Tuesday 16 November 2010

Richard Schulze

Good evening

Some of you may know me from one of a number of forums that I sometimes post on, others from WW2 airsofting, some of you may have picked up one of my business cards, and whichever one of the above applies to you, you may have noticed that I am frequently referred to as Richard, or Richard Schulze. For those of you who might be wondering why that is, if you care to read on then all will be revealed

A few years ago I decided to become involved with WW2 airsofting, having happened upon some of the guns for sale whilst visiting a militaria show. I already knew I wanted to represent 'the dark side', having had an interest in the German army, and a few other things German, since I was a fairly small child, and I had already started to put a uniform together for an entirely different purpose, hence my attendance at the fair. The uniform I was putting together [I briefly flirted with the idea of joining a reenactment group, but if I'm honest it was primarily for 'dressing up'] was based on a photograph of a Waffen SS officer I had seen in an Osprey 'Men-At-Arms' publication (number 401 to be precise). His name; Richard Schulze. So, I decided to use it as my forum 'nom de plume' and the 'aka' for my WW2 airsofting 'character' or 'impression'

I have included a couple of links below to sites that offer some very detailed accounts of some of the units Richard Schulze was part of during the war. Although an infantry officer, he is pictured here wearing a field grey version of the panzer, or tank, wrap worn by SP and AG crew but also worn quite occasionally by panzer grenadiers. Notice also that the insignia on his m43 ski cap is rather unusual and certainly not regulation wear. It sports a metal totenkopf, or death's head badge, positioned below a regular army pattern national eagle

A picture of Schulze taken from the above mentioned Osprey book. Photographed in 1944/45 when he was with the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend

A summary of Schulze's career up to August 1941
Richard Schulze was born in Berlin-Spandau on 2 October 1914. He joined the SS on 11 November 1934 stationed to the 6.SS standarte in Berlin. A short while later he was transferred to the LSSAH. In April 1935 he attended the second cadet class at SS Junkerschule Bad Tölz and was commissioned on 20 April 1936 with the rank of Untersturmführer. He was assigned to II./Totenkopfverbänd "Elbe" until March 1937 when he served a four month stint as Theodor Eicke's adjutant. It was while adjutant to Eicke that Schulze joined the NSDAP

On 10 July 1937 Schulze was assigned to "Thüringen", where he served as adjutant until November 1938. He received his first promotion as a commissioned officer on the 9th and shortly after assumed command of one of the "Thüringen" barracked units. In April 1939 Schulze was transferred to the SS Hauptamt (central office) where again he served as adjutant, this time to SS Hauptamt chief August Heissmeyer. Schulze served in this capacity until 8 June, when he was then transferred to a similar post on the staff of Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany's Foreign Minister and father of future Ritterkreuzträger Rudolf von Ribbentrop

In April 1940 Schulze was transferred back to the Leibstandarte and placed in command of a zug in 2.Kompanie. Serving in this capacity at the outset of the hostilities in the west, Schulze went on to distinguish himself by winning both Iron Crosses and taking command of the Kompanie when the Kompanie commander was wounded on 11 June. Promoted to Hauptsturmführer on 11 August, after France's capitulation Schulze returned back to his staff position with Ribbentrop

In the January of 1941 Schulze transferred back to the Leibstandarte's 2.Kompanie. He would command 2.Kompanie until suffering wounds in both arms that August 

Later in his career he served as commander of the 2nd SS Panzer-Grenadier Battalion of the 25th regiment, Hitlerjugend during the division's 1944 campaign in the Ardennes, and towards the end of the war in March 1945 he was given command of the 38th SS-Grenadierdivision Nibelungen

Below you will find a chronological record of the ranks achieved by Schulze during his career and a selection of the awards he won, a couple of which you can see being worn in the above photograph

Dates of rank
 Notable decorations

Some photographs of the German awards referred to above are included here

    The Wound Badge in Silver

    The Iron Cross 1st Class

    The Infantry Assault Badge

    The German Cross in Gold, picture courtesy of The Regalia Specialist

    The Close Combat Clasp in Silver, picture courtesy of The Regalia Specialist

    Sunday 14 November 2010

    Storm Force Airsoft, Review

    Earlier today I took myself over to Storm Force to play at their airsoft open day and had a thoroughly enjoyable time, apart from the fact I twisted my knee and limped out of the very last game when it started to hurt a bit!

