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  1. Leopard 1 A1A1-A1A4 (05656) 1:35 Carrera Revell The Leopard Main Battle Tank (MBT) was designed in the mid-50s as an answer to a requirement by the newly reformed German Army to replace the outmoded American cast-off M47 and M48 tanks they had been using up until that point. It was based upon the premise that manoeuvrability and armament were more important than armour, as the rise of the HEAT round had rendered most standard rolled steel armour ineffective due to its massively increased penetrating capability. To make for a more agile target, the Leopard was designed to withstand 20mm rounds from all directions, weighing in at 30 tonnes, and with Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) protection to counter the Soviet hordes that they expected to be flooding across the border. Three design teams competed for the Tank contract from Porsche, Rheinmetall and Borgward. The Porsche prototype was eventually selected as the winner. Production was set up with Krauss-Maffei in Munich and deliveries began in late 1965. Provision was also made for bolt on Lexan armour, and it could carry the 120mm gun of the Leopard 2, even though this was never used. Export sales followed, and the Leopard 1 would go on to serve with the Armies of Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Australia, Canada, and Turkey. The A5 with Germany, Holland and Chile. The initial A1 variant reached service in the mid-60s carrying a NATO standard 105mm gun, then in the 1980s research was begun with a view to upgrading the tank, improving the turret to store more ammunition, and a more advanced fire control system was fitted to increase accuracy. An important upgrade to the A1A1 standard formed the basis of the A5 in the 80s, which with the benefit of retro-fitting, became the de facto standard Leopard 1 up until its replacement by the Leopard 2 in Bundeswehr service early in the new millennium. The Kit This is a new boxing of the 2015 tooling from Revell, as evidenced by the raised copyright details on the underside of the engine deck. It is a multi-version boxing, and arrives in a substantially oversized box as a gift-set, with enough room for another kit inside despite the extras, which seems a little wasteful of shipping space in our modern cost-conscious age. Inside the large top-opening box are ten sprues in grey styrene, a sprue and two track lengths in black flexible plastic, a 15cm length of metal wire (not pictured) taped to the colour instruction booklet, decal sheet, and profiles on the rear of the instructions for the four decal options that are included in this issue. The afore mentioned extras include six thumb pots of acrylic paint, a #2 paint brush, a 12.5ml bottle of Revell Contacta Professional cement with a needle applicator, and an A3 poster of the box art without all the frippery necessary for the packaging. It’s hard to photograph well, and there’s a thumbnail of it on the box top in case you can’t picture it. Detail is good, and it shows up better in grey styrene rather than the older green styrene Revell used to use, which was not only difficult to photograph well, but made it difficult to see too, as well as appearing a little old-fashioned. It’s an exterior kit, and offers the option to build the major variants, with traditional ‘rubber-band’ tracks that might deter some, and attract others. The cast texture on the mantlet and other parts is good, as is the Lexan armour that is applied to the turret sides, which has a fine waffle texture moulded-in, plus attachment bolts in recesses. Construction begins predictably with the lower hull, starting with the floor and adding the sidewalls that are supported by a bulkhead that slots into two grooves at around mid-way. The rear bulkhead is next, pointing out the detail painting of the moulded-in rear light clusters using letter codes that correspond to a table at the front of the booklet in Revell colour codes. Suspension details are added on both sides of the hull, including bump-stops, shock absorbers for the rear axles, and swing arms for all stations, locking in place on a keyed peg. The road wheels are made in pairs, fourteen road wheel assemblies, two idlers, plus four return-rollers on mounts higher on the hull sides. The road wheel pairs are slid onto the axles in groups of seven per side, plus the idler wheels at the front of the hull, then the drive sprockets are made from three layers ready to be fitted onto the hull with the tracks. Being of the rubber-band type, their ends are joined by threading the turrets at one end of the run through corresponding holes in the other end, then melting them flat into rivet-shapes with a hot screwdriver or similar item, turning them in a continuous band. One end of the loop is wrapped around the idler wheel, inserting the drive sprocket in the opposite end, and pushing the lengths over the road wheels, and gluing the sprocket into position at the rear. The upper hull is prepared by drilling out flashed-over holes in the front, three on the glacis plate, and two on each side ‘cheeks’ over the fender. While the part is inverted, the vision blocks for the driver are painted and pushed into their recesses in the forward deck, detail painting sensors over the fenders, and some filler caps on the engine deck. Detail inserts are applied to the sides of the hull once the two halves are mated, drilling a hole in each one before applying glue. Another small insert is fitted on the left side around the turret ring, then you have a choice of three styles of cooling grilles on the rear hull sides depending on which variant you are building, and for the A1A1 or A1A2 there is a tie-down at the rear that should be removed for some vehicles. The side skirts are fixed to the hull sides on small pegs, adding mudguards at the rear before the installation of detail parts begins, fitting lifting eyes, stowage boxes and pioneer tools on almost every surface. The rear bulkhead is adorned with towing eyes, shackles and a convoy shield light with cross decal, plus spare track links, and an equipment box on the top left. The towing cables are moulded in the same flexible black styrene as the tracks, and whether you use them is up to you, as you have separate styrene eyes for each end, so replacing them with cord or braided wire would be a simple task. The instructions show where they should be fitted, and their location as they snake toward the front of the vehicle, with arrows showing where the various tie-downs should be. More parts are added to the glacis, including light clusters, triangular blocks between the fenders and glacis, and a rack of cold-weather track grousers in three rows that mount on three pins. The driver’s hatch can be fitted opened or closed, although a figure would be needed to hide the