit method, parts satisfactory fitting in locations but an extremely thin ditch might appear on the chest and back of the right foot wounded soldier and also further insignificant problems might come out. Still, in order to achieve such extremely complicated snap-fit poses implied special skills and in spite minor issues, these figures definitely represent a master of engineering, restating Zvezda’s impressive abilities in the field. The minis are built as medic/wounded comrade ensembles, one medic carrying the soldier on his back and the other helping his patient to walk only by giving his shoulder and sustaining him. Charming how they are, for conversion purposes, it would have been more practical all the four figures to be supplied individually, now being absolutely impossible to separate the groups without irreparably affecting large parts of the bodies.    

As encouraged in the guidelines, gluing the pieces gives better results, those finer arranging and remaining in position if permanently stuck. Cast in hard plastic, standard modelling glue (polly-cement) delivers outstanding results, the adhesive also filling in potential gaps like the just stressed ditch. The material is extremely flexible, so it can properly bear falls and incidental bends of exposed areas such as shovel handles or rifle muzzles, Zvezda succeeding to successfully generate the ideal recipe for a hard plastic responding to the needs of both gamers and static model builders. 

Matching the great majority of Zvezda’s 1/72 WWII Germans, these ones also put on the Early War uniform, formed by M36 tunics, regular trousers, marching/jack boots, and steel helmets, one of the wounded soldiers being bare-headed. The two wounded army-men have “Y” straps, Kar98K ammunition pouches, bread bags, canteens, and shovels with bayonets attached, in other words the common equipment of a first-liner. The stretcher bearers are perfectly and accurately equipped according to their task, with medical pouches, bread bags, and canteens, without “Y” straps and in compliance with KStN, armed with pistols in holsters. Of note are the different models of canteens supplied for these two stretcher bearers, one of them has the mountain troop/medical one while his colleague took in the mission the M31 standard canteen. That specialised canteen was made slightly larger, having 1.1/2 liter capacity and not 0.8 as the regular one and could be effortlessly identified after the horizontal and vertical four leather strap harness and the tall cylindrical cup. In addition, such canteens had a detachable shoulder leather strap, but that could miss as it is here depicted. A point initially might intrigue are the Kar98K rifles both stretcher bearers hold in their hands, but after a better study, noticing the pistol holsters and the Kar98K ammo pouches of the wounded persons they evacuate, it is more than obvious those rifles belong to the wounded comrades and not to the medics. In some extent, by including those Kar98K, the maker possibly wanted to add a plus of realism, some regulations not permitting to the WWII German soldier to let behind his personal firing weapon. Nevertheless, hobbyists wishing to have combat medics without rifles fast solve the problem with a simple palm replacement. Judging the way the Kar98K are held by these medics, it looks like the sculptor deliberately set the weapons far from the bodies in order to facilitate palm swaps.    

The title refers to the period 1941-1943, probably taking into account only the Eastern Front after Barbarossa Plan was launched, but these soldiers are suitable to the period 1940-1945 due to their “Y” straps and the fact that such garment was sent to troops till the end of war. The buttoned up tunics give the impression they perform in a temperate environment, though hot periods work and in a smaller extent, even cold ones.  

After putting together the figures, the owner will remain amazed by the achieved stances, tremendously dynamic, natural, and genuinely illustrating two modalities of evacuating casualties from the battelfield as well as the great effort put in by the medics and the pains of the wounded soldiers. The pair formed by stretcher bearer helping his leg wounded comrade to walk by giving his shoulder and sustaining the patient is definitely a very fresh approach in the field of 1/72 figs. In order to highlight the wound, the sculptor removed soldier’s left boot, in stead rolling the trousers below the knee and adding a large bandage on the foot and leg. Even assisted and keeping his arm around orderlies’ neck, the trooper advances with difficulty, we almost see him hopping in the healthy leg. The medic firmly holds him from the back with the left arm and in the right he keeps soldier’s rifle. Both bend in front as striving hard to return in their lines in safe conditions.                                                

