Waffen-SS troops in the Ardennes offensive displayed an eclectic look in uniforms; an assortment of types of WSS uniforms was worn giving a hotchpotch appearance to the soldiers. There was also a shortage of suitable Waffen-SS winter clothing issued in this campaign – precedence for cold-weather attire went to the Eastern Front.
35098 – “LAH in the Ardennes Set 2” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Taesung Harmms, the owner of Alpine Miniatures. The set features two Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler (LAH) officers, the first representing SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Diefenthal while the second depicts a LAH NCO, typifying the many diverse uniform appearances of the WSS during the December 1944 engagement on the Western Front. Released during January 2010, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes and 35097 LAH Grenadier in the Ardennes.
35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes
35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes depicts SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef “Jupp” Diefenthal during the LAH’s deployment to the Western Front, in particular: the Ardennes. The Waffen-SS equivalent of a (British Army) Captain, SS-Hauptsturmführer Diefenthal was later awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his actions during this operation while in command of III Battalion, 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 1st SS Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler. The Waffen-SS Officer, clad in a combination of Waffen-SS clothing and cold weather clothing, stands with his right arm raised, perhaps giving direction or waving troops forward, while holding what appears to be a Kartenschultzhülle in his left hand.
Diefenthal wears one of the numerous variants of sheepskin winter overjackets. This particular pattern features elasticised cuffs. The WSS Captain wears camouflage trousers, field-made in Italian M1929 forest-pattern telo mimetico camouflage cloth, tucked into his short-shaft marching boots. Around his neck, tucked into his jacket, SS-Hauptsturmführer Diefenthal wears a woollen scarf.
The German Officer’s personal weapon is a P38 pistol, in a soft leather case to the rear of his Wehrmacht issue M1934 officers’ brown leather belt. As mentioned previously, Diefenthal holds a map protection cover (Kartenschultzhülle), composed of two panels of clear celluloid joined by a leather frame in which a folded map is placed, in his left hand.
35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes is presented with two heard gear options: the ‘old style’ M1934 Schirmmütze, without stiffening, and M42 Feldmütze field cap. Most period photographs appear to depict Diefenthal wearing the Schirmmütze.
35097 LAH Grenadier in the Ardennes
35097 LAH Grenadier in the Ardennes is portrayed in a fairly casual stance, perhaps discussing tactics or being briefed by his superior during a lull in the LAH’s short involvement in the engagement. There is nothing specific that would categorize the Grenadier with a particular front within the LAH’s existence, or indeed with a particular WSS division. That said, the LAH soldier wears garb typical for the WSS during their late war engagements on the Western Front: the hotchpotch combination of a variety of styles of clothing and inadequate cold weather protection.
35097 wears the M44 (dot pattern) camouflage drill jacket. The camouflage drill jacket was manufactured as a replacement to the camouflage smock in the late war years. It was made to the same design as the M43 field blouse with a five-button front, plain pockets and the straight pocket flaps. As regulations stipulate only the SS sleeve eagle insignia is worn on the left arm. Beneath the camouflage jacket this the soldier appears to be wearing a field grey service blouse, barely visible but betrayed by the sleeve cuffs which stick out from under the drill jacket. The M42 service trousers, which close at the ankle with a drawstring, are worn loose over his ankle boots. Additional cold weather clothing exists of a balaclava and woollen gloves.
He carries the Sturmgewehr 44 also known as the MP44 assault rifle, which was designed to give the German soldier greater fire power and to eventually replace other German manufactured rifles and sub-machine guns. His personal equipment consists of the M1940 tropical canvas infantry support straps, SS enlisted man’s belt, one MP44 canvas magazine pouch (fairly common in the late war), a standard issue set of 6x30 binoculars, P38 pistol in a soft leather case and the M1935 map case.
He is presented with two headgear alternatives: a M42 SS steel helmet with; or without fitted camouflage cover.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of fourteen (14) pieces. 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 35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes consists of the following six (6) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms, with Kartenschultzhülle cast in the left hand;
Head wearing Schirmmütze;
Head wearing M42 Feldmütze field cap; and
Figure 35097 LAH Grenadier in the Ardennes consists of the following eight (8) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms, the latter sans right hand;
Head wearing steel helmet without camouflage cover;
Head wearing steel helmet with camouflage cover;
Sturmgewehr 44 with attached right hand;
M1935 report/map case; and
The figures are overall extremely well sculpted and, as we have become accustomed to from Alpine Miniatures, the casting is exceptional.
