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Built Review
135
US Marines Peleliu 1944
'39-'45 series US Marines Peleliu 1944 with Gen2 gear
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by: Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

On September 15, 1944, US Marines landed on a little known Island in the central Pacific as part of operation Stalemate II. The invasion of the Palaus was underway, with the 1st Marine division landing on the island of Peleliu while the US Army 81st division would land on the adjacent island of Anguar two days later. Peleliu was wanted for its airfields that would help secure the routes to the Philippines and Formosa (Taiwan). It was predicted to be an easy, four day battle. Instead it was a long, drawn out struggle, taking two months to secure the island with a cost of 1800 US and conservative estimates of nearly 11,000 Japanese soldiers killed, and US forces suffering an additional 8,010 wounded, sick or exhausted. Some 300 prisoners were taken, of which 19 were Japanese military personnel.

The battle marked the first time the Japanese fully implemented the new tactic of establishing an in depth defensive network. Rather than trying to defeat assault forces at the beach, they determined to wear them down through protracted fighting, trying to increase the casualty count of the attackers. The battle is controversial because of the high casualty count and claims that it was unnecessary due to airfields being established on Leyte. To this day, native Palauans remember their liberation with gratitude. General Clifton Cates, Commandant of the Marine Corps after WWII, proclaimed that Peleliu was the toughest fight the Marines were ever in. It is an often overlooked battle that was remarkable both for the tenacity and heroism of the fighters. For more information on the Battle of Peleliu, look to:

historyofwar

peleliu1944

ibiblio

The HBO miniseries "The Pacific" and Ken Burns' documentary "The War" both feature the battle of Peleliu.

the set

Perhaps in conjunction with the two television programs, Dragon has found new interest in subjects concerning the war in the Pacific. Two years ago they announced a figure set of US Marines at Peleliu and they have finally come to light. The box art shows what appears to be the assault on the airfield, in which Japanese tanks were employed in an effort to halt the Marine advance. Inside the box are four figures on one sprue representing the box artwork.

The sprues are packaged in two plastic pouches, with the two smaller sprues together. They are well molded and I did not see any sink marks or other defects. There is a small amount of flash visible on some of the parts that should be easy to clean up. Of note is that Dragon, as much as possible, have molded the figures in such a way that the mold seams do not go over prominent details such as boots, laces and fasteners, making clean-up much easier. Detail does get soft, especially around the rear pockets and shirt hem, and on the shoulders. The larger sprue has four figures and their equipment. This consists of the following:

Figure 1, sitting on the ground, leaning slightly forward and holding an M1 Garand rifle. He has been wounded in the left leg at or around the knee. His left trouser leg has been cut and he is in the process of getting the wound wrapped. There is a spare part to represent the torn trouser leg. He has a backpack, poncho and entrenching tool on his back, crossed bandoliers as well as ammo pouches on his belt line, and two canteens. His helmet has a cloth cover and he is wearing leggings over his boondockers.

Figure 2, medic, attending to figure 1. He is kneeling next to figure 1, bandages in his hands, wrapping the wound. He carries two large packs on his belt with medical supplies in addition to his backpack, poncho and entrenching tool. He is armed only with a sidearm and two spare magazines, and though not shown in the instructions also has a long pouch on his belt that holds, what I believe, would be morphine. The arm band with the red cross is molded on his arm. He also carries two canteens and has leggings over his pants and boondockers.

Figure 3, BAR man, advancing forward in a crouching walk, holding the BAR at his waist and at the ready. He is also wearing the backpack/poncho/entrenching tool and carries two canteens and a knife. His pant legs cover his leggings. He has ammo pouches around his waist.

Figure 4 is squatting, holding his rifle in front of him at a low ready. He has a bayonet affixed to the rifle. His helmet cover includes a neck cover. He has what looks like a map case on his belt, along with two canteens, but has no backpack. He carries a magazine pouch for a pistol but the instructions don't show to place one on him. He has no ammo for his rifle. My understanding was "every Marine a rifleman" and someone in his position (small unit commander or squad leader) should be carrying ammo for his rifle. If I am wrong a Marine will let me know.

Molding of the figures is very good, with the backpack harness and belts showing fine detail. The wounded man's boot soles show no tread pattern. The medic's do. The torn trouser leg for the wounded man is a nice touch, as otherwise there would be a cleanly cut pant leg, although it still looks a little too neat for me. A piece of tissue or some putty could easily substitute here for a less clean appearance. Expressions on all four faces are clear and the heads themselves are really nice.

The weapons are all Gen2 gear, with separate bolt assemblies and the muzzles hollowed out. They consist of two M1 Garand rifles, one M1 carbine, one BAR and one M1 Thompson sub machinegun. Spare magazines for the Thompson, carbine and BAR, and spare clips for the Garands are included, as well as the option of having the rifles with open or closed action.

