British Infantry, 1943–1945
Airfix 1:76 Scale Figure Review
Airfix British Infantry are a welcome addition to the growing range of 1:72 scale World-War Two miniatures, even if they fall short of the exceptional sculpting quality and consistency of the iconic 2nd edition British Commandos and British Paratroops produced by Airfix about 40 years before.
48 Figures in 15 Poses – 24 mm equal 173 cm Height
- Officer with Webley Service Revolver, advancing, signaling (3)
- Radio Operator with No.18 Wireless Set (3)
- Rifleman carrying Field Telephone Cable (3)
- No. 1 with PIAT and three-round Ammunition Case (3)
- Machine Gunner with Bren LMG, advancing (3)
- Machine Gunner with Bren LMG, kneeling (3)
- Infantryman with Sten SMG, advancing (3)
- Infantryman with Sten SMG, advancing, firing (3)
- Infantryman with Sten SMG, standing, firing (3)
- Rifleman with Small Box Respirator, advancing (3)
- Rifleman, advancing, keeping low (3)
- Rifleman, advancing with fixed bayonet (3)
- Rifleman, running (4)
- Rifleman, standing, firing (4)
- Rifleman, kneeling, firing (4)
Excellent choice of subject, wargamers and diorama builders can never have enough British Infantry in Battledress, with 1937 Pattern Web Equipment, and Brodie helmets. Released in 2011, well in advance of the 70th anniversary celebration of the Normandy landings, this 4th edition Airfix British Infantry set of World-War Two is the first new set of 1:72 scale Airfix miniatures since 1982.
This set offers solid wargaming poses, which mix well with British infantry figures from other manufacturers. Even the old 2nd edition Airfix British Infantry can be made to match this set by adding Haversacks made of Green Stuff or Modeling Wax.
The soldiers are wearing their ‘37 pattern webbing in Battle Order, with Haversack (Small Pack), two Basic Pouches, Bayonet Frog on the left hip, Water Bottle Carrier behind the right hip, and Entrenching Tool Carrier in the center of the lower back. In 1:72 scale, the 11″ × 9½″ × 4″ Haversack should be 3.9 mm wide, 3.4 mm tall, and 1.4 mm deep. Unfortunately, Airfix made most of theirs in different proportions and variable sizes, with the largest being 4 mm wide and 4.4 mm tall and the smallest 3.4 mm wide and 3.8 mm tall. The sculptor has made most of these packs nearly square or noticeably taller than they are wide, making them appear to be the 1908 Pattern Valise (Large Pack), which was not worn in Battle Order. Only three of the 14 packs in this set look like Haversacks. Instead of making one perfect Haversack of the proper shape and size, copying and pasting that onto every single sculpture of a British or Commonwealth infantryman in the future, the sculptor seems to have gone through this process repeatedly, producing a different kind of Haversack almost every time. It‘s amazing that a manufacturer is actually prepared to pay for such a waste of expensive sculpting resources, rather than supply the sculptor with one approved Haversack, one SMLE, one Bren, and one Sten SMG to make further master copies of. After all, these miniatures are supposed to represent British soldiers in “Uniform”, not Okupanty in the era of “bring your own camping gear and bullet wound tampons”.
The Airfix infantrymen are wearing the Mk.1 or Mk.2 helmet which was gradually replaced by the M.1944 Mk.3 “Canadian” helmet and the M.1945 Mk.4 “Turtle Shell” helmet with removable liner. Two submachine gunners and one Bren gunner are wearing their helmets without any camouflage, which is a remarkable, considering that their comrades in arms have taken the time and effort to make themselves less conspicuous.
The sculpting quality of rifles, submachine guns, and light machine guns is quite variable. Three of the seven riflemen are properly armed with the “Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield” (SMLE), but the other four are carrying long rifles, possibly the “Magazine, Lee-Enfield” (MLE). The standing rifleman‘s weapon has an exaggerated front sight while many of the others have none at all. There is one soldier advancing with fixed bayonet, but it did not cast properly and needs to be removed to stop looking silly.
The rifleman wearing the vintage Small Box Respirator in the Alert Position on his chest is an odd inclusion in this set of 1943 British infantry. Was he meant for a different set of British infantry and ended up here by mistake? One possible fix for this figure might be to remove the respirator haversack from his chest and hide the damage under a sniper veil.
Compared to the Bren LMG and some of the other weapons in this set, the PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank) looks relatively thin, considering that this spigot mortar propelled an 83 mm shaped charge bomb. In fact, the mortar tube has a diameter of 1.16 mm or 83,5 mm in this scale. While Airfix got the diameter of the tube right, the length is 48 inches when it should be 39 inches. Given the exaggerated length, it is not surprising that this miniature PIAT looks like a light machine gun.
The presentation of the PIAT gunner compounds the problem: he appears to be crawling forward into a suitable firing position, pushing the 34.5 lb PIAT – with a 2.5 lb bomb in it no less! – forward with one hand and dragging a cardboard three-round ammunition case along with the other. This is not standard operating procedure for the PIAT! Airfix might have done a better job on the PIAT, had they studied the Small Arms Training, Volume 1, Pamphlet No. 24, Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank which states:
- “Two men will be required to maintain the projector in action. No. 1 will fire; No. 2 will load and assist No. 1 in every other possible way.”
- “In action the projector will always be carried cocked, with the safety catch applied and the muzzle plug in position.”
- “It will never be carried with a bomb loaded.”
Fortunately, there is a clever fix for this figure: remove the PIAT to assign him as No. 2 of a PIAT team. Caesar Miniatures H055, ESCI P-200, HäT 8228, and Mars 72127 have prone No. 1 PIAT gunners but none of them offer a No. 2.
British infantry may be converted to represent British Commandos by replacing the steel helmet with a beret or knit cap.
- British and Commonwealth Infantry, 1943–1945
- British Commandos with Berets, 1943–1945
- Indian Infantry with Turban, 1943–1945
With so many British infantry miniatures on the market, a lot of them from Airfix, there is now virtually no excuse for using duplicate figure poses in the same infantry section or platoon.