Great Wall Hobby 1/35th German sWS with 2cm Flakvierling
|DECALS:||Random vehicle, late war (44-45)|
|NOTES:||Separate PE fret, study the instructions carefully. Make sure you have plenty of your drink of choice on hand, this is a long build.|
The halftrack family of the 30’s and 40’s in Germany was a many splintered thing. I think they spent as much time trying to see what they could glom onto these poor vehicles as they could, and the 2cm Flak gun was yet another attempt to make something do what it wasn’t supposed to. I did a lot of digging on this one, and could only find proof that one (1) was built, though there are some records of more maybe-sorta-kinda produced. I think by the end of the war, the construction warehouses were telling the nutjobs who were running the country into the ground whatever they wanted to hear. “Sure, we built a dozen of those yesterday ! Time for a pilsner isn’t it?” The only reason I know they built one for a fact, is that I came across a photo of it in a ditch/berm. Looks like it broke down. Mounting a Flak gun on such a weak chassis is like putting racing slicks on a Pinto. Why bother?
The sWS family of halftracks started off as cobbled together farm vehicles, and marched (tracked?) on to the very end of the war and even beyond as being very dependable and sturdy work trucks. Work trucks, not good gun platforms.
As one has come to expect from Great Wall, this is yet another ornate armor kit, full of detail. You can get an upgrade set of PE that replaces some of the regular plastic detail of the standard kit, so be prepared to do some surgery !
Unfortunately, unless you have a Harry Potter Mk.V sneakerscope, much of the detail will go largely unseen, such as the foot pedals for the driver. (do we really need these?) Oddly enough, whilst there is a transfer case and complete rear power train, the engine compartment is barren of an engine. Yes, there are aftermarkets available, but it would have been rather easy to just include the bloody engine with the kit, IMHO, rather than 1mm foot pedals that no one will ever see.
14 sets of sprue, a general decal sheet, and one photoetch fret make up the basic kit, the additional PE comes separately packaged, and with it’s own set of instructions. As noted above: READ the directions thoroughly prior to even beginning construction, or you will be cursing loudly later on.
The first series of steps involve putting together the lower chassis, which has a remarkably clean fit, though some dubious location points do rear up now and again. Test fit everything twice or more. The road wheels are easily assembled, and I am starting to get addicted to the “sandwich” style tyres for the front…each tyre has six pieces, plus the hub, but it looks really accurate when finished. It’s a bummer that the mounting points for these tyres onto the steering/spring assembly are so weak. I mean weak to the point of almost being pointless. If this is how the Germans really built these trucks, I can see why so many broke down in rough terrain ! The transfer case, gas tank, and rear power train go in without a hitch. Get a good look at them now, because you will be covering them up shortly. Sigh.
In step eight, we begin on the cab of the truck, and you will need to decide just how much of the additional PE detail you want to include. Yep, I put it all in so I could give a fair and balanced review. If you are smart, and want to avoid the gray hair that comes with it, give a lot of it a miss. Quite a lot of cussing was heard by the neighbors coming from my studio window during this part of the assembly. I heard that one of their dogs may be scarred for life.
There are a lot of bits and pieces that go on the interior of the upper hull, decals and such. Once again, make up your mind early on as to just how detailed you want to be. I guess it is a bragging point you can state to your bored houseguests that the MP-40 mounts were carefully sanded down and replaced with bent PE, and the designation markings were applied accurately, though absolutely invisible to the human eye after completion.
The viewports are miniature works of art in and of themselves, sort of like putting on interior controls in a 1/700 scale floatplane. Aaaarrrgggh. Then we come to my only really big gripe about this kit, the nice engine compartment with doors that beg to be left open…and NO ENGINE. I was sure there was a mistake. I must have missed it, right? Surely, if they were going to have me install PE door/window cranks they would have an engine for the engine compartment, right? Denied.
O.K., enough of my whining. The flatbed carriage comes next, and you will need to decide if you want to have it built in “traveling” mode or “firing mode”. This means do you want the skirts up or down. Most of the time, I prefer skirts to be up (grin), but in this case, the firing mode just looks a little cooler to me. There are another set of decisions to make here as well, regarding just how far you want to go with the crazy detail. I split the assembly, doing part of the flatbed in” whacko-uber look at this” mode, and the other in normal modeling mode, using the plastic kit parts. Both come out well.
The 2cm Flak Guns: The centerpiece of the kit, I did go with the W-ULaT photo etch details instead of the kit plastic bits, and am quite happy I did so…not easy to assemble but oh my, is it convincing ! A few of the parts are mislabeled or not labeled at all in the sheet instructions, so some test fitting and common sense are necessary here. Now, the major subassemblies are finished. Take a very deep breath, because it is time to put together…
The Tracks: These are not snap together links. These are individual link tracks that have to be carefully put together a bit at a time. Trying to do this without a jig would be a good insanity defense for an upcoming charge, but instead of doing the crime, just make a simple jig. I used three pieces of scrap poplar to just make a “U-Channel”. You can put in a number of the links, and spot weld them in place with some a/c glue easily, rather than trying to keep them straight on your workbench. If you have never tried individual link tracks before, this is a “trial by fire” for sure. I actually attempted to find aftermarket tracks for this kit, even thought about buying a different manufacturers model with the standard tracks…but with some support from a few of you on MM, and lots of beer, I did get them done finally. I have to admit, they look like the real thing.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
As with most armor kits, you sort of paint as you go. The interior for most of these vehicles was a light grey, I like to use white primer with a light wash of india ink to pick up the details. The exterior is the standard yellow, with a call out in the colour chart for the red and green stripe camo. With the dubious nature of just how many of these were produced, I skipped the camo part. Honestly, I didn’t want to camouflage all of that damned PE that I had slaved over !
The tracks were painted steel, and then washed with Minwax wood stain for a nice rusty effect.
The fiddly bits and shovels, widgets, wombats, fruit baskets and whatever go on easily. Don’t sneeze and knock off any of the detail at this stage.
Well, there you go. Another over the top detailed armor kit that will drive you crazy while you are building it, and make you stop and stare when you have finished it. If you have a few armor kits under your belt, give this one a whirl, you won’t be disappointed !
Thanks to your editor and
www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours at your
local shop or favorite retailer
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