Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 16: Vintage Airfix Africa Korps 1962

Over the last few days I have been repairing, repainting and basing some 1962 vintage Airfix Afrika Korps that were in the package of 1960s Airfix that Tony Adams kindly sent me earlier this year.

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Such 50+ year old (almost 60 year old) plastic figures are getting rather fragile now but I thought it better to paint them up and use them for gaming with care whilst still intact.

Before and after basing: Fragile enough 1960s figures that the stick grenade tops have fallen off.

Some of Tony’s originals are seen here in their 1960s paintwork by Tony.

As they arrived from Tony with cryptic base markings and helmet colours

As is usual with Airfix, some of the paint had flaked. I have tried to keep most of Tony’s original paintwork where I can, mostly repainting hats and rifles.

I tried a little bit of Citadel Agramax Earth wash or shade, but this didn’t do much for them, having such muted detail as early Airfix generally had. I could have painted in straps and equipment, but this was not only fiddly but mostly this was dust and khaki colour on khaki.

I thought the mix of old and new paint / uniform makes them look like veteran troops.

I also wanted to keep them slightly non-specific, as the ones in the Bergmutze soft caps had the look of a generic private army such as James Bond villains often had, especially the way Tony had painted them with dark or silver caps. I wanted to be able to use them in ImagiNations as desert forces or desert raiders. This is why in the first batch I have included no figures with the distinctive German helmets.

A Rommel looking figure besides a battered childhood Airfix halftrack.
Another battered old childhood Airfix model an armoured car from the desert reconnaissance set

In Jean Christophe Carbonel’s book Airfix’s Little Soldiers HO/OO 1959-2009, this set is listed as being introduced in 1962, the same year that Donald Featherstone’s War Games was published.

News of the only Airfix WW2 figures available in 1962/3

Mention is made in 1963 of these desert figures arriving in the wargaming chapter of Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way here https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/early-1963-featherstone-rules-update/

The short-lived version 1 set (1962-1973) is unfavourably reviewed on Plastic Soldier Review http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=362

I have tried to keep simple paintwork as shown on the early Airfix boxes.

Eventually for opposition I will paint and base some of the version 1 Airfix Eighth Army figures that Tony Adams had in the parcel he sent me and some of my childhood / family original figures.

The 1973/4 update sculpts (version 2) of these desert troops are still available over 45 years later (2019) from Airfix stockists or online.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15/16 December 2019.

20 thoughts on “Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 16: Vintage Airfix Africa Korps 1962”

  1. What a lovely find, and nice refurbishing. I’ve considered buying the Airfix boxes for just those rules, but have also been experimenting with Junior General’s “overhead” models, some of which come as squads of three just as the rules suggest.

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  2. My WWII wargaming started with those figures… and 8th Army… and Airfix Lee/Grants… never did figure out what the weird A/T gun was supposed to be representing.. :o)

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    1. These 1962 -73 (version 1) figures were becoming scarce in the shops and my family’s collection as I began to collect my own Airfix figures with the ‘new’ slightly larger version 2 (1973/4 onwards), so the few version 1 figures I had access to were a bit special. Special forces! They matched my Airfix commandos etc.
      For me, the Version 1 figures are charming small figures (but then I collect Peter Laing 15mm blobs). I would happily buy these version 1 figures in metal.

      I have found a couple of intact (grey Airfix German infantry version 1) weird A/T guns including 1 for a desert / khaki paint scheme to feature in future blogposts.

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      1. Cheers Ian… what a fascinating weapon/gun.. how on earth did Airfix come to the conclusion that was the weapon they needed in the Afriks Korps box I wonder? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they were making the decision.. :o)

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      2. I always wondered that too. The 50mm PAK would have been a much more logical choice for the Africa Korps, or even the 37mm early war PAK. Airfix included the same gun in the first edition German Infantry as well, alongside late war Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks…..

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      3. I imagine it was partly that the tooling already existed. The old blue box and previous box art for the first version German Infantry show what they call ‘a PAK gun’ very clearly in this illustration. I will post a picture of the packaging and gun very shortly as this weekend I am “desertifying” a spare Airfix German infantry set one of these guns. What did the 8th army get? An HMG and a mine detector!

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  3. Looking great! I like the cunning plan of them as Bond type villains too. They were one of the earliest sets l had in the very old packaging. I have always had a soft spot for the quaint anti tank gun (? ) they and other Germans came with. I look forward to seeing your troops in action.

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    1. Alan
      Sadly the PAK antitank gun is usually in bits, being so fragile. I will see if I can reconstruct one or substitute something else suitable.
      I love the old blue box or earlier Airfix designs with the dramatic front covers and their figure outlines on the back and the earliest packaging shown in the lovely Carbonel book.
      These should see action “sometime” in 2020.

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    2. Yes they should provide suitable generic desert ground forces for the 20th Century Bronte ImagiNations of Middle, Southern and Northern Africa (alongside the ‘West African’ Angria, Glasstown, Gondal) such as Zamibya, Dubya, and Continya.

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  4. I didn’t think Airfix ever made the SdKfz 250 in their ‘HO/OO’ scale? I know they did one in 1:32 as ‘Rommel’s Half-Track’ (‘Greif’)? I certainly never saw one. I would be intereste to know the history of that model

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  5. I am suffering a total internet failure at present but thanks to a friend I have managed to access my emails briefly. I may have some of these PAKs still somewhere. I will search for them and let you know if successful.

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      1. Internet still out here, now offline since 22 November !!!! Can’t find t.hose guns yet but stil searching. BT say service may be restored next week but will believe it when it happens. Doing t.his in costa coffee !!!!!!!

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