by: CK Tang [ ]
Originally published on:
DML has a fair number of kits featuring one of Germany’s WWII elite forces, the Fallschirmjäger including their latest installment on this subject matter as a Gen 2 set. However, the following is not one of your daily run-of-the mill offerings as far as figures sets go and at least not one that brings together an unlikely pair, an elite force like the Fallschirmjäger and one of man’s older domesticated animals, donkeys. But with a penchant for offering a wide variety of subjects, DML has indeed brought together this unlikely pair in their 1/35 Fallschirmjäger with donkey set.
The 1 piece box well illustrated by Ron Volstad depicts 2 Fallschirmjagers marching leisurely through the countryside with one donkey loaded up while a smaller one, presumably the former’s offspring follows behind.
Assembly instructions and painting guide is adequately illustrated at the back of the box. The painting guide suggest 2 different color schemes for the jump smocks with one having a plain pale green while the other Fallschirmjäger has a water drop splinter pattern.
The different painting scheme is likely to differentiate the first pattern jump smock (pale green or grey) versus the second pattern jump smock (splinter pattern). Of course the smocks not only differed in their coloring but in their design as well. The 1st pattern had variations in the number of pockets (2-4) but had one similarity; they all had “leg” portions that required the wearer to slip into it. As far as I can ascertain the 1st pattern smock featured here has 2 large pockets.
The 2nd pattern had 4 pockets but more importantly had the much welcomed addition in that the “leg” could be unbuttoned forming a loose jacket. This was certainly much easier to put on and a convenience much appreciated by the Fallschirmjägers especially when they had to answer the call of nature in a hurry. The 2nd pattern smocks were already available by 1940. With the 1st pattern smock being featured here, it is likely the Fallschirmjägers of this set are on campaign most likely no later than 1941 by which time most of the Fallschirmjagers would have gotten rid off or worn out their 1st pattern smocks. Their tropical tan colored pants also places them around the Mediterranean region (Crete, Greece, etc.)
figures & equipment
The set comes in 3 tree sprues. The first is the main sprue with the 2 Fallschirmjagers and their complement of personal equipment. Both men are armed with Kar98K rifle and an ammo bandolier which hangs round the neck, one that was specifically designed for the Fallschirmjager. There is also a nice set of Stielgranate M1924 or stick grenade to be stuffed into the belts. The Fallschirmjagers did not normally carry their main weapon during a drop, at least not in the early drops. Instead they jumped with only pistols and the stick grenades, which is often seen stuffed into the belts in most photos of Fallschirmjagers was, an important if not critical addition, at least until they could recover their main weapons from the drop canisters. Moderate flash is present but manageable.
A nice additional feature of this set was that both figures had the tropical Luftwaffee sidecaps (Fliegermutze). Not as noticeable but one of the heads does appear to have a slight indentation on one side of the head due to the depiction of the sidecaps worn slightly sideways on the head. Some very minor puttying will likely be required.
The second largest sprue carries the 2 donkeys with only the larger animal having a harness. As can be seen in the photos the donkeys are fairly well detailed. Fitting them requires some puttying as there is a gap at the joint near the head for both animals.
The last sprue had 2 containers with one being a receiver-transmitter, Torn Fu d 2 or otherwise known as Dora. The Fallschirmjägers had no specially designed communication equipment and relied on standard Army radios. The Dora was one of the common radios for communication between infantry regiments and battalions and battalions and platoons. Given the nature of operations perhaps a dedicated radio would have served the Fallschirmjägers modus operandi much better. Strangely enough Dora is fully detailed with dials but these details would not be visible as they would be covered once loaded on the donkey.
Among some of the pluses for me for this set is the unusual contrast created by the pairing of the relatively sophisticated Fallschirmjägers (at that time) with one an archaic form of transport, donkeys. Other pluses include the addition of the Luftwaffe sidecaps and the diorama possibilities offered by this unusual set. The details on the donkeys were quite good too. I have to confess that I have a weakness for donkeys as well as a strong bias to anything Fallschirmjäger so much so that I actually have 2 sets hoping to do some minor conversions.
The downsides of this set would probably be the need for some light puttying and sanding for the animals and the presence of the younger donkey. Perhaps it would have been better if both were mature animals offering a wider variety of equipment to be carried and allowing a ‘donkey train’ diorama setting.
At any rate if you have a fascination to collect and build anything related to Fallschirmjägers then this would be a nice addition especially when paired with DML’s other kit set in a similar setting, Fallschirmjäger, Crete 1941.
Unlikely this pairing may be donkeys together with mules were in the thick of it with their Fallschirmjäger handlers from Crete to Monte Cassino. These pack animals served their masters well especially in the precarious and poorly accessible mountainous regions where they carried everything from supplies to the occasional artillery or anti-tank gun. Donkeys and mules were also a favorite with Germany’s other elite troop, the Gebirgsjager.
The Fallschirmjäger, the brainchild of Hermann Goring which was initially formed around a small nucleus of paratroops from the Prussian police Regiment, saw action in almost every front during WWII. From the daring capture of fortress at Eben Emael where they were outnumbered 10 to 1 to arguably one of their greatest moments, the stubborn defense of Monte Cassino, the ‘Green’ men have proven themselves more than worthy of their elite status.