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Red Devils w/Welbike and Drop Tube Container Arnhem 1944

DML 1/35 Red Devils w/Welbike and Drop Tube Container Arnhem 1944 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2009 Manufacturer DML
Subject Red Devils w/Welbike and Drop Tube Container Arnhem 1944 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6585 Primary Media 112 parts (97 in grey styrene, 15 etched brass)
Pros Very nicely molded Welbike and drop container with etched brass details; nicely done figure sets, with Commonwealth figures always at a premium Cons Gen1" weapons; DML playing “dirty pool” by only providing ONE Welbike option per kit!
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $16-19

First Look

Every major country formed airborne forces for the Second World War – the USSR, Germany, Britain and the US. But as these were light infantry whose only great advantage was mobility, they either needed specialized weapons which could drop with them or glider-borne support vehicles and systems. While the gliders were capable of carrying standard weapons like jeeps and light antitank guns up to 57mm caliber, the same was not true of the C-47 (Dakota) transports which were the primary carrier for US and UK airborne troops. Both countries developed small courier motorcycles which could be air-dropped for forces once on the ground, with the US creating a Cushman and the UK the Welbike.

These were basically semi-rear area machines as they were only marginally capable of off-road performance, but would speed up communications where radio was either not available (or as at Arnhem inoperable for most of the operation).

Recently the humble Welbike has now come to the attention of model companies, and this is the second effort to reach the market. DML has provided a 34 piece version of the little bike and a 16 piece drop container to go with it in each of two of the older figure sets, No. 6023 “Red Devils” and No. 6199 2nd SAS Regiment. The bikes are little gems with the engine alone consisting of 10 parts and the bike offering an option of either a styrene or brass chain and rear gear set. The spokes are plastic but among the finest moldings I have seen (and three dimensional) so only the purist would want to replace them with brass.

But – DML pulled a fast on the modeler. The “F” sprue with the Welbike comes with two “ears” – a left and right – and they “gated” them on each kit. 6585 comes with the left “ear” which is the set of parts for the Welbike in operating condition with the handlebars raised and unfolded; 6586 has the right “ear” with the parts for the Welbike in folded condition. In other words, you do not get an option with either kit and will have to get both of them to get a choice!

Beyond that, the figure sets remain excellent. Both are based on Ron Volstad artwork, but the internal directions are unfortunately the “stick here” variety and not the Volstad ones with the figures showing specific painting instructions. Both sets are in jump smocks with the 1st Airborne in airborne helmets and the 2nd SAS in berets. All figures are in semi-action poses but the arms provide for the standing figure in the 1st Airborne set and the kneeling figure in the SAS set to be holding or working on the Welbike with the optional set of arms (which come with jump smock sleeves).

Thanks to DML for the review sets.

Sprue Layouts:

  • E 6 Welbike drop container
  • F 33 Welbike in operating position, arms for operator
  • 6023 12 British weapons - Enfield rifle, Bren Gun, Sten Gun, PIAT
  • 6023 47 Four figures and kit
  • MA-Bike 15 Etched brass