Airfix 1/76 88mm Flak 36 & Sd. Kfz. 7 Semi-track
Accuracy: Looks authentic in finished form
Review and Photo By: Bob Swift
Rooting around in sundry stuff at a local church rummage sale a month ago turned up a small carton containing the following: two models in plastic bags; one containing a Sherman Mk I, and the other a WWI, Mk IV heavy tank. The instruction sheets were used as end seals on the bags, and stapled in place. I remember when Airfix began distributing in this manner, but can't recall ever having bought a model so packaged. There were two boxed models as well; one was the 88mm canon and tractor, and the other was a Landing Craft Mechanized, Mk III. I just couldn't resist spending the $3.50 for the lot!
If I were asked to choose one single thing to designate as an icon representing the German Military Forces of WWII, I would be hard pressed to find a better symbol than the 88mm canon. Designed originally as an anti-aircraft weapon, it didn't take too long to recognize the potential of this weapon
for other applications. Throughout the course of the war the design was modified, improved and evolved into a superb weapon to be used for whatever application was demanded. High muzzle velocity, and the resultant flat trajectory made it extremely accurate over long distances, and the shot
itself had sufficient mass, be it HE, or armor piercing, to be effective against most targets; as attested by many who ended up on the receiving end of this weapon. The version depicted in this kit, the Flak 36, highlights another outstanding attribute of this weapon, its mobility.
The Sd. Kfz. 7 tractor is an impressive addition when combined with the canon. Other than the few, brief sentences from Airfix on the instruction sheet, I don't know much about this vehicle. Suffice it to say, I'm glad it was designed and produced; otherwise Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson couldn't have made their getaway toward the end of "The Dirty Dozen".
The kit is molded in a tan plastic with almost no flash apparent. This is very impressive given the scale of the kit and its obvious age. It is highly detailed, with many small parts, yet the molding remains crisp throughout. The accuracy of Airfix offerings over the years can certainly be questioned, but they did
but they did manage turn out any number of excellent models if you consider the time period, state of molding technology, and the consumer support available. This model is a little jewel. Small detail is well defined and pretty much to scale. Part fit is excellent, and overall appearance is very realistic. You can't ask for much more in a plastic model.
The instruction sheet is very basic, but adequate; recommended color scheme supposedly represents service in North Africa. More time was spent picking out small detail than in actual painting. The tractor has very good external detail, and overall appearance is realistic. Typical of Airfix practice; however, interior detail is very sparse; this indicates that the 'rag-top' should be used on the model.
With some effort the model could be displayed in the 'unlimbered' mode, but no crew members were available to service the weapon, and no ammunition was provided in the kit. This would present a good bit of scratch work if you were inclined to do so. In the 'travel' mode the barrel support is a bit out of scale, but can be corrected. I'm sure a muzzle cover would be in order, also. Since I don't know what this would look like, none was attempted for now.
The greatest challenge came when we worked with the tracks. They are molded in a soft, greasy material reminiscent of some vinyl's I've seen used in toys years ago, and refused to be glued in place with any of the high-tech materials we had available. The ends are designed to interlock, but this feature proved to be a waste of time. After experimenting a bit, we found that a small needle, and some fine polyester thread with four, or five tight cross stitches at the end joints worked very well. Once joined, they can be stretched carefully and slipped over the wheels with the joint side, down. These tracks are the most serious shortcoming of the kit; they just aren't very realistic. Fortunately, this can be effectively hidden with a little imagination.
This was an enjoyable kit to build; minimal investment of time and effort
produced a very acceptable addition to the collection, of a subject with
good historic interest. And that's as good a reason as any we can think of
to continue building scale models. Enjoy the pastime!
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