Sunday, 25 March 2012

Fallschirmjager in Italy 1943

The elite troops of the Luftwaffe, the Fallschirmjager, were used in almost all theatres of WWII in the west, this included Italy between 1943 and the end of the war.

This entry is intended to give a look at the uniform of the Fallscirmjager in Italy and get a feel for how it was used.

The troops of 1st Fallschirmjager Division (FJD) 'Hermann Goring', 1 Fallschirmjager Regiment (FJR) 1 were sent in early March 1943 to counter the expected Allied landings, these were backed up by FJR 3 and 4 in July and in August they all pulled back to the Italian mainland and were soon joined by 2 FJD.

I will be looking at the uniforms of the general soldiers but will touch on officers clothing where it is similar.

Early Fallschirm troops in Italy

As you can see from above, the main point of the uniform is the sand coloured parts.  The basic uniform was as follows:

Head down

Helmet - Sand fallschirm helmet, usually no eagle for new helmets, older helmets may have the eagle with a grey surround where the helmet was grey originally but has been overpainted in sand.
Cap - Peaked cap in sand with sand backed eagle and standard cockade (officers have silver trim to cap)
Sidecap - Sand with sand backed eagle and standard cockade

Tunic - Desert sand tropical tunic, similar to tuchrock with sand backed eagle on right brest.
Shirt - Desert sand shirt with sewn on eagle.

Belt - Brown standard belt with sand, bare metal or grey buckle

Trousers - Tropical trousers in sand, luftwaffe version as used by ground troops in DAK.

Gaiters - Tan or green gaiters with brown straps

Boots - 2nd pattern jump boots in black or brown

Smock - Later patterns of jump smock in standard splinter 'B' (sandy brown/yellow base with large brown patches and smaller green patches and green 'rain'.  Brown/green can sometimes be reversed)  Early green ones may have been seen but were not common.

Helmet cover - not usually seen in Italy but can be a splinter pattern or plain green


Y straps - Standard brown leather Y's or sometimes tan DAK canvas straps were used.

Bread bag - This was the only piece of webbing which was coloured blue.  There would also be sand/tan bags and green ones.

Water bottle - standard brown bottle with black strap or DAK bottle (wooden) with canvas straps. Cups would have been either straight sided metal or standard plastic.

Mess tins - these could be grey, green or sand, personalisation was not uncommon but cammo was rarely seen this early in the war

E-tool/shovel - both types (folding/straight) would have been used but would not be seen on a soldier very often due to the size and weight.  Heads could be black or sand, carriers were black or brown for straight tools and black for folding.

Bayonet - standard K98 bayonet was carried by most (even mg and mortar troops) and had either a brown or black frog.

Zeltbahn/Tent - this would have been carried wrapped in 2 straps with poles in the middle.  It would have been in sand colour or splinter 'A' pattern.

Gas Mask pouch - this would be in green and carry a gas cape for use in the event of a gas attack, these were only really used by Fallschirmjager and never used operationally.  They were usually in green.

Gas Mask Tin - the standard issue tin containing the standard gas mask.  This would be in green, grey or sand.


K98 Rifle - Standard issue rifle but could be fitted with a scope for the sniper role.  Some shorter barrel models and folding stock models were released but these were not in common use.  The standard pouches were 3 pockets on each side in brown/natural finish leather.  The Fallschirmjager had a special bandoleer made for carrying extra clips of rounds, they consisted of 20 pouches, 10 on each side, to carry a clip in each giving another 100 rounds.  These were in green originally, they were also created in sand and splinter colours.

G41 - Semi-automatic rifle, not used very much but liked by the Fallshirmjager as its rate of fire was quite good.  Pouches were all in a tan colour with black lining.

MP38/MP40 - The standard sub-machine gun for all German troops, the sling would be standard brown leather or sometimes a canvas DAK strap was seen.  The ammo pouches were usually in green but could be seen in DAK tan. These were never blue for Fallschirmjager, only Luftland division used these.  There were also some 6 compartment pouches in green or tan colours were used but these were not very common.

MG34 - Standard heavy MG at the start of the war, it was used all of the way through although from 1943 onwards the MG42 was more common.  It would have had a brown sling and the gunner would have had a brown or black tool pouch, the loader would have a spare barrel tube and extra ammo in either belts or tins (sometimes both), these would have been in green or sand colours.

MG42 - Probably the best heavy machine gun, ever!  In use from 1943 onwards the equipment used would have been the same as the MG34 above.

FG42 - This MG was created especially for the Fallschirmjager and was an assault rifle of limited success.  It was to be superseded by the MP/StG44. Ammo was usually carried in a bandoleer similar to the K98 but with larger pockets.

Model 39 grenade - This is the 'egg' grenade which looked similar to the standard allied grenades but had a smooth body. These had a loop at the bottom for fixing to webbing.

