Europe, 1945
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Master Box Ltd.

We've had a couple resin figure sets of GIs with local lasses in the liberated country of your choosing. But this is the first set in plastic, and it gives you a fine start on a vignette of an 82nd Airborne paratrooper and his date offering to share a bottle with one of the USAAF's finest and his companion.

Our All American boy is clearly dressed to impress. MB includes a respectable decal assortment. Unfortunately, the directions on the back of the box do not clearly state which decal goes where. The box art helps with regard to the paratrooper, but isn't as helpful where the airman is concerned.

The paratrooper's markings include the 82nd Airborne patch, and three or four overseas service bars representing a year and a half or two years, respectively, away from home. There are also a pair of diagonal service stripes, each denoting three years in the military. The box art shows him as a corporal, but the rank chevron decal is for a technician 5th grade. There are also what appear to be wound chevrons (they look like upside down white sergeant stripes), which would be worn on the right sleeve.

Box art shows a combat infantryman's badge and expert marksman badge on the left breast pocket is but they are not evident on the actual piece, nor are they included in the decals. There are service ribbons sculpted onto the jacket above the pocket, however, as well as two small 82nd Airborne badges on the lapels, below the collar arm-of-service insignia.

For the wool OD garrison cap, paint the piping light blue.You have two decal options for the cap insignia badges: the non-regulation open parachute on a blue field from 1941, or the authorized 1943 badge with a plane over the parachute on a blue field surrounded by a red circle. You'll need a magnifying glass or a good squint to make out which is which. Either badge was worn on the left side of the cap, and the piece has a raised circle to help set it off.

I'm by no means an expert on USAAF uniforms, but some online research suggests that you are better off with the light tan trousers as on the box cover, rather than the OD designated on the reverse side. The jacket appears to be the F-2 flying jacket that has a similar cut to the Army's late war Ike jacket. The officer's issue "crusher" cap is nicely detailed.

The decal you'll want to use as insignia for the left shoulder has the gold wings on the blue oblong field. Of all the USAAF patches I viewed online, it has the closest appearance (but not exact) to the Airborne Troop Carrier patch. There is another patch, placed between this one and the 82nd Airborne insignia, that I could not place at all. It could represent a particular fighter or bomber group within one of the large air units in Europe, such as the Eighth Air Force.

Let's now turn our attention to the lovely ladies. Sculptor A. Gagarin has created a pair of very alluring dates. While shapely, they are not "model" models. Taking a cue from Dragon, each skirt is made from two separate pieces, which are glued around a pair of shapley legs. Just make sure to assemble the legs first and then wrap the skirt pieces around them, otherwise you may not be able to pull the completed skirt over the completed legs. My only disappointment here is that the woman wearing the little ankle socks in the box art is molded without the socks.

Unfortunately, there are no decals to recreate the nice prints on the dresses in the illustration, but if you approach it like any camouflaged uniform, only with a defined pattern, you should be okay.

Detail and definition is on par with the better Dragon characters. Clean up is a bit better than most plastic figures, with just some minor seams and no flash. There was a small gap at the left shoulder of the paratrooper, and a fleck of putty was needed to bridge where the braids met at the seam. The only other construction tips would be to build the men first so you can make sure you get the arms to drape properly on the women. It's a little tricky getting the blonde's arms around her escort's arm. I'd recommend waiting until the pieces are painted before joining the couple together.

This is an appealing kit that shows that Master Box is able to come up with some successful and creative surprises.

Thanks to Alexander Surzhenko at Master Box for the sample.



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter