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Mike

German A7V Tank (Krupp) 1:35

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Mike    10,477

German A7V Tank (Krupp)
1:35 Meng


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After the British Mark IV tanks crashed (clanked and sputtered) onto the battlefield in 1916 at the height of WWI, the German army went into overdrive in an effort to bring their own landship to the front, but in the meantime pinched and re-purposed as many of the British tanks as they could as Beutepanzers in the meantime. Their design was intended to include a re-useable chassis that could sport an offensive armament, or a cargo body, with only a pitiful 20 out of 100 in the initial order. They weighed in at around 30 tonnes with only mild steel for armour plate, which although it was 30mm at the front and 20mm at the sides was still ineffective compared to a hardened alternative.

The running gear was based on a Holt Tractor that was borrowed from the Austrians, and the blockhouse body housed a single 57mm cannon in a cylindrical casemate, which allowed limited traverse as well as elevation. There were also six 7.92mm machine gun emplacements, and under the top-mounted driver's position were two Daimler petrol engines that could propel the vehicle at up to 3mph on uneven ground. It entered service in 1918 in time to engage in the first tank-on-tank battle, where a three tank patrol met three British Mk.IVs, the Females being damaged by armour piercing machine gun rounds and forced to withdraw. The Male Mk.IV brought its guns to bear on the lead A7V and knocked it out with three shots, after which the two remaining German tanks withdrew. It proved to be about as reliable as the British tanks, and no more were ordered, although some other designs were in progress when the war ended.

The only survivor of the twenty, numbered 506 and named Mephisto was abandoned by the Germans at Villiers-Bretonneux, and recovered by the Allies a few months later. It was taken by the Australians as a war prize, where it remains today.

The Kit
We appear to be in the middle of a renaissance of WWI armour, and that pleases me immensely as someone that's quite fond of the ugly old clankers. We have been treated to a number of kits of British Mk.IVs from Takom and Tamiya, with a Mk.V and Whippet light tank on the way from Takom, so this new issue from Meng fills an important gap, and sits well beside their two Renault FT-17 tanks that were used byt the French in the Great War. Previously we had only the Tauro kit in this scale, and that wasn't very good, having a totally fictitious interior and clunky tracks, as well as being hard to get hold of in recent years. This new tooling by Meng offers a fairly comprehensive interior that has a much firmer grounding in reality, and it can all be shown off by leaving some or all of the access hatches open.

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The box is standard sized Meng fare, and inside is a plethora of plastic that fills all the available space, requiring careful re-packing. There are nineteen sprues in sand coloured styrene, four in black, two pairs of black poly-caps, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a length of synthetic braided cord, and a decal sheet of moderate proportions. The instruction booklet is bound in a colour cover, with extensive text on the genesis of the A7V in four languages at the front, and painting diagrams at the rear. As always with Meng, the first impression is of a quality product, right from the satin finish on the box to the instruction booklet. The sprues are very well detailed, and use of slide-moulding is evident on a number of parts to ease our job of putting it together.

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Construction starts with the many road wheels, of which there are two types with and without flanges on the edges. Two of each type are sandwiched in a bogie of which there are six in three pairs. The idler wheels are built up on their track tensioning device, while the drive sprockets have a stub axle for later fitting to the hull. Each pair of bogies are added to their sub-frame, which is very well detailed indeed, and these are further detailed with additional linkages and dampers on the tops, and are later installed on the underside of the chassis in between the return roller racks that are built up and added to the underside of the chassis. The lower frame of the chassis has a floor panel to which the final drive is added, which houses a pair of poly-caps, and deep girders are then added all around, after which the aforementioned return roller racks are installed, of which there are two types. Small bogies containing two return rollers each are attached to the racks, and at this point the idler and drive sprocket wheels plus the exhaust muffler are also added. The three main road wheel bogies are installed on the underside of the chassis, and that's the end of that – the chassis is then turned over for the addition of the tracks.

