Tuesday, 19 October 2021

German Volksgrenadiers, Volkssturm and Waffen SS in 20mm

I've covered the core of my German Heer infantry for 1943-45 in this earlier post. This one will cover additional German units for the same time period including Volksgrenadiers; Volkssturm and the Waffen SS. 

My decision to put together a Volksgrenadier platoon was inspired by the Chain of Command campaign Bloody Bucket set in the Ardennes in 1944, however I could see future uses for the platoon in other settings, for example fighting in Holland and Germany in the latter stages of the war. All the figures are from the AB Figures range and, as usual, they are beautifully sculpted. The Volksgrenadiers can field two types of platoons - a rifle platoon and a sturm platoon.

In either case the platoon HQ is made of up of an Unterfeldwebel, the platoon commander (a senior leader) and three riflemen armed with rifle/grenade launchers.


As usual my senior leader is on a rectangular base and the riflemen are on 20mm rounds. AB don't do figures with rifle grenade launchers and as these are relatively small attachments for the barrels of rifles I've just settled for three kneeling, rifle-armed figures in greatcoats to represent them.


The Sturm platoon features two squads armed exclusively with StG44 assault rifles. These are the first of any of my German units to be armed with the weapon and that seems right given that they were supplied mainly to Volksgrenadier units. As most of the games are likely to be set during colder months the figures are all in reversible winter camouflage suits. As clothing supply was haphazard it appears it was not uncommon for Volksgrenadiers units to wear a mix of clothing, even within the same unit. So I've opted to paint some of the camouflage suits in the splinter scheme while others are mouse grey.

The Sturm platoon is composed of two assault squads and a light machine gun squad. The assault squad is made up of seven men armed with StG44s under the command of an Obergefreiter (junior leader) similarly armed with an assault rifle.


Normally I base infantrymen on 20mm round bases and while junior leaders are on the same size base I use a few rocks to distinguish them. However, as you can see here there was no way the prone figures would fit on 20mm round bases without hanging over the edges and so I custom made bases for those figures (this inspired me to revisit my basing for a lot of my units and you can follow that journey in this post about basing and rebasing units).


The platoon's LMG squad has two MG42 teams under the command of an Obergefreiter (junior leader) armed with a machine pistol.


You can see here how I've been flexible with base sizes. I have weapon teams like LMGs with two figures to a base to help them stand out. While I've stuck to that convention I've tried to create more natural looking bases than the 40mmx40mm squares I used in the past. I like the more natural look, but perhaps as equally important, I want to reduce the overall footprint of the bases so that they can fit more easily into terrain. 


One of the teams in the LMG squad are wearing greatcoats to add further variety to the type of clothing. AB produce a range of late war Germans in greatcoats that are versatile enough to fulfil a number of roles dependent on their weapons.


The other team is in reversible camouflage suits.



All the junior leaders are distinguished by the small rocks on their bases, this is particularly appropriate with those armed with the StG44 as there are no specific leader poses that come with this range. The only leader poses are those armed with MP40 machine pistols like the prone figure below.


While the Sturm platoon can generate a lot of firepower with their automatic weapons their poorer cousins in the rifle platoon are armed in much the same way as a more regular infantry platoon. They are however much lower on numbers, with each rifle squad totalling eight men including the squad's Obergefreiter (junior leader). For these squads I've used mainly AB figures in greatcoats.


The rifle squad has an MG42 team of three men, plus a rifle team made up of three riflemen and one with an MP40 machine pistol.


The figures in greatcoats can also me made up into a full strength regular rifle squad if I wanted to use them as a Heer unit dressed for colder weather.


These Volksgrenadiers first saw use playing the Bloody Bucket campaign and if you want to see how the platoons fared in action you can follow the campaign starting here


With the Volksgrenadiers making their first appearance in late 1944 another unit to consider for the same later stages of the war are the Volkssturm. Given their odd assortment of clothing and weapons, in practice there is probably no such thing as a 'standard' Volkssturm unit, they are likely to be dressed and armed in an array of clothing. Wartime Miniatures (now produced by Simon's Soldiers) has a very suitable set of Volkssturm that meet this requirement with a mix of uniform styles that stretch from the interwar years through to Hitler Youth.

