Hitler's Thousand Year Reich pretty quickly slid into chaos as the country struggled to fight a two-front, then a three-front war. As Allied bombing gradually wrecked German war production, shortages of men and material required an "All Hands on Deck" desperation. Old men and boys as young as 15-16 were pressed into suicidal service defending the Fatherland as part of a Home Guard absurdly named the Volkssturm ("people's shock troops").
Inspired by the Prussian Landsturm or militia who had been called out by Frederick William III of Prussia in 1813 to resist Napoleon, the Volkssturm's grandiose name and revered precedent could not mask its rag-tag appearance or its amateur limitations. Lacking in most cases proper arms and instruction, its "soldiers" were usually dressed in a mix of military cast-offs and civilian clothes, more propaganda than paramilitary unit.
Volkssturm units were armed with whatever could be scrounged amid Germany's constant armaments shortage, including obsolete weapons from World War I. Most images show members either with a Kar98k or some other kind of rifle, or a Panzerfaust anti-tank RPG. Nazi leaders dreamed of six million Volkssturm soldiers in the ranks, though reliable figures don't seem to exist on how many actually served. Whatever the number, it was far less, though up to a quarter million were killed or wounded, mostly during the Battle of Berlin when the city's occupants felt they had to fight to the death because of the rough justice the Soviets were meting out as they fought their way to the Nazi capital.
The only distinctive marking identifying a member of the Volkssturm was a red-bordered black armband with the phrase Deutscher Volkssturm Wehrmacht flanked by Nazi eagles. As part of its masterful series of uniform markings, Archer Fine Transfers has released a sheet of Volkssturm arm bands.
what you get
In the usual small Archer glassine is a sheet of a dozen arm bands and a small piece of Wet Transfer Paper.
Unlike with their regular vehicle dry transfers, Archer actually insists on your using their Wet Transfer Paper to apply these. Basically, you apply the transfer to the WTP as if you were applying a dry transfer to a model's surface, then cut the image out and dip it briefly in water. The "decal" then slides off and allows you to position small items like uniform patches and vehicle instrument faces. The Archer website even has instructions on how to use the paper, so don't sweat it.
I tried printing my own armbands and it was a nightmare. These go in in minutes, and as you can see from the photos, look great. The transfers require no Future or other prep coat, and Archer stands behind them 100%. They're very fragile, and I recommend using the backing paper they come with when applying to the Wet Transfer Paper. I didn't and a few of them flaked off. But Archer stands behind their products and will replace anything that performs poorly.
I have tried scratch-building my own Volkssturm armbands from color laser images reduced to absurd tininess. I'll leave it to the geniuses of Archer to do this kind of thing for me and save my eyes for modeling.
Review sample provided by Archer Fine Transfers. Please be sure to say you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering.
Highs: Archer's usual crisp printing & excellent research.Lows: Pricy, but try making these yourself (not!). Also quite delicate.Verdict: Highly-recommended for Late War Volkssturm figures.
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