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The Ardennes Offensive (Dec. 1944 - Jan. 1945)

The Ardennes Offensive (Dec. 1944 - Jan. 1945)

The Ardennes Offensive (December 16th, 1944 - January 25th, 1945) was a major German offensive (die Ardennenoffensive), launched towards the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium (and more specifically of Wallonia: hence its French name, Bataille des Ardennes), France and Luxembourg on the Western Front. The Wehrmachts code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (in English: "Operation Watch on the Rhine"), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein. This German offensive was officially named the Ardennes-Alsace campaign by the U.S. Army, but it is known to the English-speaking general public simply as the Battle of the Bulge. The "bulge" was the initial incursion the Germans put into the Allies' line of advance, as seen in maps presented in contemporary newspapers.

The German offensive was supported by several subordinate operations known as Unternehmen Bodenplatte, Unternehmen Greif, and Unternehmen Wahrung. Germany's planned goal for these operations was to split the British and American Allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, Belgium, and then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers' favor.

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German Sd. Kfz. 167 Sturmgeschutz IV Assault Gun - 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Gotz von Berlichingen, Ardennes, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 167 Sturmgeschutz IV Assault Gun - 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Gotz von Berlichingen, Ardennes, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The German Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned.

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German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Luxembourg, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Luxembourg, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Jagdpanzer IV L/70 (A) Zwischenlosung was the last tank to enter service with the Wehrmacht in September 1944. Essentially, German tank designers placed a Jagdpanzer IV turret on a Panzer IV chassis then fitted it with a powerful 75mm L/70(A) gun. The Zwischenlosung proved to be an excellent tank killer even though only 278 vehicles were built by war's end.

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German Sd. Kfz. 138/2 Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Light Tank Destroyer - Panzerjager-Abteilung 741, 5.Panzerarmee, Ardennes, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 138/2 Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Light Tank Destroyer - Panzerjager-Abteilung 741, 5.Panzerarmee, Ardennes, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Manufactured in Czechoslovakia at the Skoda Munitions Works, the Hetzer was designed to be a low-cost light tank destroyer that could stand up to the rigors of battle on any front. Entering service in July 1944, the Hetzer used a wide range of existing components from the outclassed PzKpfw 38(t) tank.

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German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - 332, schwere SS Panzer Abteilung  501, Ardennes, Belgium, December 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - "332", schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, Ardennes, Belgium, December 1944 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank with 105mm Gun and VVSS Suspension - 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, France, 1944 US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank with 105mm Gun and VVSS Suspension - 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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US M24 Chaffee Light Tank - 18th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Group, Petit Tiers, Belgium, 1945 US M24 Chaffee Light Tank - 18th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Group, Petit Tiers, Belgium, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The M24 Chaffee - arguably the best light tank of World War II - was a fast, lightly armored vehicle with the ability to deliver relatively large caliber direct fire thanks to its excellent 75 mm M6 gun. More than 4,000 vehicles were produced by Cadillac and Massey-Harris from 1943-45.

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German Late Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Hybrid, schwere Panzer Abteilung 506, Ardennes, 1944 German Late Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Hybrid, schwere Panzer Abteilung 506, Ardennes, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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US M4 Sherman Medium Tank - Team OHara, Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 US M4 Sherman Medium Tank - Team O'Hara, Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:50 Scale)

By all accounts, the M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Wrecker Truck - 101st Airborne Division, Bastogne, Belgium, 1944 US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Wrecker Truck - 101st Airborne Division, Bastogne, Belgium, 1944 (1:43 Scale)

The GMC 6x6 was built for the US Army as part of a standardization program begun in 1939, which allowed for only two of each type of vehicle to be considered, and emphasized commonality of parts and accessories wherever possible.

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US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank - Creighton Abrams "Thunderbolt IV", 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, Bastogne, December 1944 US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank - Creighton Abrams' "Thunderbolt IV", 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, Bastogne, December 1944 (1:43 Scale)

By all accounts, the M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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US GMC M36 Jackson Tank Destroyer - 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Belgium, 1944 US GMC M36 Jackson Tank Destroyer - 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Belgium, 1944 (1:43 Scale)

The M36 tank destroyer, formally 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage, M36, was an American tank destroyer used during World War II. The M36 was essentially an up-gunned M10 tank destroyer, replacing the former's 3 inch (76.2mm) M7 gun with a powerful 90 mm gun.

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SS Fallschirmjager Flamethrower - One Figure, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 SS Fallschirmjager Flamethrower - One Figure, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:30 Scale)

Fallschirmjaeger (often rendered Fallschirmjager in English; from the German Fallschirm "parachute" and Jaeger "hunter" or "rifleman") are German paratroopers. Fallschirmjaeger of Germany in World War II were the first to be committed in large-scale airborne operations.

