The extremes of climate encountered by British troops in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of battle saw the use of a diverse mix of uniform items; wool Battledress and greatcoats were often worn in colder weather, and various mixtures of BD, KD items and the issue woollen pullover were commonplace. This set of figures from Alpine Miniatures illustrates just two of the many variations of uniform seen worn by British troops during the desert fighting. This set of figures, depicting two British Armoured crewmen during a halt, is an excellent example of the mix of clothing worn during a change in temperature – be it Spring or Autumn, or a cool desert morning or evening.
35080 – “British Armoured Crew Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures (and a puppy) sculpted by Alpine Miniatures owner, Taesung Harmms. The two British Armoured Crewmen, both wearing a mixture of tropical and Battledress clothing, are portrayed in fairly comfortable stances: the one stands with left hand in his shorts pocket while shielding his eyes from the sun with the other; while the crewman poses seated with his hands resting on his thighs. Released during February 2009, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35078 British Armoured Crew #1 and 35079 British Armoured Crew #2.
35078 British Armoured Crew #1
35078 British Armoured Crew #1 depicts a senior NCO during a halt. Wearing one of the more familiar variations of the KD and BD uniform mixtures, consisting of BD blouse, KD shorts long socks and ammunition boots, the crewman is portrayed with his left hand in his shorts pocket while shielding his eyes from the sun with the other.
The NCO appears to be wearing the 1942 pattern ‘utility’ or ’austerity’ BD blouse. Of a loose cut, it had a central back seam with no side seams, the rear left section continuing around to form the front left. All buttons on the front, pockets and cuffs are exposed, without the concealing fly featured on the earlier 1940 pattern BD blouse. Similarly the two breast patch pockets no longer feature the central box pleat. At the right front waistband a small belt tab and a toothed buckle allow for fine adjustment to fit. At each shoulder an epaulette was allowed into the seam. The stand-and-fall collar could be worn open.
The Sergeant, his rank depicted by the rank chevrons worn on both upper arms, also wears full arm insignia consisting of regimental shoulder title, arm of service, formation patches on both arms.
The armoured crewman wears ‘Shorts KD’, cut very full. The waist was adjusted by two cotton straps and patent buckles. The pocket on the front held the ‘first field dressing’. Note the second pattern double-pleated field dressing pocket at the front right of these shorts. This type was adapted mid-June 1940, although there was quite a degree of manufacturing overlap with the first pattern, which was single pleated and buttonless. I suspect these may be 1942 pattern KD shorts, the economy pattern manufactured without belt loops (which, if the 1941 pattern would be slightly visible above the right pocket slit as the BD jacket rides up).
Footwear consists of long socks or ‘hose tops’, which gave some protection from sun, dust and flies, and standard issue hobnailed ‘ammunition boots’.
35078 British Armoured Crew #1 is presented with two head gear alternatives: the black RAC beret; and the khaki wool field service cap. The distinctive black beret of the Royal Tank Regiment was authorised for use by the whole Royal Armoured Corps in 1940. Not particularly practical in the tropics, the khaki wool field service cap was nevertheless preferred to most other forms of headgear, particularly the disliked tropical and pith helmets.
35079 British Armoured Crew #2
35079 British Armoured Crew #2 is very simply portrayed in a casual seated pose, legs crossed and hands on his thighs. Simply wearing a standard issue woollen pull-over and KD shorts, he has a new ward: a young puppy.
Wearing a British-made army jumper as an upper-body outer layer, the armoured crewman wears a pair of ‘Shorts Khaki Drill’, with no pattern date but of late production. Fixes belt loops have been re-instated, and the second-pattern field dressing pocket has been moved back to the rear right.
Footwear consists of the long socks and standard issue hobnailed ‘ammunition boots’. Unlike the NCO, though, he also wears ‘anklets web’; they gave some support to the ankle, and prevented sand getting down into the ankle book (in theory).
Like his Sergeant, he is also presented with the two headgear options: the distinctive black RAC beret; and the almost universal khaki wool field service cap.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of nine (9) pieces - five pieces for figure 35078 and four to figure 35079. The kit is packaged in a small, clear acetate box with each figure’s parts inside its own small zip-lock bag. A small card displaying the painted set of figures, as well as the individual figures is supplied.
