Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiers

Revell 1:72 Scale Figure Review

Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiers dismounted in front of their Marder infantry fighting vehicle

Modern Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiers wearing the new Flecktarn camouflage uniform, with Kevlar vest and helmet, new G36 assault rifle, several with bipod and drum magazine, Granatpistole grenade launcher, and Panzerfaust 3 disposable anti-tank rocket projector. Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiers are a classic troop type, they filled a void in the Nato force composition during the height of the Cold War. For decades, the German Panzergrenadiers were the only mechanized Nato infantry with a dedicated infantry fighting vehicle which allows the infantry to keep up with main battle tanks in a mounted action. The Schützenpanzer Marder is a large armoured fighting vehicle, it has much better armour protection than the venerable M113 APC, and it provides direct fire support with its turreted 20 mm Maschinenkanone automatic cannon. The Marder is equipped with Milan anti-tank guided missiles, and the launcher may be dismounted if the grenadier squad needs it.

A section of Panzergrenadiers consists of nine men: The Gruppenführer (section leader), the driver and gunner of the Marder armoured fighting vehicle, the Truppführer (squad leader) and five Panzergrenadiers. The Gruppenführer is in overall command of the section, and he normally directs the Marder; his Truppführer commands the grenadier squad. As a rule, the GrpFhr leads the most important combat element of his section. Depending on the mission, the Marder may be the key player, and the grenadiers are in the support role, mounted or dismounted. When the dismounted grenadiers are to become the key element, the GrpFhr and his TrFhr switch positions inside the vehicle, the GrpFhr dismounts with the squad, and the TrFhr provides fire support with the Marder. In the platoon leader vehicle, the GrpFhr is also the ZugFhr, usually an officer or senior NCO. German officers and NCOs are virtually indistinguishable in combat, especially if they are wearing the Kevlar vest which covers the shoulder straps and the slip-on rank markings.

Contents

  • 45 Figures in 12 Poses – 22.5 mm equal 162 cm Height
    • GrpFhr with Leuchtpistole (3)
    • Grenadier firing Milan Anti-Tank Guided Missile (3)
    • Grenadier running with Milan launch tube (2)
    • Grenadier advancing with Panzerfaust 3 (4)
    • Grenadier kneeling, firing Panzerfaust 3 (4)
    • SAW-gunner advancing with G36 with bipod and drum-magazine (4)
    • SAW-gunner prone, firing G36 with bipod and drum-magazine (3)
    • Grenadier kneeling, firing Granatpistole (3)
    • Grenadier signaling, armed with G36 and Granatpistole (3)
    • Grenadier running with G36 (5)
    • Grenadier standing, firing G36 from hip (5)
    • Grenadier standing, firing G36 from shoulder (5)
  • Milan firing post with launch tube attached (3)
  • Milan tripod (3)

Evaluation

Good choice of subject, this is the first dedicated set of Bundeswehr troops in 1:72 scale. Revell offers a Leopard 2A5 main battle tank which may be used in conjunction with these figures. Unfortunately, the SPz Marder infantry fighting vehicle is not available in this scale yet. The Marder is a key element of the Panzergrenadier section, and Revell would do well to release a model of it soon.

Nicely detailed miniatures, with realistic folds in the uniform. Weapons and equipment are sculpted correctly, except for the holster of the Granatpistole which is really a lot bulkier than the model suggests.

The box includes a number of useful poses, but there is no common theme. Some conversion will be required to create a realistically posed squad of six dismounted grenadiers.

Good casting quality, but noticeable flash which needs to be removed prior to painting. We used the Rai-Ro ZEP-70 wax spatula to remove flash and mould lines.

The figures are perfect for conversion projects, they may be cut apart at the waist without damaging the pouches and other items of equipment. Simple torso-swapping, and head-turning operations will result in several variations of poses. Arms may be repositioned by pinning them, and filling the gap with Rai-Ro adhesive wax. Several of the poses can be improved by swapping arms. If the distinctive shoulder pad is left on the figure, arms from other modern infantry figures may be used to add even more variety. There are eight assault rifles in the set which may be scrounged for conversion work, although three of them have a left hand attached to them which may need to be removed carefully.

