Operation Sonnenwende” by Ugo Giberti e Costantino Sanna

The 11th. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland

The 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland, also known as SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 11 (Germanische) was a mechanized division of the Waffen-SS formed starting in July 1943 from volunteers, the majority of whom came from Scandinavia and from Denmark, as well as shares from the Netherlands.

East Prussia and Pomerania “Operation Sonnenwende”

On 16 February the division received the order to take part in an offensive as part of Operation Sonnenwende, with the aim of destroying a Soviet stronghold and freeing its comrades besieged in the city of Arnswalde. At first, the attack of Nordland had the effect of total tactical surprise, and the division rapidly advanced in all sectors up to the shores of Lake Inha. The next day the division reached Arnswalde and relieved the exhausted garrison that continued to guard the site from the siege. In the immediately following days the position was consolidated and the surviving civilians evacuated. Soon, however, the German advance was finally halted by vigorous Soviet counterattacks, and Steiner rescinded the order to attack, causing the III Panzer Corps to fall back to Stargard and Stettin on the northern Oder.
On 16 April Nordland was ordered to fall back to the eastern line of Berlin. From 17 to 20 April the division was constantly engaged in clashes along the entire front, and was pressed right into the city itself. On the 22nd the Nordland had to stop at the Tiergarten, right in the center. In the days that followed, the division ceased to exist as an organically coherent department.

The Diorama

For some time we had intended to create a diorama together in which everyone had a part of the project: one the means and the other the figures, and together the setting, to study and create.
The scene we propose portrays soldiers and vehicles of the Division engaged in the offensive to liberate the city of Arnswalde from Soviet encirclement. The idea is to describe a moment relating to the retreat due to the Soviet counterattack and the diorama, which measures 23 cm on the front side, depicts a “Pitt Stop” in which the soldiers discuss in advance how to proceed in the speed of the action

The vehicles used in the Diorama

Schwimmwagen

The Schwimmwagen Tamiya kit, cod. 35224, is already a few years old, but still remains an excellent model, to further improve it I used an engraved photo set from Voyager and resin wheels from DEF.
The Volkswagen Schwimmwagen was a light transport amphibious military vehicle, produced by Volkswagen. The vehicle was a 4×4 and was fitted with special tyres: it had a small propeller ducted behind the bodywork, which was normally folded upwards so as not to be damaged.

SdKfz 250/1 Neu

The Drago kit cod. 6427 together with the Voyager photoengravings were used to create this model. The Sd.Kfz. 250 was a German troop transport half-track from the Second World War, intended for the transport of an infantry squad. On this base vehicle, a notable series of specialized vehicles were built for different battlefield tasks. The basic model was modified towards the end of the war to simplify construction. The Sd.Kfz. 250 was mainly used as an infantry fighting vehicle, as the infantry was able to use its own weapons from the vehicle compartment
The version I made is Sd.Kfz. 250/1 for troop transport

Environment

As a base we used a piece of high density polystyrene cut and shaped with the help of a hot cutter. The base measures 23cm x 13cm and has been crafted from dark walnut.
To reproduce the mud I used the excellent AK Terrain Wet Ground product mixed with a little earth to give more consistency and reduce the shine of this product a little.
While the mixture was still drying, I simulated the traces of the support with a dampened brush.
I created the green areas of the diorama with various types of synthetic grass.
To create the trunk of the tree I used “Das Pronto” spread on a wooden rod, to give the consistency of the bark I used the tip of a cutter passed longitudinally.
We then arranged the figures in the positions we had established, and completed the setting by recreating puddles and connecting the mud to the positioned figures. For this operation I used the product AK 8027 Dry Mud to simulate fresh mud, which I added to the vehicles and figures, and the product AK8028 Puddles, a liquid suitable for reproducing the dirty water of small puddles. Finally, where necessary, I touched everything up with Tamiya X22 gloss clearcoat.

The Figures

For painting I only used acrylic colours, from different brands, such as the AK sets dedicated to German camouflage uniforms, Vallejo, Andrea, Josonia and Scale 75, obviously also mixed together based on the colors or effects I wanted to obtain.
Also regarding the choice of subjects, there are figures from different brands: Mantis Miniatures the two occupants of the Schwimmwagen, Alpine and Evolution the subjects around the vehicles, Rado Miniatures the grenadier standing inside the Sd.Kfz.250 ” New”.

Bibliography

Wikipedia – Enciclopedia online – https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

The Waffen SS (revised Edition) Osprey Man at arms  n.34   M. Windrow

The Waffen SS (3)– Osprey  Men at arms n 415  – Williamson/Andrew

Waffen SS – Uniforms – Camouflage – Badges   Europa Militaria n. 6 – Steven/Amodio

Camouflaged Uniforms of Waffen SS – Part One  ; Iso – Galago Pubblications -Borsarello/Lassus

Modelling Waffen SS Figures – Osprey Modelling n 23 -Calvin Tan

German Combat Equipments 1939-45 – Osprey  Men at arms n.234 Rottman/Volstad

Armes Miltitaria Magazine – some special issues

Sturm&Drag n.3 – Sdfz 250 /251

VW AT WAR KUBELWAGEN SCHIMMWAGEN BOOK 2
Dr Bernd Wiersch
Shiffer Military History n° 55

VW IN KRIEGE
Michael Sawodny
Podzun Pallas Verlag