28th Infantry Division M1919A6 Gunners
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge and the role the 28th Infantry Division played in the battle; we'll take a look at the 28th Infantry Division Battle of the Bulge figure releases from the major manufacturers and suggest some improvements for the future.
A bit on the 28th Infantry Division during the Bulge:
Sent to the relatively quite sector of the Ardennes to rest and refit after the mauling it received in the Hürtgen Forest over the previous two months, the 28th Infantry Division would once again be up the sharp end of it on 16 December 1944 when the Germans launched Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (the Battle of the Bulge). For three days, the three regiments of the division held the line as best as possible against the German 5th Panzer Army and the German 7th Army, significantly throwing off the German timetable in the Ardennes. By the 19 December 1944, the division effectively ceased to exist. The 110th Infantry Regiment was decimated, the 109th was pushed to Wiltz and then Bastogne, and the 112th pushed to the north and operating with the surviving regiment of the 106th Infantry Division at St. Vith.
Make no mistake, without the heroic stand of the 28th Infantry Division during the first three days of the Bulge, there would be no Bastogne, no 101st Airborne at Bastogne, and no "NUTS!"
Now, onto the figures:
I first recreated the two 28th Infantry Division commercial releases out of my spare parts.
Dragon Models Limited Figure No. 70310: "Deke D'Amato", U.S. Army Machine Gunner, 28th Infantry Division, Ardennes 1944 (Private First Class)
Soldier Story Figure No. SS111: Battle of the Bulge U.S. Army 28th Infantry Division Ardennes 1944
Deke D'Amato is nearly perfect straight out of the box and is arguably one of the best figures in Dragon's Road to Victory line. At the height of the 28th's engagement in the fighting in the Bulge, there was no snow on the ground; so the fact that Dragon gave the improvised snow camo as an option with this figure is quite nice. Displayed without the snow camo, the figure is still fine. The new pattern greatcoat is great, and the overshoes quite possibly are the best addition to this set. The only downfall is the flash hider on the M1919A6; while the flash hider was introduced as an upgrade in 1944, it is doubtful that any saw use in combat. A hacksaw will remove it quite easily from the end of the barrel, sand it a little and then paint it up and the gun will look great.
The Soldier Story figure, on the other hand, is a shambles. Soldier Story, apparently taking queues from early DiD releases, just threw some stuff in a (very nice) box and sold it for $180.00+. Clearly copying DML's A-6, the flash hider is present on what is an otherwise very nice metal gun (it can also be hacksaw'ed off, though). All the quality from Soldier Story's A-4 from Henry Kano is present in this piece. The bi-pod is, unfortunately, weak. One of the legs on my A-6 was broken when I opened the box and was replaced by Soldier Story's distributor in California. The other leg broke when the figure I gave it to took an unfortunate shelf dive. I was able to glue it back but I am afraid it won't hold. The British winter snow suit is of a nice material, but they gave the trousers an extra pocket (on the wearer's right leg) that will need to be stitch ripped off to be accurate. Also, of the 15,000 snow suits acquired from the British during the Bulge, it is highly unlikely that the 28th received any of them given where they were during the Bulge, the lack of snow while they were still in the thick of it, and how after three days of hard fighting, the division ceased to exist. Finally, aside from the oversized Hersey's tropical chocolate bar, the figure needed Soldier Story's excellent US Army dismounted leggings since they gave the figure service shoes. Functioning rubber overshoes would also have been really cool, too bad they did not copy Deke D'Amato more closely!
So, with my disappointment in the figure, I decided to kitbash a concept version of my own 28th Infantry Division A-6 gunner using all Soldier Story parts and based the figure off of what the 28th Infantry Division most likely had/would have worn on 16 December 1944. I used nearly all previously released Soldier Story pieces straight out of the box with no modification to illustrate how Soldier Story already had nearly all the pieces to make a better boxed figure.
