Chasseurs Alpins (Mountain Light Infantry)
Groupe De Combat France Infanterie Alpine 1939 (French Alpin Infantry Battale Group 1939)
Series: Armée Francaise “39-45”
Chasseurs Alpins (mountain troops)
Chasseur, (French: “hunter”), member of various branches of the French army. Originally (1743) chasseurs, or chasseurs à pied (“on foot”), were light-infantry regiments. By the outbreak of World War I there were 31 battalions of chasseurs of which 12 were known as chasseurs alpins—units specially trained for mountain warfare. After World War I, chasseurs were formed as independent battalions for administrative purposes but were grouped into demibrigades of three battalions for war. Just prior to World War II a few battalions were integrated into armoured divisions as motorized infantry called chasseurs portés.†
Chasseurs Alpins fought alongside of British, Norwegian, and Polish troops during the Battle of Narvik in 1940.
Heller released several small (3-4 figures or people with animals) sets of 1/35 Second World War French soldiers in the 1970s. This is a trio of Chasseurs-Alpins
, the elite of the French army. They feature clean molding and good detail.
Armée Francaise “39-45” was Heller’s 1/35 series of Second World War French subjects. I do not know how many sets there were although box art advertisements show several continental and colonial subjects (Those with an asterisk wear Free French uniforms.):
1. 25mm Anti-Tank Cannon Model 1934
2. 2éme D.B. (I)
3. 81mm Mortar crew*
4. Assault troops*
5. Colonial Senegalese Infantry
(Reviewed here at KitMaker.)
6. Frogmen in a rubber raft (WW II?)
7. Gnome-Rhone Motorcycle
8. Hotchkiss machine gun crew
9. Moto Gnome-Rhone ET Sidecar Military Cycle
10. Sahara Camel Corps
11. Stretcher bearers*
12. Groupe Tabor
Heller also combined some sets to make diorama sets, including the diorama set "Koufra."
Several 1/35 WW II French tanks and Wehrmacht figure sets were also created. I read that these models now belong to Italeri and SK Models.
Heller packed three sprues with 39 parts in a plastic bag, held inside a top-bottom box. The parts are molded without many noticeable seams, sink marks, ejector circles, or flash. They are remarkably clean and sharp. The only ejector marks I spotted are on the inside ankle of the puttees. Each figure is built with separate legs, two-piece torsos, separate arms and a separate head. All headcover are also separate. These models are proportioned, posed and detailed at least as well, if not better, than contemporary Tamiya figures.
Uniform details such as belts, harnesses, rank and unit insignias of Bataillons de Chasseurs Alpins are molded on. While no detail for the yellow bugle horn insignia of the Chasseur branch is molded, ranks include a Capitaine, Caporal or Sergent, and a Chasseur.
Individual ammo boxes are provided, as are two gas mask pouches, a musette bag, backpack, blanket roll, mess tin, shepherds crook/cane, P A 35 pistol holster, and carbine. While the packs have a natural "soft" appearance, unfortunately the carbine molding is rough. Heller includes a big crate for the NCO to sit upon while he studies the map which Heller printed on the instruction sheet. Flat ground bases support the standing figures. I wonder where the NCO’s weapon is; this is the only real drawback to the set; by this era, other model companies were including more than just the weapons for a kit’s figures.
Instructions and painting
A folded instruction sheet displays a single exploded diagram for the assembly of each figure. It is printed in French, English, and German.
Ten Heller paints are referenced. However, unlike Italeri and Tamiya models of the era, no attempt was made to guide modelers in creating insignias.
While Tamiya was the leading 1/35 figure maker in the 1970s, Heller and other model companies filled the void of overlooked subjects that are not American, British, German or Russian. This Heller model set has nothing to apologize for in the molding and detail department. It is very good.
My only dings are the lack of weapons for the NCO, and lack of any insignia information for model painters.
I am very impressed with this set and equally interested in sampling more of these sets. Happily recommended if you can find this set.
†. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. chasseur
. [Web.] n.d.