empty interior, the location of the open hatch shown in a scrap diagram nearby. The turret upper begins as a hollow part, adding three vision blocks to the roof, then building the gun pivot from a hollow rectangle with pegs at each end, held in place by two trunnions in the lower turret. The vision blocks around the commander’s cupola are painted in, then the two halves of the turret are mated, adding detail parts and sensors on either side of the main gun on cylindrical projections, with open or closed covers possible using the same parts. The commander’s cupola and the gunner/loader’s hatches have top rails fitted, and a periscope is installed in front of the commander’s hatch. The gun barrel is provided in two vertically split halves, and has the cooling jacket and its straps moulded-in, inserting the keyed rear into the mantlet after drilling out several holes from within depending on which variant you are portraying. The completed assembly is glued to the box-shaped pivot to complete the basic structure, then additional details are layered over it in the next several steps, starting with a bustle stowage box with cylindrical tubes to each side, which is fitted to the rear of the turret, and covered with a back panel and tubular framed basket on each side, taking care to locate the ends to align the assemblies correctly. The crew hatches are both circular and made from two spaced layers, adding a central boss inside, both of which can be posed open or closed in their respective hatches, as per the accompanying diagrams on the following page. A canvas mantlet cover is fitted to the space at the front of the turret, adding lifting eyes to the top surface, then two racks of smoke grenade launchers on curved rails are made, glued to the turret sides, and surrounded by Lexan armour panels that cover the majority of the sides, adding two more panels to the bustle baskets, and a piece of appliqué armour to the mantlet with its own lifting eye. Various rails are added over the armour on the sides, and the gunner’s MG3 machine gun is fitted to a two-part pintle-mount, inserting the peg into the ring around his hatch, and aerial bases into a sockets near the rear of the turret roof. An TV camera is made from three parts and attached to the top of the mantlet for the A1A2 and A1A4 variants, mounting a three-part cage with a protective door to the front, while all variants have an Infrared night vision system in a box with the hatch posed open or closed, the open option involving cutting the hatch down the centre. It is mounted on the left side of the mantlet with a short frame supporting the front, and a thick cable leading back and into the turret at the corner. The completed turret is then lowered into the hull and twisted into position on a pair of bayonet lugs. The build isn’t quite over however, as there is a two-part travel lock applied to the rear bulkhead, which can be posed lowered for action or vertically to clasp the barrel while the turret is reversed for travel. The final two styrene parts are used to make the driver’s wing mirror that is mounted on the right fender at an angle, using a long or short support. You’ve probably forgotten about the piece of wire taped to the front of the instructions, but it has a use. Aerials of two lengths are cut depending on the variant, their ends warmed in a flame until they’re hot enough to melt plastic. Then they are inserted into the aerial bases, although I’d rather use super glue in case the plastic melts too freely. I have used wire and carbon rod for AFV aerials in the past, and would entreat you to be very careful when looking closely at your model, as the end is very sharp. If you’re clumsy like me, perhaps a dot of super glue forming a ball on the end could save your eyesight. Markings There are four decal options on the small sheet, but there are additional digits for number plates that permit you to build your own vehicle registrations. From the box you can build one of the following: Leopard 1 A1A1 (4. Baulos) PzBtl 24, Braunschweig 1977 Leopard 1 A1A2 (3. Baulos) JgBtl 511, Flensburg, 1988 Leopard 1 A1A3 (2. Baulos) PzBtl 354, Hammelburg, 1987 Leopard 1 A1A4 (2. Baulos) PzBtl 324, Hammelburg, 1987 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s a well-detailed exterior model of this important Cold War warrior, and while the flexible tracks may put off a few, it’s swings and roundabouts. There are plenty of variant options, and tons of number plate choices that should allow you to build a good replica of the first Leopard. Highly recommended. Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  2. Unimog 404S (03348) 1:35 Carrera Revell Unimog was the brand-name used by Mercedes for their truck, tractor and commercial vehicle range that began post WWII as an agricultural brand, initially built by another company for them whilst using their engines. The range broadened in the late 40s and early 50s to include trucks, of which the 404 series was one, entering production in 1955. It is a small (1.5 tonne) 4x4 truck that was driven by a 2.2 litre M180 straight-6 Mercedes engine and has impressive off-road performance due to a change that had been required by a customer, the French Army, who wanted the spare tyre to be stored clear of the load compartment. The designers altered the shape of the rear chassis rails to allow the wheel to sit under the floor, the downward sweep giving the chassis extra flexibility that smoothed the ride on rough surfaces, assisted by coil springs, rather than traditional leaf springs. The four-wheel drive system could be disengaged on smoother ground, leaving just the rear wheels engaged, thereby saving fuel and wear on the front drive-shafts, and generally improving performance all round. The 404 series was the most numerous of the Unimog line, and was available as a short or long-wheelbase chassis, with the shorter option phased out at the beginning of the 70s, while the longer wheelbase continued on in service for another decade before it too was retired. The nascent West German Bundeswehr were a major customer, buying substantial quantities of the 404S as a workhorse for their forces, taking on many roles in their service. A total of over 62,000 of the 404S were made over its lengthy production run, with many of them still on and off the roads to this day due to their rugged engineering. The Kit This is a reboxing of the recent tooling from ICM of this Bundeswehr pillar of their transport arm. It arrives in an end-opening box, and inside are five sprues of grey styrene, a small clear sprue, five flexible black tyres, a small decal sheet and a colour printed instruction booklet with decal profiles on the rear pages. Detail is excellent throughout, and includes a full chassis and engine, plus the bodywork and load area, all crisply moulded as we’ve come to expect from ICM. The grille of the vehicle is especially crisp, as are the coil springs on each corner, and the wheels are very well-done with multi-part hubs. