The origins of the Navy SEALs go back to World War II when the United States Navy realized that in order for its troops to successfully land on beaches it needed soldiers to perform amphibious reconnaissance on landing beaches, take note of obstacles and defenses, and ultimately guide the landing forces in. As a result, the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in 1942; it was intended to train explosive ordnance disposal personnel and experienced combat swimmers thus forming Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU). As the first US Navy combat group specialized in amphibious raids and tactics, the NCDU was employed in Operation Torch during the invasion of North Africa in 1942. Following the near-disaster of the landing force on Tarawa in November 1943, when offshore coral reefs and other obstacles in the surf resulted in many of the Marines drowning, nine Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) were formed and tasked with reconnoitering and clearing beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings.
In the early 1960's, it became apparent to the US leadership that their armed forces needed teams of highly flexible units that could perform special missions in theaters all over the world. In 1961 president John F. Kennedy allocated over $100 million toward the strengthening of the US special operations forces, and in 1962 the US Navy established first special commando units which would be able to operate from sea, air or land – Navy SEALs. The Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) teams recruited members from already highly effective Navy UDTs and trained them further in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high-altitude parachuting, demolitions, and foreign languages. SEAL Team One and SEAL Team Two were the original SEAL teams, which were first called to mobilize during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis. SEAL Teams were later deployed to Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Persian Gulf. By the year 2000 there were nearly 2,500 SEAL qualified operatives actively assigned to SEAL units. US special operations forces were operating jointly with each other and were training with forces from other nations. The attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 caused an immediate shift in focus however, and the SEALS quickly headed to war. Operating by themselves or in cooperation with other US or allied forces as part of the Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Force, SEALs were deployed to the Mideast, operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. SEALS were also active in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
is a Polish resin figure company, producing some of the finest figures depicting modern US soldiers on the market today. Maciek Rebkowski
, the creative force and the owner of the company, has a soft spot for sculpting Special Forces figures, but so far he was mostly oriented to creating large scale figures. US Navy SEAL/SF
represents a new start in 1/35 scale for Maciek… there are more 1/35 scale SF figures in progress from Airborne Miniatures.
The figure arrived in a firm cardboard box, with zip-lock bag containing pieces of the kit additionally protected in bubble wrap. The box features nicely painted box art picture. Opening the zip-lock bag revealed 23 pieces cast in light cream resin… a lot of parts for a 1/35 scale single figure. The kit parts are:
- Lower body with both legs
- Left arm
- Right arm
- Left and right boot
- Various MOLLE pouches (9x)
- M4 weapon parts (5x)
All pieces in the kit are perfectly cast and there is no sign of any imperfections: there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. Casting plugs are quite big and a bit awkward to remove on the smaller pieces. Take your time when cleaning plugs from the weapon parts as those are extremely delicate. The fit of the parts is good, but some might find the figure build-up a bit complex… I have recently reviewed samples with about 5-10 pieces per figure, so one might argue Airborne Miniatures unnecessarily broke down this figure in too many parts. The extra work is not a problem in my opinion; Airborne Miniatures’ 1/35 range is expanding and it would probably be possible to kitbash a completely new figure using various parts from different figure kits… a big plus for modelers who prefer modifying figures instead of building them out-of-the-box. The weapon build-up is even more complex… 5 weapon parts are extremely small and delicate but once you manage to fit them correctly, the M4 turns into a real gem.
The figure represents a US Navy SEAL operative in a relaxed posture; a nice pose both for a SF Humvee vignette or as a standalone figure piece. The figure wears heavily modified Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). BDU has been worn as a standard uniform of the US Army since 1981. During the years several companies appeared offering customized BDUs; SWG RAID-II BDU
is one of the latest BDU modifications, widely spread among Special Forces operatives. Evolved from the famous SWG RAID BDU system, RAID-II BDU is a collaborative effort of Emdom USA, Inc., Specwargear Lab, and special force operators themselves. The modifications were added to improve security, functionality and accessibility of the entire BDU system. The modifications of the RAID-II BDU shirt
- full coverage racer collar with neck ID device
- forward tilted double layer chest pocket complex (accessible while wearing open front LBV and underneath chest pocket accessible even while wearing closed body armor; One-Finger-Open Velcro closure and easy open pull tab),
- double layer shoulder pocket complex (consisting of main pocket and concealed compartment underneath; One-Finger-Open Velcro closure and easy open pull tab),
- Velcro panels at cover flap and shoulder pocket body, front collar and upper chest,
- Cordura fabric reinforced elbows,
- Velcro adjustable wrist cuffs,
and the modifications of the RAID-II BDU pants
- waist D-rings and nylon reinforced belt loops,
- Velcro closure butt pockets,
- Velcro closure expanded cargo pockets,
- retention loops for drop leg straps and knee pad retention system (for securing the extra drop leg equipment and knee pads)
- Cordura fabric reinforced knees,
- lower leg pocket with divider,
- shock cord leg cuff closures.