These enable squads to be put together based on the standard German infantry squad of an Obergefreiter commanding a six man rifle team and a three man LMG team.


Talking of Hitler Youth, no Volkssturm unit would be complete without a few eager youths toting panzerfausts and the Wartime range has several of these.


Here the AB German figures in greatcoats can also come in useful for making up the numbers.


They add to the existing mix of clothing and weapons and that variety is demonstrated nicely by the two pictured below - one in a 1915 stehlhelm and the other in an Adrian helmet.


I have also used another range of figures to make up the numbers for the Volkssturm and these come from the Wargames Foundry 20mm range. This is a particularly lovely set of sculpts from the Perrys depicting French resistance fighters.


While I've painted these to be just that, there are several in fairly generic civilian clothing or armed with German weapons that can work as additional fighters for the Volkssturm (conveniently the light machine gun team in the set is armed with an MG34). The only figures probably not suitable are those armed with sten guns and the female resistance fighter. Aside from the fact her beret gives her a very French appearance I don't believe German women were recruited into the Volkssturm (I could be wrong, but it would be very much at odds with the Nazi ideological view of the role of women).  


So, on occasion the seven resistance fighters below have found themselves transported from France into the gotterdamerung that was 1945 Germany.


They blended in well with the other Volkssturm when they were required to defend a factory on the outskirts of Bremen during our Chain of Command Road to Bremen campaign. That particular game report, where they put up a quite heroic defence, can be found here.



Finally this bring us to the Waffen SS platoon. I know this is a touchy subject for many gamers, several I know simply will not contemplate having an SS unit in their collection. While I share their distaste for the SS I don't have quite the same issues when it comes to featuring the unit in a game or collection. To collect them or play them in a game is not to endorse them, anymore than I necessarily endorse any of the sides or units that I play in any game. As a historical gamer I'm exploring or replaying history, it doesn't follow that I am passing judgement on either side (even if I do hold some very strong opinions). The Second World War in Europe was a war against the Nazi project, it's an ugly aspect of the German war machine that shouldn't be ignored and something I'm comfortable with including for that very reason.

Of course the dilemma of the Waffen SS for miniature gamers is that these unpleasant Nazi enforcers were kitted out in some of the most attractive camouflage uniforms of the war. Ideology aside, they make for a very appealing visual unit on the tabletop and for someone who enjoys painting miniatures like myself there's the near irresistible challenge of trying your hand at pea dot and other camouflage schemes. Damn them, I say, damn them to hell.

The late war Waffen SS platoon in Chain of Command is very similar in composition to a standard panzer grenadier platoon and this is the unit I've chosen to represent. As is the case for most of my German units all of the figures are from the AB range.

The platoon HQ consists of an Obersharfuhrer (senior leader). I have a few of these and as with all my senior leaders they are on a rectangular base. 


Occasionally the platoon HQ includes a panzerschreck team.


As I have done with PIAT and bazooka teams for other armies I have some teams with two figures to a base and others with the figures individually based. This just gives greater flexibility and as these teams invariably fire from concealed positions it allows the two figures to be placed into confined spaces a little easier.



The squads are commanded by a Scharfuhrer (junior leader) armed with a machine pistol. As usual, based on 20mm rounds with a few rocks to distinguish them from the men under their command.



The basing system makes it easy to distinguish the senior leaders from the junior leaders.


Each squad in the platoon is made up of two MG42 teams under the command of the Scharfuhrer.


The majority of the figures are painted using the pea dot scheme and I used a very good guide written by Ben Fiene that was published in the Too Fat Lardies Christmas Special 2015.


Not all Waffen SS units were equipped like panzer grenadiers and so there are enough figures to make up squads based on a single MG42 team and a rifle team.



Lastly, given this platoon covers the later period of the war, a few figures armed with panzerfaust are always going to come in handy.


Finally, that brings me to a couple of sets of miscellaneous figures. I have painted up some of the AB German casualties, mainly to use in the photographs in the AARs in the campaign pages (these feature in the early post on the German Heer units). That then led me to want to find ways to illustrate other events on the tabletop, like troops surrendering or tank crews abandoning a knocked out AFV. Luckily AB has sets of these poses in their range.

The prisoners are a lovely mix of men with arms raised as well as those wounded or looking suitably dejected.