    We arrived at about 8.45 and started getting ourselves sorted out. I was there with a couple of regulars from the team I play with at Fireball Squadron and once we'd done a bit of 'bombin' up' etc. we tucked into a very welcome bacon sarnie and a mug of tea/coffee. T and C are available all day and included in the green fee, a very reasonable £25, and the bacon sarnie was an additional £1.50. Lunch was also included, a large burger with cheese slices, onions and a variety of relishes. A variety of choccy bars, crisps and cans of fizz are also available, as are BBs, gas and flash bangs

    A view of the safe zone and reception area, with the food hut on the left
    A better view of the safe zone. There are two of these areas, both with plenty of plastic tables and chairs and covered with camo patterned plastic sheeting
    The site itself is huge, and undulating, comprising areas of mature woodland with lots of trees and the ubiquitous rhododendron, the occasional area of relatively open ground and valleys! Yes, valleys, complete with one or two small streams and a large water feature or two. One of the games we played today centred around our team trying to fight its way from one end of a valley floor to the other whilst our opponents tried to stop us. They were allowed to make use of the trees and undergrowth on either side whilst we had to remain within the confines of the valley floor and do our best to drive them back by picking off their medics and forcing them to regen at the other end, thereby giving us time and opportunity to move forward, taking cover as best we could in some of the sparse undergrowth or the occasional structure or barricade

    We played a number of games throughout the day using all of the main structures on the site; a border crossing, a church, a watchtower, a command base/fort, two bunkers set into a hillside, and an electricity pylon! They were short, sharp, objective driven games in the main and I enjoyed them all. The bunker game was the one where I twisted my knee. We were given the task of defending two bunkers set side by side into one of the hills, and our opponents had the unenviable task of trying to dislodge us and plant a flag to claim the ground. They were given unlimited regens whilst we were 'dead' and out of the game as soon as we were hit. A direct assault on the bunkers meant clambering up a fairly steep slope, dodging plastic and hugging trees, however it is also possible to work your way round the flanks and to the rear of the structures. We held out for a pitiful 7 minutes! The tables were then turned and it was our chance to see if we could better the time. You guessed it. We didn't. We planted our flag in just over 9 minutes

    Team Panda enjoying a brief respite outside one of the bunker structures

    Having just answered the call of nature, this is not the kind of reception committee you'd be expecting or looking forward to. Decent loos on this site, and that's not to be sniffed at!
    A view of the fort, nestling in one of the valleys

    All in all, my teammates and I had a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing day's airsofting. The game play was action packed, pacey and challenging for the most part, hit taking was generally excellent and the marshalling fair, and firm without being heavy handed. The number of players attending was small, around about 20, but the day was no less enjoyable for that. The site is newly opened and it can certainly accommodate many more players, but it takes time to build up the numbers. If you're reading this and you still haven't been to Storm Force, I thoroughly recommend you give it a go. You won't be disappointed

    See you on the skirmish field

    Friday 12 November 2010

    New WW2 Releases From First Legion

    First Legion are quite simply getting better and better. The latest batch of new releases for their WW2 Stalingrad range will have you licking your lips in anticipation. The German 150mm howitzer is their most ambitious and most expensive set thus far, and an absolute joy to behold. And that's not all. See what you think of the images and click on the link to visit their website for more fascinating details

    The stunning new 150mm howitzer from the incomparable First Legion

    The gun comes complete with limber and 5 crew figures. Beautiful!

    Just in case that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, the MG34 tripod team and the Hauptmann in Russian fur-lined winter coat are also in the pipeline. Oh, for bottomless pockets!

    Not forgetting the Nappies, of course, take a look at these rarely produced beauties for their very popular Waterloo range. Nine wonderful sculpts representing the Brunswick Advanced Guard Jaegers

    So, just a few of the new releases available from First Legion. Take a look at their wonderful website for news of even more on the way for November and December

    Happy collecting

    Tuesday 9 November 2010

    New Airsoft 'Boxcannon'

    Hi everyone

    I came across a link to a site offering a new airsoft version of this iconic German pistol whilst visiting one of my favourite forums earlier today, and thought I'd mention it briefly here

    I haven't, as yet, managed to find a review of this particular version, but it certainly looks and sounds the part, and it has the added attraction of being a GBB. I already have the HFC version, complete with wooden holster which doubles as a stock, just like the real steel. It would be nice to know whether the HFC stock and spare magazines are compatible with this new Tercel version

