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Set 01723

British Paratroops

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1965
Contents 33 figures
Poses 17 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Green, Tan, Medium Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


When Airfix first released this set it was simply called 'Paratroops', then later changed to 'Paratroopers', and finally 'WWII British Paratroops'. Though it seems these were originally made as generic Allied paratroops, it is clear that they were based on the British 'Red Devils'. In any event, when the set was renamed to British paratroops, no pieces were changed or retooled, so it is as British troops that this set must be judged.

The set includes a most unusual selection of poses, not all of which were a good idea at the time. The officer is the man walking with right hand in the air and apparently looking down at his watch. We are all in favour of unusual poses, but why this pose was chosen is not clear. The only standing firing pose (which is not generally a useful one for twentieth century figures) is actually firing up into the air. Why he might be doing that is a mystery - it makes him look like he is shooting at other paratroops still coming down. One man is bending down towards the 'bombcell' cylindrical container, but he is doing so in a strange manner that looks more like a modern keep fit exercise. The casualty lying on the ground is clearly wounded rather than dead, and is a more interesting pose than the norm, but the soldier about to club someone with the butt of his rifle is a very unlikely sight in such recent warfare. The man dragging his parachute comes in three pieces - man, parachute and base - and though Airfix have a dreadful record with fixing things to bases, this is actually better done than most of theirs. The mortar set is a reasonable affair, though Airfix followed their own general rule of having all the crew with outstretched arms rather than apparently doing anything with their weapon.

The uniform is much simplified but not too bad, with the Denison smock and rimless helmet. However all the helmets are smooth, when in battle they would normally have netting into which bits of material would be inserted to break up the profile. Also the webbing on these men is quite wrong, and is no more than a waistbelt onto which two tiny pouches are attached - nothing like the 1937 Pattern webbing such men should have, while most are hugely light on equipment anyway. Some have a sort of rucksack on their backs, which again is like no actual kit carried into the field.

Weaponry is a real surprise here. Most of the men are carrying either rifles or some sort of submachine gun which resembles the Reising or the Thompson M1A1, although the former was never used by the British paras and the latter was quite rare (and these are poor models anyway). None are carrying a Sten or a Bren, which is a pity, though a bazooka team is provided, with a second man correctly feeding the weapon. Sadly British paras never used the Bazooka either, so this team may be more suitable for the earlier generic name of this set than the later designation of 'British'.

The detail is pretty poor on these figures. Many straps are missing and a lot of shortcuts have been taken, particularly with regard to the weapons. There is some flash to be removed, though this will vary depending on what batch a figure comes from, and with a set this old there have been many batches. Some glaring failures in accuracy plus ill-chosen poses make this a quite poor set that can only suffer by comparison with the comparable later sets from other producers, not to mention the far better 1/32 scale set from Airfix themselves.


Historical Accuracy 4
Pose Quality 4
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 4
Mould 6

Further Reading
"Arnhem 1944" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.24) - Stephen Badsey - 9781855323025
"British Web Equipment of the Two World Wars" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Series No.32) - Martin Brayley - 9781861267436
"For King and Country" - Schiffer - Harlan Glenn - 9780764307942
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" - Amber - Chris Bishop - 9781905704460
"The Paras" - Arms and Armour (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.10) - James Shortt - 9780853686996
"The Paras 1940-84" - Osprey (Elite Series No.1) - Gregor Ferguson - 9780850455731
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