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Mike

German Sd.Kfz.553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer 1:35

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German Sd.Kfz.553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer

1:35 ModelCollect Fist of War Series

 

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Fist of War is an alternative history series dreamed up by the designers at Modelcollect where the technology toward the end of WWII took a bit of a leap forward on both sides, allowing Germany to survive the Allied onslaught longer, and with futuristic tracked and even legged fighting vehicles fighting on both sides.  Some of the tanks posited so far have been logical extensions of the German E range of Standart Panzers, and some have been quite a bit more advanced than that, sprouting legs and thundering round the battlefield leaving footprints rather than track marks.

 

Enter the KaiserKafer, which loosely translated means “Emperor Beetle”, and looking at it you can see why.  The Ausf. version of Vierfüßler means “quadruped”, which is again a very visible aspect of the vehicle.  Rather than looking like a tank on legs, it looks like a four-legged spider and has a long-barrelled 7.5cm cannon on each side of the crew compartment, fed automatically to reduce crew workload.  Would it have worked?  Very unlikely with 1946 technology, but who cares?  The unknown technology advances could easily have taken care of the details, and as the box art shows a Haunebu flying saucer in the background, it’s not a case of what if, more like why not?  If you check out some of the other creations they’ve come up with, you’ll deduce that they have very fertile imaginations.  I kind of like it.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new tool from Modelcollect, and arrives in one of their smaller boxes of a similar size to a tank kit.  Inside are eight sprues of grey styrene, a small decal sheet in a ziplok bag, and a diminutive A5 concertina instruction and painting sheet.  The vehicle is split sensibly on the sprues with the head on the largest sprue, four legs on identical sprues, and the two panniers with guns on two more identical sprues, all of which will simplify the build process a little.

 

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Construction begins with the two 75mm cannons, made up from two halves each and ensconced within their two-part panniers where the breech and loading mechanism would be.  The rear of the hull is made up inverted with the two weapon supports each having two parts plus a splined retaining collar, with the modeller advised to be cautious not to glue the parts too generously so that the mounts can move using the three détentes to hold it in position with a click, thereby elevating the guns accordingly.  No-one likes a stuck-up quadruped, or for that matter a floppy one.  The gun paniers are brought together with the now righted hull, which is given a cupola straight off a King Tiger, plus a pair of rear doors on a frame that completes the assembly.  The rest of the hull is made up from a two-part lower hull onto which the crew compartment is built, with vision slits and access hatches added along the way.  The interior is decked out with flooring panels, then detailed with remarkably normal-looking crew seats split into two at the front for the two drivers/pilots, and another two in the rear for the gun crew with some fun-looking instrumentation for each task group.  The front roof is dropped over the drivers, and a hoop allows the connection with the gun assembly, with a rear bulkhead fitted first to section off the interior.

 

No tracks on this model, but you do have four legs to make, and these start by making up two cylinders, long and short with mounting points and pistons for movement, so don’t cover them with glue.  The feet are flat-bottomed with four moveable toes pushed into their position over the domes round which they can rotate if you don’t apply glue to freeze them in place.  The rest of the leg is also reminiscent of the AT-STs from Star Wars, with a large lower leg and  foot pivot at the bottom and knee at the top.  The top leg is at an angle just like the Scout Walkers, giving the legs the feel of a “chicken” or dinosaur if we’re going to honour their Therapod heritage.  At the hip is a huge pivot and each part of the leg has a piston as its muscle substitute, with a couple of armoured plates fitted over the vulnerable joins at the top of the leg, and a more substantial set of armoured greaves on the lower leg that join down the front of the shin.  The feet are also attached at this point, then each pair of legs are attached to a figure of eight joint with one fitted to the front of the hull and the other at the rear.

 

Markings

The majority of the small decal sheet consists of generic vehicle numbers in red, plus two types of crosses in black and black/white.  There are also two pairs of stylised charging knights on horseback in red or dull green, with each pair having one reversed so they can both be applied facing forward.  Both options/suggestions have a base coat of late war Dunkelgelb, over which are painted two types of camouflage, and it looks like it’s up to you to invent the history behind their units and theatre of operation.  From the box you can build one of the following, although the decals provided don't seem to match up:

 

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Surprisingly for a small sheet and most welcome is the news that the 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 simple model that will be made quickly and relies heavily on how you paint and weather it as to how believable it will seem when finished.  I’m not averse to a flight of fancy from time to time, and this is an appealing model, having a very “that could work” design ethos throughout, and obeying the laws of physics to the casual viewer.  I’m going to build this, although I can’t say when yet.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy

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