    The new Tercel m712 'Boxcannon' available from Cobraairsoft, amongst others

    Sunday 7 November 2010

    Storm Force Airsoft, Open Day Shoot, Saturday 13th November

    Hi everyone

    Just thought I'd let you know about a game taking place next weekend at a relatively newly opened site called Storm Force Airsoft, near Rugeley. The game will be a regular open day so no special scenarios and no game limitations re camo, ammo or numbers - the more the merrier. Walkon is £25, including a light lunch and free tea and coffee all day

    These two likely lads, pictured at the Storm Force site, are part of the squad I regularly play with at Fireball Squadron. Dave Anderson, aka Pops, closest to the camera, and his brother Steve, aka DB1, Fat Lad, or Cartman

    The site itself boasts terrain which is challenging for both experienced and new players alike. The games are played within 45 acres of mature woodland set in 75 acres of outstanding Staffordshire countryside. The woodland benefits from three valleys, a woodland pool, large forests of rhododendron and mature trees all providing an abundance of natural cover

    Access to the site is from Bardy Lane which is situated 6 miles from Lichfield Town centre on the A51 Stone Road between the villages of Longdon and Upper Longdon in Rugeley Staffordshire.  For more information please email Mark and the Stormforce Team at or contact Mark Mitchell directly on 07515 937633

    The site address is; Storm Force Airsoft & Paintball, Longbarn Farm, Bardy Lane, Brereton Cross, Rugeley, Staffordshire, WS15 4LD

    Storm Force is a full member of the United Kingdom Airsoft Sites Governing Body and is an UKARA registerd Airsoft Site

    Hope to see a few people there

    Thursday 4 November 2010

    The Birmingham Toy Soldier Show, 2010

    Hello again toy soldier lovers

    I spent my Sunday morning and early afternoon this week drinking in the delights of the Birmingham Toy Soldier Show. I'm a relative 'newbie' to the toy soldier collecting hobby and, although I'm almost ashamed to admit it, this was only the second TS show I have ever been to. It certainly whetted my appetite for more and I am determined, now, to get down to London to one of the 'biggies'!

    Although a lot smaller than the London events, according to Mike Neville of King and Country, the hobby was well represented with approximately 95 trade stands selling a wide cross section of merchandise, and, as you can probably glean from the photos, it was certainly very well attended by enthusiasts, many of whom had travelled some considerable distance to be there. The show was confined to one room in the Clarendon Suites complex, and we had use of the adjoining bar to take a breather and refresh ourselves with a cuppa and/or a variety of breakfast baps or snacks, all quite reasonably priced

    Those of you with eagle eyes might just be able to spot the show organiser lurking somewhere in this shot

    Toy soldier dealers and makers, both large and small, from the length and breadth of the country, were in attendance including the likes of Irregular Miniatures, White Tower Miniatures, Grey Goose Collectibles, Maison Militaire, TM Terrain and not forgetting King and Country UK whose stand was by far the largest at the show

    Two views from opposite sides of the K+C stand

    All aspects of the hobby were represented with plenty of plastics on display, as well as metal miniatures, covering all major historical periods and from a wide range of manufacturers. There was an abundance of Britain's figures, both old and new, glossy and not so glossy. For those of us, like me, who prefer our toy soldiers to be rather less traditional and matte painted, well we were more than adequately catered for with ranges from Frontline, Conte, Figarti, K+C, John Jenkins, Heritage Miniatures, Thomas Gunn, The Collectors Showcase, and some of my personal favourites, First Legion all available and screaming, as loudly as their tiny toy soldier lungs would allow, for us to buy them. I, like many others it seemed to me, succumbed to this torment and spent what my wife would no doubt describe as an irresponsibly large amount of money. Happy days. Now for some eye candy

    A shot of the Maison Militaire stand. Apologies for the uninvited guest in the foreground. In the background you can see figures from a variety of makers, including Conte Collectibles, Thomas Gunn Minitaures and First Legion
    A close up of the winter infantry gun from, yep, Thomas Gunn Miniatures

    More figures from TG. I quite like a lot of the sets produced by this maker. Animated poses and some interesting subject matter, with a paint job on a par with the likes of K+C, not as good though as First Legion
    A dynamically posed set by Conte Collectibles
    A selection of Crusaders; Templars and Hospitallers from First Legion's new range, set during the fall of Acre in 1291. If I'm honest, I love these figures, but don't really understand why the bases haven't all been rendered in the same way. I may have to look into that.....

