Welcome to Conversion Clinic, where we take a look at kitbashes and conversions from around the hobby world, and show you how to do them yourselves. Today Marcus shows you how to easily whip up a batch of Volkssturm. The doctor will see you now… (this seems familiar… -ed.)
Marcus: I’m showing off a unit of my own that I’m very proud of. As some of you may know, I’ve got a pretty chunky German Bolt Action army, themed around the very last days of the war. As such, I really wanted a small unit of Volkssturm to accompany my Waffen-SS and armoured platoons. I’ve always been inspired by the ad-hoc nature of the equipment issued to these desperate men, and I thought it’d be a great modelling challenge to try and represent them in miniature.
Our plastic Winter German Infantry boxed set is my all-time favourite infantry kit, and I’ve built literally hundreds of them over the years. While there’s a ton of cool combinations you can make from that set, I wanted to branch out and use some of the rest of my bits box to really make the rag-tag equipment of the Volkssturm stand out on the tabletop.
Historically, the Volkssturm were a hastily-created formation for the defence of Germany, made up of men too old for regular military service, and those in previously reserved occupations. Their equipment and training varied wildly depending on where they were raised and what was available at the time, but by and large they were issued with captured enemy weapons and any surplus uniform items left in the Wehrmacht’s supply depots. When researching the Volkssturm (Osprey’s Hitler’s Home Guard is an excellent starting point!), I came across an account of a unit that was issued with a mixture of German, Soviet, and Italian coats, boots, and rifles, but interestingly received enough Luftwaffe field caps to give the men something of a ‘uniform’ appearance – at least from a distance. I decided to recreate a unit in a very similar situation, mostly as a break from painting SS camouflage!
All our Bolt Action plastic sprues are designed to be compatible with each other – using the greatcoat-clad Winter Soviets to supplement the Winter Germans gave me access to a whole new range of poses and component options to really add some variety to the squad and nail that desperate last-ditch look and feel. This method of really simple kitbashing is an ideal way to produce unique units of your own in no time at all! Here they are in all their glory, before we talk about the process of parts selection and modelling.
The majority of the squad are based on Winter German bodies, with a mixture of Winter Soviet arms used to vary the poses. To illustrate, here’s a new one I knocked up this morning, shown without paint:
The iconic weapon of the Volkssturm was the panzerfaust. Cheap and easy to manufacture, millions of these disposable anti-tank weapons were issued towards the end of the war, and for many Volkssturm were the only weapons they had. My unit is rather better equipped, as they all have rifles, but I realised I was lacking any panzerfausts! I’ve rectified it with this rather sorry-looking chap, who doubtless wishes he was anywhere else in the world at this particular moment. His body is from the Winter Germans sprue, and I’ll paint it up as an older M36-pattern greatcoat with the bottle-green collar, perfect for something pulled out of a warehouse. His arms come from the Winter Russian sprue, and rather awkwardly he’s only wearing one mitten – I’ll probably paint it in some kind of whimsical pattern, as he’s clearly brought his own from home! He’s armed with a panzerfaust from the German weapons sprue, and a Model 1938 Mosin-Nagant carbine, from the Soviet weapons sprue. This short variant of the iconic Soviet rifle is exactly the kind of thing that might have been captured earlier in the war and hurriedly re-issued, no doubt with only a handful of ammunition. Finally, his bandaged head comes from the US Airborne sprue, and gives him a suitably war-weary expression. With a spot of grey hair, it’ll also make him look appropriately elderly!
This was a really easy little kitbash to do, with no cutting or modification to parts required – it simply fits together (almost like we designed it like that…). This is just one example of the many, many possibilities that you can use to make a truly unique Volkssturm unit of your very own. There’re only really two ‘difficult’ bits: freehand painting the iconic Volkssturm armband can be a bit fiddly, but the hardest part is definitely choosing which bits to use – oh, such hardship!
No late-war German force is complete without a squad or two of Volkssturm – these plastic boxed sets are a great starting point for converting up your own!