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In-Box Review
135
SAS with Welbike
2nd SAS Regiment w/Welbike and Drop Tube Container, France 1944
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by: Stefan Halter [ DANGEROO ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

Shortly after the announcement of the Welbike with paratroopers by Tristar, Dragon announced its own Welbike in combination with their previously released (2004) set of the 2nd SAS Regiment.

Not intending to reinvent the wheel, I will refer you to Alan McNeilly’s excellent review of the Tristar Welbike kit for the historical notes and also to Ian Sadler’s excellent comments on the uniforms and their use of the original 2nd SAS Regiment kit.

The one historical question that remains to be cleared is whether the SAS actually used the Welbikes. I am sorry to say that I cannot give you an answer to that question. I have not found any mention of the Welbike in any of the books I have read on the SAS over the years. The 2nd SAS Regiment was in action behind enemy lines in France in 1944, and were supplied via para drop, so it is quite possible that some Welbikes were dropped in with other equipment. What is clear though, is that the Welbike was used by paratroopers, and as Ian Sadler’s review points out, three of the figures in this set can easily be converted to Airborne figures which is an easy way to get around this issue.

contents

The box is labelled Premium Edition and the Welbike is indicated as a “bonus”. In my eyes this would indicate that the figures are premium edition (or even Gen 2) as well, but that is not the case. No PE is included for the figures, and they are exactly the same as when first released in 2004.

The instructions consist of a single sheet of paper with building and painting instructions for the figures on one side, and construction and painting of the Welbike on the other. The instructions are basically easy to follow but have several glitches, which are noted further on in the review.

The box contains four sprues in the standard grey DML plastic – two each for the figures and the Welbike – and one PE-fret for the Welbike and container. Moulding is very clean with some slide moulds used on the Welbike parts, and only the usual mould seams to take care of. No pin marks are evident; these were avoided with the use of knock out nodes.

review

The Figure Sprue, as mentioned, is the 2nd SAS Regiment (kit 6199) sprue in unchanged form. It contains parts for 4 figures along with a Tommy Gun (M1928A1) with 30 round clip and two M1 carbines. As can be noted on quite a few Dragon figure kits, there are some slight mould “trenches”, especially on the torso parts. These can be noticed after painting and should be taken care of during assembly. Unfortunately this may compromise some of the otherwise excellent details. The sprue also contains pistol holsters, ammo pouches, knives and some other accessories. All four figures are wearing berets. The features of the faces are good for styrene, but do not have a lot of character.

Three of the figures are standing, while one is kneeling on his right knee. This is the one that can be modelled either holding a carbine in the right hand and binoculars in the left (as in the original release of this kit) or with two new arms provided on the Welbike sprue to show a figure in the process of unpacking the Welbike from its container. The new arms seem rather crude to me and remind me of some of the old Tamiya or Italeri releases. My impression is that Dragon was looking for a simple update, but the arms seem very crude, especially compared to the details on the figure sprue.

The Weapons Sprue provided is from Dragons older “British Commonwealth Troops (NW Europe 1944)” (kit 6055) and contains the Bren gun used for this set as well as a Sten gun and two Lee Enfield rifles for the spares box. Detail on these weapons is quite good.

The Welbike Sprue contains – apart from the replacement arms already mentioned – all the parts needed for the Welbike. The Wellbike itself is a Mk II Series 1, identifiable by the rear mud guard and the absence of the saddle fuel tank. The Welbike is made up of 31 parts with one of these (drive chain) replaceable by a PE part.

The Drop Tube Container Sprue contains 6 parts for the container and the attachment to the underside of the aircraft. The parts are basically the upper and lower halves plus three parts for the front end. The basic layout looks spot on with reference photos. For a diorama, one might want to add the opened parachute or at least the strings attached to the open lower end of the container where the parachute is stored before the drop.

The PE-fret provides – apart from the replacement drive chain for the Welbike – framing for the interior of the drop container (14 parts). The instructions are incorrect when it comes to the numbering and placement of the PE parts. The chain for the bike is numbered MA3 when it is actually MA4, although this part is easily identified.

The PE parts for the container are only indicated for one half, and it is up to the modeller to assume that the other half has the same. That way you would use 8 of the 14 parts provided and it is unclear what the other 6 are for. On top of that comes another mistake in the numbering, the indicated part MA1 is actually MA2 and indicated MA2 is MA1. MA3 is probably meant for the open portion of the container (where the parachute would be before the drop). See my scheme for the supposed placement of the PE parts, as this may be more accurate according to reference photos (but still leaving 2xMA1 left over).

Construction of the Welbike

Construction of the Welbike starts with the wheels which are made up of two halves each. No PE is provided for the spokes and, although these are moulded very finely, they are still on the thick side. Next is the construction of the front fork and steering, consisting of three parts plus the wheel. These parts are extremely fine and a lot of care will be needed to get them off the sprue. The parts are laid out to be constructed in the folded position and some modification is needed to build the bike in a deployed mode.

The third step is construction of the engine, consisting of 10 parts, some of them again very small and delicate. Step 4 is the construction of the container, step 5 is non-existent, and step 6 is the final assembly. Some parts already used in step 3 are shown again, which makes you wonder in which step they are easier to add. Also in step 6 is the fitting of the Welbike into the container, but there is no indication as to the correct angle in which to fit the bike (it is simply shown to be fitted straight up whereas it should be at a 45° angle to the bottom).

