14 October 2018

Infanterie greift an - Early War Germans

First of all apologies for not having commented on some of your blogs as of late. Blogger seems to have a glitch as there are a few blogs I simply can't comment on, no matter what I try. WhenI try to send my comment it simply vanishes. Not sure if it's maybe goofiness on my part, so I'll keep tryin'.

Following on from my last post I've continued to work on some Early War stuff. While going through all the options the new CoC Blitzkrieg 1940 supplement offers I came to realize I'm short a few squads of German infantry. At least if I'm to build a full 1st Wave platoon, or maybe even a Schützen Platoon. Strangely enough I do have enough Tommies for now...which of course doesn't mean I won't add to them as well. Another thing I'm eyeing as of lately are those tasty Dutch by May '40 miniatures... you see I'm quite into early war again.

The German infantry man was, and sometimes still is, commonly known as Landser. While there's  some debate as to where this term actually stems from personally I tend to support the view that it's a reference to the Landsknechte (sometimes also Lanzknechte as a reference to their main weapon, the pike which is more or less the equivalent of a lance or Lanze) of 15th and 16th century Europe.

As a result of the lessons learned in WW1 infantry tactics of all nations changed enormously and as a consequence much emphasis was placed on fire and movement tactics. For the German Wehrmacht this was facilitated by the MG 34, which was the first real German light machine gun. Introduced in 1934 it was distributed from 1936 on and was probably the best machine gun in service at that time.

When the war started in earnest in 1939 a regular Schützenzug (regular infantry squad) had just one of these formidable weapons at its disposal. Initially it was served by a gunner and three loaders forming the fire base of the Zug. The gunner and two of the loaders had a pistol in addition to the machine gun, while the third loader had a rifle. The squads leader usually stayed with the machine gun to direct its fire, while his assistant (also a NCO) went with the other part of the squad, the manoeuvre element. This consisted of seven regular rifle men.

The above organization was deemed to cumbersome and in 1941 the machine gun team, still under direction of the NCO, was reduced to just three man with the second loader being issued a rifle. The rest of the platoon was reduced to just six men. There's some debate if this structure was actually implemented in all units in time for the invasion of France, but generally I'd assume this to be the case for most if not all the frontline units. However, when the war progressed and manpower shortages started to become a serious problem the third loader was dropped from the roster and became a regular rifleman.

The Squads NCO's were supposed to be armed with MP40's or its predecessor the MP38, by May 1940 and I tend to believe this to be true for at least the lower numbered (thus of higher quality) waves of Infantry Divisions. The MP40 was and still is frequently referred to as a 'Schmeisser', after Hugo Schmeisser a German designer of firearms, but actually Mr. Schmeisser had relatively little to do with the development of this particular weapon.

Rugged and reliable it was a weapon well liked by those who used it. It had two minor drawbacks, both of which related to the magazine. It's mechanism could lead to jams when dirty or not held the right way. When held at the magazine, which is a popular pose for it to be held in most Hollywood movies (and sadly many a miniature sculpt) by any German, you definitley found the way to make the weapon jam in no time.
The other drawback cited frequently was the magazine feeding from below, unlike with the Sten for example, this made it hard to use the weapon on flat ground when prone. On the other hand exactly this feature makes it easier to use in built up areas with lots of debris to take cover behind and corners to sneak around.
So, when handled properly the Maschinenpistole 40 was a remarkable weapon and used by many a nation till well after the war. The Norvegian army in fact only withdrew its last MP 40's as late as the early 90's.

So, that's for it today. I hope you have a nice Sunday and till next time!


  1. Brilliant work and thanks for the historical notes.

    What colours/paints did you use on these as I would like to steal this for when I paint my early war Germans!

    1. Thanks Kym! Will try to write a short run down on the colours used when I paint up my next batch. In the meantime you could check out my other tuts for some ideas. Just use the "World War II Colour Guides" label on the top left of the page.

  2. Lovely painting Nick :)

    I'm a little confused by the paragraph about the 1941 reorganisation of squads. Mostly about how there could be debate about whether it had been implemented in any way in time for the invasion of France, which was of course invaded in 1940. Do you mean the invasion of Russia perhaps?

    1. Thanks Tamsin! Glad to see at least someone pays attention ;-)
      I've of course mixed up my dates obviously... While 1940 being the correct year the organisational table I referred to before was that of 1939, i.e. invasion of Poland.

  3. Fantastic work as always Nick and the historical write up was a treat as well!!It will be very interesting to see how early war CoC plays out.


  4. Hi Nick, I have the same problem with blogger and Christopher (aka Axebreaker) above, is one of the many that I am unable to leave comments on.

    Wonderful painting and love the way you paint all the extra little details that the majority of us tend to skim over.

    I now have a copy of the CoC 1940 Handbook which is superb and can see lots more early WW2 collections getting painted.


  5. Marvelous painting!

    I also have problems with posting comments in Blogger, and it does not seem entirely logical at times. Trying different browsers helps, as I can not comment through Chrome sometimes! Also try to log into google through another site - typically I log into Youtube before trying to post comments into blogger. Odd but works.

  6. Great looking early-war troops! I do like the earlier uniform with the contrasting jacket and trousers colors. BTW, I have had some problems trying to post comments on certain blogs in the recent past too.

  7. Nice work Nick, they really pop.
    Re. Blogger I have that problem but only when using my IPad, it posts OK from my Kindle and laptop.

  8. Wonderful paintjob and great bases as well, they add a lot to your already wonderful work!

  9. Hey Nick, fabulous painting and an interesting read too :o)

  10. Excellent and beautifully painted minis, you work is always of such high quality.
    cheers John

  11. Fantastic work. I'm curious though. During which period did the Wehrmacht wear these green-hued uniforms. Did it transition to the field greys more ubiquitous over the duration of WW2 (excluding the winter campaigns of course)?

    1. Thanks FEM!
      What I tried to represent here is the so called "reed green" version of Fieldgrey. It is commonly associated with the earlier stages of the war up until Barbarossa, but was rather common throughout the war.

    2. Thanks for the clarification Moiterei. As my interest grew in WW2 especially the Eastern Front, I had to fight the Hollywood stereotypes of neutral grey German infantry uniforms (surprisingly not easy). I slowly came to realize that in reality the Wehrmacht uniform was actually greener, and even then I was surprised just how green.

  12. Lovely work, as always. I like the way you get the balance right, so that they are bright enough to pop on the gaming table, but also look great in close-up. The perfect balance in mini painting in my opinion.

  13. Great brushwork well done nicely painted figures!
    Maybe it’s the pictures or my eyes but the tunics looks too green and the pants a bit bluish to me.