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1/72 Airfix RAF Bicyclist Converted into WWII German

The obsolete bicycle proved to be a reliable mean of transportation for WWII German Army, special units being established and bike was encountered in almost all infantry companies as well as in Luftwaffe, Mountain, Artillery and other types of units. In addition, the same vehicle was often utilised as a replacement for the horse, cavalry units frequently receiving bicycles in stead of horses.

However, in spite the massive deployment, millions of bikes being in active service during each year of WWII, special sets targeting the topic are just a few in 1/72 scale. In this regard, for mass-production WWII Germans, HaT makes “WWII German Bicyclists” mostly aiming wargamers but has already announced a new one, closer to static modellers expectations. Perhaps due to the difficulties imposed by creating such vehicles in the scale, particularly the wheel spokes, cottage industry have not found a positive answer to the matter yet, Propaganda in “German Bicycle + Soldiers” and CMK in “German Port Guards with Bicycles” and “Dockyard workers with bicycles” supplying several vehicles and riders. Likewise, a bike can be found in Martello International’s “Jahre des Sieges I”, set replicated by Under Fire Miniatures under the title “WWII German Set 4”. In addition, Airfix acknowledged the importance of bicycles and made several endeavors in the field but in 1/76 scale. Airfix’s “German Mountain Troops” proposes such a vehicle and some other bikes are included in their diorama sets “Jungle Outpost” and “Forward Command Post”, obviously in the same 1/76 scale and without WWII German riders.

Moreover, Airfix’s 1/76 “RAF Personnel” includes a bicycle and rider wearing the Service Dress uniform composed by smart tunic and trousers, shoeing ankle boots or shoes and head covered by overseas cap. Except a file case/folder held in the right hand and a belt, no other items of equipment or weapons specific to WWII British Army are on him. Due to these features and taking into consideration both the stance as riding the bike and the tiny sizes of specific details, WWII German Army fans might attempt transforming this British bicyclist into a German one. In such purpose, his uniform should be painted in Feldgrau as M36 or M43 as well as the overseas cap, quite similar models being worn by WWII Germans. Obviously, the tunic is little different than the M36 or M43 ones, dissimilarities more evident at pockets and flaps, but the characteristics are hard perceptible on a Braille Scale figure riding a bike and holding a file covering the chest pocket. Likewise, the trousers are a little bit too tight than the regular WWII German model, but once again, because of the stance, the discrepancy is not so evident. Obviously, the boots or shoes worn can pass as German, so not to much troubles here.

Nevertheless, even the transformation might work only by painting and without any special addition, trying gluing WWII German items of gear or weapons support and enhance his membership to that army. On the matter, ideal are Preiser, Caesar or even Dragon equipment found in large quantities as separate pieces inside various figure sets made available by these producers. The Airfix figure and bike is cast as a single piece in soft plastic and the just mentioned separate parts are made of hard one, so sticking those can be done exclusively with super glue, the gel one making a not impressive but quite satisfactory bond. Furthermore, another modification for increasing the WWII German look would be replacing the head with one wearing the famous steel helmet.

A very important aspect of the here presented Airfix figure is his height for 1/76 scale, clearly taller than his homologue from “German Mountain Troops”, and really working for 1/72 where he can fit in the small/medium side of the scale. In this light, there is no problem using the plain 1/72 Preiser, Caesar or Dragon equipment or body parts for this mini. Since the weapons and gear issued by the first nominated manufacturers are little thinner or smaller than Dragon ones, more recommended here would be those utilizations.

As regards the bike, this is clearly not a WWII German model but taking into consideration that army rushed into service any type of vehicle they could get, the model is not of foremost importance. The difference in sizes between the two scales is not so evident for the bike as it would for human bodies, and as previously stated, its rider is tall and compatible with 1/72 scale. The bike representation is extremely basic, with wheels without spokes and handle-bar straight and quite short. Through details perceived on the vehicle but of a poor value there are front and back lights, a pump, chain and its guard as well as the pedals with scantily depicted footrests.   

Created almost 50 years ago, this Airfix rider comes with lots of flash, some excess of plastic and not crisp details, its cleaning taking quite a lot of time. The operation is further complicated due to the soft plastic and its flexibility as well as the tendency to produce fluffs. Still, the material accepts fairly good enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils though these might not be held very well on thin areas exposed to bends such as the fork.  

In comparison with the real huge utilization of bicycles, the existing tenders on 1/72 WWII German bicyclists are really insignificant and such a conversion might be useful somewhere in the background of a diorama or on the wargaming table although the overall quality of the figure and vehicle is pretty low.