by: Rick Cooper [ ]
In April 1941 Greek forces were successfully repulsing the Italian army attacking across their western Albanian frontier. What the Greek army could not contain however, was an attack on a second front, which is just what the German army opened when they attacked across the Greek/Bulgarian border in the east following the rapid defeat of Yugoslavia. Greek forces were now hopelessly outnumbered and rapidly gave ground as a two pronged German attack rapidly destabilized the front.
The German campaign was given the code name Operation Marita and involved a plan that evolved quickly after the fall of Yugoslavia. The initial German thrust to Thessaloniki cut off Greek troops in Thrace and opened the way for the two pronged attack that ensued. One wing of the German army attacked through the middle of the country to Kozani where the front was broken allowing German units to race to Thermopylae and on to Athens. The opposite wing of the German army moved south down the Aegean coast toward the capital effectively ending an operation that was little more than three weeks from start to finish.
German success was continual and overwhelming. A British force, ‘W’, had begun arriving in limited numbers the month prior to the invasion but hardly had an opportunity to get their bearings before the German advance began. As it was, most of the British forces spent three weeks pulling back in failed attempts to establish a defensive line before a general evacuation managed to extricate all but 8,000 who were captured as the operation came to successful conclusion. The aftermath saw Greece divided into three areas of occupation administered by Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria.
Now Dragon Models has released a figure set of four German soldiers from Operation Marita in 1/35th scale. This new set features four combatants that would probably not have ever actually all been together at any one place during the invasion but could be at least paired up in various combinations.
The kit contains 5 light gray sprues of various sizes. The box art is done by the talented Dmytro Zgonnik and is excellent. The reverse of the box contains the built up figures with the famous Dragon Models part number and arrow showing what is what, not that hard if you have ever built a figure in the past. Also, the back of the box has a smaller version of the front side illustration with painting guides for Mr. Hobby/Mr. Color and Model Master call outs, although there are many areas that are missing such as belts awards, collar tabs, etc. So, grab a decent reference.
The five sprues are somewhat standard for a Dragon Models figure set; one large sprue that carries the four figures in the normal breakdown of two legs, torso, pair of arms, and a separate head sculpt. Along with that the sprue contains a few general items and some pieces of equipment that are specific to a particular figure. Along with that you get the ‘G’ sprue with personal equipment the ‘W’ weapons sprue which is beginning to show a little age as the flash is beginning to make an appearance on some weapons. Don’t forget, two small entrenching tool sprues, four each of different patterns. Much more than you will need for the four figures meaning another Dragon Models bonanza for your spares bin!
The four figures are, working backwards, a panzer trooper with a pistol who is wearing a steel helmet rather than a soft cap, a German landser with the ubiquitous grenade in boot, a young officer (looks like a 1st lieutenant but don’t quote me!) who is pointing across his body, and a senior officer. Okay, who is kidding who here; the senior officer is meant to be SS-General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, and Dragon Models has done a decent job of capturing his likeness. Granted, Dragon Models could have chosen a somewhat less polarizing figure than Dietrich is, someone like Field Marshals List or Weichs, but that may not have sold quite as many boxes as a Dietrich figure will.
I assembled two of the figures; the infantry officer and the Dietrich figure. Both figures went together easily, no problems at all. A bit of a gap where the torso meets the legs but nothing out of the ordinary that can’t be remedied with general modeling skills. I was quite happy with the Dietrich figure, well proportioned with nice detail although he is plagued with the cooling lines that have become something of an issue with most Dragon Models figures. The lieutenant has a really nice pointing pose, his pointing arm is not bent out of the mold quite as much as the box art makes it appear but still a nice pose. My problem is that he appears disproportioned with arms that are much too long. When I first saw the back of the box photo of the built up figure I thought it might be something of a trick of the camera due to angle, but after assembly I have concluded that no his arms are simply too long. Cut them down and re-scribe where needed I guess may be your best recourse here.
Something of a mixed bag here with a few reservations. Flash is starting to sprout like mushrooms around some of the older molds, a poorly proportioned lieutenant, and Hitler’s old chauffeur/bodyguard.
Higham, Robin. Duty, Honor, and Grand Strategy: Churchill, Wavell, and Greece, 1941*. Balkan Studies. Vol. 46. (Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 2007), 145-184.
Young, Peter, ed. Illustrated World War II Encyclopedia, vol. 3. (Westport, CT: Stuttman, 1978), 369-395.