The one piece coverall was part of the Army clothing inventory throughout the war. Initially issued only to mechanics and armor crews, the comfortable and economical garment was later used by truck drivers, signal corps linemen, and also for general infantry use, especially the jungle version for troops in the Pacific. “Suit, One Piece, HBT OD Special 1943”.
Alpine Miniatures’ 35053 WW2 US Tank Crew Set, a 1/35 scale resin figure set sculpted by Taesung Harmms and box-art by Artur Miniszewski, masterfully displays both the coverall types as worn by a pair of members of the US Armored Forces.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35051 WW2 US Tank Crew #1 and 35052 WW2 US Tank Crew #2.
As 35052 wears the earlier edition coveralls it would be prudent to discuss this figure first so as to contextualize firstly the reasons for the changes which resulted in the release of the third edition suit, and secondly the main differences in the later suit which 35051 wears.
35052 WW2 US Tank Crew #2
35052 WW2 US Tank Crew #2 is casually posed, leaning slightly forward with his weight placed on his right leg. He wears the earlier edition of the two coveralls, “Suit, Working, One Piece, HBT 1938” .
The one-piece herringbone-twill work suit was originally only issued to mechanics and to personnel of the Armored Forces. It was designed with a bi-swing back, a belt, two breast pockets, two patch hip pockets, a watch pocket and one leg pocket. Other than the mechanics and armored personnel, all other enlisted men received a two piece work suit (fatigues), also of herringbone-twill.
The right-hand breast pocket has a buttonless flap, a distinctive trait of the 1938 Model I pattern. The suit is opened and closed by a single zipper. The two back hip pockets are patch style, and open without a flap cover. There is a buttoned “passthrough” on one hip pocket.
The suit was well-liked due to its comfort and its resistance to dirt. Usage exposed various faults though, such as a tendency to shrink badly when first washed, and also the need to virtually disrobe to urinate. Tank crews objected to the metal buttons which became too hot in summer inside a tank. This suit was altered with a new spec issued in April 1942.
As with almost all Alpine figures, 35052 is presented with two headgear options: the M1942 Tanker’s helmet; and a M1 steel helmet. The M1942 “Rawlings” tankers helmet, which was officially adopted as the standard Armored Forces helmet in 1942, is now synonymous with US tankers of this period.
In addition to these garments, the tanker wears standard US Army issue combats boots. He is also carrying a .45 cal Colt M1911A1 pistol in an all-leather shoulder holster, not a standard item but one which most tankers tried to obtain.
35051 WW2 US Tank Crew #1
Like his compatriot, 35051 WW2 US Tank Crew #1 is casually posed, with hands in pockets. This tanker wears the later edition coverall, “Suit, One Piece, HBT OD Special 1943” .
Enhancements in the design of one-piece HBT suits were discussed within the OQMG during 1942 and 1943. After a February 1943 conference at the Philadelphia Depot, the design emerged altered in several respects. Because of the criticism about burns from hot metal buttons, the placement of buttons was changed so no metal touched the wearer's skin.
Other changes included: a single breast pocket with a pencil slot; elimination of the button and buttonhole from the hip pocket; addition of a rule pocket to the right leg; changing the leg closure to a small tab; and substituting a plain back for the bi-swing back.
The final design was called "Suit, One-Piece, HBT, OD7, Special" incorporating all the design improvements plus flaps to protect from gas infiltration (hence the "special" designation). The specification was PQD No. 92F, dated 23 May 1944. The color was the newer OD #7, the dark shade of late war items. This HBT worksuit was one of the most multipurpose clothing items of WWII, widely used in a multiplicity of roles throughout the American armed forces. The suit was used by mechanics, linemen and infantry personnel alike.
The top front left pocket comes with a flap and a button, absent on the right side; this is a distinguishing feature of the third pattern suit. The wide cotton waist belt has an OD plastic buckle.
35051 most noticeably wears a garment not often seen on US Army figures: the standard issue M1938 enlisted man raincoat.
