Model, Text and Photos by: Don Norton
Stock Number: DML1612
This figure is of a German infantryman, (circa 1943) carrying an MP-40 machine pistol and a "Hafthohlladung 3" or Panzerhandmine 3. This conical shaped grenade was developed to provide a
soldier with a light hand held weapon that was capable of defeating a tank. Three powerful magnets were mounted on the base, allowing it to be placed on the tank. A timer fuse was activated and a conical shaped charge blasted inward and was able to penetrate up to 140mm of armor.
The downside of this weapon was the user had to run up along side the enemy tank, stand next to it, stick the grenade on the vehicle, pull the fuse and get away in 7 seconds before the vehicle explodes. How brave is that? The Germans used these weapons to great effect on all fronts, and developed enough respect for them that they coated their own armored vehicles with anti-magnetic zimmerit, even though no allied army ever developed a magnetic grenade.
When this kit was released, I wanted to build one. I liked the pose, and there have only been a couple of figures ever released shown using this grenade. It is based on one of the 1/35th figures from one of the DML figure sets. In fact the box art is an enlargement from the 1/35th box art. The kit is molded in light gray and includes a photo-etched fret of medals and awards. The kit is flash-free and comes with a simple sheet of instructions and painting guide.
Assembly for these 1/16th kits is pretty simple and straightforward. Sanding and filing is required, and care must be taken at the sprue contact points, which are generally pretty heavy on DML kits. I removed some of the seam detail on the boots by carelessly just twisting the parts off. Doh!
Most parts clean up pretty well and go together well. I often use tube glue when assembling these figures just for its gap filling capabilities. A little putty was required on the shoulders and near the collar. Once the basic figure was assembled, I began work on the weapons and sub-assemblies.
The photo-etched parts were added. German
combat troops wore their decorations and badges into
battle. The Tank Destruction Badge (for destroying an enemy armored vehicle single-handedly with grenades or other infantry weapons) is on the right sleeve. The real metal badge was mounted on a silver cloth ribbon, which is poorly defined on the figure. I filed it off and added a small sheet of plastic card. The Close Combat Badge (awarded for close combat or hand-to-hand fighting), over the left breast pocket, required a chunk being cut out of it so it would fit "under" the Y-strap. The Infantry Assault Badge (for assaulting and penetrating enemy lines with weapon in hand), is glued to the left pocket. A ribbon for the Iron Cross 2nd Class is worn in the second buttonhole of the tunic. Despite the extensive combat experience of our soldier, he is only an acting corporal. Rank wasn't easy to make in the German Army. The figure was intended to be a Sergeant, but I cut out a small triangle of plastic card to glue to his left arm for his corporal chevron.
The magnetic grenade went together easily, and required little clean-up. The MP-40 is a little jewel, and the folding stock can be built on open or closed position, but leave the stock off for now, it is fragile and the weapon needs some extra work.
The pockets of the MP-40 ammo pouches are individual pieces and allow the modeler to conform the pouches to the figure's body. Still, some carving and filing are required here. I carve away some of the body to get the parts to lie in place the way they should. A grenade is tucked into the belt behind the right pouch, so I sanded one side of the handle flat to get everything to conform. The top and bottom sides of the grenade can be seen when the figure is completed, so leave these areas round.
Modifications were made in three major areas, the MP-40, the helmet and the gas mask canister.
MP-40 (often referred to as a Schmeisser) needs a sling added to it. The post
for the sling is a solid piece and should be removed. Using a small pin vise,
drill two holes at the edges of this area. Bend a u-shaped piece from fine wire
and superglue into place. This piece on the real weapon is a reversible ring,
allowing the sling to be attached to either side of the weapon. Cut a sling
out of thin sheet lead or foil from a wine bottle. Thread the strip through
the slot and fold back. A clasp was made out of sheet lead and glued in place.