These came in handy for the very early games in the Bloody Bucket campaign where the Volksgrenadiers also made their debut.


The tank crew I've made as generic as possible and painted in the traditional black uniform of the panzerwaffe. 


They too made an appearance during the Bloody Bucket campaign.


I'd like to say that gives me all the units I think I will need, but of course, nothing is ever really finished in this hobby, is it? Needless to say I have a platoon of Fallschirmjager based and primed and waiting in the paint queue. Well, of course I do.


25 comments:

  1. Very nice, 20mm the proper scale for WW2.

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  2. Quite the well thought out collection. Quite well painted as well. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Your blog is always an inspiration to me. I eagerly look forward to your posts.

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    1. Thanks Dennis, glad you're enjoying it. Next instalments on 20mm are the Russians and German armour which I hope to publish over the next few weeks.

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  4. Terrific post as usual, Mark. Lovely job on the SS uniforms and I agree with you totally in respect to fielding SS units. I was curious on how you were able to get so many VG with STG-44's? I am presuming they are AB, but are there that many in a pack?

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    1. Thanks John. Yes AB do packs all armed with STG-44s, look at their website and you'll see they offer choices in greatcoats and in reversible camouflage.

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  5. French Resistance from Wargames Foundry - lovely figures and I managed a better paint job than on most of my WW2 figures but to my shame I don't think they've ever had a game... :o(

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    1. To be honest I've only used these once as French resistance and twice as Volkssturm, so not a lot of table table, but, as you say, lovely figures and one of the better Foundry sets because they have so many different poses.

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  6. Ha, I was just going to ask about the Fallschirmjager. After you get them done, it would be great if you could do a "whole army" shot of the Germans. (preferably right before the heavy bombers trundle over)

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    1. Now that's an idea, I just need to get through documenting everything I've already got in bite size pieces, but I'm getting there. Fallschirmjager have drifted to the back of the paint queue but if/when the Lardies publish their Market Garden supplement then I'll be spurred on to get them finished.

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  7. Very well done on all of them and nice to see them all in one place!

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    1. Thanks Nick, it's only when you do something like this do you realise quite how many figures you have tucked away in the collection. I see you are busy catching up with me though!

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  8. It is a shame AB do not sell LMG teams separately to allow a 2 LMG squad

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    1. Yes, that's certainly an issue for some people. I've been lucky with Eureka based here in Australia as they often have a basket of loose AB figures that are left over from various orders that weren't collected for sale at their trade stand at Cancon (it's how I acquired the bulk of my US infantry). There's often the chance to pick up extra figures this way. A few years ago when I was ordering my British paras I asked if I could have an extra Bren crew and they did that for me. I don't know if that's something they would still do now but no harm in asking.

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    2. I asked Eureka UK about this and they said they'd suggest it to A Barton but that was as far as it went. Adler were a good source for PG LMGs but they do not do Fallschirmjaeger.

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    3. I think the issue is that the figures are all cast in Melbourne and sent out in sets from there. I suspect it’s easier to take random figures out of sets there and if need be melt the others back down for the next casting, that way there’s no waste.

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    4. Yes, you are at an advantage being in Australia. If anyone can suggest a quality alternative to AB I'd be interested to read of it.

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  9. Nicely painted up all around. That’s a lot of miniatures! 😀
    I also don’t really blink when someone fields an SS unit. It’s all just miniatures. Someone showing up to play in an in a SS uniform is a different matter.

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    1. Thanks. Yes a player in a SS uniform would be pretty alarming, to say the least. Gaming the bad guys is much like Vegas, what happens on the table, stays on the table.

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  10. A splendid and informative post, it is nice to see your figures in close up as they are usually in game shots. Also it came as a reminder that I had six Germans in winter coats that needed doing, they are getting paint on🙂

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    1. Thanks Phil, it’s.been a good project to photograph everything, it’s also been an opportunity to tidy up and repair any figures in need of attention. Although, like it’s done for you, it’s also a reminder of what needs painting, or adding or replacing.

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  11. You make me feel guilty, as I have a platoon of winter Germans and a platoon of Volksgrenadiers that need finishing.. lovely work as always. Makes me wonder if i shouldn't have stuck with 20mm.

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  12. Great collection - and an informative post. Cheers!

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