The Ardennes Offensive (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945), or Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein as known the German forces of the time, was a major German offensive launched towards the end of World War II through the forested Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the Western Front. Intending to split the Allied line the German forces failed, leaving many experienced German units broken, depleted of men and equipment, including one Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler Waffen-SS Division lead by SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper.
35077 – “LAH in the Ardennes Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Taesung Harmms, the owner of Alpine Miniatures. The two Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler (LAH) officers, the first representing SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper while the second depicts a senior LAH NCO, are portrayed in neutral stances wearing attire typical of the WSS’s deployment to the Western Front. Released during December 2008, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes and 35076 LAH NCO in the Ardennes.
35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes
35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes depicts SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper during the LAH’s deployment to the Western Front, or more specifically: the Ardennes. The Waffen-SS Officer adopts a neutral pose while holding a leather map protection cover in his left hand. 35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes is clad in a combination of Waffen-SS clothing and leather naval gear.
Peiper is featured wearing the black leather jacket intended for Maschinenpersonal. This jacket was a single-breasted leather article of clothing with a five-button fastening and a stand-up collar. At the bottom of each sleeve was a leather strap with button fastening for adjusting the fit of the cuff. Apart from the shoulder straps which he has fitted, the SS-Standartenführer wears no other insignia on his jacket. First acquired by 12.SS-Pz. Div. Hitlerjurgend from Kiel naval yards, this hardwearing, blanket-lined clothing was extremely popular amongst WSS tank crews.
The Waffen-SS introduced a reversible, padded winter suit into service during the winter of 1943-4 featuring SS autumn patterns on the one side and white on the other. Peiper wears the trousers from the M1943 padded winter suit, reversible from white to camouflage and here worn ‘autumn’ side out.
As mentioned before, Peiper 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.
He also wears the following other noteworthy articles: Walter P38 in its distinctive hard-shelled holster; Wehrmacht issue M1934 officers’ brown leather belt; a set of short 10x50 binoculars with a field-made cover; and what appears to be US issue leather gloves.
35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes is presented with two heard gear options: the ‘old style’ M1934 Schirmmütze and M42 Feldmütze field cap.
35076 LAH NCO in the Ardennes
35076 LAH NCO 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 SS-Oberscharführer with a particular front within the LAH’s existence, or indeed with a particular WSS division. That said, the LAH NCO wears garb typical for the WSS during their late war engagements on the Western Front: the combination of M1942 camouflage smock and Panzer denims made of telo mimetico.
Over his standard issue tunic the senior NCO wears a late model camouflage smock. 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). Notably, protecting himself from the cold, he wears a neck scarf and leather gloves, into which the sleeve cuffs of the smock, are tucked.
His camouflage trousers are field-made in Italian M1929 forest-pattern telo mimetico camouflage cloth, to resemble M1942 Panzer denims with an added second thigh pockets. The trousers, closed at the ankle with a drawstring, are worn tucked into his ankle boots.
He carries the ever efficient P38 pistol in a soft variant of the leather holster and brown leather M1935 report/map case (Meldekartentasche 35), one of many common variants, on his Wehrmacht issue M1934 officers’ brown leather belt (it was not uncommon for SS officers to replace their SS issue belt with the army opposite as the SS buckle clasp was rather weak and broke under field conditions) and a standard issue set of binoculars, the modest 6x30, finished in a late war colour known as ‘ordnance tan’.
Like his senior, the Panzer crewman is presented with two headgear options: Schirmmütze service dress cap and M1943 Einheitsfeldmütze.
The set, moulded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of thirteen (13) 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 35075 Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes consists of the following six (6) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Schirmmütze;
Head wearing M42 Feldmütze field cap; and
Figure 35076 LAH NCO in the Ardennes consists of the following seven (7) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Head wearing Schirmmütze;
Head wearing M1943 Einheitsfeldmütze;
M1935 report/map case; and
The figures are overall very nicely sculpted. As we have become accustomed to from Alpine Miniatures, the casting is crisp and clean.
The heads are all well-sculpted, and both faces in the twosome match in terms of facial details – it is merely the headdress that differentiates the pairs. Notably 35076’s head featuring the officer’s field cap wears bandages under the headgear. The faces are cleanly sculpted and well defined, with well-textured hair visible under the headgear. The headgear is well proportioned and nicely detailed. The casting blocks are positioned under the neck, so modellers can effortlessly remove these without fear of damaging any detail.
Despite the scale, one is able to see the resemblance between the faces supplied with 35075 and photo references of SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper during the Ardennes Offensive.
The figures proper are extremely well detailed. One gets a very good idea of the bulkiness of the leather jacket and padded trousers, particularly when comparing them to the attire worn by 35076. Folds gather realistically for the types of material portrayed. All the finer details such as shoulder and collar insignia, button-fly fronts and forward facing pocket flaps with exposed buttons, belt buckles, and binoculars (with even the leather button tab on the 6x30 set) are well detailed and very crisply and clearly cast. Recesses are provided for placement of the holsters, both above the left buttocks. 35076’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 an almost unnoticeable amount of flash between the legs of figure 35076 LAH NCO in the Ardennes. 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, M1935 report/map case and pistol holsters, as with the rest of the figure, are well detailed and cast. The arms have small notches in various positions which facilitate a snug fit to the body as well as equipment. The casting blocks on 35075’s arms are placed on inside of the right shoulder and on the rear bottom corner of the Kartenschultzhülle for the left. Figure 35076 finds the arm casting blocks placed on the elbow and inner shoulder for the right and left arms respectively. The thin casting blocks on the report case and holsters are positioned at the top of each piece.
Removing the pieces from the casting blocks was effortless. As always, I used a new knife blade, which easily cut through the resin with ease. Clean up was non-existent, with only the bit of flash being the aforementioned smidgen between the legs of figure 35076 - nothing a sharp number 11 blade could not quickly sort out.
The arms align easily to the shoulders and torso. The guesswork involved when lining up the arms is removed by the aforementioned notches – provided you fit the holsters and document case first. The heads easily slide into place and, as with all Alpine figures, are to a certain degree, and with a slight adjustment of the neck, 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 and picked up on the very many nuances present in WSS uniformology. And so, 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 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. It can also be argued that figures in such poses are much more versatile than those in more animated poses.
As we have become accustomed to from Alpine, the casting and sculpting is magnificent.
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 revert to white or Feldgrau in the case of the padded trousers.
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. Recommended.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject: “Waffenn-SS Soldier 1940-45”. Warrior 2. Bruce Quarrie. Illustrated by Jeffrey Burn. Osprey Publishing. 1993.
“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 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.
“German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945”. Brian L. Davis. Military Book Society. 1973.