The faces of each pair match in terms of facial details and it is merely the headdress that differentiates the pairs. In fact, in the case of 35097 it is literally only the addition of the camouflage cover that differentiates the one head from the other: even the balaclava folds match. The faces are exceptionally sculpted: cleanly sculpted and well defined, with well-textured hair visible under the headgear of 35096. The headgear is well proportioned and nicely detailed. The casting blocks are positioned under the necks of all four heads, so modellers can effortlessly remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
Despite the scale, one is able to see the resemblance between the 35096 character faces and photo references of SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Diefenthal.
The figures proper are exceptionally well detailed. One gets a very good idea of the relative bulkiness, and by implication the warmth offered, of the sheepskin winter overjacket, particularly when comparing it to the inadequate camouflage drill jacket worn by 35097. Folds gather realistically for the types of material portrayed. All the finer details such as insignia, belt buckles, ammunition pouches and binoculars are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. Recesses are provided for placement of the holsters, both above the left buttock. 35097’s right upper thigh also features a rectangular locating recess for the document case.
Casting is as one always expects from an Alpine figure: clean and crisp, with the only clean up being a few fine tendrils of flash between the legs of figure 35096. 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, map-case, holsters and Sturmgewehr 44 are, like the rest of the set, meticulously sculpted and expertly cast. For some particular reason the quality and clarity of the sculpting (and supporting cast) of the hands on these two figures really stands out to me; the hands and digits really are exceptional on this pair of figures. The casting blocks are placed on the tricep and Kartenschultzhülle of the right and left 35096 arms respectively. Figure 35097 finds its arm casting blocks placed on the elbow and inner shoulder of its right and left arms respectively. The casting blocks of the holsters and NCO’s map case are positions at the tops of the pieces, with 35097’s holster and map case attached to a single block. The Sturmgewehr 44 is cast with no less that five (5) fine casting block attachments. This facilitates not only the casting, but ensures there is no flex of the part in shipping, minimizing the risk of breakage.
WWII German, or even Waffen-SS, miniatures are certainly not a unique subject, but what sets Alpine Miniatures’ figures apart from the rest is the manner in which Taesung (and his sculptors) pick up on the very many nuances present in German uniformology. This figure set by Alpine Miniatures is another terrific example of the various aspects of the late war WSS uniform and the manners in which it was worn.
While many armour modellers will without doubt rebuke the pointing and neutral poses of these figures, from a figure modeller point of view these poses serve to display the masterful sculpting and the historical accuracy with all the many fine details of the figures.
For the painter, as with most SS subjects, there are a number of interesting ways in which these figures can be presented due to the great range of Waffen-SS camouflage schemes or even simply revert to Feldgrau. It goes without saying that the character head can be replaced with a generic alternative should the modeller not wish to depict SS-Hauptsturmführer Diefenthal. Add in the masterful sculpting of Taesung Harmms and the high quality casting of Alpine Miniatures and modellers are presented with a really nice set of figures.
As denoted from the title, this is the second “LAH in the Ardennes” set of figures from Alpine Miniatures, the first set depicting Joachim Peiper and a LAH NCO. It would be unsurprising to see these two Ardennes sets released as a numbered limited edition set at some point, much in the same way the Kharkov set was.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject: “The Waffen-SS (1) 1. To 5. Divisions”. Men-at-Arms 401. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“The Waffen-SS (3) 11. To 23. Divisions”. Men-at-Arms 415. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2004.
“The German Army 1939-45(5) Western Front 1943-45”. Men-at-Arms 336. Nigel Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“Waffen-SS Uniforms in Colour Photographs”. Europa Militaria No. 6. Andrew Steven & Peter Amodio. The Crowood Press. 2007.
“Waffen-SS (2) From Glory to Defeat 1943 – 1945”. Robert Michulec. Colour Plates by Ronald Volstad. Concord Publishing. 2000.
“German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945”. Brian L. Davis. Military Book Society. 1973.