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which is joined together with a series of cylindrical cross-members, plus front and rear beams, the latter braced by diagonal stiffeners to strengthen the area around the towing eye at the rear. The suspension is next, adding an insert to the opposite side of each spring to avoid sink-marks, but care must be taken to align them neatly to minimise clean-up afterwards. Triangular supports for the fuel tanks are added on each side, then attention turns to the six-cylinder Mercedes motor. Beginning with the two-part cylinder block and gearbox, the basic structure is augmented by ancillaries, fan, pulleys and drive-shaft for the front wheels, after which the engine is mated to the chassis and has the long exhaust system installed, adding a muffler insert around the half-way point, and siting another drive-shaft adjacent. Two stamped fuel tanks are each made from two parts, with the forward one having a filler tube and cap glued to the side, sitting on the out-riggers that were fitted to the chassis earlier. The front axle is made up from five parts to capture the complex shape of the assembly, to be installed between the suspension mounts and mated to the forward drive-shaft, plus the stub axles for the front wheels. Two stowage boxes are made for the opposite side of the chassis from the fuel tanks, then the rear axle is made up with similar detail and part count, fitting between the suspension and having larger circular stub-axles that have the drum brakes moulded-in. The front wheels have separate drum brakes, and both front and rear axles are braced with damping struts, while the front axle has a steering arm linking the two wheels together, with more parts linking that to the steering column. With the chassis inverted, the front bumper and its sump guard are fixed to the front, and a curved plaque on the rear cross-member, plus another pair of diagonal bracing struts for the rear axles. Each wheel is made up from a two-part hub that goes together much like a real steel hub, but without the welding, around the flexible black tyres. The front and rear hubs are of different design, so take care inserting them in the correct location. Lastly, the chassis is completed by adding the radiator and its frame at the front of the vehicle. The cab is the first section of the bodywork to be made, starting with the floor, with foot pedals, shaped metalwork around the gearbox cut-out, sidewalls and the internal wheel wells below the floor level. A number of additional parts are glued beneath the floor for later mounting, then the lower cab is built up on the floor, including the front with recessed headlight reflectors; bonnet surround, dashboard with decal, plus various trim panels. The floor is then lowered onto the chassis with several arrows showing where it should meet with the floor, taking care with the radiator. Once in place, the bonnet and more interior trim as installed along with a bunch of stalks between where the seats will be inserted. The seats are made from the basic frame to which the two cushions are fixed, much like the real thing, then mounted inside the cab, followed closely by the two crew doors, which have handles on both sides, and pockets in the interior. They can of course be posed open or closed and there is no glazing to put in, thanks to the cabriolet top. More grab-handles, controls and other small parts are fixed around the dash, and the windscreen with two glazing panels are put in place, with a highly detailed steering wheel that has the individual finger ‘bumps’ on the underside, and for your ease, it’s probably better to put the wheel in before the windscreen is fixed in place. The cab is finished off by adding the cabrio top, which starts with an L-shaped top and rear, to which a small rectangular window and two side sections are added, dropped over the cab when the glue is dry and the seams have been dealt with. The load bed begins with a flat rectangular floor that has engraved planking, plus two longitudinal supports and three lateral beams that takes the weight of the bed once complete. The sides of the load area are stamped with raised and recessed detail, and comprise four parts, one for each side, plus raised side framework, and what looks like a spoiler on two short upstands at the front of the load area. Underneath is a rack for a nicely detailed jerry can, a stowage box or three, and the spare wheel on a dropped C-shaped mount, built in the same manner as the road wheels. The number plate holder is hung under the rear, also holding the rear lights for that side, with another less substantial part on the opposite side. The cab wasn’t quite finished earlier, as the front doesn’t yet have lights. The recessed headlight reflectors should be painted with the brightest metallic you can find before they are covered by the clear lenses and their protective cages, joined slightly outboard by combined side-light/indicator lenses, a choice of two styles of door mirrors, and a pair of windscreen wipers to keep the screen clear. Markings You might guess that most of the decal options are green that is so typical of how I remember the Unimog in West German service. From the box you can build one of these two: Kompanie/PzBH24, Braunschweig, 1961 Kompanie/PzGrenBH82, Lüneburg, 1975 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion The Unimogs were ubiquitous in Cold War West German army service, so there ought to be a good market for a modern tooling of the type, with many variants out there, and more in due course. Highly recommended. Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  3. Panzerhaubitzer 2000 - Pzh 2000 in the 1980s the German, Italian and British governments attempted to develop, in collaboration, the next generation of NATO self-propelled Artillery. For various reasons that project failed. Britain pressed on and successfully developed the AS-90 while the Germans pursued their own project which combined the expertise of leading German companies, Wegmann, Krauss-Maffei and Rheinmetall to produce the truly awesome Panzerhaubitze 2000. In the 1990's this was arguably the best Self Propelled Gun in the world and it remains a cutting-edge weapon to this day. Today it is used by several NATO nations including; Germany, Holland, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Croatia and Hungary. The Pzh 2000 features an extremely long - 52 calibre - 155mm gun with a largely automated gun-loading mechanism for very high rates of fire to ranges in excess of 40km. The weapon's fire-control is among the most sophisticated in the world, and allows a single gun to be fired in 'multiple