"Taking Aachen"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


The Figures

The figures are a mix of mostly resin and some plastic. This was the perfect project to use a box of the old Airfix Multipose GIs I'd had sitting for years in the back of the top shelf of kits. They're all in the M1943 OD coats, which are appropriate for the time and setting. It takes a bit of surgery to make them useful - I corrected the paratrooper style boot by using lead foil and Aber buckles to create the M1943 combat service boot with leather gaiter. I shortened some legs by 1/8" and used Warriors heads. Though not as crisply sculpted, they work well with Verlinden and Warriors figures. I converted several figures, including a medic and wounded soldier. However, I left the paratroop style boots on the medic; these boots did make their way to regular infantry soldiers, through barter or other means, and medics particularly prized them for the ankle support they gave.

Again, the contrasting size of equipment from the different sets was problematic (see my article "A Matter of Scale"). The M1 Garand from Airfix may scale correctly for 1/32, but it is 7" too long in 1/35 - you'll want to use recent Tamiya Garands for better accuracy. Likewise with the M1 carbine, and I suspect the M3 grease gun and bazooka are also too large for true 1/35.


The GI figures are really helped by the insignia patches from Archers Dry Transfers. Since I worked with Woody Vondracek to develop them, I can't say I'm impartial. In spite of military regulations, they were worn haphazardly: some were seen on helmets, some on shoulders of shirts or coats, or not used at all. They offer another way to differentiate your figures and lend much more realism.

Aachen is one of the few battles where you can intermingle Wehrmacht and Waffen SS soldiers with reliable historical accuracy. Consequently, I was able to use a number of good "action" figures and a nice variety of uniforms in this dio. The Germans figures are almost all resin (Warriors, Verlinden, Jaguar) with the exception of the excellent standing rifleman in the splintered shelter quarter from DML's Aachen figure set.

I had used one of Jaguar's German soldiers rolling fuel drums in my Stalingrad diorama, leaning out over a window. I wasn't quite sure to do with his companion until this project, when I was looking through my shelves for surrendering Germans. I realized I could pair him with an Airfix marching GI modified with a right arm from a Verlinden figure and repositioned left hand. The result: the captor pushing a disarmed prisoner from his lair.

 

"Taking Aachen"
The Battle for Aachen
Evolution of the Diorama
The City
Vehicles and Gun
The Figures
References

 

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