RAID-II BDU is available in woodland or 3-color desert camouflage. Maciek did a great job sculpting the uniform; all the RAID modifications which make SWG RAID-II BDU far superior than the usual BDU system are clearly visible on the figure. The folds of the uniform look very natural as well. The SF look of the figure is additionally enhanced with amazingly rendered Oakley SI Tactical Gloves
, which feature micro-vented leather palm with high-friction surfacing on palms and fingers for a secure grip, carbon fiber knuckle plating and nose wipe area on thumb.
The figure is wearing Eagle Industries’ Combat Integrated Releasable Armor System (CIRAS)
, the common carrier choice for US SOCOM. The CIRAS is designed to fit BALCS or SPEAR cut level III soft armor and it incorporates a two cable release system. The CIRAS vest can be rigged in two different configurations: for land warfare missions or maritime operations. The land warfare configuration uses two separate pull pillows to release the back independently of the shoulders. The reason for this design is simple; if wounded, the back can be released leaving it connected at the shoulders and the vest can be lifted up out of the way during emergency medical treatment. It is then laid back down covering the user and still provides protection while in transport to a medical facility. Once at the facility, medical personnel can pull the second cable and release it from the user at the shoulders without causing any further injuries or trauma. The maritime setup uses the single pull pillow to completely release the vest from the wearer while in the water to prevent accidental drowning. The maritime version of CIRAS vest (MAR-CIRAS) on the figure looks amazing; I have compared the sculpt with the pictures of the real thing and found an excellent match.
The extra eqipment in the kit includes:
- triple Pistol Mag Pouch
- 5x double M4 Mag Ammo Pouches
- Radio Pouch
- large Utility Pouch
- medium Utility Pouch
All the pouches are cast separately from the CIRAS so the modeler can decide for himself on the optimal gear setup for the figure. However, I would suggest checking the reference pictures of the typical SEAL equipment setup before actually gluing the pieces to the figure’s torso. The secondary firearm is included in Drop Leg Holster
which attaches to Duty Belt with a quick detach hanger and to thigh with two adjustable leg straps.
The figure is wearing Modular Integrated Communication Helmet (MICH) TC-2000
equipped with Norotos NVG mount base. It provides ballistic, fragmentation, aural and impact protection, while at the same time being night vision, communications and NBC equipment compatible. The helmets suspension system provides maximum balance, stability and comfort. Special Forces operatives usually spray camouflage paint on their helmets and add various patches to them as well… something to consider when painting this figure. As for the communication devices, the figure is sporting SF ComTac Headset
, specifically designed to fit MICH. A modeler needs to use thin wire to add microphone boom and headset wiring in order to get the perfect visual results with this figure.
As for the weapon, the figure carries M4A1 carbine
with shortened barrel. In 1994, US Army adopted the Colt Model 720 selective-fire carbine (basically, a shortened M16A2 rifle) as the US M4 Carbine. The weapon was much more handy and comfortable to carry than the long M16A2 rifle, so the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) designated the M4 as a universal weapon for the Special Operations community. M4 was soon modified with the M16A3-style flat-top receiver with integral Picatinny-type accessory rail instead of the M16A2 integral carrying handle. This modification was designated as M4A1 and the only difference between the M4A1 and M4 is that the trigger unit of M4A1 is modified to fire full-auto instead of the three shots bursts in M4.
Based on the SOCOM instructions, US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) M4 kit which consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The SOPMOD kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various optical sights, laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor, M203 40mm grenade launcher with shortened barrel, a detachable front grip and tactical light… the kit allows special forces operators to configure their weapons to individual preferences and mission requirements.
The M4A1 supplied in the kit is broken into 5 parts: weapon body (with AN/PEQ-2 IR Aiming Laser and Illuminator and figure’s right hand attached), the front sight and barrel, the buttstock, tactical foregrip, and Aimpoint ECOS-N red dot reflex sight. All the parts are pretty delicate, but if you are patient when building the weapon (and add the tactical weapon sling, of course) you are going to end up with a really nice M4A1 SOPMOD rendition.
Sculpted by the talented Maciek Rebkovski, Airborne Miniatures’ US Navy SEAL kit looks great. Although Maciek used to work in larger scales, he does an amazing job in 1/35 scale as well… the anatomy of the figure is perfect, the facial details look good and the overall level of details is outstanding: uniform, body armor and all the equipment are extremely well rendered and I found an excellent match to the real gear worn by SF operatives. The parts are nicely cast and the fit is pretty good. Although a complex build with lots of parts, the figure turns into a beautiful model once completed.
US Navy SEALs (Military Power), Hans Halberstadt
US Navy SEALs (Osprey Publications), Mir Bahmanyar and Michael Welply
Special Forces: War Against Terrorism in Afghanistan (Historie&Collections), Eric Micheletti
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