The grenadiers are armed with the new G36 assault rifle which has been introduced in the Bundeswehr, but which has not replaced the older G3 yet. The new weapon has standard 5.56 mm Nato calibre; it features a curved 25-round magazine, folding stock, carrying handle with integrated telescopic sights as well as regular notch and bead sights. The G36 is a low-recoil weapon, making it easier to control in automatic firing mode than the G3. The figures would be equally appropriate if they were armed with G3 assault rifles, and Revell might have put a few spare weapons on the sprue. It's really a good idea to include cheap extras like spare pouches, weapons, and variable heads to increase the perceived value of a set of figures. G3 and MG3 may be scrounged from the old ESCI set of Nato infantry which includes four Bundeswehr soldiers wearing the previous uniform and equipment.

The LMG36 represented in this set is the section light machine gun, which was never procured for the Bundeswehr. Fortunately, the LMG36 looks similar to the G36 with bipod and drum magazine, which has been issued to the troops. The LMG36 uses many of the same components as the G36, including the folding stock and the integrated optics. The LMG36 has a bipod, and it is fitted with a drum magazine for moving fire. Inside the drum magazine is a 50-round belt. The LMG36 gunner switches to belted ammunition when sustained fire is needed, especially in the course of streetfighting, and in prepared defensive positions. The venerable MG3 light machine gun is still in common use, and it would have been a nice touch if the manufacturer had included a spare weapon for conversion projects. The prone LMG36 gunner has adopted an incorrect firing position, with one foot placed over the other. This pose is obviously based on the prone LMG poses in the Matchbox Nato Paratroopers set of figures, but it is wrong in this case. Bundeswehr soldiers are trained to flatten themselves on the ground when adopting a prone firing position, the feet are always turned out to avoid getting shot in the heel. The Milan gunner has the feet in the proper position, and the legs from this figure may be used to correct the prone LMG36 pose.

The knife carried by these figures was adopted after German unification, it is the bayonet of the venerable AK assault rifle with which the former East German Army (NVA) was equipped. The bayonet cannot actually be fixed on the G3 or G36 assault rifle, but it may be useful as a bread knife, and it carries a wire cutter on the scabbard. In accordance with international law, the Bundeswehr does not practise bayonet fighting at all. In fact, the bayonet fell out of use when the lessons of World War One had been fully appreciated: Firepower, not cold steel, dominates the modern battlefield. Apparently, the lack of bayonet fighting skill did not put German infantry at a significant tactical disadvantage in World War Two, compared to British and Soviet troops who were still quite proficient in this tactic.

The Granatpistole grenade launcher projects concussion and fragmentation grenades to a range of 400 meters. There is no dedicated grenadier who operates the Granatpistole; every man in the section is trained to use it effectively, and the section leader decides who will fulfill this role in battle. The Granatpistole is carried in a dedicated holster, and there are two figures in this set which carry it attached to the belt and strapped to the right leg. This position has a certain Hollywood appeal, but the large Granatpistole is more comfortably carried on the back. The harness has attachments points which place the grip of the Granatpistole behind the right shoulder, within easy reach of the right hand. The trooper carrying the Granatpistole is armed with the G36 assault rifle as the primary weapon. There is no dedicated grenade pouch yet. Some troopers use a spare gas mask pouch to carry grenades, and some battalions design their own pouches which are locally produced in small numbers.

The Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank rocket launcher is not strictly considered a weapon anymore, it is a disposable item, called Mengenverbrauchsartikel (MVA) in the Bundeswehr. Again, there is no dedicated anti-tank team at the platoon level, every soldier is expected to use the Panzerfaust 3, although there will be some who show a particular skill with it and who will be chosen for this job by the section leader. The long spike on the warhead is designed to detonate the hollow-charge at the optimal stand-off distance from armour plate. The spike is removed when the hollow-charge is fired against sandbagged emplacements and bunkers. For low-cost target practise, the Panzerfaust 3 can be fitted with a training warhead which fires a small-calibre projectile.

The figures are surprisingly short, they actually look more compatible with 1:76 scale. Many simulation gamers will actually consider the smaller size an advantage, because the figures are compatible with the popular Matchbox Nato Paratroopers, and with a variety of modern vehicles available in 1:76 scale.

Military modellers are almost always disappointed that the figures in a set do not follow a common mission. These Panzergrenadiers are no exception to the rule. Not one of the suggested combat actions is fully covered, and diorama builders may find it difficult to create a realistic scene from this mixed batch of figure poses:

  • Infantry Firefight: 1 prone and 1 kneeling firing figure.
  • Anti-Tank Fire: 1 prone and 1 kneeling firing figure.
  • Sudden Encounter: 2 standing firing figures.
  • Re-deploy: 3 running figures, obviously not under fire.
  • Patrol: 1 standing grenadier, signaling to an imaginary patrol behind him.
  • Rest: 1 standing LMG36 gunner without a mission.
  • Command: 1 standing leader firing a flare pistol, incompatible with the other combat situations listed here.