round, simultaneous impact' or MRSI mode. In this mode up to five shells can be fired, each with its own charge and trajectory in such a fashion that all five shells hit the same target at the same moment. The gun is also capable of firing GPS-guided precision rounds with a circular impact error of about 1.5m. The Pzh 2000 has seen a significant amount of action in Afghanistan where both Dutch and German examples have been used to provide fire-support to the International Security Assistance Force. This was the first time that the German Army has used artillery in combat since the end of WW2. One day while on my lunch break (long before all this COVID 19 business broke out) I was checking out a little-visited corner of the local gaming / model / bookshop and found this in among a pile of largely neglected publications. Upon opening the book I was greeted with this fold-out (and there are front and rear views on the flip side too). Now this might just be the most exciting centre-fold I've ever seen. In any case, a few minutes later the book was purchased. About a week later I had decided that this project was going ahead but that 1/35 just wasn't big enough. I took the book to my local printing / copying shop and got the drawings enlarged to 1/24 scale and copied 8 times. I got one 'master set' laminated. And now we are off... Let's scratchbuild one of these things! This is going to be an unusual build for me because much of the work will be done in plastic card, but I want a good solid wooden hull to work from so I'm starting with this block of 'Liquid Ambar' - a superb carving wood - which needs to be cut to the correct size. Here's the first cut of the entire project. Here's the interpreted curve on the leading edge of the hull being marked out... and here it is being carved to shape. Then rasped prior to a final filing and sanding smooth. OK - looks about right. Now I use the bandsaw to cut the wood to exactly the correct width for the hull. The bandsaw! Best tool in the shed! And following a bit of research (especially looking at photos) and some ‘interpretive’ carving and cutting at the rear of the hull I have this basic starting point. After two years of slaving away building a WW1 Biplane (an Avro 504 to be precise) I'm dead keen to work on this project which promises a complete change of subject and modelling method. I hope that some of you will follow along and see what comes of this little venture. Bandsaw Steve
  4. Unimog S404 ‘Koffer’ (35136) 1:35 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd Unimog was the brand-name used by Mercedes for their truck, tractor and commercial vehicle range that began post WWII as an agricultural brand, initially built by another company for them whilst using their engines. The range broadened in the late 40s and early 50s to include trucks, of which the 404 series was one, entering production in 1955. It is a small (1.5 tonne) 4x4 truck that was driven by a 2.2 litre M180 straight-6 Mercedes engine and has impressive off-road performance due to a change that had been required by a customer, the French Army, who wanted the spare tyre to be stored clear of the load compartment. The designers altered the shape of the rear chassis rails to allow the wheel to sit under the floor, the downward sweep giving the chassis extra flexibility that smoothed the ride on rough surfaces, assisted by coil springs, rather than traditional leaf springs. The four-wheel drive system could be disengaged on smoother ground, leaving just the rear wheels engaged, thereby saving fuel and wear on the front drive-shafts, and generally improving performance all round. The 404 series was the most numerous of the Unimog line, and was available as a short or long-wheelbase chassis, with the shorter option phased out at the beginning of the 70s, while the longer wheelbase continued on for another decade before it too was retired. The nascent West German Bundeswehr were a major customer, buying substantial quantities of the 404S as a workhorse for their forces, taking on many roles in their service. A total of over 62,000 of the 404S were made over its lengthy production run, with many of them still on and off the roads to this day due to their rugged engineering. The name Koffer was short for Kofferaufbau, which roughly translated via Google stands for case body, which often had a turbo-heater fixed to it as well as a variety of windows and ventilation outlets that varied with time and use. The Kit This is a rebox with additional sprues of a new tooling from Ukrainian company ICM of this Bundeswehr pillar of their transport arm. It arrives in a top-opening box with a captive lid on the lower tray, and inside are seven sprues of grey styrene, two clear sprues, five flexible black tyres, a decal sheet and a glossy printed instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear pages. Detail is excellent throughout, and includes a full chassis and engine, plus the bodywork and new load area, all crisply moulded as we’ve come to expect from ICM. The grille of the vehicle is especially well-done, as are the coil springs on each corner, and the wheels are very neat with multi-part hubs. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which is joined together with a series of cylindrical cross-members, plus front and rear beams, the latter braced by diagonal stiffeners to strengthen the area around the towing eye at the rear. The suspension is next, adding an insert to the opposite side of each spring to avoid sink-marks, but care must be taken to align them neatly to minimise clean-up afterwards. Triangular supports for the fuel tanks are added on each side, then attention turns to the six-cylinder Mercedes motor. Beginning with the two-part cylinder block and gearbox, the basic structure is augmented by ancillaries, fan, pulleys and drive-shaft for the front wheels, after which the engine is mated to the chassis and has the long exhaust system installed, adding a muffler insert around the half-way point, and siting another drive-shaft adjacent. Two stamped fuel tanks are each made from two parts, with the forward one having a filler tube and cap glued to the side, sitting on the out-riggers that were fitted to the chassis earlier. The front axle is made up from five parts to capture the complex shape of the assembly, to be installed between the suspension mounts and mated to the forward drive-shaft, plus the stub axles for the front wheels. A stowage box is made for the opposite side of the chassis from the fuel tanks, then the rear axle is built with similar detail and part count, fitting between the suspension and having larger circular stub-axles that have the drum brakes moulded-in. The front wheels have separate drum brakes, and both front and rear axles are braced with damping struts, while the front axle has a steering