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Jon Smith - WWI German Prussian Motor Transport Corps Driver, 1915

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Product Description

Jon Smith - WWI German Kraftfaher ( Transport Driver) Bust

1/10th scale resin bust

Includes 2 heads and a pet rat.

Bust requires assembly and painting.


The bust depicts a member of the Prussian Motor Driver Battalion, or Kraftfahrer – ca. 1915. At the outbreak of the war in 1914 Prussia had just one Motor Driver Battalion and in the Bavaria State just a company. As opposed to the German Transport Units, or Train, which were solely equipped with horse-drawn vehicles and dealt with supply, the Motor Driver units were responsible for motorized transportation of all kinds and were also to take on patrolling and dispatch (messenger) duties. Within the first months of hostilities, the driver units were expanded so that by spring 1915 each Army Corps and independent Division had its own Kraftwagen-Kolonne, incl. a motor cycle unit.

During the autumn of 1917 over half of the newly appointed German Tank Unit’s personnel was formed fromMotor Driver troops, many carrying out the more technical roles such as drivers and mechanics. On many photos of captured British tanks put into German service and their own A7v panzers, one can often see crewmen still wearing parts of their original leather Kraftfahrer uniforms.

Top Hat (also known as a, beaver hat, chimney pot hat, high hat, silk hat, cylinder hat, or stove pipe hat): Worn from the latter part of the 18th to mid-20th century and generally associated with upper class, professional males for daytime and evening dress. Traditionally made from cheesecloth, linen, flannel and shellac, the shell being covered with a black silk plush (other fabrics were used in place of the expensive silk). The early types around 1830s were extremely tall, with the height reduced towards the end of the 19th century. The hatband was attached to the bottom of cylinder, which was later replaced by ribbed silk.

This is the only photograph that I have seen of the top hat combined with a World War 1 military uniform. One can only assume that the hat is being worn just for the group photograph. Traditionally, top hats were still being worn by coach drivers at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany, particularly in larger towns and cities, including the addition of coloured hat bands. Maybe he brought it along, or found in locally?

During the research and design stage of this figure project it was not possible to solve the mystery of the large cloth or hatband. There was a time when mourning bands were placed around top hats at funerals, hanging down at the rear in various lengths, although these were black in colour and comprised of much less cloth. A cloth cover or holder for the goggles may be the explanation, but here again I believe this is not the case as most of these items came in small leather bags. It could just be a piece of cloth added by the soldier for decoration purpose and offers a chance to brighten-up the otherwise darker / drab military colours of this figure subject. Any suggestions regarding this subject or about the figure would be very much welcomed.

Goggles / Fliegerbrille: The driving or flying goggles were standard issue to drivers, but as with the leather jackets and field caps, there were numinous versions.

It is also possible to add imitation glass lenses to the goggles after painting is completed. Here one could use Micro Kristal Klear, or similar products to produce a clear film within the outer resin rings. Alternatively, one can produce the glass lenses by using a clear plastic or similar.

Field Cap M1908 for Other Ranks / Dienstmütze mit Schirm für Mannschaften M1908: Issued to other ranks of the Train (Transport), Medical and Mountain units and was basically a Field Cap M1907 with a blackened leather visor and chin-strap added. The chinstrap at each side had black metal or grey painted buttons (in some instancesNeusilber = copper, zinc & nickel). The cap band was in black with red piping above and on outer edge of top. From late 1915 early 1916, the peaks and chin-straps were issued in grey.

From spring 1917 onwards the peak and chinstrap were no longer made from leather, but an Ersatz material, either vulcanised fibre or treated card, both finished in a matt grey tone. In October 1918 is was decided to discontinue the M1908 cap and the visor and chin-strap were to be removed. This is one of the reasons why so few of these caps have survived today.

The two metal Kokarden badges at the front were – top: Die Reichsfarben: black, white and red (from outwards to the centre) and – bottom: Kokarde representing the state where the Unit was raised – e.g. Prussia – Preussen: black, white and black. Bavaria – Bayern: white, light blue and white. Brunswick – Braunschweig: blue, yellow and blue. Hessen – Hessen: white, red and white etc

In many of the pre- and early war photographs one sees Driver Corps troops wearing the all leather field cap. I decided against this version as the bust and particularly the figure versions would be showing just too much leather.

Neck Band / Halsbinde M1914: Designed to soak up the sweat and at the same time keep the field service dress or overcoat collar clean. Between the overcoat collar and the neck on the figure one can make out the Neck Band M1914. This was the replacement to the M1907 Neck Cloth, a square piece of material, which produced problems when the wearer was marching, actually causing the garment to tighten up around the neck. The neck band on the other hand was smaller and not unlike a detachable shirt collar, with a semi-circle apron of material attached underneath. Colour: these neck bands varied in colour from grey, light- grey to grey- green.

Leather Jacket for Driver Corps M1907 / Lederanzug für Kraftfahrer M1907: Members of the Driver Corps were issued leather uniforms to protect the wearers against the elements whilst driving the often open vehicles of the time. There seems to be a number of differences to these leather jackets with variations principally to the collar, collar-insignia and type and number of buttons used. Most pre and early war photographs show the jackets with the white metal automobile patches on a dark-blue material collar, with nickel or new-silver buttons mounted to a supporting leather strip. Later versions are often without any patches on a blackened leather collar and either metal or larger, darker (possibly bone) buttons.