The second ensemble, consisting in a stretcher bearer carrying his comrade on the back, accentuates the drama, it is unclear where the army-man is hit, but certainly the wound is much more important than his comrade’s while he cannot walk at all. Perhaps when he was injured he lost the helmet, so is bare headed and the wound might be everywhere, most probably in the chest area which cannot be perceived, hidden by the adopted pose. The casualty extraordinarily bends around medic’s neck, with legs and right arm dangling incredibly realist. In spite the grave wound, the brave orderlies took the decision not to let behind his mate and transport him on the back, for a better catch holding the combatant by the left arm and forming an “X” around the neck. Furthermore, he also picked soldier’s Kar98K, kept in the left hand, and due to his burden he slowly advances. Taking into account the load, this first-line medic seems very strong and certainly such people really existed and occasionally wounded soldiers were carried like that. Nevertheless, bringing back the Kar98K is an excessive gesture, perhaps in similar situations the stretcher bearers would have skipped the rifle, so replacing the palm or even the entire left arm should be weighted by diorama builders. Likewise, this is the orderlies featuring the specialised mountain troop/medical canteen, the other getting the M31 regular one.     

Not only poses but also details on gear, weapons, and uniforms are noteworthy, with great creases and folds as well as clear and correctly emplaced buttons, shoulder and collar boards, and pocket flaps. Boots again impress, perfectly modelled, the shape and small details like stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse being faultlessly shaped. Anatomy is irreproachable, facial expressions matching the carried out actions and eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, cheeks, chins, and hair for the bare-headed soldier being extremely neat. The proportions of body parts are great, palms fitting the head size and showing all fingers, naturally grabbing objects.

Flash level is low and only thin seam lines are visible as well as an extremely small excess of plastic at the bread bag of the soldier carried on the back. In other words, nothing perturbing and the product can be cleaned in few minutes with any tool, the hard plastic not making extra problems. Except these qualities corroborated with the ones already mentioned in the first part of the review, Zvezda’s hard plastic wonderfully accepts enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils for a durable paintwork retained even exposed to heavy handling. Moreover, the material comes out as a perfect choice for conversions though those are a little more difficult this time. Head swaps, extra gear added and of course, Kar98K removals might bring some diversity between the standard and converted poses. Still, such interventions are recommended only in case the hobbyist decides to buy more boxes of the same kit, otherwise is not necessary, the company releasing some striking miniatures. Body parts and suplimentary gear are available in considerable quantities in Preiser, Dragon, and Caesar figure kits but another option sets out mixing limbs and heads between different Zvezda sets.

Being a subject of foremost importance and rarity in the 1/72 scale, these figures are entirely matching those depicting advancing/retreating or even in combat soldiers, obviously preferably but not limited  to those dressed in Early Style uniforms. In the tall side of 1/72, like the rest of Zvezda’s range, they greatly fit near those from “German Infantry 1939-1942”, “German Regular Infantry 1936-1943”, “German Reconnaissance Team 1939-1942”, “German Sturmpioniere 1939-1942” and “German MG34 with Crew 1939-42” and they definitely wonderfully look in the vicinity of  “German Motorcycle R-12” or “German Headquarters” as well as all the artillery-men already issued by this manufacturer. Nevertheless, the presence of stretcher bearers is more than benefic for various sets cast by Preiser, Revell, Esci/Italeri, Dragon, as well as plenty of cottage industry sets, hundreds of 1/72 army-men dressed in Early uniform being available but missing proper combat medics to rescue them. 

Part and parcel of “Art of Tactic” board game as an expansion set, at present Zvezda’s “Medical Personnel” cannot be encountered in any of the three board-games released, but probably they will be included in a future one aiming at WWII Germans. For gaming purposes, a large base is delivered, the figures and the flag having to be snapped there, but individual stands are granted, too. Those acquiring the set in other purposes and having nothing to do with the bases will simply remove the pins from soldiers’ boots, at least the ensemble with the foot wounded trooper having a perfect stability while it practically stays in three feet.   

Having as target groups all people needing 1/72 combat medics, no mater they are gamers, static modellers or collectors, the set impresses through its sculpture, fine details, naturalness of poses, and depicted topic. Furthermore, the scarce presence of WWII German combat medics in the 1/72 scale corroborated with the huge amount of troopers and the fact KStN provided for a stretcher bearer in almost all platoons, make the tender extremely attractive and more than useful. Zvezda’s presence in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans sets out as a major gain for all hobbyists and with this offer the company has succeeded to thick another key gap in the field at an extremely affordable price. Suitable for the battlefield either during or immediately after the combat as well as for taking place in a retreating column, this is certainly a highly recommended set. An admirable tribute to the enormous contribution in saving lives brought by the heroic Krankenträgers, due to the qualities and utilities ample described along the present review, not one but even more boxes should be considered for purchasing. 

 

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