The other end was glued to the left side of the weapon. There is a slot on the
real weapon allowing the sling to be inserted. You could drill it out carefully,
but since the sling would hide this detail, I just cut a short piece of sling
material and glue it to the right side of the weapon and the sling. It sounds
confusing, but just look at some good photos and you'll
see how it is attached. I paint the MP 40 black, then dry brush a gun metal color over it, and finally a light rubbing with Rub-'n-Buff or a similar metallic finish. The grips and plastic housing for the action are dark brown, and the sling is very dark brown leather. You can gently bend the sling to show movement once the weapon is attached to the hand.
The helmet has an army camouflage cover on it, with loops for foliage. The loops are poorly defined, so these details were filed off, and small strips of plastic card were cut to size and glued over these spots. Just a dab of glue of the ends, these pieces were roughly sewed on the originals. One other detail on the helmet cover is the puckered edge around the inside rim. These covers attached to the helmet with a drawstring. A small roll of epoxy putty was lined around the inside of the helmet to simulate this. The helmet also sits too low on the head, so a couple of spacer blocks of suitable thickness were glued to the figure's head to hold the helmet a little higher.
The gas mask canister needs work with its strap. Every figure of a German soldier wearing a gas mask container always has the strap molded flat on the figure's back. This is just the way they have to be cast as part of the molding process. Study photos of real soldiers and you'll see the weight of the gas mask pulling the upper strap away from the body. Straps connect to the canister at three points. Two of these are for the strap that hangs over the shoulder, and a smaller leather reinforced strap with a metal hook is attached to the lower end. This hangs on the belt.
Drill 4 small holes in the canister, 2 on the top, 2 on the bottom. It helps if you have a good resource, such as the Osprey book on German Field Gear. I am fortunate to have a real gas mask container in my collection. Using the same fine wire as for the MP 40, superglue a u-shaped hook into the holes. Now you can attach a strap of paper or light plastic card, make sure it's long enough. Unlike the MP 40 sling, this strap will be taut and won't have to be flexible.
Now the gas mask strap must be removed from the figure's back. Carve it off with a knife and sand the area smooth. I also filed a groove in the figure's side where the gas mask will hang. This provides a good glue connection and gives a sense of weight to the gas mask. When you glue the canister to the figure, glue the loose strap to the figure's back, trimming the strap to fit under the collar. Glue the lower strap to the top of the belt, over the bread bag.
I use enamels, Testors or Humbrol, and mix colors freely. I like Testors 1170 Light Tan for flesh, and mix red brown, black, and white to the base color for shading and highlights. The uniform is Model Master Green Drab (FS34086), mixed with gray to create the Field Gray color shown here. I use a warm light color, Testors Wood Tan to mix a lighter highlight color. I also drybrush earth colors on the uniform to show dirt and dust.
Treatment of painted metal is handled by showing chips in the paint, or wear to the paint. The gas mask container was drybrushed with tan, and given a light touch of Rub-n'-Buff. The mess kit, belt buckle, canteen cup and grenade all have chipped paint shown by random dabs of silver and flat white mixed together. The mess kits often seemed to have most of the paint worn off.
Leather belts and boots are painted a very dark gray, shaded with black and drybrushed with tan. The two small tabs that hold the rings on the top of the Y-straps, or field suspenders, are often in tan leather.
The splinter camo pattern on the helmet cover has a greenish gray base, with green and brown areas. Use a sharp dark green colored pencil to show the green lines appearing on the design. Finally, everything was given a coat of Testors Dullcote from a spray can.
The base was a nice one I had picked up at a military miniature show. I made Celluclay groundwork, with white glue, light brown paint and bits of real dirt mixed in. The clumps of yellow grass are from Woodland Scenics. I wanted to add a tree or bush so I went out to a derelict corner of the yard and started pulling weeds and little bushes, until I found the great gnarled root used on this base. Final touch on the base was Hudson and Allen Forest Litter, little dried leaves glued randomly about the base. This product can work well with this scale and 1/35th too. I had drilled a hole in the figure's left foot, and now I drilled one in the base. I cut the head off a small nail and glued the figure to the base, with the nail providing extra stability.
This figure recently took a 2nd Place award in its category at the I.P.M.S. Nationals.