Six parts exceptions:
1. The nude is from the 28th ID figure. I could have used nearly any other Soldier Story figure, though.
2. The M1919A6 is obviously from the new Soldier Story figure. I have hacksawed the flash hider off and painted the exposed raw metal from my hacking.
3. The 28th Infantry Division red keystone ("Bloody Bucket") patch is from the new Soldier Story release.
4. The five button US Army sweater under the greatcoat of my kitbashed figure is also from the new 28th ID figure.
5. The wool trousers are from the new 28th ID figure as well. Henry Kano's would also have been fine; I was too lazy to dig them out, though.
6. The base is from the new 28th ID figure (for display purposes)
My Concept Figure:
M-1 Helmet: Soldier Story from Henry Kano, scratched off the 34th ID "Red Bull" insignia and repainted OD for a blank helmet.
Nude: Soldier Story 28th ID figure (this could be any Soldier Story US figure, though)
Greatcoat: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
Scarf: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
Gloves: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
Wool Trousers: Soldier Story 28th Infantry Division A-6 Gunner
M-43 Double Buckle Boots: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
Five Button V-Neck Sweater: (to pad out the greatcoat well) Soldier Story 28th ID A-6 Gunner
M1919A6 Machine Gun: Soldier Story 28th Infantry Division A-6 Gunner, modified with the flash hider hacksawed off and saw marks painted
.30 Cal. Cloth Ammo Belt: Soldier Story USMC Machine Gunner Tarawa 1943
M-1936 Pistol Belt: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure or Henry Kano
M-1923 1911 Magazine Pouch: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure or Henry Kano
M-1942 Carlisle Bandage Pouch: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure or Henry Kano
M-1912 1911 Pistol Holster: Soldier Story Henry Kano
M-1911 Pistol: Soldier Story Henry Kano
M-1928 Pack: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
M-1905 Bayonet and M-3 Scabbard: Soldier Story 2nd Ranger Battalion figure
M-1910 T-Handle Shovel and Carrier: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure
M-1910 Canteen and Cover: Soldier Story 101st Airborne Bastogne figure or Henry Kano
M1A1 .30 Cal. Ammo Can - Soldier Story Henry Kano figure (Note, this style ammo can probably did not see combat in WWII. Unfortunately Soldier Story did not make the M-1 version of the .30 cal. ammo can like Dragon did.)
Base: Soldier Story 28th Infantry Division A-6 Gunner
The biggest issue with every 1:6th scale WWII US .30 cal. machine gunner figure released by EVERY manufacturer is the lack of a .30 cal. cleaning rod pouch. An absolute sin! HankCo1942 made a custom one (my friend Josh has one of Hank's, which I've seen), I attempted to make one once upon a time, and my friend Wes makes beautiful custom ones (of which I now own many - pictured below):
Special Thanks To:
- Josh (JOSH51st) for letting me borrow his Soldier Story '28 pack and the Deke D'Amato greatcoat for this review
- Pedro (amaral) for the link to the M1919A6 page
Militaria Magazine No. 13: Winter Of '44: The US Army in the Ardennes, March 1995
The GI in Combat: Northwest Europe 1944-45, by Steven J. Zaloga and Ronald Volstad
Osprey Publishing Battle Orders No. 24: US Army Infantry Divisions 1944-45
GI Series No. 18: The Fall of Fortress Europe from the Battle of the Bulge to the Crossing of the Rhine by Christopher J. Anderson
Osprey Publishing Men-at-Arms No. 350: The US Army in WWII (3): Northwest Europe
Not Pictured (Print):
Osprey Elite No. 210: World War II US Army Combat Equipments
On The Web:
On the M1919A6 Machine Gun:
M1 vs. M1A1 US .30 Cal. Ammo Cans:
.30 Cal. M1 / M1A1 Ammo Box
WWII British Snow Suits:
WWII British Snow Smock - CAMOUFLAGE UNIFORMS - U.S. Militaria Forum