In-Box Review
2nd SAS France '44 Figure set

by: Ian Sadler [ IANSADLER ]

The SAS was formed early in World War 2 with the appropriate motto "Who Dares Wins" at a time when many "special" units were being raised. Known originally as "L Detachment", the new unit grew to 390 men in 1942 and was redesignated 1st Special Air Service Regiment (1 SAS).

After various reorganizations and a period of further growth, an SAS Brigade was formed in Scotland in January 1944, consisting of two British regiments (1 and 2 SAS), two French regiments (3 and 4 SAS), a Belgian squadron (later 5 SAS), and a signal squadron.
The kit
Packaging: 48 pieces per carton .

This kit includes four figures representing members of the British 2nd Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment during WW2 in France 1944.

This new set is welcome from Dragon, not only does it fill an important gap in Allied Troops for WW2, but it is British. A word of caution; I will not make any comments on the actual figures or poses, that is for better figure painters than me to do in the fullness of time.

Uniform Details
My comments are based on the uniforms worn by the figures and what can be done with a little research and replacing of heads and legs etc.

We are dealing with 3 basic figures one wearing a brown leather jerkin , two wearing Denison Smocks and the last wearing a Windproof Smock.

So starting with the leather jerkin figure firstly, by altering the head you can use this figure for any arm of service in the British Army from 1914 to present day. For WW1 figures you need a new head with or without helmet and alter the trousers to have putties on the calves, the boots are the same. The leather jerkin is still worn today, but is now in a green mock leather or PVC, so by altering the pocket on the legs and removing the anklets, reshaping the trousers and blousing the boots you have modern figure lastly you can leave the beret on but replace the badge.

Other countries have used the leather jerkin from the same period and some are still using it today. Several come to mind; India, Pakistan, and South Africa. Australia, New Zealand. I am almost certain it was used post war by Belgium, Holland, Norway 'till the late 1970’s.
The Denison
The Dension, or to give it its correct title, “Airborne Smock Denison Camouflage “. Later it was titled “Smock Denison Parachutist”. First used in a plain herringbone material and dyed a light buff colour. Then it was camouflaged with the familiar pattern.

Let me kill off a myth about the camouflage pattern; it was not painted on by hand. The erroneous reason for this is the pattern resembles brush strokes. To the untrained eye this makes some modellers think it was hand painted. It was in fact printed on silk screen rollers one colour on top of each other.

There are 3 patterns of camouflage used in the Denison; the original, then the first pattern modified post war in 1947 and lastly the final version in the mid 1960’s. The changes were mainly in the colours firstly used then the layout and style of pattern was altered. Only very minor alterations to the basic jacket were made through out is life i.e. knitted cuffs added in war time and post war, full length zips war time mainly used by Officers and General’s and then they became part of the standard pattern for the post war Denison.

There are two other versions of the Denison; I have the Marines version which has the half zip replaced with buttons and loops for fastening the opening. The other I have only seen in museum’s - it's a waterproof version in a dark green waxed cloth used by the SBS, but cut to the same pattern as the Denison.

So who used the Denison and when? - British, Canadian, Polish Airborne and Glider Pilots, British Marine Commandoes, British Army Commandos, Free French Commandoes, Norwegian Commandoes. Also just about anyone who could come up with a valid reason for having one, these include Foo’s, APFU, General’s etc in WW2.

Dates of use in the British Army from 1941 to the mid late '80’s some do turn up in later photographs of Para’s or Marines who may have bought them privately.

Used and copied by the following countries since WW 2; British, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Dutch, Egypt, French (Indo China), Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan , Kenya, Norway, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, South Africa, Turkey, and lastly loads of African counties, too many to name. Some are original surplus stock and others are copies. The only difference is in the camouflage pattern, you will have to do your own research country by country and period by period.

So by altering the heads and legs you can achieve any of the above end users.
The Smock
Now for the last Figure the one wearing the Smock, this has over time built up more myths than any other uniform item ever worn by British troops since it introduction in 1941. It has erroneously been called The SAS Smock. Let me state here and now at no time has it ever had a label with the words SAS in the title. In cronical order of manufacture, it is titled “Smock Windproof Drab”, “Smock Windproof Snow Suit Green Denim”, “Smock Windproof Snow Suit White light or heavy”, “Smock Windproof Camouflage” and lastly the rarest one “Smock Windproof Jungle Camouflage”.

It was first used by the LRDG first and then by the SAS in the desert, this was the drab version, a light buff colour of which there are two variations in colour. One has a very tiny brown fleck in the pattern so tiny it would be impossible to paint it in.
Next is the Green Denim Snow suit version, this was used by the British Mountain troops, Army Commandoes, Airborne, Glider Pilots for summer training in the highlands of Scotland, when there was no snow on the ground.

Next is the Snow Suit. This was made in two weights of material a light cotton and heavy cotton, for use in Snowy conditions and in general issue from Oct 1944 if supplies arrived in time. Also supplied to the Americans and used by them, in many photographs it is wrongly captioned at US Stocks.

Next we come to the Smock Camouflage; this was issued to SAS, Marines mainly the SBS. Here comes the shock... also Female troops’ manning the AA defences in the UK and ATS drivers and some female dispatch riders obtained them.

I have also seen them being used by Regular Officers in the field in Normandy in August / September 1944.

Post war use of the smock; it was on general issue in the days of UK National Service.
It was issued to British troops in Kenya in the mid 1960’s

Again the French used it in Indo China; they inserted a full length zip in it.

It was and is still used by the SBS and to a lesser degree the SAS in the Buff and Camouflage versions. Recent photos on TV have shown it still in use, whether these are old stock or private purchases of recent copies I have no way of knowing.

The above named smocks are identical in cut and style and are made to the same pattern. It is only the colour or camouflage or weights of cloth that makes them different and of course the labels.

Any faults or omissions are mine and mine alone. This is intend only as a starting point for further research for others to carry out for the individual figure they may wish to convert.

I commend not only Ron Volstad for his art work but Dragon for giving us a wonderful and the most versatile set of figures.

Ian Sadler May 2004 ©
I commend not only Ron Volstad for his art work but Dragon for giving us a wonderful and the most versatile set of figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6199
  Suggested Retail: $6.95
  PUBLISHED: Jun 16, 2004

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