by: Pat McGrath [ ]
This figure is the first Allied subject from Allarmi, an Italian Company that produce a line of mainly Italian subjects, along with some German figures. This figure is labeled as a British Infantryman at El Alamein, but as cast this figure wonít work for Alamein as he wears the pig sticker bayonet for the Mk IV Lee Enfield which is not correct. The figure wears the Khaki Drill Shirt and Shorts together with long woolen socks and leather ankle boots. He comes without web anklets or puttees, which I think is a nice touch.
There is a choice of two heads, one wearing the fore and aft service cap and the other wearing the steel helmet. He wears 1937 pattern webbing which is depicted correctly with nice detail. We do get a choice of rifles, but only one type of bayonet which is cast in place. The water bottle is attached to the webbing by only one strap, so a strap will have to be added from the front of the water bottle to behind the universal pouch. The shorts are missing the pocket for the field dressing which we should see a part of just under the right hand universal pouch on the right hip.
The figure comes in Allarmiís usual green box with a photo of the unpainted figure on the top. Inside, the figure is contained in a ziplock bag. The kit consists of 7 parts, five of which are needed to make the figure as there is an alternate head and two types of Lee Enfield. The break down of parts is the torso including the legs, the two arms and two heads; one wearing the fore and aft service cap and the other wearing a helmet. The two rifles included are the Lee Enfield Mk III and the Mk IV. My apologies for the photo showing the layout of parts-there's way too much light, unfortunately I didn't check the photo before I built the figure.
Cast in a grey resin with only the faintest seam lines, the kit needs minimal clean up. The upper part of the arms and shoulders are cast as part of the torso and the lower arms are designed to slot into the sleeves of the shirt. The detail on the torso is very good with the folds and creases of the tropical uniform convincingly depicted. One odd thing is that parts of the rifle sling are cast on the uniform but Iíll come back to that. There is a large resin plug attached to the figures feet- I usually leave these in place to hold onto while painting.
I first cut the pieces from their casting lugs with a very sharp razor saw. I scraped the very faint seam lines with the back of a number 11 blade. The left arm holding the shovel is a good fit into the sleeve of the shirt. The right arm is trickier, as part of the rifle sling is moulded in place and the hand has to match up with this. I was left with a slight gap where the arm fits into the sleeve and also beneath the hand where it didnít reach the lower part of the sling moulded on the universal pouch. As we donít get the whole sling I feel it would have been better to leave it off entirely and let modelers come up with their own solutions.
Both heads are a good fit and I went for the one with the helmet set at a jaunty angle. Both heads depict old soldiers and have a care worn look. The strap on the helmet is nicely depicted showing the elasticated webbing. Of the two rifles provided the Mk III is correct for El Alamein. Iím aware of one photo in the British Imperial War Museum Archives that shows the Mk IV in use labelled Tunisia, but it is not generally seen in photos until the Italian campaign where both rifles were in use until the end of the war. From Soldierís anecdotes they preferred the MK III and the long bayonet which was a very useful tool as opposed to the pig sticker bayonet that came with the Mk IV. To properly depict a soldier at Al Alamein the pig sticker bayonet needs to cut off and replaced with the long bayonet.
The figure is correct for a soldier in the early part of the Italian Campaign but can be backdated fairly easily.
One thing to note is that the Mk IV rifle in the kit comes with a cheek pad more commonly seen on sniper rifles.
I like this figure despite the wrong bayonet. His face has a lot of character and heíd be a suitable accompaniment for any of the Commonwealth Shermans coming out from Tasca and Dragon.