is a modeling company from Russia, producing resin figures in 1/35 scale. I was really happy to hear from Anar Aytaliev
, the owner of the company, expressing interest to have some of his figures reviewed on Historicus Forma. I must admit I didn’t know much about Minisoldiers at the time… However, I had the pleasure of reviewing figures from most Russian figure companies (Bravo6, Evolution, NATO in Miniatures, Battalion Models and ANT Miniatures) and all those were outstanding kits, so I felt pretty confident I wouldn’t be disappointed with figures from Minisoldiers.
I received several figure samples from Anar, but the 2nd Lieutenant Parachute Inf. Regt. (Normandy, 1944)
immediately caught my eye: the superb sculpting, the powerful posture of the figure, the amount of equipment in the kit and the historical setting… the figure was really impressive at the first glance. I never reviewed a WW2 figure before as that period is not my forte, however this one is definitely a true gem and I decided to give it a go.
The figure arrived in a clear, very firm plastic box which features nicely painted box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitry Shevtsov) and the painter (Anar Aytaliev). After opening the zip-lock bag and reviewing all the parts of the figure I was really amazed by the amount of detail on the figure and fantastic molding of all the parts. The parts are cast in light grey resin (which is almost impossible to photograph in order to show the details well) and are clean of imperfections: there are no air bubbles or flash, the only thing I noticed was a tiny seam line on the helmet.
This figure represents a US Paratrooper during American airborne D-Day landings in Normandy, 1944. It consists of 16 parts:
- Full body with the head
- Left arm
- Right arm
- M1C Helmet
- T-5 primary parachute
- T-5 reserve parachute
- M1936 “Musette” Field Bag
- M7 Gas Mask Bag
- M1910 Entrenching Tool handle
- M1942 Canteen in M1910 Cover
- 30-round .45 Magazine Bag
- Map Case
- Paratrooper coiled rope
- M1911 A1 .45 Cal Pistol in M1916 Leather Holster
- M3 Trench Knife in M6 Leather Scabbard
- M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun
I cleaned the parts and dry-fitted them. This figure is pretty complex to assemble and finding the correct place for all the equipment parts could be a problem without some sort of part placement information. I found help in pictures of the finished figure on the Internet, however I wish Minisoldiers would supply some more photos in the kit box to ease the assembly of the figure without modelers having to browse the WWW. The fit of all parts is excellent; some of the larger pieces even have locating pins and I was really amazed to see Thompson submachine gun fit perfectly to the parachute strap holding it while still fitting flawlessly to the weapon sling sculpted on the figure… The only problem I encountered was the fact that the whole lot of equipment was just too much to be held by blue-tack for taking “built figure” photos, so instead I used the photos of the assembled figure I found on the Internet for this review.
The assembled figure looks fantastic; the pose is well balanced and the anatomy of the figure is perfect. The details are amazing and all the equipment adds to the realism of a heavy laden US Paratrooper ready for boarding the plane which is about to take him to Normandy.
The figure wears M1942 Paratrooper Jacket
, both made in tan cotton. The jacket features a zipper front, an adjustable waist belt, dual collar snaps, snap cuffs, shoulder straps, 2 snap-closure slanted bellows chest pockets and 2 snap-closure waist cargo pockets. The peculiarities of M42 Paratrooper Jacket are bellows in the middle of the back and a dual-zippered knife pocket located in the upper chest. The pants feature slash front pockets, 2 rear pockets with single button closure, small pocket above right slash (for lighter or compass), canvass leg tie straps, 5-button front and 6 buttons at waist for suspenders. During early airborne operations in North Africa and Italy, the M1942 uniform was found to be lacking in several areas, most notably strength; the fabric was relatively thin and it wore out easily. Prior to Normandy, divisional riggers were fixing these problems by reinforcing particularly weak areas on elbows and knees using heavy olive drab canvas. I like the way sculptor captured the baggy feel of the M42 uniform in scale and the only thing a modeler needs to add in order to improve the visual appearance of the uniform are US Army unit and flag patches. Several aftermarket companies offer WW2 US patch decals which could help out. The figure wears Paratrooper Gloves
; made of horse hide, these gloves had a rough exterior which provided not only protection from the elements but were also durable and tough enough to provide protection against heated gun barrels and cuts.
