Offensive Miniatures US Airborne Platoon Pack | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Sunday, 10 May 2009

I know it’s been quiet here for a while, but that is indeed part of the reason that I scaled back the site and expectations… Life and work both got busy.

 


The entire army

 

But I’ve finished the Offensive Miniatures 28mm US Airborne army that The WebMistress picked up for my birthday, and gave them a little armor support, so here you go, my impressions.

 

Overview

When the WebMistress purchased these for me, they were brand new, Offensive had just released them. It took me nearly half a year to get to them and through them, but they’re ready for your consumption. The Army deal comes with 48 troopers including the Command Pack, Casualty Pack, three separate Squad Packs, the two Fire Support packs, and an extra miniature that can only be had with the army deal. It took me a while to get this straight, but I received two copies of Fire Support Team #1 and an extra BAR gunner, which are included in these pictures.

 

We’ll run through the packs, then I’ll offer up some information on details and my impression of these figures. By then you’ll have seen the pictures for yourself, so you can judge my comments with the pictures in mind.

 

Command Pack


Command Team with extra BAR gunner

 

The command team comes with two SMG-armed command staff and a carbine armed radio operator. The antenna on the radio in these pictures is my addition, you’ll have to work something up along the same lines (both of the antennas pictured in this army are crafted from house painting brush bristles).

 


One of the SMG-armed figures

 


The Platoon Radioman

 


And the army-only extra figure. I call him “Lt. Winters”

 

The Casualty Pack


Casualties/Medics with Lt. Winters

 

The Casualty Pack could as easily be named the Medic Pack – it includes one Medic and one soldier carrying another, as you can see. The Medic is running with a standard stretcher, has red cross arm bands on both arms, and carries no weapon. The soldier being carried has a badly injured foot, and the carrier has an SMG.  Look at the medic, he’s absolutely nice. Very cool, in my opinion, and the red cross cloth paints up well enough.

 


The Medic close up

 



The soldier carrying his buddy to safety

 

Platoons


First Squad

 


Second Squad

 


Third Squad

 

The interesting thing about the squads is that even though there is some replication of figures – or near enough as to not matter – they are few and far between. The three squads are each of ten men, and have varied weaponry (number of carbines, SMGs, BARs, and Garands). The pack I have marked as First Squad has a radio operator.

 






Close ups of selected soldiers

 

Weapons Teams



The duplicate Weapons Teams – Team #1


Weapons Team #2

 



Close-ups of the kneeling Bazooka men.

The support teams are nice enough, though they’re short of MGs in my opinion – the standard issue for Airborne Platoons was four .30 caliber MGs (in the 1942 TO&E). While officially Airborne Platoons did not have any bazookas issued to them, the reality was that they carried them into combat.


Okay, the fun Tamiya Sherman M4A1 – not part of this army deal, but support for it, so I included a shot ;-).

 

Thoughts and Impressions

There’s a lot here to have thoughts about, so I’ll try to organize my opinions and the facts.

 

First off, the packs do not provide complete teams or squads for a full TO&E. None of them – not the command, the squads, the support teams – is a full complement. Squads of every TO&E I have access to are 12 men, command is six men, mortar team is six men. With that said, there is no dedicated fire support team, so those men can be split amongst the command and squads to round out the correct numbers. There are six men in the support pack, putting two in each squad and two in the command team, then adding the free figure in the command team gives you a good 1942 platoon. Ordering an extra squad pack and support team would give you a 1945 TO&E with a couple of extra figures.

 

Next up is the poses. They’re varied, they’re realistic, they look good on the table… With the exception that many of the poses are leaned so far forward that they tend to fall over while painting them and require pinning to the base to make them stable, they overall quality is good. There’s not a lot of flash and it cleans up easily, with few mold lines left behind.

 

And then we get to the details. The figures are nice enough, with many of them having .45 pistols, and generally correct ammo pouches for their weapon type. Between when I purchased them and when I painted them, Offensive miniatures contacted me “about the weapons”. It seems some of their early castings had problems, but mine were fine. I have figures in my collection with better and worse detailed weapons, and as the pictures show these are “good enough” as far as scaling and detail. I was naturally hyper-critical of them after the contact, and honestly there is much worse on the market.

 

I did take a bit of issue with the helmet liner straps – nearly all of the figures come with the helmet liner straps in place. My issues with this arrangement are manifold. First off, the detailing isn’t perfect. That’s no surprise at this scale, the arrangement was complex, and you’re shrinking it to roughly 1:50th. Second off, all of the reports I’ve read are that soldiers removed this jump-oriented attachment as soon as possible, since its job was to hold the helmet and liner in place during the jump. Most soldiers used it to tie other gear to their belt or backpack. Indeed, so many were disposed of that there is a healthy trade in reproductions today. Finally, they sometimes obscure the helmet strap, making painting somewhat painful. So some of them were not large enough to paint well, some were so large they overpowered the helmet strap. This is not a huge deal, the ones that were too small to paint well I ended up painting over with flesh, and the ones bold enough to impact the helmet strap I painted up and then painted the helmet strap just as boldly. If you’re a fan of the full jump rig, you’ll like these straps, but expect to invest some time making them look good.

 

One thing I really like about these figures is that nearly all of the entrenching tools come separately. I chose not to use a single one of the separate entrenching tools, but the option is nice. You may well want to use some of them, and one of the mortar crew has his molded on. There are also some extra weapons for the mortar crew, and those are a nice touch also. I didn’t use any, but expect to see them again, they’re in the parts bin.

 

The uniforms on these figures hang very nicely, they come across as “realistic” even in poses that it is difficult to pull such a thing off. The helmets are also nice, with the possible exception that too many of them have the bandage across the front for my tastes – though if you like them as “just jumped”, this is in keeping with that concept.

 

That leaves only one quibble, none of the bazooka loaders is kneeling, even though a bazooka man is kneeling. I prefer to see the team at the same level – when a guy is firing a bazooka from behind something, his partner isn’t generally standing up and making himself a target.

 

The Airborne patches are on the left arm, though they’re more suited to 82nd Airborne, you can paint them up as shields easy enough, which is what I did. There are none of the American Flag armbands, and the uniform design includes a pocket where they’d go. Whether any of this is an issue for you or not, I didn’t have any issue with it. Even the few figures that don’t have the patches on their arm, I was able to paint the patches on.

Conclusion

I have to say that, all things considered, these figures are great. There are little things I didn’t like about them, but they’re minor in comparison to many vendors’ offerings. I do like the Battle Honors 25mm figures better in many ways, but they’re better than the other Airborne figures I have, and in some ways, they’re better even than the Battle Honors figures.

 

I’m happy to add this Platoon to my growing Airborne army collection, and since I painted them up as 101st Airborne, I broke a personal oath, and call them “Easy Company”. It’s cheesy, but since The WebMistress only plays US airborne for WWII gaming, I figured it was about time we had Easy represented.

 

 

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