Raincoats were issued to US Army enlisted men as a standard piece of their field gear. In 1938 the rubberized fabric raincoat was standardized, replacing the previous oil treated fabric raincoat. This raincoat was replaced after a few years by a new synthetic material raincoat. After 1942, the synthetic raincoat was supplied throughout the remainder of World War II although the fabric raincoat continued to be found in use.
The design of the raincoat was a five button, straight front coat with two pockets that opened to the inside so the wearer could reach into clothing pockets while wearing the raincoat.
As with 35052, 35051 is presented with two headgear options: the “Cap, Herringbone Twill” field cap; and a M1 steel helmet – under which one can see the peak of a field cap.
There were many field caps used during World War II, within the Army and other services. The earliest were the "Daisy Mae" fatigue hats, made in blue denim in the 1930s, then replaced by OD cotton and finally by herringbone twill (HBT) in 1941 – the cap featured here. The field caps were of a general design that included a separate bill in front and a cylinder shaped cap instead of the dome shape (baseball cap) style. They did not have fur or other provisions for winter weather, but did have an ear covering that folded up into the cap when not in use.
The cap worn by this figure is the “Cap, Herringbone Twill” . This field cap was very common for the duration of the whole war. Its replacement, the M1943 cap, was not extensively circulated until well into 1945.
In addition to these garments, the tanker wears standard US Army issue combats boots over which he wears heavy cotton duck gaiters. As he wears pistol belt with clip pouches and first-aid packet, it is implied that he wears a pistol for self-defense.
The set, molded in Alpine Miniatures’ traditional light grey colored resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of seven (7) pieces - three pieces for figure 35051 and four pieces for figure 35052 respectively. The kit is packaged in a small, clear acetate box with each figure’s parts inside its own small zip-lock bag. A small card displaying the painted set of figures, as well as the individual figures is supplied.
Figure 35051 WW2 US Tank Crew #1 consists of the following three (3) parts: Head wearing M1 steel helmet.
The figures are perfectly sculpted. The casting is crisp, clean, and has truly captured the highly detailed and accurate sculpting of Taesung Harmms. I say this with all Alpine figures I review, but I am always stunned by the superiority of the Alpine casts, for they are truthfully of the highest quality.
Each head is all well-sculpted, and each face matches the other in the pair in terms of facial detail – it is only the head gear that differentiates the two heads. The faces are cleanly sculpted and very well defined. The head gear is well proportioned, and nicely detailed. While the casting block is placed under the neck on the heads featuring the field cap and tanker helmet, for casting reasons those heads wearing the M1 steel helmets have the casting block placed on top of the helmet. The reason for this is that were the block placed under the neck, it would not be possible to achieve such a level of detail under the lip of the helmet. I think most will agree with me that a minute of two of extra clean up is well worth the extra detail.
The figures proper as extremely well detailed. Judging from reference photographs Taesung has accurately portrayed both suits as well as the additional garments. One can clearly distinguish between the two versions by way of the distinctive characteristics mentioned above.
The skirt of the raincoat has been cast as a solid piece. Most modelers will probably leave this as is, as I suspect one this is painted it will hardly be noticeable. The enterprising modeler may wish to drill or carve this out, but bee warned though that this will be no easy task.
35052’s right arm, as with the rest of the figure, is well detailed and cast. The arm features the characteristic Alpine U-shaped casting block on the inside of the shoulder. As always this can easily be cut away with a sharp knife.
Removing the pieces from the casting blocks was literally effortless. I find a new chisel shaped knife blade easily cuts through the resin with the ease of slicing through plastic.
Generally clean up was non-existent, with really only a minute seam on the back of the one M1 helmet - nothing some sandpaper could not quickly sort out.
For the purposes of this review I have simply tacked the figures together with the local equivalent of “Blu-tac”.
35052’s right arm lines up easily with the shoulder on the torso. The heads easily slide into place, and are to a certain degree interchangeable between the two figures.
In a time when modelers have become accustomed to seeing mostly late war US Tankers wearing the distinctive US tanker winter combat jacket, it is refreshing to see some mid-war US tankers. This unique subject, together with Taesung Harmm’s incredible sculpting, impeccable attention is accuracy and detail, and Alpine’s unrivalled quality make this set a winner.