I have modelled the jacket as near as possible, or what can be determined from the original photograph. Here there is no collar-insignia to be seen on what could either be a leather or cloth collar.

The K on shoulder straps has been modelled slightly higher than would normally be the case. This to assist in the painting. There are also small casting webs placed under the collar and shoulder straps (between pointed end and collar), which can be removed / reduced before painting.

Field Service Dress Tunic M1907/10 / Feldrock M1907/10: Underneath the leather jacket he wears the Field Service Dress Tunic M1907/10. This was the main field service dress issued to all foot troops during the first years of the war. It had depending on the unit or home state different variations of cuff and skirt design. Colour: made out of a dark grey material (Jäger, Maschinengewehr and Schützen units wore sometimes a green- grey version). It had a turn down collar, with eight nickel or Tombak1 buttons at the front. Although hidden underneath the jacket, the shoulder straps for the Transport Corps were piped (outlined) in grey, with the monogram, or number in red. Red piping also appeared along the front of the tunic, parallel to the buttons and along the skirt decorations at the rear. The outside edge of collar, and the cuffs were piped in black. The collar braid left and right are white with black in the centre of each chevron.

Belt M1895 / Koppel M1895: The original belts were issued in natural brown leather, the buckle in brass with aNeusilber / nickel silver inlay. From 1915, leather equipment was officially issued blackened, buckles painted over in grey or manufactured in steel with a grey finish.

1 Tombak: an alloy of copper and zinc, which had a matt bronze/yellow colour.4

Pistol 08 / P 08 (or Luger2): The P 08 was first produced in 1900, with the German military taken it on in 1908 –hence the name Pistole 08. As a service pistol it had its drawbacks, mainly it was expensive, difficult to produce and susceptible to dirt. Colour of holster: blackened leather.

German Dynamo Flashlight / Magnet-Lampe: An interesting and clever device, although probably a little impractical when used other than illumining a map or something similar held directly in front of you. In practice, one sharp pull of the ring will keep the bulb lit for a number of seconds. The lamp had a metal casing, painted in a green, semi-gloss tone, a brown / grey cord for fixing around the wearer’s neck and a metal pull-ring underneath. The clear, convex glass lens covered the bulb.

The original photos shows this flashlight reflecting the light, hence it appears very shiny. The few original items that I have seen show them to be semi-gloss green. The lamp should fit without any adjustments on his chest and partly under the open leather jacket. Trial fitting would be advised, especially when coats of paint have been applied to the figure. One can ease fitting by removing the sharp bottom edge a little. Underneath the pull-ring one could remove some of the resin filling the gap between ring and tunic.

The Rat - Rattus norvegicus:Tail: Flesh Colour

Nose: Flesh Colour

Eyes: Black

Ears: Flesh Colour

Upper Body: Brown / Grey

Underside : Lighter Brown / Grey

Feet: Flesh Colour

The Common Rat: Actually, when one talks about rats, then there are two best known rat species – the brown rat(Rattus norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus- also known as the ship rat, roof rat, and house rat). I have chosen to create a set of the larger of the two groups, the brown rat, which is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America.

The Naming: Originally called the Hanover rat, the brown rat has had many different names throughout history, but is nowadays correctly called Norwegian rat or Norway rat (Latin: Rattus norvegicus). Why it was called this is not certain, as the brown rat did not originate from Norway, or at the time had any brown rat entered this country. Other names include common rat, street rat, sewer rat, brown Norway rat and wharf rat.

A female rat may breed up to 6 – 7 times a year, with each litter numbering from 2 – 14. The Norway rat is fully grown in approx. 4 weeks and will live up to 3 years. The rats are found anywhere there are people, but particularly in urban areas – this is called commensalism, which means that one species helps another species, without any help in return.

The rat burrow (nest) consists of networks of tunnels and chambers, linked together with passageways. Here they will live together as a group or pack (sometimes called a colony). Rats will cache their food and store within the chambers. The burrows are found in ditches, cellars, sewers, barns, old buildings, woods and marchlands or just anywhere near a food supply (near humans). They will defend their burrow as a group against predators. The brown rat has exceptionally good hearing and is often found near water. They are good climbers, swimmers and have a strong sense of smell. They will normally hunt at night in packs.

The trench systems of the Great War on both sides offered the ideal living conditions for the Norway rat and there is much evidence from soldiers describing their co-habitants.

Predators: The natural predators of rats include the snake, fox, weasel, birds of prey, cat and dog. In the trenches during the Great War, apart from the soldiers, it was the dogs which helped to keep the rat population under control (or as best as possible under the circumstances). It seems that any of the terrier family were quite common as rat killers. There are also many photos of Jack Russells, particularly kept by German troops.

The rat on shoulder is purely my own idea and is not based on any WW1 photograph. Whilst researching for this figure, I had looked at various small items, or add-ons, which would enhance this project, without removing the focus from the figure. During the design stage I only came up with automobile accessories, such as tools, oil cans etc. The shoulder-rat was chosen as an unusual combination to an already odd character wearing the top hat. The rat is of cause optional, but if chosen, will fit (on bust and 1/16th full figure versions) over the right hand shoulder strap, the rear feet sitting slightly underneath and the tail hanging naturally down the back.