arm linking the two wheels together, with more parts connecting that to the steering column. With the chassis inverted, the front bumper and its sump guard are fixed to the front, and a curved plaque on the rear cross-member, plus another pair of diagonal bracing struts for the rear axles. Each wheel is made up from a two-part hub that goes together much like a real steel hub, but without the heat of welding, around the flexible black tyres. The front and rear hubs are of different design, so take care inserting them in the correct location. Lastly, the chassis is completed by adding the radiator and its frame at the front of the vehicle. The cab is the first section of the bodywork to be made, starting with the floor, adding foot pedals, shaped metalwork around the gearbox cut-out, sidewalls and the internal wheel wells below the floor level. Several additional parts are glued beneath the floor for later mounting, then the lower cab is built up on the floor, including the front with recessed headlight reflectors; bonnet surround, dashboard with decal, plus various trim panels. The floor is then lowered onto the chassis with four arrows showing where it should meet with the floor, taking care with the radiator. Once in place, the bonnet and more interior trim is installed along with a bunch of stalks between the seat positions. The seats are made from the basic frame to which the two cushions are fixed, much like the real thing, then they’re mounted inside the cab, followed closely by the two crew doors, which have handles on both sides, and pockets on the interior, and can be posed open or closed. More grab-handles, controls and other small parts are fixed around the dash, and the windscreen with two glazing panels are put in place, with a highly detailed steering wheel that has the individual finger ‘bumps’ on the underside, and for your ease, it’s probably better to put the wheel in before the windscreen is fixed in place. The cab is finished off by adding the cabrio top, which starts with an L-shaped top and rear, to which a small rectangular window and two side sections are added, dropped over the cab when the glue is dry and the seams have been dealt with along with the side windows that consist of the frame with two glazing panels in each one. Later on, the recessed headlight reflectors should be painted with the brightest metallic you can find before they are covered by the clear lenses and their protective cages, joined slightly outboard by combined side-light/indicator lenses, a choice of two styles of door mirrors, and a pair of windscreen wipers to keep the screen clear. The load bed begins with a flat rectangular floor, several supports and two lateral beams that takes the weight of the bed once complete. The sides of the load area are covered with raised and recessed detail, and comprise four parts, one for each side, with windows and optional grilles added from the inside. The roof has two options, one has moulded-in hatches, which are covered by a tubular framework, the other is much simplified. A set of poles are glued to the side in a rack, handles are added to the recessed areas of the doors, with a frame fixed to the front of the load box to carry the turbo-heater that is built next as a clasped case and a tubular assembly. Underneath is a rack for a nicely detailed jerry can, several stowage boxes and optional racks or steps, and the spare wheel on a dropped C-shaped mount, built in the same manner as the road wheels. A choice of two number plate holders is hung under the rear, also holding the rear lights for that side, with another less substantial part on the opposite side. Markings You might guess that most of the decal options are green, but there is one in NATO camouflage that is so typical of how I remember the Unimog in West German service. From the box you can build one of these three: Bundeswehr Artillery Unit, 1970s Bundeswehr Aviation Unit, 1970s Bundeswehr Armoured Unit, 1980s <ul style="list-style-type:upper-alpha"> The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and consist of dials, number plates, stencils and a few other small decals, with good register, sharpness and solid colours. If you don't think you have the correct paint shades in stock for this kit, there is a new Acrylic Paint Set from ICM specifically designed for this model, our review of which you can see here. Conclusion The Unimogs were ubiquitous in Cold War West German army service, so there ought to be a good market for a modern tooling of the type, with many more variants still to come in due course. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Unimog 2T MilGl (03337) 1:35 Carrera Revell Unimog was the brand-name used by Mercedes for their truck, tractor and commercial vehicle range that began post WWII as an agricultural brand, initially built by another company for them whilst using their engines. The name derives from a portmanteau of “UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät”, or Universal Motor Machine literally translated. The range broadened in the late 40s and early 50s to include trucks, of which the 404 series was one, entering production in 1955. It is a small (1.5 tonne) 4x4 truck that was driven by a 2.2 litre M180 straight-6 Mercedes engine and has impressive off-road performance due to a change that had been required by a customer, the French Army, who wanted the spare tyre to be stored clear of the load compartment. The designers altered the shape of the rear chassis rails to allow the wheel to sit under the floor, the downward sweep giving the chassis extra flexibility that smoothed the ride on rough surfaces, assisted by coil springs, rather than traditional leaf springs. The four-wheel drive system could be disengaged on smoother ground, leaving just the rear wheels engaged, thereby saving fuel and wear on the front drive-shafts, and generally improving performance all round. The 400 series was the most numerous of the Unimog line, and was available as a short or long-wheelbase chassis, with the shorter option phased out at the beginning of the 70s, while the longer wheelbase continued on for another decade before it too was retired. The 437 was introduced late in the 19880s and is more of a heavy-weight that is modernised and continued to be upgraded as time went on. It is easily discerned by the squared off cab, and is available in U and L derivatives, standing for short and long wheel-bases respectively. Many variants are used by the post WWII German Bundeswehr, the 2T MilGl being one of them, certified for a load of, you guessed it, two tonnes, with a load bed that has a canvas tilt to protect the load whether it is equipment or soldiers. A total of over 62,000 of the 404S were made over its lengthy production run, with many of them still on and off the roads to this day due to