Peter Laing 15mm and Airfix 54mm German Paratroops

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Close up on the baggy, chunky but slight detail on Peter Laing 15mm WW2 German Infantry that could be dual use for paratroops.

I am currently painting up some 15mm Peter Laing WW2 German Infantry into dual 1940/41 use as German paratroops.

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Batch painting underway on these Peter Laing 15mm German Infantry / paratroops.

The beauty of these first 15mm figures is that Peter Laing deliberately made them with slight and muted detail so that they could be easily converted by paint or file to other figures. These will be gloss paint or gloss varnish when finished.

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“Detail is kept muted so there is no overscale effect … detail in the figure depends on the amount that is put in the painting ”  – Peter Laing catalogue introduction

These 15mm WW2 German rifleman infantry figures have a bagginess of trouser about them that suits paratroop jump suits.  Rifles were also quite widespread issue to paratroops, not all were carrying submachine guns.

A quick uniform check out of the ‘best’ uniform book of my childhood (Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour) shows that such grey dual use figures are possible.

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This is what I still think 1940 Germans in WW2 look  like … thanks to Preben Kannik.

The Andrew Mollo Uniforms of WW2 book (1970s Blandford), familiar from the childhood branch library, had these slightly grainier, grittier, more photo-realist illustrations.

Home Guard manuals of the time in my collection had interesting uniform plates – this book by John Brophy 1940.

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Home Guard manual by John Brophy c. 1940 – uniform plate. “The author of this handbook has a ‘hunch’ that adolescent enemy agents may be dropped in the uniforms of Boy Scouts or Sea Scouts”
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German Parachutists as shown on WW2 British Ministry of Information posters c. 1940/41 – note the camouflaged helmet cover.

This interesting ‘spot on sight’ enemy uniforms poster No. 1 shows a camo helmet cover, otherwise a grey uniform, worth bearing in mind when painting. This poster can be found at: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/events/0611/presentations/Teaching%20website/images4/uniforms1.html

I’m not sure I fancy painting 15mm camouflage jackets or helmets in such detail as below on my Airfix figures or as Tim did in his excellent Tim’s Tanks Peter Laing 15mm WW2 Blog post.

http://timstanks.blogspot.com/2015/07/peter-laing-15mm-miniatures.html

My previous paratroop camo painting experience was on a much bigger scale, about thirty plus years ago, tackling the camo from the Airfix packaging onto their then-newish 54mm German paratroop figures.

I have recently rebased, renovated and gloss varnished these 1980s Airfix paint jobs for new use.

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A bit bashed, rebased but still looking good …

I first painted these German Airfix Paratrooper figures in the early 1980s and they have hung around since then, getting increasingly bashed. I kept them as I quite liked the camouflage effects I achieved then with Airfix / Humbrol enamels.

I must have been following the Airfix painting guide on the box backs or catalogues a5 the time, so checked this online.

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As originally painted (in Matt?) I wanted to get a little of the old gloss toy soldier style at a time when I had no lead hollowcast painted 54mm figures to base them on. I must have been reading old toy soldier books in the library.

Three things were needed to  refresh them for modern 54mm Skirmish gaming use.

1. A quick spruce up of the faces in old toy soldier style (pink cheek dots, the lot) matches the original old toy soldier style paint from the 1980s.

2. I have rebased them on tuppenny bases to add some weight.

3. A coat of (gloss acrylic) spray varnish to seal them for play.

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I have a few more unpainted ones lying around from job lots that I hope to paint in a similar toy soldier gloss style to match these figures. Then off to the “Operation Back  Garden or Garten” this summer using Don’s parachute “confetti” paper shapes tipped out of a box or toy plane method of simulating airdrops?

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My local childhood branch library copy of Wargaming Airborne Operations … now mine!

My reference book for such past figure games was the curiously patchy 1977 Wargaming Airborne Operations by Donald Featherstone, still available in reprint from the History of Wargaming Project. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfairborne.htm

Now I need to finish these Laing paratroop figures and get working on the Home Guard rifle platoon to see them off …

Remember – be on your guard – “adolescent enemy agents may be dropped in the uniforms of Boy Scouts or Sea Scouts.”

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Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on the 24th March  2019.

4 thoughts on “Peter Laing 15mm and Airfix 54mm German Paratroops”

  1. One of your images (the SS man with the shadowed face) looks extremely familiar. I may have had that book, or one like it – it was paperback, oversized, and assorted uniforms of WWII. I vaguely recall a Polish cavalryman on the cover.

    Just picked up a bag of aquarium pebbles, which I’ve found useful in the past for marking forest trails. Will be trying a round of Close Wars solo tonight.

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  2. Great stuff! Methinks the German paratroops were one of Airfix’s better 1/32 sets, and nicely painted too. Interesting comment on Don Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations – “curiously patchy”? I find Don’s writing conversational and inspirational rather than focussed, in the sense that they don’t necessarily provide a full set of rules. Is that what you were getting at?

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    1. I enjoy Don’s conversational tone too. The “curiously patchy” comment is based on my feeling reading the book at the time in the 1980s – What was the book supposed to be ? I loved the Airfix photos. This thought was also confirmed by John Curry of The History of Wargaming Project in his introduction to the patched together remnants of Don’s unpublished Wargaming Commando Operations Book. “The problem with the … book was that the publishers foolishly removed four chapters dedicated to wargaming from this book. The view was that Don was writing for the mainstream, military history market, an area that was bigger than this the niche hobby of wargaming …” The Commando Ops Book was never completed or was rejected by the publishers as the Airborne book did not sell so well. The missing four Airborne chapters have so far not surfaced.

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