Model 24 grenade - The classic 'potato masher' stick grenade, this would be held in the belt or a special grenade bag could be used.   This fitted over both shoulders and could be used to carry up to 8 grenades.  It was seen in plain green or splinter 'A' pattern.

P08 Luger pistol - The classic Luger was used early in the war but was phased out as the Walther P38 was introduced to replace it.  It would be carried in either a hard or soft case, both in brown/natural leather.

Walther P38 - The successor to the P08, it proved more reliable and useful in the battlefield.  It also had a hard or soft case, both in brown/natural leather.

These are the main things a Fallschirmjager would have on them in Italy but obviously every soldier would not have everything in this list, especially the weapons.

Standard Fallschirmjager in Italy, note the mouse grey shirt


Sometimes not all of the uniform was available when it was issued so standard kit would be substituted.  Other times older soldiers could have their kit which they were first issued with and they would keep it as long as possible as it had been modified to suit them.

Fallschirmjager in more standard late war uniform.

Helmet - Fallschirm helmet in grey or standard German helmet in grey or sand.

Fleigerblouse - Standard grey 2 pocket jacket with concealed buttons.

Shirt - In mouse grey with no insignia.

Trousers - jump trousers in green with knee pa access and knee pocket for knife.

These were all seen in Italy but not as common as the standard uniform.

I hope this has helped with the uniforms in Italy and will show you what is available to the re-enactor/modeller.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Seeing the light

Highlighting the way I make models

When I started producing models in my current house, I was using a small coffee table and sitting on the couch.  Now as you all cringe of the thought of such bad posture, it was not too bad (but even so I would not reccomend it!) and worked for a while.  I tried using the kitchen table but this was too anti-social, I couldnt talk to my other half and the TV was not in sight either, this clearly was not going to work!  Then came Christmas.  Last Christmas (2010) we had a real tree, I was lovely, the smell and the look, but now that the 3 month old is 15 months old, pulling was a very real danger.  I reluctantly agreed to get a fake tree and my other half said her mum had a 'Christmas table'.  I was very intrigued how a table could be in the 'Christmas' catagory, was it covered in tinsel? Did it have Santa festooned accross it?  Imagine my dissapointment when it turned out to be a normal square table, about 2ft square with folding crossed legs and a baize top.  Once covered with a nice cloth the tree looked nice, then it was explained the table only came out at Christmas time to put the tree on, seems obvious really.

It was during another coffee table modelling session, with tools falling off all over the place and no space to put  things, I looked up and my eyes fell upon the 'Christmas' table.  Could I give this table a new purpose all year round?  I didnt breach the subject straight away, SWMBO actually borrowed the table from the dredded Mother-in-law (cue shudder) and she has a certain love of this table as it used to be her Dads.  Fair enough, its an old table (possibly even antique?), and so she would have to agree to it's new life.  The subject was mooted to the other half just before the tree was put to bed and she agreed in principle but the final say would of course mean a conversation with the M-i-l!

Completly out of the blue she was very nice about it and actually glad it was going to get some use so she was happy for me to have it rather than it languishing in her basement.  What a difference!  Sitting in the arm charir the table is at a perfect height for working and it is about 8 times the area of the coffee table meaning everything stays where I want it to (meddling toddlers excluded!).  I actually believe this has improved my modelling, not massively, but there has been a noticable improvement.  This is down, mainly, to the fact I dont have to have things sitting on tables/chairs/floor around me and I can lay things out to get thing right first time.  Also I can have a tool kit on the table ready to use at any time.

So I have my perfect surface, but another bone of contention between me and 'her' is the lights.  Good lighting is a must for creating good models, you can spend a good chunk of a weeks wages on a 'modelling' light but I have always made-do with the main light in the room.  SWMBO, on the other hand, only every wants the little lamps on.  These are only just enough to enable you to navigate through the room, nevermind produce a model to any degree of accuracy.  Then came a suggestion, 'Why not get yourself a lamp?'.  The little lightbulb above my head went on (but not the main light, she wouldnt allow that!).  A quick internet search left me a few questions still to be answered and I decided to only buy one I had seen and know would be good enough for me.

A trip to Newbank garden centre produced my solution.  An angle poise lamp with a small but very weighty base in matt black.  I would have liked a clip on lamp but the sides of the table arn't great and are quite thick so getting a clamp to fit was a problem.  This lamp has a tall enough arm not to get in the way but still flexible enough to get it exactly where I want it.  The best part though was that it only cost a tenner!  Yes £10 for a quality lamp, OK it was end of line reduced from £24 because it had a tatty box but its a lot cheaper than others.

I have now realised that one of the most important parts of model making is the light which you have at the table, without it you will not be able to see the extra little details to make your model stand out from the rest.
Bright and spacious, better models will result