The M1C Paratrooper Helmet
was a standard helmet issued to paratroopers in mid-late WW2. M1C was a variant of the US Army popular M1 helmet and it featured a specific liner which used a set of “A yokes” or straps fixed to the side of the liner enabling the use of a leather chin cup to give support to the head and neck during jumps. Again, some unit insignia decals would improve the appearance of the M1C helmet. The most distinctive paratrooper equipment (besides the parachute itself, of course) was a pair of brown Corcoran jump boots
. With high tops and reinforced toes and heels, tightly laced Corcoran boots provided ankle support for the jumper.
The US paratroopers in WW2 used three T-types of parachutes: the T-4, T-5 and T-7, each replacing its predecessor. The T-10 parachute was issued after the war and modified versions are still in use today. This figure is equipped with T-5, the standard parachute during American airborne landings in Normandy, 1944. The T-5 parachute
consists of several components: the metal-framed canvas backpack and webbed canvas body harness; the webbed canvas static line, ripcord and deployment bag; the silken shrouds attached to canvas risers, which connect to the harness; the shroud lines; and the parachute canopy. The paratrooper’s primary chute is worn on the back. The parachute harness can be visualized as an ‘X’ and provides a canvas saddle for the paratrooper. The shoulder straps extend from the backpack over each shoulder and continue down the front, looping around the back of the hips. The saddle is formed by the two straps crossing the posterior. The straps come up between legs at the upper thigh, connecting to the backpack at just below waist height, which explains why harnesses of this type were nicknamed “nutcrackers”. Shoulder and thigh straps meet in a connector strap and lock-hook at sternum level across the chest. A bellyband, which is connected to the backpack, goes around the front of the paratrooper and buckles like a large belt on his left side. The reserve chute fastens onto the bellyband; with its “D-ring” handle to the right, the reserve chute is worn horizontally to the ground, thus enabling other gear to be carried beneath it. All harnesses have adjustable belts and fixed tension buckles. Risers attach to the harness and feed into the packed parachutes. Two risers on each side connect to the harness near the paratrooper’s shoulder. The top of the backpack is attached to the static line, becoming the deployment bag that rips off with the line when the paratrooper jumps. When the parachute is packed for use, only the body harness, the 15-foot long static line and ripcord, and the backpack are visible. The static line is made from canvas web material and has a metal safety hook fastener on the end. This fastener hooks over a steel cable running the length of the aircraft’s cargo bay; when a paratrooper jumps, the static line pays out its length of 15 feet and then jerks the ripcord, ripping the laces free to allow the chute deployment. The parachute canopy has a diameter of 28 feet; the chute was olive drab camouflaged nylon with dark green, light green and drab patches. Reserve chutes used by paratroopers were white.
A really complex T-5 system is amazingly replicated in 1/35 scale on this figure. I must admit I spent quite some time to understand the parachute arrangement and the way T-5 parts attach to each other… I was extremely pleased to find all the T-5 parachute system details present and realistically sculpted on this figure; the “nutcracker” harness with all the straps and buckles is accurately reproduced and wrapped around the figure, the primary chute backpack with the static line, reserve chute with its “D-ring” handle… the only thing missing is the far end of a static line with metal safety hook. I’m not completely sure how the hook was stowed before paratroopers actually used them, however most of the pictures I found show the hook fastened to the static line loops on the back of the T-5 backpack or the static line end draped over the shoulder with hook ready to be attached to the aircraft steel cable.
