Italian Bersaglieri Miniatures, 1939–1945

MIRLITON 20 mm Figure Review

Italian Bersaglieri Miniatures of World War Two, 1939–1945, 1:72 Miniatures MIRLITON BIT 2

Italian Bersaglieri wearing the distinctive black cockerel-feather plumes on the steel helmet. Bersagliere were first established in Piedmont in 1836 by General Marmora, they were light infantry riflemen trained in expert marksmanship. Prior to World War One, each of the 12 Italian army corps received an elite Bersaglieri regiment as corps troops. These regiments consisted of four battalions, one of which was a Bersaglieri bicycle infantry battalion. After World War One, the Bersaglieri regiments were converted entirely to bicycle infantry, and in the 1930s they were further upgraded to motorized infantry regiments. Regimental organization changed from four to three battalions, the first of which was a Bersaglieri motorcycle infantry battalion. During World War Two, Italian armoured divisions consisted of an armoured regiment, a Bersaglieri regiment, an artillerie regiment, an engineer battalion, and divisional support troops.

In the wake of the Allied landing in Sicily on 10th July 1943, Italian fieldmarshal Badoglio led a successful royalist coup against Mussolini on July 25th. The Duce was imprisoned at the Hotel Campo Imperatore on the Gran Sasso, a mountain in the Abruzzes 2.172 meters above sea level. Badoglio formed an interim government, and he formally surrendered to the Allies on 3rd September. After the Italian Armistice more than 700,000 Italian troops behind German lines were disarmed, transported to Germany and interned there.

On 12th September, German gliderborne assault troops freed Mussolini at the Gran Sasso, and returned him to Upper Italy where he formed a new fascist republic, the Repubblica Soziale Italiana. After several months of negotiations, the Duce received permission to raise four infantry divisions from "Badoglio Truppen" interned in Germany. These units fought on the Eastern Front, and they were involved in the terrible partisan war which raged in Upper Italy. The new fascist regiments continued to wear Italian uniforms and equipment, with the addition of German Einheitsmütze caps and berets in various colours. In 1945 the German steel helmet officially replaced the Italian helmet.

Contents

  • 12 Figures in 10 Poses – 23.5 mm equal 169 cm Height
    • Officer
    • Guidon-bearer
    • Grenadier
    • Bersaglieri Machine Gunner No. 1
    • Bersaglieri Machine Gunner No. 2
    • 8 mm Breda HMG in Sandbagged Emplacement
    • Bersaglieri Machine Gunner advancing with 6.5 mm Breda LMG
    • Bersaglieri advancing
    • Bersaglieri running (2)
    • Bersaglieri kneeling, firing (2)
    • Bersaglieri kneeling

Evaluation

Excellent choice of subject. Elite Bersaglieri motorized riflemen made up the infantry element of the 131st Centauro, 132nd Ariete, and 133rd Littorio armoured divisions. Additional Bersaglieri battalions were sometimes attached to armoured reconnaissance units at the divisional level.

Beautifully sculpted miniatures. The Bersaglieri are slender, and they are more compatible with 1:72 scale plastic troops than many of their metal comrades. The poses are anatomically and historically correct; these are lively figures which will be fun to paint. None of the poses are exaggerated, they are all suitable for wargaming purposes and dioramas.

Excellent detail in the uniforms and equipment, even the figure bases are textured, and there are small rocks on some of them.

Half of the figures are specialist types, including HMG and LMG gunners, grenadier, officer and guidon-bearer command figures. This is an excellent starter set for anyone interested in this chapter of Italian history. Wargamers will want to flesh out their units by adding more riflemen from the separate expansion boxes also available.

The Breda Mod.1937 HMG is a superb model, complete with tripod, gunner, loader, and a sandbagged emplacement. Assembly instructions are not included, and it is not immediately apparent how the gun should be mounted on the tripod. The tripod attaches to the sandbags with two legs forward and one back. The gunner attaches to the rear of the sandbagged emplacement. With these three parts in place, the HMG itself can be glued to the gunner's hands and to the tripod. The manufacturer showed this model at the Kulmbach miniatures show in Germany, 07th - 10th August 1997: The barrel had been drilled open, and a puff of white cotton smoke was stuck into it. The base of the smoke was painted red and yellow to represent a jet of flame. This small detail added colour to the vignette, and it made the model stand out nicely.

Excellent facial features, every man is a character. Separate head would have made these figures even more versatile, modellers are always tempted to add variety to their units.

The kneeling and advancing Bersaglieri are standard troop types which can be used again and again. The kneeling man may be converted to a radio operator or anti-tank gunner.

Good casting quality, crisp detail, and little flash. Some of the figures show no visible mould lines at all, even the typical line across the helmet is minimal and it will be easy to scrape off with a scalpel. One of the figures had a defective rifle barrel, and the easiest way to fix this was to convert the weapon to a Beretta Modello 3A SMG. We cut the rifle back to the figure's left hand, drilled the remaining barrel open, and inserted a short piece of 0.6 mm pianowire to act as the SMG barrel.

Cast in white metal containing lead, not suitable for kids under 12 years of age.

At 28 cm diameter, the Bersaglieri helmets are still noticeably larger than those of 1:72 scale figures, but overall compatibility is very good. By comparison, ESCI Alpini mountain troops scale out approximately 3 inches taller, and their weapons are a little thinner.

The LMG gunner carries his weapon in an unusual way, with both hands very near the end of the stock. This position would be rather uncomfortable, and it looks like there may be a loader figure who can help the gunner carry the weapon. One interesting feature of the LMG gunner is that he has the M.1933 gasmask out of its carrier bag.

No painting instructions. Modellers and wargamers will have to refer to colour drawings of Italian Bersaglieri to paint these figures correctly. Painting information on the unit guidon may be particularly difficult to find. It would have been a nice touch if Humbrol colour reference numbers had been printed on the back of the box cover to identify the gray-green uniform and equipment colour. Asked about the Italian uniform colours, Mr. Grazzini of MIRLITON recommended Vallejo Model Colours No. 979 or No. 897 as the most suitable model paints. Apparently, the Humbrol colour equivalent is 75 Matt Bronze Green.

Historical Employment

  • Bersaglieri in temperate uniform (gray-green)
    • Invasion of the Balkans, 1941–1943
    • Invasion of Russia, 1941–1944
    • Italian Campaign, 1943
    • Italian Partizan War, 1944
    • Eastern Front (Badoglio Truppen of the Wehrmacht), 1945

MIRLITON Bersaglieri offer a nice range of suitable poses, and they have the heavy weapons which are required for simulation games. This boxed set is a great starting point for a collection of Italian infantry types, and it may be used to supplement figure ranges from other manufacturers which are less well equipped with specialist troop types. MIRLITON deserves praise for offering 20 mm figures in convenient boxed sets, this a far better distribution method than the outmoded single figure selection frequently required of wargamers and figure collectors. It is hoped that the MIRLITON range of Bersaglieri will eventually include troopers with solo-motorcycles and combinations. Another valuable addition would be Bersaglieri platoon boxes with all the figures and weapons required to build an historic formation.

Sample from MIRLITON

Frequently Asked Questions

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Italian Miniatures of World War Two