Copyright 2008 T. Sheil & A. Sheil All Rights Reserved
Anzio Beach and Rat Patrol
Aurora was the big model kit makers in the 1960s. Its Monster Models were wildly popular. They made Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and Creature from the Black Lagoon for starts. Aurora produced ranges of model airplanes, knights, and excellent 1/.48 scale tanks. In small scale, the first by Aurora was its Military Midget series. These are copies of the first ROCO kits back in a time when copyright laws did not protect foreign companies. Aurora's next tiny solder offering was the Rat Patrol set, based on a popular television series about the North African campaign.. It included plastic dunes, a couple of sandbag positions, a ring of palm trees around a tiny pond that was supposed to be an oasis. There were two jeeps with drivers and machine gunners that were very crude approximations of the show's main characters. The set included about a dozen figures copied from ROCO's infantry set. these were miniature copies of soldiers from the 1/40 scale Adams / Renwal /Revell and Monogram kits. Two tanks were the Panzer 4 and the Panther PZ 5 German tanks. Ironically, the Panther did not appear until after North Africa was surrendered to the Allies
Aurora's next small-scale military model kit set was Anzio Beach. It hit the store shelves around 1968. Cover art showed a beach landing with M47 Patton and M4A1 Sherman Tanks. The set included scenery pieces such has dunes, a pillbox, a bunker, tank obstacles, terrain and supply boxes. There were copies of the Airfix US Marines and first version Airfix German Infantry. A jeep, M47 tank, M4 sherman tank, PZ5 Panther and Wirblewind anti-aircraft tank came, along with a kit for a small landing craft about 1/100 scale. The anomaly was the tanks. The M47 tank did not appear until 1950. The predecessor to Patton tanks, the M26 Pershing ,was not available until 1945, long after the Anzio landing.
For a strict scale model, Anzio Beach was way off the curve. 1/90 scale tanks, 1/76 scale soldiers and a 1/100 boat looked okay together, but were not a tight fit. But then, as late as the mid-1970s, I remember Military Modeler featuring diorams that blended 1/32 and 1/35 model vehicles and men. We could tell the difference. Many people were not as fussy about scale back then.
The set was a great value in its day. Buying Airfix soldiers and tanks separately would have cost a lot more. There was enough for a decent battle game or a good diorama.
Picking up a copy of either Aurora set can get pricey these days. An unbuilt kit is almost impossible. A used one can run expensive.
M47 Patton and M4A1 Sherman
The M4A1 Sherman and M47 Patton Tanks are copies of the same vehicles that ROCO made several years earlier. I have been unable to ascertain whether ROCO or Roskopf made the M47 first. Both companies had exact copies of the same model in their inventories. The M4A1 is about 1/90 scale. The M47 is closer to 1/100. Aurora also made both tanks as part of its "Military Midgets" link of military vehicle kits.
The version of the M4A1 modeled here came out in 1944. It has horizontal volute suspension,as opposed to the type that was used on most Sherman tanks throughout World War II. The M4A1 late model could have been at Anzio. The M47 is another story. On the box art, it is depicted leaving a landing craft. The actual M47 did not appear until 1951. It was an interim model intended to hold the line until the M48 series was ready.
M47 molded in bright green. Cannon is missing.
Pz 5 Panther and Wirblewind Flak Quad 20
The Panther tank first appeared in mid-1943. A "medium-heavy" tank, it proved a formidable adversary. The early "D" model suffered mechanical problems, but the "A" and "G" models were more reliable. The Aurora version is modeled after ROCO's except for the cannon barrel The Aurora barrel is short.
The Flakvierling "Wirblewind", or "Whirlwind," was intended for anti-aircraft service. This became more important as the war progressed. With the shrinking of the Luftwaffe due to attrition and the increased size of Allied air forces, anti-aircraft units were essential to protect ground forces.
The Anzio Beach set came with scenery, including trees, rock formation and terrain pieces. Here are examples of all of them.
Tiny shell craters
Terrain features included sandbagged bunker, pillbox, and two ground pieces
Raft, jeep, barrels and boxes.
The small landing craft depicted here is missing its antennae. The other two in our possession are in worse shape. Scale is about 1/.100 or smaller. There is a small gun mounted near the cabin. The boat fits the M47 and M4A1 tanks. However, a small boat this size would not be handling armored vehicles in real life.
Aurora copies Airfix figures from the US Marines and German Infantry sets. They copied almost all of the Marines and only a few of the Germans. Back in 1968, hard plastic was easier to paint than soft, so this was an advantage. Note the two different shades of green on the Marines. Most sets I had seen were cast in olive green and medium gray. I have only seen one example of the lighter, brighter green.
The addition of the seated gunner is odd since no antitank gun was included.
Here are examples of the colors used on Anzio sets. I have only seen bright green in one set. All of the other sets I have seen used the olive drab color.
Click here to return to the main page