After nearly 10 years of being demilitarised, the Federal Republic of Germany began to raise new armed forces in the mid 1950s, and by July of 1956 this included two brigades of paratroops. As with most armies the airborne soldiers soon became an elite unit, receiving more training (and better pay) and developing a strong esprit de corps.
This set bears no date for the figures nor a date for when it was produced. The men wear a shirt tucked into trousers (no flak jackets) and a helmet, but it is hard to find any particular dating evidence in the uniform. However they all wear the long cross-laced ankle boots which were standard paratroop issue to reduce ankle injuries. They have little or no kit on them apart from the many figures that have their reserve parachute moulded to their stomach. Most of the kit comes as separate components which can be seen here, and includes a number of packed parachutes, bags and weapons. Basically all the men are quite lightly kitted, as might be expected when actually executing a jump, particularly if not actually going into a combat zone.
One aspect that should help date this set is the weapons, but here again evidence is inconclusive. The weapons are adequate but not great in detail, but the rifle looks like the G3 with the collapsible stock as you might expect for paratroopers. This weapon was in common use in the German armed forces from the late 1950s until the mid 1990s, so that does not narrow down the period very much. The sprue also includes two Milan anti-tank weapons, which were first introduced in 1972, and what looks like the MP2A1 submachine gun.
The poses reinforce the non-combat impression, with most seemingly concerned with the various stages of the jump, rather than any action after they land. We find men apparently preparing to enter the plane, some sitting waiting, some actually in the act of coming down and some gathering equipment after the jump. Perhaps a better idea of the intended use for the poses can be gained by looking at the box artwork and also the painted samples on the back of the box. A small number of the figures require some very simple assembly, but other than that we have left them as they come, although many clearly should be carrying some of the items included in the set. Overall we liked many of the poses, which we thought were a fair reflection of the various stages of a jump. Anyone looking for battle poses will be disappointed, but this set is something of a change from the norm in that respect. The set also includes an officer/instructor and two pilot figures, so all you really need to add is the plane.
These figures are HO (1:87th) scale, so they do look pretty small when compared to the regular 1:72 figures normally found on this site. The detail is OK and pretty well done, although not as fine as in some sets, which is a problem for things like weapons as we have said. We found a fair amount of flash, although this was more large tabs in certain places rather than general flash all around the seams. None of the standing figures has a base, although the set includes a sheet of clear plastic from which bases could be fashioned.
This is not a set for wargamers, but it does a pretty good job of depicting its subject. Although the figures are in a smaller scale the post World War II era has very few figures so this could still find some use, and there is also potential for conversion to other paratroops.