Dragon has covered a wide variety of Fallschirmjägers activities ranging from anti-tank and mortar crews to donkey handlers as well as almost all the numerous campaigns in which these elite troops participated in. Likewise their Fallschirmjäger offerings have ranged from their older sets right up to the Gen 2 kits as well. Featured in this relatively older offering from Dragon are 4 Fallschirmjägers of Regiment 3 during the Sicilian campaign.
The kit comes in Dragon’s standard 1-piece box and features a very well rendered illustration by Ron Volstad. The box art shows the 4 figures behind a small mound covered by low cactus-like bushes characteristic of the Mediterranean region. The set that I have came with a little print at the top left hand corner commemorating the 60th Anniversary (1943-2003) of the Italian campaign.
As usual the assembly instructions and painting guide is adequately shown at the back of the box. With the figures decked in their tropical feldbluse and pants, painting is pretty straightforward unlike the splinter camouflage smocks that some beginners may find challenging.
Figures & Equipment
The set comes in 2 tree sprues. The first is the main sprue with the 4 Fallschirmjägers and their complement of personal equipment. Molding of the figures was generally fair with the usual manageable amount of flash at the seam lines common to Dragon’s older sets. The sculpting of the folds of the clothes was quite well done being closer to the standard of the Gen 2 sets although it wouldn’t be fair to compare the older sets to the Gen 2 ones. However, the trousers did seem a bit baggy for the crouched figure. Unfortunately the same level of molding did not apply to the boots or the helmet straps over the faces which were slightly on the ‘soft’ side.
Personally, I found the 4 figures possessed interesting action poses and more importantly poses that compliment each other making it one of the main high points of this set. However, this is not always the case as it’s possible to find in the odd Dragon set, 2 figures in a relaxed pose followed by 2 other figures preparing for action making them incompatible.
In most of the older sets, some adjustment and puttying is usually required especially for figures firing weapons. A casual fit of the crouched figure’s arms and weapon indicated a close fit with some very minor puttying required. This would make this one of the better pre-Gen 2 sets despite some minor puttying required.
All 4 figures are decked out in the long sleeve version of the tropical feldbluse issued in tan. Three figures are upright while the fourth is on one knee. They appear to be a heightened state preparing to/for an attack. Since none of them are in their jump smocks it safe to say they’ve been on the ground for some time. Two of them are armed with MP40 while the other two carry the KAR 98K. There is also a nice set of Stielgranate M1924 or stick grenade, an often accompaniment of Fallschirmjägers to be stuffed into the belts. Generally unique to Fallschirmjägers and present is the canvas bag version of the metal gas mask canisters to minimize impact to the body upon hitting the ground during a drop.
Dragon in its usual generosity with weapons included 2 extra KAR 98K in the weapon sprue. Dragon weapons pre or post Gen 2 is relatively well reproduced and the ones here were no exception.
Generally I found this set to be one of the more interesting pre-Gen 2 Fallschirmjäger offerings from Dragon due to the action poses, reasonable level of detail and the relatively decent fit. This set is also one of possibly 3 atypical Fallschirmjägers sets which have figures not in jump smock, something that we are so accustomed with in kits featuring Fallschirmjägers. The minor lows would be the lower level of detail of the helmet straps and boots. A bit more variation in facial expression to coincide with their action poses would have also elevated this kit to another level.
Nevertheless, all in all I would consider this a value buy for a styrene kit. This kit would fit in nicely to any Mediterranean dio in which the Fallschirmjägers operated and not just Sicily or even as a standalone vignette.
The 3rd Regiment was part of the 1st Parachute Division under Generalmajor Richard Heidrich which was sent to Sicily to blunt the joint American-British invasion in the summer of 1943. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 3rd Regiment were actually dropped into Sicily several days after the 4th Regiment and the division’s machine-gun battalion who were the first in.
The 3rd Regiment drop onto Catania airfield was given a hot reception from a combo of Allied aircraft, artillery and naval bombardment. Sicily was also a scene for a Para to Para confrontation which saw British 1st Parachute Brigade slugging it out with the Fallschirmjägers including the 3rd Rgt. over a see-saw battle of Primasole Bridge in the eastern part of the island. This strategic bridge exchanged hands several times and is a testament to the tenacity and determination for which both the Paratroopers and Fallschirmjägers are well known for.
The bridge eventually fell to the British after heavy losses on both sides. The 3rd Regiment continued to fight on as the Germans retreated and was for a time encircled in Carlenini town before they manage to break out. With the island more or less lost especially with the Italian forces participation declining rapidly following the deposition of Mussolini, the Fallschirmjägers continued to give a good account of themselves when tasked as the rearguard. They were eventually the last to leave hours only before the Allies entered Messina.