Despite the successes of the early months of Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union), as the operation continued into 1942 it was apparent that it would not reach the hoped-for early conclusion, and the losses of manpower to the Germans had been immense. As replacements were urgently sought, all sources of trained military personnel were considered, and it was proposed that the Luftwaffe should provide up to 50,000 such men. Rather than lose such large numbers to the Army, Göring convinced Hitler to agree to the raising of Luftwaffe field divisions, which would fight on the ground alongside the Army but remain part of the Luftwaffe. Many such divisions were raised from late 1942, but their performance was generally perceived as poor, partly because they were usually neither properly trained nor well-equipped. Already under Army tactical control, in November 1943 they were transferred from the Luftwaffe to the Army in an attempt to resolve the problem, but their reputation remained mixed. Such divisions fought on the Eastern Front, the Western Front (from 1944) and in the Mediterranean, and were often used in defensive roles.
When used as ground troops, Luftwaffe personnel often looked little different to those of the Army apart from insignia and sometimes the colour of some equipment. The same weapons and equipment was used, and much of the clothing was similar too. The clothing of the figures in this set can be divided into three categories. The first category (the first two figures in both our above rows), is of men wearing the triangular Zeltbahn, an item which could be worn as a sort of poncho or joined with others to form a simple tent for shelter. Here all four men wear one, which was popular as it offered both some limited protection from the weather and a degree of camouflage, useful before purpose-made camouflage clothing became widely available. All wear the standard steel helmet worn throughout the Reich, and short boots with anklets. This is a typical and perfectly valid look for these men.