their rugged engineering. The Kit This is a reboxing of the original kit that was tooled in 1995, and although it is heading toward 30 years old, it has decent detail throughout, although there are doubtless some areas that the more detail-oriented modeller might want to upgrade. It arrives in a slim end-opening box, and inside are four sprues and a cab in pale greenish grey styrene, a flexible sprue containing five sturdy tyres, a clear sprue, the instruction booklet in the old-skool Revell style on matt paper with a rough texture that invites comparison with cheap toilet paper. Ouch! It’s a product of its era in this respect, and the instruction steps are also monochrome, as are the painting and decaling guides in the rear. You get a full engine and chassis, plus drive train representations in the kit, as well as the expected cab interior, so it’s a great canvas to work your wonders upon, whether you’re an out of box modeller or otherwise. Construction begins with the engine, which I suspect is the straight 6-cylinder 5958cc diesel engine, judging by its tall, narrow appearance. The two block halves are brought together, then detailed with the complex belts at the front, and some ancillaries on the side. The motor is dropped into the front of the ladder chassis after adding a dropped hook, then the drive-shaft to the rear is inserted into the back of the engine, linking into the two-part transmission with a further drive-shaft heading back to the rear axle. The tubular muffler and short exhaust pip are fitted to a nub on the left side of the chassis, with the long snaking pipe linking the box to the engine and painted a grubby, rusty colour. The big front springs are made up from the two halves and a bottom cap, and these mount on the circular protrusions from the sides of the chassis, ready to accept the front axle, which has disc brakes on pivots installed in it during closure, then detailed with various steering and suspension links. Similar two-part springs are made up for the rear and mounted on large pivots top and bottom, then slipped over the rod passing through the chassis. This allows the rear axle to be made up with disc brakes at each end and inserted into the bottom of the suspension unit, again getting suspension links and a pair of shocks to improve handling during off-road adventures. A pair of cylinders and their associated hoses are attached in front of the rear right wheel, with another shorter one inside the chassis rail, which looks like the air brake system, as it includes a four-port manifold in the hose area. The fuel tank and a stowage box are each built from two parts, and the former has the mount moulded-in and a cap fixed to the top, while the latter is mounted on a separate bracket so both can be installed on the right chassis rail between the wheels. A foot peg and another on the other side are fixed in front of these items, with an empty bracket just behind it on the left side. At the rear of the chassis the light clusters are built up on L-shaped brackets, with clear lenses that need painting with appropriate clear shades, and finally the four flexible black tyres can be installed on the axles, after adding the two hub halves and a free-wheeling cuff in the centre, gluing them carefully if you want the wheels to rotate. The cab is begun with the floor, adding the three pedals in the left foot well, and the dash board with decals plus the gear and handbrake levers in the centre console. The driver has a separate seat, with a wider one for the co-driver that could seat two, and both have pencil-roll upholstery moulded-in, mounting on two raised lines in the floor. Finally, the steering column with stalk and separate wheel is inserted into a hole in front of the pedals, completing the interior. The cab outer is moulded separately with what must have been early sliding moulds, creating a five-sided part that just needs doors windscreens and a roof panel. The radiator grille is a separate part too, and is first to be glued to the front of the cab, with the windscreen and rear-view mirror following it. The two doors are prepared by adding three-part hinges, a quarterlight and the door card with two decals on one, one on the other. These are then inserted into the cab, and is joined by the ribbed roof panel, which repeats the hole for the machine gun ring, and also has a small hatch added to the left wing, plus a snorkel for deep-water wading on the right side, after which it can be mated to the cab interior. The machine gun ring on the roof has a circular hatch, a raised ring, and a depiction of the MG3, which is a direct descendent of the fearsome MG42. Underneath, the inner wings are glued to the cab floor, and a pair of crew steps hang from the sides under the doors on a pair of pins. The load bed is moulded with the tilt erected, and the four sides have the short upstands moulded-in, and also have some creasing of the canvas engraved into the surface. Some of the creases would benefit from softening, but that’s entirely your choice. The four sides are topped off with the roof, and then the floor, which has no detail on the top, but with the benefit of some quick research, that’s not too far from accurate. The first (and only) picture I found of the inside has one single panel line running transverse about a third of the length from the front, which shouldn’t be too hard to replicate, even if you only have a needle. Not very grippy though! Bear in mind that was a slightly non-standard dual cab variant, so further research might be in order. Inverting the load area allows you to add the various ribs and stringers, plus stowage boxes, four mudflaps, and more stowage behind them, and a rack for fuel cans near the front on the right. The cab and chassis are mated, using up the fifth tyre and hub parts to put a spare on the bracket installed on the chassis rail earlier, then the load bed is also mated with the rear of the chassis. A shield-shaped part is fixed to the rear bumper iron with added decals, then the front bumper has two lights inserted in recesses and fitted to the front of the vehicle. The cab then has windscreen wipers, a number of grab-handles and some corner lights fixed to the bonnet, with a pair of large wing mirrors attached to each door. Between the cab and load area, a shallow “spoiler” is glued onto the back of the roof to smooth the airflow between the two parts of the vehicle, and a curved plate is attached to the back of the machine gunner’s position on the roof. Now for the paint. Markings There are four decal options included on the sheet, although the diagrams are all monochrome, relying on black, white and half-tones to replicate the three colour NATO camouflage for some of the vehicle and two of the tilts. From the box you can build one of the following: 4./Panzerbatallion 33 (Green, Brown, Black Camo all over) 3./Wachbatallion BMVg, Siegburg, 2007 (Green, Brown, Black Camo, green tilt) ISAF, Kabul, Afghanistan (Sand chassis, Sand, Brown, Black tilt) Königlich Belgische Armée, 2004 (Dark Green) Decals are by Zanchetti, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s not the newest kid or kit on the block, and neither are the instructions, but it’s a solid kit of this Bundeswehr staple that has been through many changes through the years. Recommended. Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  6. Bundeswehr Käfer (Beetle) Years ago I picked up Cromwell’s diminutive 1/76 scale Wehrmacht VW staff car at a swap meet. The old resin casting was missing its wheels, and the bumper and left running board were damaged... but the unmistakable Beetle shape was there! The kit depicts a KdF Type 60 Volkswagen from 1943, but I plan to build it up as a later Bundeswehr vehicle of the 1960s. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Assembly” of this kit was straightforward; the first step was to remove the casting block at the bottom of the vehicle. The missing wheels were replaced with parts taken from a Hasegawa 1/72 VW Schwimmwagen. Although correct for a 1943 vehicle, the wheel design had changed a bit by the 1960s... but I’ll deal with that later! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Simple repairs to the damaged bumper and running board complete the assembly. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A coat of slightly lightened Tamiya acrylic Khaki Drab (XF-51) gives the little Käfer a more military look. I haven’t yet applied any kind of groundwork, so for now the bug sits on a sheet of .060 inch plastic. The wood is a bit of scrap with a neutral varnish. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ The tires and windows are now painted, appropriately, Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69). The bug didn’t come with any markings, but these decals from an old ESCI M113 will serve. In addition to the medical insignia, the Bundeswehr M113 license plates should look good on the Käfer. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I thought it would be fun to show the bug in a winter environment. After gluing the completed car to the plastic base, I began applying a slurry of baking soda with lots of water and a little PVA (white glue). Besides looking good, the “snow” offered the opportunity to obscure some of the features that would reveal that this Bundeswehr vehicle from the 1960s is actually a 1943 Käfer! The most obvious giveaways are the small split rear windows and very small rear signal mounts on the fenders, both of which had been redesigned on VWs by the mid-1960s. Under a heavy coat of snow, these problems just disappear! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ And the cold little Cold Warrior is done!
  7. Bundeswehr German Military Present Day 1:35 Master Box Ltd Master Box have seen a market for some well-sculpted, modern mouldings of soldiers for a while now. While WWI and WWII have seen a lot of figure sets recently it seems companies are now catching on with the meed for modern day figures. Master Box have now brought this set out for modern day German Army figures. This set arrives in the de facto standard figure shaped box with a painting of the included figures on the front, and parts breakdown with pictorial instructions on the rear. On opening the end of the box, you're greeted by a re-sealable bag containing one large sprue and one smaller one containing all the parts you'll need to build five figures in fairly relaxed non-combat stances. Contrary to the sprue photos on the back of the box, the styrene is grey, which shows off the contours and captures all the detail that has been included in the kit. Torsos, legs, arms and heads are all separate parts, with webbing also separate for a more realistic in-scale feel, with helmets, weapons and load-out also separate, which gives the modeller some scope for individualising each figure without too much work. The sculpting is first rate, and the sheer detail of each part is stunning, from the smallest pucker in the corner of a bag to belts that cut into the shoulder, plus realistic clothing. Painting shows modern temperate camo, and the dessert camo as worn in the controversial deployment of German troops to Afgahnistan. Conclusion Master Box have a superb range of figures, and this set is both timely and very well done. If you want to add a sense of scale to your modern armour, this set will do just that. A much needed boost for fans of modern German armour. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Leopard A3/A4 1:35 Meng Models After WWII, Germany's limited self-defence forces used American AFVs almost exclusively, but the technology was nearing the end of its service-life and considered not sufficient to meet the new threat of the Soviet horde advancing across Europe during the height of the Cold War. Originally starting as a joint project with France, the French eventually went their own way with the AMX-30, while Germany continued on with a Porsche design that became the Leopard 1. Subsequent upgrades to the design were introduced throughout the various batches, with the A3 variant having a welded turret and composite armour, plus a more streamlined mantlet to deflect shot more effectively. The A4 was externally very similar to the A3, but had some systems upgrades, a reduced round count due to the space taken up by the added equipment, plus a night sight for the commander's exclusive use. The A5 was the last variant to see service, and became the definitive version over time, having a larger turret bustle for ammo storage, improved systems and optics, and the ability to carry bolt-on applique armour. Although some "funnies" are still in service, the majority of Leopard 1s are either phased out or in secondary roles with the majority of users, being replaced by the more modern Leopard 2 in many cases. The Kit After kitting the French AMX-30, it's only natural that the Leopard 1 should be their next MBT project, as they both shared some of the same beginnings. The design must have been well advanced when it was announced, as here it is, in one on Meng's by now standard satin finished boxes with a picture of a Leopard on base, and the three colours of the modern German flag across one corner. Inside the box are the two hull components, turret, plus thirteen sprues of various sizes in a medium green styrene, and another six in brown containing individual track links. A set of rubber-band style tracks are also included for the indi-link phobic, a spruelet of poly-caps, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of rope/string, small decal sheet, painting guide and the instruction booklet. Quite a well rounded package, with lots of detail evident on the