The major issue with the kit is the inclusion of only 12 pouches for 3 figures. Each rifleman and the BAR man should have 6 pouches each. The instructions don't show the squatting rifleman (commander of the unit) with any spare ammo, and that may be how Dragon justifies not including any extra ammo. It is odd as Dragon has never hesitated to throw in an extra sprue in any other kit. All of the US figure kits I have each included a large sprue with ammo pouches for the carbine, M1 Garand, BAR and Thompson, as well as extra canteens. As for the canteens, the box art says two styles are included. You get two of the old style and 6 of the new. There are no grenades.

There are two pistols, both holstered. There are packs, ponchos and entrenching tools, though the packs and entrenching tools are smaller in size than those of the Tamiya accessory set and I don't know which is the more correct. The medic carries a full suite of extra equipment. Gen2 gear is always nice to have.

The instructions are on the rear of the box, showing assembled figures with each part identified by a line and the part number. A painting guide is called out below that with a repeat of the box art and colors identified by number for GSI Creos Aqueous hobby color and Mr. Color brands and Testors Model Masters enamel paints

I did a partial assembly of the first two figures to test the fit of the legs and torso parts. They went together well with only very small gaps present. I did not do a full assembly as I need to hunt through my spares to check for extra ammo pouches and grenades.

conclusion

The first two figures are tied together, although the wounded man could be placed on his own, waiting for transport or even placed in, or on, a vehicle. The medic could then be attending any other wounded you might happen to have on hand. The other two figures can be worked together or placed as you like with other Marines, and would make a nice vignette. The kit has plenty of possibilities.

Dragon has this kit listed on their website with the MSRP of $11.95 US. Several online stores had the MSRP higher, and prices varied widely. I no longer have a local hobby store so I don't know what shelf prices would be. Shop around for the best price. This should be a handy set, but for full ammo, you may have to snag the Tarawa or Iwo Jima Marine figure sets as well.
SUMMARY
Highs: Very nice detail, Gen2 weapons, packs and ponchos.
Lows: Not enough ammo pouches to go around, no grenades, only two of the older style canteen.
Verdict: This is a typical, well engineered figure set from Dragon, but lacking in equipment.
Percentage Rating
82%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6554
  Suggested Retail: $11.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 18, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.47%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
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About Russ Amott (russamotto)
FROM: UTAH, UNITED STATES

I got back into the hobby a few years back, and wanted to find ways to improve, which is how I found this site. Since joining Armorama I have improved tremendously by learning from others here, and have actually finished a couple of kits. I model to relax and have fun, but always look to improve. ...

Copyright 2017 text by Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]. 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

