U.S Army Airborne (Operation Varsity 1945)
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Dragon Models Limited

While this four figure set of airborne troopers is identified as participating in Operation Varsity over the Rhine, the last and largest Allied airdrop of the war, they could be correctly placed in an Operation Market Garden setting as well, since they wear the same uniforms issued before the September, 1944 thrust into Holland.

The figures are posed in "at the ready" stances. Two men are standing, one holding a folding stock M1 Carbine, the other a Thompson submachine gun. The fellow with the carbine also has a holstered .45 pistol strapped to his chest and an empty canvas case for his carbine attached to his belt. Both men have the M3 trench knife and scabbard tied to their calves. The third soldier is down on one knee, his BAR in hand. The final figure is lying down, grasping his M1 Garand.

The GIs are outfitted with the M1943 jacket - also used by American infantry in the ETO - and M1943 airborne pattern trousers with the large cargo pockets and ties to secure gear carried in the pockets. Rather than the calf-high Corcoran boots worn prior to September, 1944, these men wear the M1943 buckle boots with the leather gaiter, also common to infantry at that time. Three men wear their bandage rolls attached to the netting on their helmets, common to paratroopers. As usual, DML provides all sorts of extra gear, including M1936 field bags (also called musette bags), canteens, shovels, etc. A nice and most appropriate addition is the chin cups that were strapped to the M1 steel pot helmet for airdrops. You'll need to attach these to the helmets with a paper or lead foil strap. You also get two sprues of weapons from previous DML figure sets, including a bazooka and Garand with bayonet attached.

The figures are nicely sculpted and the parts fit together well. As usual, the heads lack much distinction from one another. The helmets are more correctly scaled than DML's initial offerings and the stature of the figures is under 6' and more toward the Tamiya end of the rather elastic 1/35 scale range of figures. If you wish to swap heads, go with replacements from Hornet or Ultracast.

Since the only thing really identifying these soldiers as airborne troops are the large pocket trousers, you can carve them off since they sit on the hips, rather than on the thigh as the cargo pockets did on the herringbone twill pants worn by infantry. Just fill in the recesses for the ties, and have a quartet of leg infantry suitable for the fall of 1944 through the end of the war. You'll also want to leave off the bandage rolls on the helmets.

This is an excellent and versatile set that provides real value to the modeler inclined towards GI themed dioramas. You'll want to pick up at least two or three sets to maximize the conversion possibilities here.



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