The figure wears B4 (“Mae West”) Life Preserver
under the parachute harness, a typical piece of gear for over-water paratrooper operations, with flashlight tucked under the vest. Attached on the front of the M1936 pistol belt, barely visible under the life vest and T-5 harness, is a 3x30-round .45 magazine pouch and the compass pouch.
M1936 “Musette” Field Bag
is worn on the front, fastened under the reserve chute. The heavy duty canvas constructed assault bag had a large main compartment and two side pockets. For D-Day it included the following personal equipment: 1 raincoat, 1 wool cap, 3 pair of wool socks, toilet articles (2 handkerchiefs, 1 bath towel and 50 sheets of toilet paper), 1 spoon, type K rations for 3 days and 1 type D ration, 1 can of rifle bore lubricating and cleaner oil. The Musette Bag was never officially issued as a backpack, however many soldiers used it in place of the unpopular M1928 Haversack. With the addition of a strap the Musette Bag could be also used as a shoulder bag. The M7 Gas Mask Bag
was a rubberized waterproof canvas bag issued to all assault troops at D-Day. The Infantry carried it across their chests while the Paratroopers strapped it to their left thigh. It housed the M5 Gas Mask and gas detection brassard. M1910 T-handle Entrenching Tool
in its cotton canvas cover is fastened to the belt on the back of the figure, under the primary T-5 parachute backpack. M1942 Canteen in M1910 Cover
is carried on the pistol belt using the M1910 wire hanger and corresponding eyelets, usually on the rear. Two fasteners attach the flaps to the front of the cover, holding the canteen securely inside. In the summer, soldiers could keep the liner wet as the evaporation helped cool the canteen. In the winter cold the dry insulation helped keep the water from freezing. Carefully rolled, 33ft of parachutists rope coil
is tied to the belt as well. 30-round .45 Magazine Bag
with strap (carries up to 8 magazines) and Map Case
are also included in the kit.
The figure is armed with M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun
. A blowback operated, selective fired (semi- or fully-automatic) weapon, the “Tommy Gun” was designed by General John T. Thompson for use in WWI, but prototype designs by Auto-Ordnance Corporation were completed just as the war ended. With the military fairly uninterested in the weapon, the Thompson was marketed at the general public and eventually became a well-known weapon for criminals in the 1920’s and 1930’s. In 1938, the Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the US military and it was given the M1928A1 designation. The M1928A1 had provisions for box magazines and drums. Updates to the weapon were made over time in order to simplify its production; in April 1942 the M1 model replaced the M1928A1 and by October 1942, the M1 was replaced by M1A1. The M1 and M1A1 had a barrel without cooling fins, a simplified rear sight, provisions only for box magazines, and the charging handle was on the side of the receiver. Because the option to use drums was not included in the M1 and M1A1, the 30-round box magazine was designed for use with this model. The Thompson was a reliable and well-respected weapon, with its major drawbacks being significant weight and limited range.
The figure also carries M1911 A1 .45 Cal Pistol in M1916 Leather Holster
. Known as “The Equalizer” or simply “The forty-five”, this weapon was a recoil-operated, magazine-fed automatic developed in 1911 by Colt. The sidearm was carried by Paratroopers of all ranks. M3 Trench Knife in M6 Leather Scabbard
was often strapped to the right boot, although it could also be clipped to the M1936 pistol belt.
This is the first figure from Minisoldiers I have reviewed so far and I must say I’m very impressed. 2nd Lieutenant Parachute Inf. Regt. (Normandy, 1944)
is sculpted to perfection and wonderfully cast. The amount of details on the uniform and the equipment is amazing, making the figure a real gem for anyone interested in D-Day Paratroopers.
Many thanks to Anar from Minisoldiers for this review sample.
D-Day, From the Normandy Beaches to the Liberation of France (Tiger Books International)
D-Day Paratroppers, US Airborne Divisions in Normandy (Histoire and Collections)
US Paratrooper 1941-1945 (Osprey Publications)
US Airborne in Action (Squadron/Signal Publications)
Allied Soldiers of World War Two (Histoire and Collections)