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German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank in Winter Camouflage German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank in Winter Camouflage (1:50 Scale)

In many respects, the Panther tank was viewed as the finest armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War. Based in large part upon the Soviet's highly successful T-34 medium tank, the PzKpfw V Ausfuhrung G (Type G) was built by several manufacturers including MAN, Daimler-Benz, and MNH.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - Oberst Helmut Dollinger, schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, La Gleize, Ardennes, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - Oberst Helmut Dollinger, schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, La Gleize, Ardennes, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, Battle of the Bulge, Ardennes, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, Battle of the Bulge, Ardennes, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank with 3 Figures - schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, #332 Ardennes, December, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank with 3 Figures - schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 501, "#332" Ardennes, December, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind Anti-Aircraft Gun - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 560, Ardennes, 1944 German Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind Anti-Aircraft Gun - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 560, Ardennes, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind ("Whirlwind") was an anti-aircraft vehicle based on the Panzer IV. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier AA tank, the Mobelwagen.

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German Sd. Kfz. 138/2 Jagdpanzer 38(t) Flammhetzer Flame Tank - 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Gotz v. Berlichingen, Operation Nordwind, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 138/2 Jagdpanzer 38(t) Flammhetzer Flame Tank - 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Gotz v. Berlichingen", Operation Nordwind, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Manufactured in Czechoslovakia at the Skoda Munitions Works, the Hetzer was designed to be a low-cost light tank destroyer that could stand up to the rigors of battle on any front. Entering service in July 1944, the Hetzer used a wide range of existing components from the outclassed PzKpfw 38(t) tank.

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German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - SS-Panzer Aufklarung Abteilung 12, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - SS-Panzer Aufklarung Abteilung 12, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:32 Scale)

Built by Volkswagen, the simple yet reliable Kubelwagen ("bucket car") was the German equivalent of the American Jeep. This nimble four-seater, based on Ferdinand Porsche's original "People's Car" design of the 1930's, used the same rear-mounted, aircooled engine to drive the rear wheels.

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US Willys-Overland Jeep - 11th Armored Division, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 US Willys-Overland Jeep - 11th Armored Division, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:32 Scale)

Developed by the Quartermaster Corps, the jeep and other motor transport vehicles were transferred to the Ordnance Department in August 1942. Despite its lightweight, the jeep could perform a variety of functions, including towing a 37mm antitank gun over a 7% grade.

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German RW61 Sturmmorser Rocket Assault Mortar - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 German RW61 Sturmmorser Rocket Assault Mortar - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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German RW61 Sturmmorser Rocket Assault Mortar with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, December 1944 German RW61 Sturmmorser Rocket Assault Mortar with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, December 1944 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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German RW61 Sturmmorser Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Bonn Area, Germany, 1945 German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Bonn Area, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank with 105mm Gun and VVSS Suspension - 6th Armored Division, Luxembourg, 1945 US M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank with 105mm Gun and VVSS Suspension - 6th Armored Division, Luxembourg, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf. G Assault Gun - Black 132, Ardennes, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmhaubitze '42 Ausf. G Assault Gun - "Black 132", Ardennes, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The German Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - "313", schwere Panzer Abteilung 501, Ardennes, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - "313", schwere Panzer Abteilung 501, Ardennes, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenant, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - schwere Panzer Abteilung 509, Hungary, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - schwere Panzer Abteilung 509, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenant, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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SS Fallschirmjager Commander - One Figure, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 SS Fallschirmjager Commander - One Figure, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:30 Scale)

Fallschirmjaeger (often rendered Fallschirmjager in English; from the German Fallschirm "parachute" and Jaeger "hunter" or "rifleman") are German paratroopers. Fallschirmjaeger of Germany in World War II were the first to be committed in large-scale airborne operations.

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US M4A3 105mm Sherman Medium Tank with 3 Figures - H Company, 69th Tank Battalion, 6th Armor Division, Ardennes, Belgium, December 1944, Battle of the Bulge US M4A3 105mm Sherman Medium Tank with 3 Figures - H Company, 69th Tank Battalion, 6th Armor Division, Ardennes, Belgium, December 1944, "Battle of the Bulge" (1:48 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - Volks-Werfer Brigade 8, 7.Armee, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - Volks-Werfer Brigade 8, 7.Armee, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

Built by Volkswagen, the simple yet reliable Kubelwagen ("bucket car") was the German equivalent of the American Jeep. This nimble four-seater, based on Ferdinand Porsche's original "People's Car" design of the 1930's, used the same rear-mounted, aircooled engine to drive the rear wheels.

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