In spite of the vast fatalities, Kharkov was a timely victory for Germany, gained in no small part through the efforts of 1st SS-Panzer Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler. In every other theatre on every other front the German armies were in retreat, and the propaganda value of the triumph was enormous. The red square in Kharkov was renamed “Leibstandartplatz” in the division’s honour and on March 21st, Hilter awarded Dietrich Swords to his Knight’s Cross.
35059 – “LAH Officers Kharkov Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Alpine’s owner Taesung Harmms. The two Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler (LAH) officers, both wearing winter dress during the LAH’s deployment to Kharkov, are portrayed in neutral stances – the first, portraying SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche, adjusts his mittens while the other, a Senior NCO, poses with his hands (closed) on his hips, his attention drawn to his right. Released in December 2007, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35057 Max Wünsche LAH Kharkov and 35058 SS Pz NCO LAH Kharkov.
35057 Max Wünsche LAH Kharkov
35057 Max Wünsche LAH Kharkov portrays SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche during the latter part of the LAH’s deployment to Kharkov. The figure is placed between 28 February 1943, the date on which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross, and June of the same year, after which SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche was transferred to a new division under going formation: the 12. SS-Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend", of which Wünsche was assigned to command the Panzer regiment. 35057 Max Wünsche LAH Kharkov adopts a neutral pose adjusting or pulling on his right mitten. The SS Officer is clad in a combination of Waffen-SS clothing and cold-weather gear.
Wünsche wears a collared sheepskin overjacket, an item of clothing some Panzer units took to wearing during the winter months on the Eastern Front. Notably he wears his Knight’s Cross proudly displayed, having being recently decorated.
Whilst I was unable to confirm the origin of his mittens, the SS-Sturmbannführer appears to be wearing civilian fur-backed ski mittens. Footwear consists of felt and leather boots, common footwear after the winter of ‘42/43.
The German Officer’s personal weapon is a P08 Luger pistol, holstered in its distinctive leather case to the rear of his belt.
The figure is presented with two headgear options: a fur cap with sides up, to which the SS version of the national emblem and the Waffen-SS insignia of the death’s head have been attached to the front of the cap; and the ‘old style’ M1934 Officer’s peaked service cap, without stiffening and the top having been folded back.
35058 SS Pz NCO LAH Kharkov
35058 SS Pz NCO LAH Kharkov is posed with his hands (closed) on his hips, his attention drawn to his right. Like his commander, the LAH Panzer “Non-Com” is clad in a combination of Waffen-SS tank troop clothing and winter gear.
35058 wears the Waffen-SS Panzer jacket. Slightly different to that of the army, the jacket’s front flap was cut vertically, rather than slanting as on the army’s, and the collar was of a smaller, neater cut.
Standard Waffen-SS collar patches are worn as used on Waffen-SS field grey clothing; the two pips on the left collar insignia indicate that the NCO is indeed a SS-Oberscharführer (the SS equivalent of a Wehrmacht Feldwebel or a British Warrant Officer II). The standard Waffen-SS sleeve eagle is worn on the left sleeve, as is the unit cuffband (on the lower left sleeve). Standard shoulder straps, also bearing the NCO’s rank insignia, are worn.
Notably, the NCO has been awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class, as well as another award, probably a Panzer Assault Badge, which I was not able to quite make out.
Leg wear consists of overtrousers from the padded winter suit, which was camouflaged on one side and reversible to white. The NCO wears the trousers with the braces hanging loose below his waist.
35058 wears the following other noteworthy articles: a pair of padded reversible mittens; a scarf around neck; and a set of 10x50 binoculars.
As with 35057, and indeed most if not all Alpine figures, the figure is presented with two headgear options: a fur cap with sides down; and the distinctive black sidecap (Feldmütze) worn by Panzer crewmen.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of eleven (11) pieces - six pieces for figure 35057 and five pieces for figure 35058 respectively. 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 35057 Max Wünsche LAH Kharkov consists of the following six (6) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Holstered P08 Luger pistol;
Head wearing M1934 peaked service cap;
Head wearing fur cap.
Figure 35058 SS Pz NCO LAH Kharkov consists of the following five (5) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Feldmütze;
Head wearing fur cap with sides down.
The figures are flawlessly sculpted. The casting is crisp, clean, and has truly captured the highly detailed and precise sculpting of Taesung Harmms. I say this every time I review an Alpine figure, but I am always amazed by the quality of the Alpine casts, for they are truly of the highest class.
The heads are all well-sculpted, and each face matches the other in the pair in terms of facial detail – it is only the head gear that differentiates the two heads. The faces are cleanly sculpted and very well defined, with a well-textured hair visible from under the headgear. The head gear is well proportioned and nicely detailed. The casting blocks are positioned under the neck, so modellers can easily remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
Despite the scale, one is able to see the resemblance between the face and photo references of SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche during the winter months of the Kharkov campaign.
The figures proper are extremely well detailed. One gets a very good idea of the bulkiness of the overcoats and trousers. Folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. All the finer details such as pockets, seams, zipper fronts, adjustment tabs, belt buckles, and the binoculars are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. That said there was minor clean-up required to the shoulderboards of the NCO as there was a miniscule amount of flash between the pips - an inconsequential fact really
The arms, as with the rest of the figure, are well detailed and cast. The seams of the jackets run along the inside of the arms, so although in my opinion they looked a bit too heavy in terms of scale, these would be hidden upon assembly and thus probably a pointless observation.
Removing the pieces from the casting blocks was effortless. I found a new knife blade easily cut through the resin with the ease of slicing through plastic.
Generally clean up was virtually non-existent, with only a tiny bit of flash along the legs of each figure - nothing a sharp number 11 blade could not quickly sort out.
The arms line up easily with the shoulders on the torso. There was little, if not no, guesswork involved when lining the arms up to the shoulders.
The heads easily slide into place and, as with all Alpine figures, are to a certain degree interchangeable between the two figures.
WWII German Panzer, or even Waffen-SS, officers are not a unique subject, but what sets these figures apart from the rest is the manner in which Taesung has combined the various elements of Panzer and winter gear.
While many armour modellers will undoubtedly chastise the neutral poses of these figures, from a figure modeller point of view this pose serves to show of the masterful sculpting and the historical accuracy of the figures. From a painters view, there are many colour schemes available as the Panzer jackets, trousers and overtrousers need not be painted in the colours displayed per the box-art, and the more adventurous painter may wish to portray one of the numerous SS camouflage schemes worn during this period.
Add in the masterful sculpting of Taesung Harmms and the high quality casting of Alpine Miniatures and you have a really nice set of figures with a lot of painting potential.
The following references were used for this review: “Leibstandarte – Hitler’s Elite Bodyguard”. Spearhead. Michael Sharpe & Brian L. Davis. Compendium Publishing. 2002.
“Waffenn-SS Soldier 1940-45”. Warrior 2. Bruce Quarrie. Illustrated by Jeffrey Burn. Osprey Publishing. 1993.
“Panzer Crewman 1939-45”. Warrior 46. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Velimir Vuksic. Osprey Publishing. 2002.
“The Waffen-SS (1) 1. To 5. Divisions”. Men-at-Arms 401. Gordon Williamson. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 2003.
“Waffen-SS in Combat”. Robert Michulec. Colour Plates by Ronald Volstad. Concord Publishing.
“Waffen-SS (2) From Glory to Defeat 1943 – 1945”. Robert Michulec. Colour Plates by Ronald Volstad. Concord Publishing. 2000.
“Panzertruppen. Les troupes blindées allemandes. 1935 - 1945”. François de Lannoy & Josef Charita. Heimdal. 2001.