Sunday, 8 January 2012

First World War Foray

Well here we are, the New Year has arrived, so welcome to 2012 and here's hoping for a good one. I don't know about you but I'm not really one for making New Year's resolutions in the traditional sense however, I have resolved to embark on two new collections and one of them will be themed around the First World War

Currently I don't have any First World War figures in my collection, not a single solitary one, but that may be about to change. Towards the back of the latest edition of Toy Soldier Collector is an article reviewing two new planes by John Jenkins Designs [JJD] together with a very interesting armoured car, the Ehrhardt E-V, an impressive looking model I'm sure you'll agree which comes with a rotating turret and is priced at about £105

The E-V/4 Panzerkraftwagen Ehrhardt was one of the first examples of a type of high and flatsided armoured car design that the Germans used almost until the start of the Second World War for internal policing duties. It weighed nearly 9 tons, had a crew of eight or nine, and carried an armament of up to three machine-guns

Conception and design

The Belgians were the first to demonstrate the potential of the armoured car in mobile warfare, with the Minerva Armoured Car. German infantry and cavalry were at times distinctly inconvenienced by the hit-and-run tactics employed by the Belgian armoured cars. Having suffered somewhat at the hands of these vehicles, the German Army decided to produce its own armoured car, but without any practical experience they approached the car manufacturing companies Ehrhardt, Daimler and Büssing, and ordered a prototype armoured car from each

During 1915, the three companies produced the ordered prototypes. In all three cases the companies chose to ignore the fact that the Belgian armoured cars were little more than converted touring cars, and developed what they perceived to be more suitable vehicles. As a result all three prototypes were massive vehicles, the largest of which was the Büssing. The Ehrhardt and Daimler designs were very similar. Both placed the engine in the front, surrounded by armour, and had a large box-like body at the rear with a turret or cupolas on the top. Both sported a clumsy appearance and were far too heavy for the effective fulfillment of the operational tasks the German Army demanded of them

The Daimler and Ehrhardt prototypes were both reliant on the use of double wheels on each side at the rear and had flanges on the single wheels at the front of the vehicle, in an effort to reduce ground pressure and so enhance the cross-country mobility of the vehicle. All three cars had a crew of eight or nine men, carried an armament of at least three machine guns, and possessed a maximum armour thickness of 9 mm

Operational history

Along with some improvised conversions the three prototypes were formed into one unit and sent first to the Baltic and then to the Western Front. Conditions on both fronts were so bad that armoured cars could achieve very little, and the vehicles were eventually deployed on the Russian part of the Eastern Front, where they could at least use their mobility to some effect

It was then that there emerged a need for more vehicles, and so Ehrhardt was contracted to build a further 20 vehicles. These vehicles were 1.72 tons lighter than the original Panzerkraftwagen Ehrhardt of 1915. Designated the Panzerkampfwagen Ehrhardt 1917, these vehicles were completed with revised frontal armour. The vehicles were sent to the Eastern Front and served there until the end of the fighting late in 1917

Thereafter they were retained in Germany for internal policing duties. They were so successful in this role that an additional 20 vehicles were ordered and produced in 1919. The E-V/4 was thought to be just what internal policing required, for its height gave it the capacity to tower over crowds and offer police units better control of riots. They were in use almost until the beginning of World War II

I think this would make an excellent start to the collection which I have chosen to theme around late war and Stormtrooper figures. As you probably already know Thomas Gunn have recently announced the release of a number of WW1 figures sets for their new range and included amongst the first few releases will be the flamethrower figures pictured below. I think they would look fantastic when paired with the JJD vehicle

As we all know K&C have been producing a series of Great War figure sets for quite some time, some of which have already been retired. I reckon the following pieces would fit in very nicely with the late war theme I have chosen to focus on and would make very suitable accompaniments to the JJD and TG releases pictured above

German infantry with late war pattern helmet

This set of grenadiers has recently been retired and will probably be the first set I buy, if I can still get hold of it!

German officer with pistol and field telephone

Although not entirely in keeping with the theme I have chosen the following pieces are also quite interesting and certainly worth keeping in mind

Kaiser Bill's Staffwagen. Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany's Imperial Warlord, liked to be as close to the action as his generals would allow. In order to do so, comfortably, he had several special staff vehicles built to carry him

Two different depictions of Kaiser Wilhelm II

The fabled and imposing Paul von Hindenburg, one of Germany's greatest generals and future President of the Republic

Private Adolf Hitler as he might have looked before being promoted to Corporal and eventually invalided out of the action!

Once again, have a happy 2012 and happy hunting as you go in search of those special pieces to add to your own collections

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