    Two views of a large group of Heritage Miniatures, Maison Militaire's in-house line of figures, which formed a delightfully mouth-watering and very eye catching centrepiece on their stand

    As already stated, I am relatively new to the TSC hobby, however, I have been wargaming and collecting wargames figures for many years. My period of choice is WW2 and what drew me into the TSC hobby about four years ago was seeing some K+C Berlin '38 figures simply displayed, in a lit glass presentation cabinet, one day as I visited a local book and model shop in Birmingham. Everything about them appealed to me immediately; the size, the quality of the paintwork and the fact that it was matte and not the high gloss finish I normally associated with toy soldiers, the subject matter, and the fact that a lot of trouble had been taken to make them look 'realistic'. So I went away and found out as much as I could about this company, K+C, and not long after I bought my first figure. I have quite a few more now, and I love them all

    Two dioramas depicting scenes from The Great War, with figures from K+C's World War One range together with scenic items from John Gittins
    Crusaders and Saracens fighting in the Holy Land

    Two scenes from Waterloo, with JG's terrain mats underfoot and his fabulously expensive, but utterly gorgeous, rendering of Hougemont in the background
    SS troops scouting the streets for signs of the enemy
    The SS, making the most of a photo opportunity, with their Cossack allies
    British Paras fighting for the town of Arnheim
    DAK forces, mustering for the next offensive

    I've only been to two TS shows so far but one of the things I really enjoyed about both of them, and it sounds obvious really, was the opportunity to get up close and personal, if you'll pardon the expression, with a) the product and b) the dealers and/or makers. There's nothing better than seeing these miniature works of art 'for real', 'in the flesh,' as opposed to in a photograph on the internet or in a magazine. I had a fairly lengthy chat with Tony Neville and one of the things that cropped up in conversation was the issue of photographs failing to do justice to the figures. There is one collection of SS figures in particular which I think look far, far better in the hand then they do in any of the photos I have seen of them

    I spent time, too, chatting to Clive from Grey Goose as I stood and admired his Figarti vehicles. I didn't buy one I'm sad to say - my budget was already spoken for thanks to a hefty pre-show order I had put in with another dealer - but it's only a matter of time! They are lovely, and I like all the little 'extras' they put into them, hatches that open , removable engine hoods, and the like as well as all the bits and pieces made out of copper and brass - it all goes to make them just that little bit special. If you get a chance, check out their new railway carriages and track sections for transporting armoured vehicles. Fabulous 

    German infantry, armour and artillery looking out over the Normandy beaches. Terrain features, courtesy of John Gittins
    The Yanks are in town, repairing and resupplying. You can just make out the railway wagons mentioned earlier in the foreground of the shot

    Two shots here of a vehicle I really like and it epitomises something Figarti do with aplomb, and that is make vehicles that are a little bit more exotic, in addition to the usual suspects

    Finally, for this post, I will leave you with some shots of a few Collectors Showcase and First Legion figures, courtesy of our friends at TM Terrain. Thanks, Dave and Mark, for spending such a long time chatting about the toy soldiers, and a few other things, and making it so easy to part with my hard earned cash. I eventually walked away with a handful of FL German Napoleonics, aka 'Nappies', and a couple of Stalingrad Germans to add to my shelf dioramas in the hobbies room. Different folks, different strokes, but for me FL toy soldiers represent excellent value for money. Yes, they are more expensive than any other matte painted figures on the market, with the exception of those made by the Russians, but what you get for your money are some of the most beautifully painted toy soldiers you can buy. Happy collecting, and see you soon

    French Napoleonic guns and crew by Collectors Showcase. This maker's figures have a uniquely characteristic appearance which makes them immediately recognisable. Some of the animated poses make for wonderfully dynamic displays

    More from CS, this time from their ACW range. I love the falling trooper

    And finally, a closer look at some newly released Crusaders and Samurai from First Legion. Matt's company are becoming increasingly prolific, with new ranges and new additions to existing series coming out on a very regular basis, with no let up in qulaity - the paintwork is outstanding for the money. What's more, I don't know if this is mere wishful thinking, but I'll put money on the fact that the Crusaders are bigger and chunkier than any of his other figures. More like K+Cs 60mm figures. Nice!