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The tracks are individual links, and can be found on the black styrene sprues, of which there are four. You will need to make forty eight for each side, and each link is made up from the track plate, and separate linkage part, but fret not – there are only two very dainty sprue gates on each part, and the moulding is very nice indeed with large domed rivets, slide-moulded lightening holes and click-fit track pins. A little glue to mate the two parts is all that is needed, and once dry you can clip each run together with the minimum of fuss, resulting in a set of very well detailed workable tracks that just need a lick of paint and some weathering.

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The interior is the next job, and that begins with the addition of the floor panels, which have tread-plate detail moulded into them. The floor is broken into front and aft parts, in between which would be the two engines, with a pair of narrow walk-ways outboard. The engines aren't included, which might seem a shame on initial inspection, but when you look at the finished item, the area is so deep within the bowels of the machine that it wouldn't be seen under normal (non-endoscopic) circumstances through any open hatches. Some enterprising soul is bound to bring out a resin set to fill this area if you have eyes that can see round corners though. The driver's area is raised above the main floor, on a pair of T-shaped brackets that are moulded into the chassis sides, and the raised floor fits on top, with a pair of crew seats, hand controls and foot pedals for both the driver and co-driver for redundancy. The radiators sit at the front and rear of the raised area, against two bulkheads with large circular cut-outs in which the cooling fans would have been placed. The radiator cores sit outside the bulkheads, and have a PE mesh added to the front, and three protective bars running horizontally across the front. More bracing struts are added to each corner, and a number of additional controls are applied to the portions of the bulkheads that project up above the raised floor.

The main gun has a slide-moulded barrel, to which the recuperators and cradle are added, plus the aiming devices, the sights and the vertically curved portion of the splinter shield. The gun then slots into the main shield from the open back, and a PE top is added to the cylindrical shield. The gun is supported on a tapered octagonal base, which the gun fits atop after installing a sector gear and spacing device that clips round the shaft. An ammunition box and six seats for the machine gunners are built up next, with the ammo placed behind the main gun, which is installed on an octagonal depression on the front floor. The machine gunners' positions are able to swivel on a single point outside the seat-pan, presumably to facilitate access to the gun for re-loading and fast exit in the case of bail-out. Two are placed in the front compartment, with the remaining four at the rear. The guns are built up from a one-piece breech and barrel, with separate hand-grips and mounting parts. The guns mount to brackets attached to the side of the hull, and each one has a nicely moulded belt of ammo that can be flexed to fit its position. As a bit of extra detail, a rack of four rifles can be made up in the rear compartment, with additional "potato-masher" hand grenades, two extra rifles with bayonets attached, and a pair of Bergmann MP18 sub machine guns with separate side-mounted snail-drum magazines, although these were only used in the closing months of the war.

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Each of the machine guns are added to the insides of the hull plates before they are installed on the hull, so you'll be doing some internal painting at this stage unless you're leaving all the doors closed up. They are attached to the walls via plates on the mounts that mate with corresponding depressions in the walls. Each gun slot has a pair of triangular panels protecting the cylindrical mount (plus the gunner's face), two of which can be posed closed if you aren't fitting the rear guns. After this, the sides, front and rear are joined to the hull and your A7V starts to take shape with the addition of the lower glacis and valance front and rear. The four large towing shackles (two each front and rear) are covered by wedge-shaped armour panels, which can be posed raised for towing, or down for normal use by cutting off one or other of the two mounting lugs, which are roughly 90o opposed from each other. The crew doors are built up with separate pistol-port covers, handles, and a fold-down jump-seat that is stowed vertically to open the doors. They also have an appliqué weather bar riveted to their bottom edge, which is a further separate part, and a decal for the inside surface stating the tank's number in case the crew forget which one they're in! As well as the crew doors, there are double doors on each unused machine-gun slot, and four inspection/maintenance hatches along the track runs on each side, with a further two low down on the front of the glacis plate. One of the smaller panels in the middle each of the sides are propped open by the exhaust pipe, which snakes up the side and away from the gun ports, with a bracket separating the solid pipe from the hollow tip.

