GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - From hand-painted maps to full-scale replicas of CH-47s, the Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC) uses top-quality models to create a realistic combat setting for training Soldiers.

These detailed replicas, produced by the Training Aids Production Center in Grafenwoehr, Germany, give Soldiers an opportunity to safely train on gear and prepare for deployment The most recent additions to these striking designs are three full-scale CH-47s to be used for jump exercises and limited loading throughout Europe. So far three months have been invested into the Chinooks, which are being sent to Vicenza, Bamberg and Schweinfurt.

These replicas provide an inexpensive alternative for combat preparation without sacrificing hands-on, realistic experiences.

"It can be overwhelming to attempt an efficient loading process for the first time on a Chinook with blades turning," Chief Warrant Officer James Cameron explained. "The Chinook, with its two 5,000 horsepower engines and its five screaming transmissions, puts out about 180 decibels of sound. Add to that the hurricane force winds from the rotor system and the enormous amount of heat coming off the's easy to see why this training is best perfected in a mock-up."

Since there is only one company of Chinooks available in Europe, it presents a logistical and supply challenge for units requesting aviation training.

"It has always been a challenge coordinating with the aviation units to get an aircraft to train on," Cameron added. "By having a model to use at our leisure, leaders will be able to conduct more training. This model provides a means of getting the process of air assault operations into the muscle memory of our Soldiers."

Beyond large scale aircraft, JMTC has also supported the production of model grenades and various weapons. Rubber pistols and knives are highly beneficial in military police disarmament training.

"They crack too many guns, destroy pistols, and that's costly," said German Visual Information Specialist Thomas Bartels. "To reduce this cost, it is very good to use a rubber model. We get an original, take it to pieces, and we build a model from those pieces to train the Soldiers to work with it."

The replicas may seem simple, but the process requires months of planning, designing, creating a prototype, and reevaluating a design before the final product is released. Months of thought went into designing animal IEDs that are used in Soldiers' combat-training.

The animals were designed based on current events in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. What started as rubber carcasses has evolved to a sleek stuffed animal that houses an IED simulator.

"We wound up with a goat, sheep and a dog," John Krollpfeiffer said. "This is filled with foam, but they hide the IED's in these things. I understand in Iraq there's a lot of dead animals [that insurgents] stuff explosives into."

Besides simulating real combat episodes, and providing more efficient training models, a Soldier also needs a good map. TAPC produces 3-D maps that further enhance Soldiers visual awareness of a country before actually deploying there.

"Maps are going to be one of our biggest hits down here - I think we'll be very busy with maps," Krollpfeiffer added. "We send the maps to various units who will be deploying - like transportation units, you name it."

Because a unit can create, design and manufacture the perfect training aid, with the help of the TAPC, the possibilities are limitless. Soldiers training in Europe are sure to get realistic training, and be better prepared for tactical movements, using non-standard training tools that represent the realities of the current operational environment.