The 1940 German Blitzkrieg in France and the Low Countries made effective use of airdrops to support ground attacks by seizing key bridges, installations and fortifications along the Wehrmacht’s lines of advance. The swan song of actual airborne assaults by German parachute units was the Pyrrhic conquest of Crete: objectives were taken and the island fell, but at a horrific cost to the Fallschirmjäger. From then on, German airborne troops continued throughout the war to serve on all fronts as elite ground forces but rarely if ever in parachute assaults.
If you were into small soldiers in the ’70s or ’80s, you probably liked Airfix’s German Paratroops. Compared to some of Airfix’s other early figure sets, the German Paratroops seemed crisper in detail and better armed with sub- and light machine guns. Their uniforms and weaponry make the Airfix figures suitable for representing Blitzkrieg-era forces, but if you wanted to portray the latter part of the war when German airborne forces were more likely to be in the trenches (literally) than jumping out of airplanes, you would need one of the numerous other makes of these soldiers that followed Airfix — for example Italeri’s “Green Devils” featured here with a Jagdtiger. The presence of a Panzerfaust, the disposable anti-tank rocket launcher first introduced by the Germans from 1943, indicates a look that would fit the more heavily armed deployments of 1944 or ’45.
The Italeri¹ (or, when I got them, the ESCI) figures were somewhat disappointing for garden toy wars because there are so many poses of soldiers standing around checking weapons and talking, not to mention quite a few whose weapons don’t even have the magazines loaded yet — who wants to see an MP40 without the magazine? I found a way to add them on — but now those very features make them a welcome accessory for tanks and dioramas, as you see here.
¹One of the figures, the soldier pointing with an outstretched arm, is actually an interloper from Revell’s German Paratroops.