Figure 35078 British Armoured Crew #1 consists of the following five (5) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing RAC beret; and
Head wearing khaki wool field service cap.
Figure 35079 British Armoured Crew #2 consists of the following four (4) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Head wearing RAC beret;
Head wearing khaki wool field service cap; and
Overall the figures are extremely well sculpted, and as we have come to expect from Alpine Miniatures, the casting is crisp and clean.
The heads are all well-sculpted, and both faces in the twosome match in terms of facial details – it is only the headdress that sets the pairs apart. The faces are cleanly sculpted and well defined, with well-textured hair noticeable under the headgear. The headgear is well proportioned and nicely detailed. The casting blocks are located under the neck, so modellers can effortlessly remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
The figures proper are well detailed and one gets a very good idea of the slightly looser fit of the 1942 BD blouse, the BD pullover and hang of the loose-fitting KD shorts. Folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. All the finer details such as pockets, pleats, button-fly fronts, and buckles are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. The texture of the woollen army pullover or the hobnailed bottom of 35079’s right boot does not go unnoticed.
Casting is as one always expects from an Alpine figure: clean and crisp, with the only clean up being a small piece of the casting plug under the buttocks of figure 35079 British Armoured Crew #2. As per usual the casting blocks beneath the feet have been cut away and no more than a quick clean-up is required.
The arms, as with the rest of the figure, are well detailed and cast. The casting blocks for all the arms are placed on the outside of the elbows and inside of the shoulder for the right and left arms of figure 35078 respectively.
The puppy, packaged with figure 35079, appears to be of a mixed breed and is very neatly sculpted. The casting block is located beneath the pup, and given its position and the delicacy of the dog may need to be incorporated into groundwork as opposed to being completely removed.
Removing the pieces from the casting blocks was effortless. As always, I used a new knife blade, which easily cut through the resin with ease. Clean up was non-existent, with only the bit of flash being the aforementioned piece under the seat of figure 35079 - nothing a sharp hobby knife blade could not quickly sort out.
The arms of figure 35078 line up easily with the shoulders on the torso. There was little, if not no, guesswork involved when lining the arms up to the shoulders. The right arm is aligned to folds in the tunic, and the left hand finds a slight recess fitting into the shorts pocket.
The heads easily slide into place and, as with all Alpine figures, are to a certain degree interchangeable between the two figures.
While no doubt some may find the poses featured in this figure set inanimate, I must admit to being extremely fond of them. I find the figures rather versatile given the poses which will suit virtually any British or Commonwealth vehicle placed in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatres of battle, be it tank, armoured car, lorry, or even simply seated on a wall as portrayed by Calvin Tan’s box-art.
With magnificent casting and Taesung Harmm’s eye for detail, this figure set by Alpine Miniatures is a terrific example of the various aspects of the Khaki Drill and Battle Dress uniforms and the manners in which it was worn by British and Commonwealth troops. Furthermore, given that armour personnel were issued with the same uniforms as infantry and other Army branches of service, this set need not only be portrayed as the former.
Alpine Miniatures’ first set of British troops wearing KD dress, or rather the unique manner in which KD and BD were worn together during the war in the Mediterranean and Middle East, is bound to be a popular release. Even more so given the recent resurgence of 1/35 scale British armour releases. These figures will be the perfect accessory to any British or Commonwealth vehicle – or will the vehicle be accessorising these highly recommended figures?
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject: “Khaki Drill & Jungle Green: British Tropical Uniforms 1939-45 in Colour Photographs”. Martin J. Brayley & Richard Ingram. The Crowood Press. 2000.
“The British Army 1939-45 (2): Middle East & Mediterranean”. Men-at-Arms 368. Martin J. Brayley. Illustrated by Mike Chappell. Osprey Publishing. 2002.
“Montgomery’s Desert Army”. Men-at-Arms Series. John Wilkinson-Latham. Illustrated by G.A. Embleton. Osprey Publishing. 1977.
“World War II Infantry in Colour Photographs”. Europa Militaria No. 2. Laurent Mirouze. Windrow & Greene. 1990.