U.S. 29th Infantry Division (Omaha Beach)
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Dragon Models Limited

In honor of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, DML created a set of U.S. infantry figures that would have made a great complement to the Rangers and Airborne sets it offered in 1994, had the company not been so thoroughly absorbed with German subjects. But better late than never, as they say, and perhaps one of the benefits of having to wait ten years for this set is that DML has recently moved beyond it's four-figure format, and here we get six GIs coming ashore at Normandy rather than four.

Like many dioramists who were inspired by Saving Private Ryan, I began acquiring soldiers for my own rendition of the horrors of that morning on Omaha Beach. Fortunately I got sidetracked with other projects, still adding figures to the collection as I found them. Now because of the multipart composition of these DML figures, I'm sure I can play around with them and come up with 14 to 18 different variations.

This is a great set, with realistic poses and excellent sculpting that captures the dynamics of the situation. Even the heads are better than usual from DML, though I'll still probably swap out some of them with Hornet. Two of the figures wear the floatation belts around their waists, and three have the rubberized M7 gas mask carrier bags. The uniforms are standard fare for the 1942-44 time frame: field jackets and wool serge trousers, with canvas leggings over the service shoes.

The soldier's arms are on a separate sprue. Each right arm has the gas detection brassard molded onto to it. Each left arm has the 29th's divisional patch included, and one figure has his corporal stripes. You may want to scrape these off and use Archer Fine Transfers' U.S. insignia sets (which were initially developed in 1997 by yours truly and Woody Vondracek at Archer). Likewise, the markings are included on the helmets that do not have mesh covering them.

Comparisons with past DML releases shows this kit has all newly tooled equipment. The M1928 haversacks and M7 gas mask bags are different sculptings from the Rangers set, for example. Canteens, M1910 shovels, cartridge and bandage pouches, etc., are all new. As a result, some items a sized a bit differently than their predecessors, something to consider if you are going to be combining these figures with others for a D-Day diorama.

The box includes two weapon sprues from #6802, the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir set. Consequently, the M1 carbines have the bayonet lugs on the underside of the barrel that were not present during WWII and will need to be removed. Also on the sprues are M1 Garands and Browning automatic rifles. The set comes with a color instruction sheet.

For the D-Day enthusiast, these figures can represent the 1st Infantry Division, which also landed on Omaha with the 29th, or the 4th, which went ashore at Utah Beach.

A little research will help you determine if they are appropriate for the invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon) or even North Africa (Operation Torch). Removing the brassards, gas mask bag straps and floatation belts lets you bring the soldiers further inland into just about any French or German setting. Steve Zaloga demonstrates how to apply two of these figures to a "panzernest" setting in Military Modelling Vol. 34, No, 15, 2004. In the article, Zaloga states DML's 29th figures depict soldiers from the later waves because they don't wear the assault vests, which were worn by both Rangers and 29th infantry. However, not all soldiers got the vests, according to Jonathan Gawne in his superb Spearheading D-Day, and many who did immediately ditched them in the water because of the weight. So don't let Zaloga's comment deter you from putting these guys in the first wave.



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