Having already made a set of German paratroops, it would have been logical for Valiant to follow that up with a set of support weapons such as this. When dropping into combat, the carrying of weapons could be positively dangerous, and those that were taken had to be as light as possible while still being effective. The initial wave of paratroops would have limited weaponry (which they might have to seek out in separate containers) and even more limited ammunition, so it was essential that they were supported by air-landing infantry with larger weapons and more ammunition as soon as possible. However later in the war the dropping of paratroops fell out of favour with the German High Command, and they were increasingly used as elite infantry, when they could use the full range of weapons available to any infantry in the Army.
This set not only builds on the previous set of German Paratroops, it actually incorporates that earlier set in its entirety, as one of the three sprues in this box is exactly the sprue found in the first. Therefore everything we said in that earlier review applies equally here. What is new are two new sprues which between them offer three new figures and some new equipment (see sprue mage). The new figures are the two-man mortar team shown in the middle of our second row, plus a new kneeling figure. As with the old sprue, there is a good deal of separate arms and heads, so a wide variety of different poses can be achieved, and since the new sprue includes still more bodies and arms, that range is much increased here.
The style of the new figures blends perfectly with the originals, both in style of sculpting and general appearance. The figures all wear jump smocks and the array of heads on offer wear either paratroop helmets (covered or uncovered) or side caps. All the boots are laced at the side, and while we would still say that we would have preferred to see more figures with grenades etc. stuffed untidily into pockets, there remains no problems with accuracy of the clothing here.
All the original weaponry is still here of course, plus some heavy weapons as promised. The largest of the newcomers is of course the 3.7 cm PaK 36, an anti-tank gun that influenced many others and a version was paradropped by the Germans, but quickly became obsolescent in the face of newer, better armoured tanks. The kit is quite simplified but a decent model and comes with an optional Stielgranate 41, a finned shaped charge that did improve the performance of the gun (from 1943), but not by a lot. Another welcome option on this is the choice of open or closed trails. Also new in this set is the LG40 recoilless gun pictured in our top row. Again this is a decent but simplified model, and is particularly notable for having its front and rear trails flat on the ground – they are actually part of the base – which is odd.
Another new weapon is the 5 cm mortar, which is being held extremely closely by the figure in the second row. Again much simplified but not too bad a model, a second crewman offering a bomb is also part of the package. Last of the new weapons is the Panzerbüchse 39 anti-tank rifle shown in our third row. Like the others this is light on detail but a reasonable representation, and like the others could easily be in the hands of a paratrooper, although against all but the lightest tanks it had very limited effectiveness.
Weapons found on the main figure sprue include the standard Kar 98 rifle, the MP40 submachine gun and some MG34 machine guns, all done to a similar standard to the rest of the weapons. One last new element in this set is the long container shown on our third row. These were dropped separately and could contain all manner of supplies, including some heavier weapons. Such a device has been modelled before, but here the optional small wheels and pulling handle which they carried have been included, which are authentic, but would surely still have made the container hard to pull over all but the smoothest ground. Nevertheless we appreciate the provision of these accessories.
Most of the figures need some form of assembly, and this will need gluing, although the hard plastic used is eminently suited to a good strong bond. The style is quite chunky with large heads, something like metal figures in style, but there is very little flash although occasional misalignment of moulds does not help. The detail is fair, and if you like to assemble your own figures then there is a lot on offer here, particularly as there are plenty of extra arms and weapons once your 11 figures are complete. Their size and style mean they do not mix well with all the other sets available on this subject, but they match perfectly with the rest of the Valiant range, and as well as all the usual weapons this set does offer some items rarely or never seen before. The look of the figures may be a matter of taste, but the set is nicely put together and is a significant expansion of the original.