Conclusion

What could have been a very nice kit is compromised by some glitches in the instructions and poorly designed arms for the figure. It is also too bad that there is no possibility in the kit (other than custom modifications) to build the bike in deployed mode. Altogether it leaves the impression of having been rushed to production so the market wouldn’t be left to a competitor.

On the other hand, I can see a small instant diorama, maybe together with an SAS Jeep or with an SAS man recovering the Welbike while his buddies secure the surroundings.

Web references:
Welbike (offers some useful photographs of original and restored Welbikes as well as some links to youtube videos)

Welbike Parascooter (offers some very useful photos of the Welbike, the container and troops using it in training)
SUMMARY
Highs: Subject, very good details on this minuscule bike.
Lows: Instructions, lack of parts for deployed bike, replacement arms.
Verdict: Recommended.
Percentage Rating
75%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6586
  Suggested Retail: $11.70
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 12, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.62%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Stefan Halter (Dangeroo)
FROM: ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

I'll build just about anything military related that gets my interest, though most of it is 1/35 scale WWII Allied.

Copyright ©2017 text by Stefan Halter [ DANGEROO ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Julian, well, I'm sorry to say I didn't have any measurements of the container, so I can't say anything about that. About the historical accuracy: As I said in the review, three of the figures can easily be converted to paratroopers which would solve that issue. And they are nice figures! I would probably too, especially as I already have the SAS figure set. Cheers! Stefan
FEB 15, 2010 - 02:35 AM
Hi all , A very good review , and thanks for the plug on my research . I can now add a little more to the figure holding the tommy gun . I have found proof that the smock was issued on a limited basis to ordinary troops in Aug and Sept 1944 . I have a photo of two of them on the outskirts of Armhem . I am unable to publish due to UK copy right law. To add to the review the new set of arms , the cuffs have band all the way round this is an error and should be smoothed out . If you want ref photo of the welbike and container then go to Tank Guys web site and look under real tanks then by country and you will find my photos the container it shows how the phto etch should be fitted to the edge . cheers ian LINK
FEB 15, 2010 - 04:05 AM
When I first covered this item as a News report (NOT a Review ) I could understand why they released it, it just didn't give much in the way of 'promise' It's interesting to see that my 'Editorial' was essentially correct: It's a good (and FAIR) Review of a product which DML could have done so much more with..
FEB 15, 2010 - 11:51 AM
Hi Ian, Can you tell us the source of the photo re the smocks? I haven't noticed any Paras in putties yet during that period. Al
FEB 15, 2010 - 12:32 PM
Hi al , My research is based on 40 years of being a researcher and collator to a private Military Museum . It has over 20 original smocks in the collection including the rare American Cammo version made in the UK for the US Rangers . There are 4 British Para smocks and one Royal marines . At a glance it is very easy to tell them apart . Ist pattern para is in a light Khaki material no cammo . issued only at the very start . 2nd pattern isthe clasic half zip 3rd is full zip mainly officer issue but reg tailors also modified them . 4th is 2nd pattern but reversable to white , very few made. Royal marines is the half zip but it is replaced by rubber buttons easy for cold /wet hands etc . cheers ian
FEB 15, 2010 - 12:57 PM
Hi al , I forgot to add the photo is in the new publication Great Battles of WW2 exclusive to W H Smith . Bottom of page 23 . As to putties they were still on general issue and could be worn in place of anklets . I have seen Paras wearing them as late as the Battle of the Bulge , rare I grant but still in use. In cold weather they are more comfortable than the stiff anklets . cheers ian
FEB 15, 2010 - 01:04 PM
Hi Ian, Thanks, I'll have a look. Putties would be much preferable to anklets, I've worn both. Just hadn't see a picture of the later style smock worn at Arnhem in anything I'd come across yet. Always exceptions to the norm. Cheers Al
FEB 15, 2010 - 01:13 PM
Hi all ,Ii based my remarks on the photos in the reviews , but now I i have a set for my self I can see that there are several problems with the figures , The ones wearing the denison jacket do not have the tail on the rear . so here is the actual measurements . base is 75 mm , length is 300 mm and width at the top is 180mm , press studs centres are 128mm and spaced 25 mm from top edge . The bottom pockets are not properly defined . There is no entreching tool or back packs n or officers side packs . I have yet to measure up the basic pouches but the look undersized in length and width and depth . cheers ian
FEB 17, 2010 - 02:23 PM
Hi Ian, My money went on the Tristar kit, much more appropraite and original. I've alway liked the poses of these chaps but not only did the SAS not use the Welbike in Europe, at least Ive seen no reference for it, but it's the cheap trade off of offering a few old figures with the bike when they had a chance to do something original. The figures sell for £5.57 the new set for £12.99. The Tristar set cost slightly more at £13.95 and you only get 2 figures one of which has 2 possible poses so there is not much in it cost wise although Tristar did get the rifle bolts on the wrong side! DML are also doing the old Red Devels set with the Welbikes, but I never thought much of them. Al
FEB 17, 2010 - 03:24 PM
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