Wednesday, March 31

Preview: "Feuer Frei!" figure set from Rado Miniatures...

Rado Miniatures has seven new products just released for this month. Today we look at three of them, Two figures sold as single units or as a set called "Feuer Frei!" that capture two soldiers of the 12th SS in the cauldron of Normandy in 1944. See a little about these figures and about the setting in our preview...

Preview: "Feuer Frei!" figure set from Rado Miniatures...

The setting/ Timeframe these figures are taken from:
Waffen SS soldiers from the 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend” were all conscripts from the ages of 15 to 18 years of age. They were thrown into battle in the action around Normandy during the D-Day landings from June 1944 onwards. These young soldiers were often fanatical in their fighting, and although they were young, they were well armed and well indoctrinated in the Nazi cause. 

The runes, Cuff emblem and Unit logo of the 2.SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend"
This nationalistic zeal and some desperation of the situation they found themselves fighting in made them feared on the battlefield. The battle for Normandy took a large toll on the division and came out of the Falaise pocket with 12,000 men falling to the numerically superior allied invasion forces. 
On D-Day, June 6th, 1944, the 12thhSS HJ Division was one of three Panzer divisions held in reserve by Hitler as the Allies stormed the beaches at Normandy beginning at dawn. At 2:30 in the afternoon, the HJ Division was released and sent to Caen, located not far inland from Sword and Juno beaches on which British and Canadian troops had landed. The division soon came under heavy strafing attacks from Allied fighter bombers, which delayed arrival there until 10 p.m. The Hitlerjugend were off to face an enemy that now had overwhelming air superiority and would soon have nearly unlimited artillery support. The Allies, for their part, were about to have their first encounter with Hitler's fanatical boy-soldiers.
The fanaticism and reckless bravery of the Hitler Youth in battle shocked the British and Canadians who fought them. If they were encircled or outnumbered, they fought-on until there were no survivors. Often when they did not surrender, young boys, years away from their first shave, had to be shot dead by Allied soldiers who were old enough, in some cases, to be their fathers. The "fearless, cruel, domineering" youth that Hitler had wanted had now come of age and arrived on the battlefield with utter contempt for danger and little regard for their own lives. This soon resulted in the near destruction of the entire division.

Two soldiers of the 12th SS Panzer Division in July 1944 near Normandy
By the end of its first month in battle, 60 percent of the HJ Division was knocked out of action, with 20 percent killed and the rest wounded and missing. Divisional Commander Witt was killed by a direct hit on his headquarters from a British warship. Command then passed to Kurt Meyer, nicknamed 'Panzermeyer,' who at age 33, became the youngest divisional commander in the entire German armed forces.

The leaders of the Hitler Youth Division during the fighting in Normandy (from left to right): Panzer-Meyer, Witt, Wuensche,
After Caen fell to the British, the HJ Division was withdrawn from the Normandy Front. The once confident fresh-faced Nazi youths were now exhausted and filthy, a sight which "presented a picture of deep human misery" as described by Meyer.

In August, the Germans mounted a big counter-offensive toward Avranches but were pushed back from the north by the British and Canadians, and by the Americans from the west, into the area around Falaise. Twenty four German divisions were trapped inside the Falaise Pocket with a narrow 20-mile gap existing as the sole avenue of escape. The HJ Division was sent to keep the northern edge of this gap open.
However, Allied air superiority and massive artillery barrages smashed the HJ as well as the Germans trapped inside the pocket. Over 5,000 armoured vehicles were destroyed, with 50,000 Germans captured, while 20,000 managed to escape, including the tattered remnants of the HJ.

By September 1944, the 12th SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend numbered only 600 surviving young soldiers, with no tanks and no ammunition. Over 9,000 had been lost in Normandy and Falaise. The division continued to exist in name only for the duration of the war, as even younger (and still eager) volunteers were brought in along with a hodgepodge of conscripts. The division participated in the failed Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes Offensive) and was then sent to Hungary where it participated in the failed attempt to recapture Budapest. On May 8, 1945, numbering just 455 soldiers and one tank, the 12th SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend surrendered to the American 7th Army.
Previous figures of the 12th SS In Normandy from Rado Miniatures:
- RDM35032 SS-MG Schutze
- RDM35033 SS-Sturmmann
- RDM35034 MG 42 team
This new set from Rado Miniatures:
Rado Miniatures has two new figures that complement some of their already released Normandy  series of 12th SS soldiers. This couple, sold as singles or as a set under the title of "Feuer Frei!" or "fire freely!". The depict two soldiers of the "Hitler Youth" or Hitlerjugend during the fierce fighting in the Normandy area. we will look at the setting that these soldiers are taken from before we look at each of the figures...

