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1/72 Revell WWI German Infantry Converted into WWII German Soldiers

 

In spite a great abundance of 1/72 WWII German Army figures in a large array of hypostases, neither the poses nor the equipment or items of clothing are sufficient for covering all the needs of hobbyists. On the matter, conversions certainly emerge as an important resource, not only by simply modifying poses of WWII German soldiers but also by transforming figures initially issued for other armies. The last solution might be facilitated by the similarity of clothes with some delivered for the WWII German Army, the eventual completions with gear and weapons specific to that army being quite easily done, different hard plastic, resin, and photo-etch producers providing the necessary stuff as separate parts.

A proper example might constitute Revell’s soft plastic “WWI German Infantry”, a set from where can be easily extracted at least two poses to embody soldiers of the second world conflict plus an extremely valuable accessory, namely a war dog. The figures of concern are the commander, as the single mini of the set dressed in greatcoat, and the crouched soldier with binoculars. Both have got M16 steel helmets and although the same helmet occasionally appeared on WWII battlefields, it is more indicated replacing the heads, with some wearing precise WWII German headgear. 

Regarding the commander, he is dressed in Imperial Army greatcoat, but the WWII German greatcoat followed almost the same design as the WWI one, so impossible to spot the differences in Braille Scale, particularly at a pose with almost all the chest area and the two rows of buttons covered. In addition, the WWII army had over thirteen different models of greatcoats with some more or less variations both outside and inside, the most visible for the M36 early version being the dark green wool collar, the M40 reverting to the field gray one. Moreover, also tailor made greatcoats were frequent during WWII, especially bearing in mind that by regulations, officers and certain NCOs had to buy or procure by themselves their uniforms. Likewise, the army-man shoe marching boots, another item intensively encountered during WWII and he holds in the right hand a P08 Luger while the left is kept on the binoculars hanging on the chest. The pistol holster is on the left hand side and both the P08 and its holster where used a lot during WWII, so no problem of accuracy or replacement required. Still, the M1917 gas mask container, visible on the right hand side, has nothing to do in WWII and getting rid of it is mandatory. Because a mark will remain and also the strap is extremely noticeable, replacing the container with an item characteristic for WWII and featuring a strap should be considered. Proper options might be a map case, a binoculars holster, a bread bag or even a WWII gas mask container, but considering it is about an officer, perhaps the first and second alternatives fit the best. Nevertheless, changing the head with a WWII German one can only support the transformation into a very useful WWII officer based on the fact that such officers, dressed in greatcoats and with pistols in hands, are hard to spot in 1/72 scale.

Maybe more modifications imply the crouched officer/NCO, supervising through his binoculars the enemy movements or the results of the fire. The most interesting items are his puttees, which kept being worn during WWII especially by the Mountain Troops but also seen at various officers of other branches. Gebirgsjager worn the 76 cm length puttees at angle height and as many WWII photos reveal, officers occasionally fitted the puttees to the knee height, like in WWI and as the present figure adjusted. He got a WWI service tunic, trousers, ankle boots, and obviously, a M16 steel helmet. The given equipment consists in binoculars, bread-bag, canteen, pistol in holster, and a M1917 gas mask container. Apart the last stressed item, all the rest are appropriate for WWII, and while the container is emplaced in front, the modeller has at hand at least two picks, either to remove and replace it in the same manner above described for the other figure or to try scratching a binoculars holster from it. The second alternative is pretty simple, involving just shortening the container and make few minor cuts on both sides as well as painting it and the related strap in colours suitable for such case. In addition, the work should not be perfect while the item is a little hidden by the adopted stance. In the same time, his canteen looks like the larger 1.1/2 liter capacity, identifiable after the horizontal and vertical four leather strap harness and the tall cylindrical cup, specially issued to WWII mountain and medical troops. The most difficult is transforming the WWI tunic into an item of garment fitting in WWII and perhaps the easiest solution would be a camouflage smock. Anyway, the work is eased by the crouched stance as well as by the binoculars and container straps hiding lots of front details. In order to attain proper results, a couple of buttons noticeable in front and the hard perceptible French cuffs have to be removed with a modelling knife or similar tool as well as unite the back tail and the front closure by using white putty or any other material for sanding. The head can raise some problems while the figure was designed with the face stuck to the binoculars, so the removal is slightly more difficult but not impossible. Replacing the head of this soldier is highly recommended, particularly with one featuring the mountain cap (Bergmutze) for matching the puttees and canteen, highlighting the membership to Gebirgsjager. Such heads are at hand in 1/72 on account the tropical and M43 caps were inspired by the mountain cap, the peak length being virtually impossible to spot in Braille Scale. Furthermore, modellers have the choice to arrange the head either in the initial position, watching through binoculars, or just taking a peak in another direction.

Considering the figures are cast in soft plastic, the new heads and gear elements should be fixed with superglue gel, the adhesive making a fair bond between soft and hard plastics, resin or photo etch pieces. For the here presented soldiers, a Zvezda head and a Caesar map case were displayed for the standing commander in greatcoat while for his crouched comrade, a Revell head was added as well as sanding some tunic areas and removing the French cuffs and buttons, also shortening and scratching the gas mask container in order to appear closer to binoculars case. 

Another more than attractive accessory is put forward by the same Revell kit, a German shepherd, carrying on the back a small parcel/container, secured with a strap around the trunk. War dogs were intensively deployed by various armies not only during WWI but also in the following conflict and WWII Germans used dogs in various purposes such as sentries, scouts, guards, and messengers, but also in others, including pulling small carts or police as well as mascots. Two training camps were established, one near Berlin and another near Frankfurt, main breeds in service being German shepherd, Doberman, Airedale, and Boxer. The first mentioned breed had the largest number of representatives, while German shepherd was assessed as the easiest to train, most loyal and least temperamental of the large breeds. During WWII, the Germans had an impressive amount of dogs, not only in the classic purposes of police, guarding the concentration camps and prisoner transportation, including railway one, but also on the battlefield, dogs seeing action in Poland, Norway, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy as well as in North Africa. 

Due to the container on its back, the Revell dog has quite limited utilisations, it might be a messenger one, a rarer task for German dogs during WWII, but still existent. Another option can be sanitary dog, transporting a medical kit, but various other roles could be considered by the hobbyist. In terms of anatomy, the Revell dog distinguishes through very fine proportions, fully compatible to accompany a 1/72 soldier without challenging reality. The dimensions of its legs, pawls, tail, head, and body match the scale and the facial expression is extremely credible, with nicely shaped ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and tongue naturally hanging out of the mouth. In an advancing pose, this excellent German shepherd is completed by its line, the classical slope to the back as well as the way of holding his ears and tail proving a 100% pure breed.

Included in the tall side of 1/72 scale, the two figures, particularly the one in greatcoat, find plenty of soldiers to command while the second could be a great addition to the short number of WWII Gebirgsjagers. The Revell set in concern was launched in 1990 and reissued in 2010, being well-known to collectors, static modellers, and gamers. Furthermore, in the box there are two figures in the same pose, so converting one of each do not affect the balance of set poses. Taking into account the easy transformations necessary to be applied to the two figures here presented and the eye-catching stances that might be achieved for WWII Germans, corroborated with the most precious dog, 1/72 similar creatures being a very rare presence, Revell’s “WWI German Infantry” might be regarded as a tempting source for WWII German Army fans, too.