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At this stage the tank lacks a roof, as well as a protective cab, which is next on the agenda. The front and rear walls of the cab have a bifold door that covers the opening on the inside, and a pair of sliding doors for the outside, the latter having PE guides added to each side. The instructions show three positions in scrap diagrams in the open, closed and half-open position to assist you in working out how they should look. The side walls have only one hatch each, the doors for which operate in the same manner as the others, while the roof panel has a circular hatch in the centre, a hinges vented panel over one driver, and a clam-shell door over the other. The main roof is moulded as a single part, and has a large central cut-out for the driver's cab, and numerous parallel ventilation slots cut in the roof, which are covered by armoured grilles. Inside hang a number of toggles for the crew to steady themselves on, and a strip of PE covers the front edge of the main gun's "window". This and the driver's cab are then placed onto the hull and the inside is closed up. The length of string/cord is cut into two lengths of 148mm and a scrap diagram shows how it should be folded over and attached to three sleeves in 1:1 scale, with 3mm between each sleeve. These are then arranged on the top deck and tied-down by shackles, which is probably best done after main painting has been finished. That's it!

Markings
Only one scheme is provided in the box, that of Schnuck, No. 504 of Abt.2, German Army, in Northern France in Autumn 1918. It has a three colour scheme of sand, red brown and green, with five views showing how the areas flow across the hull, leaving you in no doubt where to put which colour. The decals are larger than most AFV sheets due to the size of the few decals on the sheet, and include eight old-school crosses, plus two further in a ghosted "shade" with a red I in the centre. The other decals are two white "Schnuck" markings, and the 504s for the interior doors. They're printed by Cartograf as usual with Meng, so quality, colour density, sharpness and register are spot on.

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Conclusion
This new one from Meng makes me supremely happy, as I'd got a Tauro Models kit in my stash that had been thrown back in there when I realised the size of the job I'd got to render the interior anything like the real thing. Meng have done their usual fine job of rendering the lumpen riveted surface of the hull, and the inclusion of most of the relevant interior is just gravy.

The kit deserves to do well, and will look great next to its adversaries that seem to be popping up like London buses at the moment.

Very highly recommended.


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Review sample courtesy of
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Mike    10,477

Edited to add the missing pic of the included small arms sprues :doh:

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Julien    4,010

That's a must buy for this year

Thank you Meng!!!!

I thought your were only doing WWII ?

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Killingholme    447

Well I'm sold on that. Where's my credit card....?

Only disappointment is the lack of postwar 'Freikorps' marking option. It was a significant chapter in the history of the vehicle, and would make a cool model too!

Will

Edited by Killingholme

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Sgt.Squarehead    6,130

I wouldn't be massively surprised to see a 'Heidi' boxing at some point if this one sells well (which I think it will).....I'd love to build that version:

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Mike    10,477

I think the tanks that were used by the Freikorps were similar but different to the A7V? That pic looks like someone at least had the cutting torch to one, as those corner turret/observation drums aren't original equipment, and the driver's compartment is either cut-off, or significantly reduced to be invisible in the pics. Do we have any more pics of them? All that's based on one pic mind, so I could be way off beam. I've not really looked at what was used by them before now.

This shot here shows what I mean about the driver's compartment from another angle. Serious metalwork differences that would at the very least require a conversion kit, I'd think:

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Looks like the corners have been butchered into lookout turrets, the grille-work on the top has been sheeted over, the driver's compartment cut off and replaced with reduced height sloping metalwork with what appears to be mesh covers to the driver's head and shoulders. Whether they're actually A7Vs or just something that looks very similar, I wouldn't like to say. :hmmm:

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Sgt.Squarehead    6,130

That's 'Heidi'.....She's a one of a kind IIRC, no 57mm, but MG 'turrets' on each corner.....Off to check references. :nerd:

Some interesting discussion of the A7V here: http://landships.activeboard.com/t13406057/more-a7v-types/

Apparently there were at least two, but it also looks like they weren't actually built on the A7V, so a modified version of the kit seems less likely.....Shame. :unsure:

More on 'Heidi' including some more images here: http://www.landships.info/landships/tank_articles.html# Select 'German' from the menu on the left.....I can't get the bloody link to work! :wall:

The first image appears to show both of the modified post-war versions. :coolio:

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