A dismounted squad of Panzergrenadiers consists of the squad leader and five men, based around the MG3 light machine gun. The most realistic LMG36 in this set is in a prone firing or covering position, but there are no other prone or kneeling grenadiers to complete a firefight diorama. The most likely alternative is a scene involving a covering group and an advancing group. The firing LMG36 and the grenadier with the Granatpistole could both be used in this scene, but the covering group is still short of a figure or two. Most of the running/advancing poses in the advancing group are actually anti-tank gunners, effectively limiting this diorama to a tank-hunting scenario. It would have been possible to show Panzergrenadiers in action if the 12 poses had been chosen with two or three realistic action scenes in mind, instead of the seven we have identified above. Patrol and firefight scenes are good choices, because the duplication of these standard poses is less obvious in a diorama. Running figures can rarely be used more than once in a scene, because a group of runners must not be perfectly synchronized in motion.

The squad leader is incompatible with the other figures in the set. The man is in a relaxed pose, firing an illumination or signal flare, and holding the assault rifle by the carrying handle. He is obviously at some distance from the fighting, unlike the other figures which are running, involved in an infantry firefight or firing at enemy tanks. If the squad leader were involved in any of these activities, the man would be prone, kneeling or running as well. Most importantly, he would be leading his men, instead of concentrating on his flare shot. Battlefield illumination is the job of a grenadier in the squad, not that of the squad leader. If the squad leader wants a signal flare fired, he can order the grenadier to do it, he would not need to do it himself.

The advancing LMG36 gunner carries the section LMG in an impractical way, he looks like he may be lifting the weapon to place it on the back of a truck or stow it in a rack, back home at the barracks. If he were in action, he would carry the LMG36 ready to fire from the hip. If he were resting, he would carry the weapon in a more comfortable way, or he might have placed it on the ground beside him.

The running Panzerfaust gunner is a Passgänger. The man is ambling like a horse, with his right foot and right arm forward at the same time. An impossible pose, especially at the suggested running speed. The figure is best used for conversions, the legs, torso, and right arm are perfectly good parts if used separately. We used the right arm to improve the pose of the signaling grenadier.

The Milan gunner should have his right hand on the firing mechanism, not resting on the ground beside the weapon. If the man were firing the weapon, he would have his head down on the target optics. This pose may be difficult to fix, some cutting and re-adjusting of the figure will be required.

Incorrect painting instructions on the box:

  • The combat boots are black, not chestnut brown. Brown boots were last issued during the late 70s, presumably because they are less reflective and the colour has better camouflage properties. It is important to remember that the Bundeswehr inducts new recruits in quarterly drafts, and the boots are not normally replaced in the course of a 15 or 12 months tour of duty. Accordingly, it would have taken up to a year to change the colour of the boots from black to brown. Not surprisingly, local commanders would not put up with the resulting mix of uniform items. Recruits issued brown boots were told to blacken them with shoe polish to achieve a uniform look in formation with earlier drafts which still wore black boots. The introduction of brown boots was short-lived, but many older reservist have grown fond of their rare brown boots, blackened of course, but still slightly different from the black boots which have been standard issue since 1980.
  • Load bearing harness, belt, straps and pouches are grey-green, not khaki brown.
  • The green colour of the Flecktarn uniform is actually a grass green, not the darker lake green suggested here.

The figure mix is acceptable, even if the box is overloaded with heavy weapons. One of the two Panzerfaust poses might have been dropped in favor of an advancing infantry pose which would have been compatible with the advancing LMG36 gunner. The man firing the G36 from the hip might have been modelled in an advancing pose as well, and the resulting trio would have made a realistic foot patrol.

Historical Employment

  • Modern German infantry
    • Panzergrenadiere
    • Pioniere
    • Jäger
    • Fallschirmjäger

Possible Conversions

  • Modern German infantry with Feldmütze or beret
    • Jäger wearing the field cap or green beret instead of the helmet.
    • Fallschirmjäger wearing the field cap or red beret instead of the helmet.
    • Spare Milan launchers may be used to equip British and French infantry platoons. Milan was used as a bunker buster during the Falkland War.

Revell's Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiere are the first in a growing range of modern infantry figures available in 1:72 scale. Revell and Archer Models offer 1:72 and 1:76 scale models of the Schützenpanzer Marder infantry fighting vehicle used by Bundeswehr Panzergrenadiers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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