Two words, Dragon Care. May take awhile, awhile, awhile, but they will respond. I would have liked the set to include the P/E for the weapons and paid a bit more if needed. Aside from this mistake, I really like the figures and hope they go together well. Now if we can talk them into doing a set for the Wake Island Marines with a water cooled .50 cal M.G. pedistal mounted, I'll be one happy camper/modeler.
AUG 27, 2012 - 10:32 PM
Hey Russ, the ammo pouchs provided with the set are for the grand rifle. If you look at the other sets, the BAR pouchs have an extra bit of material on each side to provide the needed spacing between them and are thicker, as two clips are in each one. Check out the extra clips on the weapon sprue (WA) for each weapon and you will see the differance. The pouch that has the split in the middle (B12) & (D11) are for the .45 cal colt. Hope this clears it up for everyone.
AUG 27, 2012 - 11:15 PM
Thanks for catching that, Bob. I had it backwards. I'll contact Dragon Care.
AUG 28, 2012 - 08:04 AM
As the rest of you, I was quite surprised at the lack of accessory gear for the figures. Also, the molding wasn't quite as crisp as we've all been spoiled to want. I'm using the Tarawa set as well and they are a much higher quality set. I'm not sure I agree with the BAR belt vs Cartridge belt. LINK What they have provided in this set appear to be BAR pouches, to my eyes. Compared to other DML sets, the Cartridge belt pouches are much smaller (and include 10 per fig). It could make sense if they were a BAR team with a gunner and assistant... My big question though is what in the world did they include as packs? They certainly aren't the M1941 haversack LINK you'd expect to see. If anything, they look like a universal extra ammo bag. Still a little at a loss as what to do with those pieces.
AUG 28, 2012 - 10:16 PM
http://www.military-historians.org/publications/journal/samples/BradfordPack.pdf This shows good images of the 1941 pack system. Again, the DML parts look undersized, as do the entrenching tools.
AUG 29, 2012 - 07:43 AM
So the confussion continues in a good natured way. The 12 pouchs are for the grand, though they might not be exactly correct. The bar in this set are not provided with any. If we look at the other sets from Dragon, we can see that they are not included in this set, and all the bar pouchs from earlier releases are larger (two clips per pouch) and have the mystery extra bit of a spacer on each outside edge. Whether they are size correct or not I can not say. But, they fit the ammo clips. If you take an extra clip that they provide and superimpose it to the pouch, they basicly fit. So with that thought, I am assuming that the 12 pouchs are for the Grand rifle and not the Bar. The Bar pouchs hold 2 clips per pouch and once again, superimposed with the Bar clips seem to fit. So, I'll go with that. Even Dragon Care has stated the omission of the Bar pouchs and not the right amount for the Grand and the lack of any for the Carbine. If they are not exactly the right size, I'll live with it. As far as being a Bar team, I am not sure about the ammo ditibution for each. It makes sence that a rifleman who would be a part of any Bar team would carry the amount of rifle ammo for that and extra pouchs for the Bar gunner. Once again I'm not sure. Anyone who knows better can chim in on this. And as far as the packs are concerned, they are way too small according to time era photos, though I'll have to check with the photos I have as to the type. I can always just leave them off if not correct. The entrenching tools suffer from being too small also. It seems that manufacturers have that problem when they do a new set of figures. Look at Tamiya's German sets. Sometimes the equipment from one set varries so much that they end up worthless. But, what we have is what we have to work with. So long as Dragon is able to fix the shortage I'll be o.k. with the size problem with the pouchs. The entrenching tools and packs are a differnt matter and they will go into the scrap drawer. Once the pouchs are attatched to the figure, in 1/35th scale the difference is not so noticable. Maybe the manufacturers should have a basic mold for equipment instead of making molds with figures and equipment each time they do a new set. Dragon has weapons sprues that they add to each set (except this one) and it is of a benifit that it continues the size continuation from set to set as far as weapons and standard equipment is concerned. German helmets came in 3 sizes so things like that could varry, but a M-1 or a submachine gun is the same size no matter who it is issued to. So maybe Dragon will take my suggestion for a personal gear set (grenades and smoke, 1st aid and ammo pouchs, knifes and machettees, anything a trooper might want to carry) and we wont have these problems down the road again.
AUG 29, 2012 - 01:36 PM
Hi Guys, I have just purchased this set and boy what a foul up by them over the backpacks, or complete and utter lack of them. They have included ammunition bags as backpacks not the correct packs. The ammo bags have no points to even attach the entrenching tools or pack rolls (or whatever they are called).They are next to useless as backpacks for this set. I do recognise that they can be worn as a small pack and there are a ton of pics of that being done in France etc... That aside that's not what was advertised. Its just plain deceptive and sloppy by them. have just shot an email over to dragon asking if they can send me the actual packs as shown on the cover and on the back. Usually I am quite relaxed about these sorts of things but I have been building the sdkfz 10/5 kit and they left a vital piece off the photoetch piece, just plain forgot to put it on! Thats more to get onto them about. They need to lift their game if they are to keep customers. Sorry for the rant.
SEP 13, 2012 - 09:01 AM
Hey Sean, nothing to apologise for, right is right and wrong is wrong. And man, they were wrong on this set. Compaired to the other 3 sets of marines, this set was disapointing. Lack of ammo pouchs, small entrecnhing tools and wrong packs. At least the figures seem O.K. though I have not built them yet. That comes this winter when I do my four vign.'s. Am still waiting for Dragon care to find the extra sets of pouchs and ship them, that will probably be the 12th of never at this pace. But who knows, they might come through yet. It has been a frustrating situation though. I don't think they have the right packs for them, the other sets had none I belive so I don't know where they would get them from unless they mold them up special for us and I don't see that happening.
SEP 13, 2012 - 09:02 PM
Hey all, I don't have this kit, but in looking at the pictures of the sprues as well as the box art, this is what I think: The wounded figure with the M1 Garand is shown on the box front with a BAR belt and then 2 bandoliers of M1 clips. It was probably not uncommon for an assistant BAR gunner to be so equipped. It would mean an extra 12 magazines for the BAR in his belt pouches, plus 12 Garand clips in his 2 bandoliers. It would be quite heavy, but I feel pretty sure I've seen real-life pics of soldiers with such a setup. Because the other figures are shown armed with a BAR and an M1 Carbine (the other guy, the medic, having no long gun), there was no need for M1 Garand pouches to be included in the set. HOWEVER....those BAR pouches look terrible! Way too small. DML has done at LEAST 3 different BAR belts over the years....pouches that came with the old Iwo Jima Marines were different than the ones that came in the Vietnam Green Berets set (2 of those figures had BAR belts) which, in turn, were different than the ones that came in the Operation Varsity airborne set. Some of these were also variously used in other WW2 sets that included BARs. ANY of these other pouches would have been better than what comes in the Pelielu set, for sure. As for the backpacks, if all you want is a haversack and decent shovel, try the cheap Tamiya US Infantry equipment set that is sold as a single sprue in shrinkwrap for about $5...excellent haversacks in that kit, along with great .45 pistols in holsters, grenades, and well detail bayonets in sheaths. Equipment-wise, this is definitely a dud by DML. Rob
SEP 14, 2012 - 08:40 AM
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