With my Soviets nearly complete I have been turning my attention to some of the supports which will be available to the Germans for our late war campaign, and in particular stuff that is very late war specific. Some years ago when we were planning a Danzig 1945 game for Salute, I’d picked up an interesting book published by Helion called “In a Raging Inferno” about combat units of the Hitler Youth. More recently I’d got hold of a companion volume called Hitler’s Last Levy which covered the Volkssturm from 1944 onwards. Both of these are beautifully illustrated and well researched (Helion are an exceptional publisher, so this is only to be expected) but they are also rather sad volumes in that one is seeing children and elderly men being sent to their death to support a morally bankrupt regime who failed to distinguish the self-interest of their political creed from the good of the nation and its people. As a result the battles of 1945 in particular were nothing more than a pointless and cruel sacrifice.
Having said that, simply feeling uncomfortable about a subject is no reason to ignore it. Whilst I abhor National Socialism I see the banning of the swastika in a wargaming context as inherently foolish. To suggest that by not seeing something it ceases to exist, or that by showing a specific historical symbol suggests support for the policies associated with that is not just wrong, it insults the intelligence of the population at large. 99.999% of us are more than capable of distinguishing between a military modeler or wargamer who paints a swastika on the tail fin of an ME109 and a rabid lunatic who marches up and down the street under such a banner hurling racist abuse at those different to him. One deserves the full disapproval of the law, the other, in my opinion, does not. So, whilst I might find the idea of fielding old men and children it is foolish to pretend they did not exist. Indeed it is my hope that fielding such units will oblige the players to consider the moral imperatives of war as well as the military ones, and the campaign is being constructed with one eye firmly on that.
Of course there are Volkssturm figures available on the market, but frankly none that take my eye. I wanted something looking normal as opposed to caricature bad guys from a cartoon, so I had a quick rummage through my unpainted figures box. Pretty quickly I found some very nice figures which I believe are for the Irish Civil War. I was only looking for a single squad of Volkssturm, so I fished out some of the most suitable ones. These are lovely figures, I can’t remember who did them or who sculpted them. The only issue was that they are all armed with British WWI weapons. On a few models I was able to use a sharp knife to trim away a few bits to give them more of a Mauser look, but I realised pretty quickly that this would not work for all of the figures, especially those with shotguns instead of rifles.
I had another rummage and found some spare sprues of the Perry Afrika Korps plastic figures and hit upon a wizzard idea. With a set of nail clippers I cut off the gun barrels from the point where each man’s right hand was holding the stock and on the trigger guard. You can see a few here with the removed barrels below them.I have also removed the left hand completely where it was supporting the barrel. With the plastic Perry stuff I found some rifles suitable and snipped them off at the breach, matching the slope of the right hand with the plastic at that point. I then superglued this into position. On this figure you can see that I will need to rebuild the left hand with Milliput.
On the figures below the left hands are the plastic ones which are moulded onto the rifles in the Perry set. These fitted superbly, so all I had to do was remove the back of the hand, file the plastic flat and glue it into place.
Some models needed some other attention as they had what was clearly British kit on. This I filed off with a mini file and then replaced the British kit with the German ones in the Perry DAK set. Like this bloke here. I have photo edited this so the plastic German kit stands out – the light wasn’t great for photos.
The MG was going to be a tougher nut to crack, but I bit the bullet and weighed in. Here I chopped off the bloke’s right fore-arm and removed the left hand at the cuff as normal. I then trimmed up a Perry MG34 and stuck that across the figure in the right position.
I let that dry, slowly, you can’t use an oven to accelerate the process with plastic stuff. If I were a sculptor (but then again, no) I’d drill into what remained of the right arm, add a wire to serve as the base of the new arm. I am not, so I just slapped on a roll of Milliput, trimmed it with a knife and added a few creases with a cocktail stick. I let that dry over night and then sculpted a hand from more Milliput. As an aside, if you’re looking for a desirable property in St Albans, this cottage is a snip at a mere £925,000.
Here’s a look in more detail. As you can see, I haven’t started on the left hand yet. You need to let each stage dry before you start the next. I prefer Milliput to green stuff for jobs like this as you can carve and file it when set.
Here’s the final figure with both hands and some of his mates. It is not perfect. The bloke looks a bit odd from some angles, but with the right paint job he’ll look absolutely fine.
And here are a few more of his mates in detail. I have sculpted on armbands which will say Volkssturn, but these are the early late 1944 levy in the eastern provinces of Germany, so I really want them to look “normal” – the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker as opposed to some rabid cartoon fascists.
Finally found these figures among a bunch my old chum Tricky Dickie Ansell gave me years ago. I’m not sure of the make, but they are in peaked caps and will be fine for older HJ lads as a tank killer team with Teller mines as opposed to fausts.
I did finish these off with some Milliput thumbs for the left hands and some odd additions such as removing a wound badge from one figure’s tunic whilst adding some Hitler Jugend badges to make what had been a standard German infantryman into an ad hoc schoolboy in an oversized tunic. I even gave one bloke a Kaiser Wilhelm moustache, but this is all ancillary crap that I fancied with a spare bit of Milliput.
So, there are my normal Nazis waiting for the brush. Sadly it’ll not happen until next week when I return from the Czech Republic and the battlefields of 1866.
The recent trend towards plastic wargames figures came as something of a shock to the system to old gits like me who back in the right-on 1970s had thrown away our plastic Airfix toys and embraced metal figures as the only true and “grown up” way of wargaming. Looking back now it may well be