sprues, including substantial use of slide-moulding to improve detail further. In the bottom of the box is an amazing little piece that is attached to its own little sprue, which is a protective cage for the PZB200 sighting system used on one of the decal options, and is one of the most impressive bits of slide-moulding I've seen so far. Construction is typical of most AFV builds, and starts with adding all the bump-stops and return rollers to the sides of the lower hull, then adding the functional torsion-bar suspension through the holes in the hull, the ends of which lock into sockets on the opposite side. The road wheels are built up next, with each pair trapping a poly-cap between them, as do the drive sprocket and the externally similar idler wheel at the front of the hull. An alternative outer face for the drive sprocket is included for one of the decal options. The wheels push-fit onto the axles, which should make painting and weathering easier, as well as track construction, whichever method you choose. If you prefer the realistic look of the individual links, you will need to make up two runs of 84 links using liquid cement, and wrap them around the road wheels whilst they are still soft, wedging them in place to give the correct amount of sag on the top run. If you haven't yet tried to work with individual links, this kit will be perfect for you, because if you make an unholy mess, you can easily fall back to using the flexible styrene tracks that are also in the box. I believe they can be glued with ordinary styrene glue, but I always opt for the individual links, so can't testify to the strength of the join. The top deck is a single piece, with a cut-out on the engine deck for a grille and PE mesh combination, plus another pair of PE mesh panels at either side of the transition from engine deck to turret ring. The rear bulkhead is a separate panel, and is detailed with various stowage boxes, tools and spare track links, plus the travel lock for the main gun. It and the upper hull are added after the tracks are complete, and a full set of pioneer tools are added from their own dedicated sprue. The side-mounted radiator panels, PE shrouds for the driver's vision blocks, towing shackles and rear mudguards are added at the rear, and the side-skirts can be installed at this point, assuming you've painted the road-wheels and tracks by now. The skirts have a slightly rippled textured finish to them, and have the cut-out footsteps at the bottom of each section, plus turnbuckles that link the panels together. Four towing cable eyes are provided to top and tail two lengths of the supplied string that are used to depict the towing cables. No length is given in the instructions however, so you'll need to test fit the towing eyes on the hull and do a rough measure of the distance to approximate the length first. The turret houses a license built 105mm Royal Ordnance rifled barrel gun that is supplied in styrene that is split vertically down its length, with a short stub muzzle to give a hollow end, so getting the joint perfectly aligned is key. The cooling jacket is moulded in, so care will need to be taken when scraping or sanding the seams after construction. It slots into the hole in the front of the sharply sloped mantlet part, and the choice of searchlight box with optional open or closed front, and/or the PZB200 sighting system is made, attaching to the top of the mantlet along with some grab-handles and lifting eyes. The main turret is in three pieces, the majority of it being the upper half, plus the lower section with built-in turret ring, and the rear panel on the bustle. Inside the upper turret, two sections are added to the front where the mantlet fits, the lower half of the commander's cupola, and a small section of the rear roof, the use for which isn't immediately apparent. Before adding the lower turret and rear bulkhead, the elevation mechanism is built up, with two poly-caps providing friction to enable you to pose the barrel without gluing it in place. Speaking personally, I appreciate this kind of thought, as sometimes you need to move your tanks around your display or diorama base, and being able to adjust it later is good planning. The substantially complete turret is then bedecked with grab handles, more PE vision block shrouds, and sighting gear, plus radio antennae bases, smoke discharger units, and a choice of removing one bump from two moulded into the commander cupola depending on which decal option you are building. The hatches are provided separately, and the commander's is simple, while the loader's is quite complex, and can be posed open or closed by using different hinge parts. There is also an MG3 machine gun on pintle mount for his use, which bears a great family resemblance to the MG42 that is the father of a large proportion of modern machine guns. The mantlet has a canvas shroud to protect the joint between it and the turret body, which clips over the top of the mantlet and has a nicely rendered material finish, with creases and humps that suggest the workings beneath. The final act is to twist the turret into the turret ring that is then held in place through most of its traverse by a pair of bayonet style lugs moulded into the ring. Markings The painting and decaling booklet is four pages, and gives you four choices of markings from the small decal sheet included in the box. As usual the decals are printed by Cartograf, and are of excellent quality with their trademark matt carrier film cropped close to the designs. Colour density, register and sharpness are excellent, and you can build one of the following four vehicle from the box: 1A3 2nd Squadron 304th Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr Mid 1980s – NATO green/black/brown camo turret number 363 1A3 4th Squadron 301st Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr 1980s – all over dark green turret number 544 1A4 4th Squadron 293rd Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr 1980s – all over dark green turret number 422 1A4(GR) Hellenic Army – four colour green/brown/black/beige camo with Greek flag on the turret sides Conclusion I'm already a fan of Meng, whether the subject has wings, wheels or tracks, and this release has done nothing to dent my confidence in them. Detail is excellent, construction simple, and the inclusion of both types of tracks adds appeal and ensures that people won't be put off buying it because they don't like one or the other type. Markings are different enough to appeal, with two choices that include camo, with the differences also extending to fitment of equipment between options, which shows attention to detail. I hope we see some more Cold War German armour from Meng in due course. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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