Here they are unpainted in bare resin...
W-SS NCO w/MP40, 1943-45
Product No #RDM35039 
One figure in light grey resin
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Radek Pituch
Boxart courtesy of Jaume Ortiz.
This young NCO of the 12th SS is seen in full "action" mode, his Mp40 submachine pistol drawn and he is firing it from the shoulder at the enemy. 
His body language is very good, with him bracing against the recoil action with his legs spread and facing forward.
His face also has a fierce expression on it, that of yelling or extreme concentration or "dislike" I would say, you will notice on the picture below of the figure painted by Jaume Ortiz that his pants are made with the Italian pattern camouflage that the 12th SS took into their stock after their service in Italy.  the camouflage smock the soldier wears was very effective, they were often added to with sets of loops were added around the shoulders to hold foliage. A real version of the reversible M42 Plane Tree camouflage smock (Tarnjacke) below,

The rear of the camouflage smock for reference...
You might notice also his M43 helmet is covered with a similar camouflage pattern cover in the same material as his camo smock. These were very typical of Hitler Youth Soldaten in that area of Normandy mid-1944.
The cloth camouflage covered helmet with foliage loops. The boxart captures the second pattern cover, (Circa 1942-1945), with three panels of water-resistant, cotton duck construction, helmet cover with the machine roller printed, reversible, spring/autumn repeating splotch camouflage pattern. An earlier pattern lacking foliage loops was replaced in 1942 with a version that had loops like this one in the sculpt does. Instead of a drawstring, the cover was secured to the helmet with a series of steel or aluminium rocker clips. The version with the loops was by in large the most commonly worn cover by the Waffen-SS during the Normandy campaign. Both sides of the helmet cover reflected the seasons, It depends what time of the Normandy battle you would want your soldier to feature in. 
For the equipment that is strapped to his Y-shaped harness you can see an entrenching tool, bread bag and stick grenades (front and back) along with two ammunition pouches made from cloth for his MP-40 magazines. 

W-SS Schütze w/Kar98k, 1941-45
Product No #RDM35040 
One figure in light grey resin
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Radek Pituch
Boxart courtesy of Jaume Ortiz.
This Schütze is seen in the typical garb of a 12th SS man in Normandy in 1944. The tunic collar peeking out of his camouflaged smock and regular grey uniform trousers underneath this. He carries the typical loadout of weaponry for a German soldier of WWII in the Karabiner 98 and stick grenades. The M1924, M24, or "Stielhandgranate 24" German Stick Grenade, often called a "potato masher" by the Allied soldiers, the "stick" attached to the grenade provided a lever, significantly improving the throwing distance. The Model 24 could be thrown approximately 30 to 40 yards, whereas the British Mills bomb could only be thrown about 15 yards. 
The design also minimized the risk of the grenade rolling downhill back towards the thrower when used in hilly terrain or in urban areas. These grenades were extremely useful for clearing out entrenched infantry positions.
Strapped over his back you can see the Schütze carries the "soldier's bride" the Kar.98 bolt action rifle. Still used in large quantities at this time in the war and still quite accurate and dependable and easy / cheap to make and to furnish ammo for.
..Of course he has ammo pouches for the rifle on his belt. The Karabiner 98 Ammunition pouch were worn around the belt, usually two per soldier. A fitting at the top of the pouch hooked into the suspender straps, allowing them to attach to the pouches rather than the belt.
The body language of the figure is done well here also, concentration on his face and straight pose as he winds his arm back to throw the grenade the other arm is forward.
You can see the rest of the equipment he carries, the entrenching tool and bayonet, both in leather pouches /holsters and cloth bread bag and flask and canteen tin. Very typical of German soldiers and well added here for depth and colour variation depending on how you paint hem yourself.

12. SS Pz.Div. HJ, Normandy 1944
Product No #RDM35041 
This set contains two figures in light grey resin
1/35th scale
Sculpted by Radek Pituch
Boxart courtesy of Jaume Ortiz.
In the spirit of the title of this set "Feuer Frei!"  these two certainly fit the bill. This body language, facial features and weapons drawn to suit a full action scene of the chaos of Normandy in 1944 and the fanatical nature of these young soldiers.
Here they are, both together in a scene that one might be able to be placed straight into your D-Day era diorama. Both of the soldiers painted up by the very talented Jaume Ortiz.
These ship pn the 5th of April. They can be purchased directly or from the distributors of Rado Miniatures...