by: Martyn Crowther [ ]
The 20th Waffen-Grenadier-Division was formed in early 1944 from general conscription out of the 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade, East battalions, and the 287th Police Fusilier Battalion. Troops were also taken from the Finnish Infantry regiment along with Estonian volunteers. The Division first saw combat against the Soviets when it was ordered to re-take the Narva bridgehead. Within 9 days the Soviets were pushed back across the Narva River on the 29th February, 1945. In May the Division was pulled back from the front and refitted. Then it took part in the Vistula-Oder Offensive where the Germans were pushed back over the Oder River, and the 20th suffered heavy casualties. On the 17th of March, 1945, the Division made a major escape attempt to break away from the Russians, but this failed. However, two days later the Division tried again and succeeded in escaping, but left all of their heavy equipment behind. After this, the remainder of the 20th moved south for the Prague offensive where it was finally encircled and surrendered on the 8th of May.
The set is broken into four figures, with each wearing winter clothing. The coats are M42 winter parkas which are fur-lined. The helmets are standard issue with one man wearing fur hat. All of the soldiers have late pattern ankle boots.
Figure 1 with Molotov cocktail and MP40: The first figure has a MP40 and a Molotov cocktail; he is also carrying a bread pouch, mess tin, water bottle, gas mask and MP40 ammo pouches. Instead of a helmet, he is wearing a winter fur hat.
Figure 2 with Panzerfaust: The second figure is about to fire a Panzerfaust with its sights in the “up” or firing position. He also has a Kar 98 bolt-action rifle, "potato masher” stick grenade, mess tin, water bottle, bread pouch and Kar 98 ammo pouches. Dragon also has included a nice little sheet of deals for the Panzerfaust with operating instructions and warnings (e.g., “strong jet of flame” with an arrow pointing to the rear).
Figure 3 with Kar 98 grenade rifle: The third figure is kneeling, loading up his Kar 98 grenade rifle. Like the other figures, he is equipped with mess tin, water bottle, bread pouch, gas mask. He also has a rifle grenade pouch hooked onto his belt as well.
Figure 4 with Gewehr 41 rifle and cluster grenade: The last figure is throwing a cluster grenade, maybe at a tank? He is also holding his Gewehr 41 with the but on the ground to support his weight while throwing the grenade. He is carrying a M1938 gasmask, M1931 bread bag, water bottle and mess tin, and what look like Kar 98 ammo pouches.
Dragon has included a mass of extra weapons! Which include Molotov cocktails, stick grenades, M41, G41, Suomi M1931, Panzerfaust 30k, Panzerfaust 60, Stg45, M G41, two K-98 w/discharger cup, Walther PPK pistols, two Stg44s and a Panzershreck with bonus ammo.
In comparison with Dragon Gen 2 the set matches up well. This set has a number of Gen 2 features, including trousers that go into another assembly on the figure; all the parka hoods need attaching. However I feel that this set does not reach the mark in Gen 2 detail; this is evident in the face and boots. Also you do not get Gen 2 helmets or equipment, which is a shame because this would have made that little bit of extra detail for the set. But that doesn’t take anything away from the detailing, which is superb. Dragon have really crammed in the detail with their “39-45” series. Well done Dragon.
The figures break down into arms, head, torso and legs. On one of the figures Dragon have done what they do with the Gen 2 and make you glue the trousers on piece by piece. This is a nice touch, and will look good once complete. Detail is excellent throughout, and this will be a really nice figure kit to build, paint and add to a diorama, or just a base for single figures.
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