A quick note of the kit title which doesn’t really say it all as “Fahrgestell” is German for “Chassis” so the work “Munitionsschlepper” (Ammunition tractor) should be included to describe the kit in full, but enough of the language lessons.
A total of 13 Munitionsschleppers were produced, two for each of the six Karl-Geraet 040/041s and 1 for the experimental Geraet 040 Nr.VII which is an excuse to buy two kits for a full reloading diorama.
As you would expect much of this kit is the same as the Ausf.D/E Munitionsschlepper with just the new Ausf.F parts for the Glacis hatches, suspension/tracks and rear hull details and much of the review below is from the previous review with appropriate notes on the new parts to save re-inventing the wheel.
The standard of moulding is quite good with crisp well defined detail on most parts but there is a bit more flash about the place than the previous kit and it seems the moulds don’t travel too well and overall not quite up the standards set by Dragon and Tristar on their recent Panzer IV kits in some areas.
As mentioned there is quite a bit of fine flash about the place and some substantial pin marks to contend with and this sees a bit more than usual cleanup required on the parts including some mould release agent remaining on some parts. Also some of the mating surfaces needed attention to remove small imperfections to ensure an even fit and test fitting of all parts before gluing would be encouraged.
A number of parts give you a choice of mediums with the tracks in vinyl and individual link, the front tow shackles, fenders extensions, the engine bay side intake grills and the intricate shell hoist and claws in both plastic and etched parts for a choice that caters for different skill levels.
Dimensionally the kit measures up well against the 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracts books No.4 (Panzer IV) and No.17 Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge with the exception of the rear muffler which needs some major work.
The lower hull tub is conventional with the bottom, sides and front plate in one piece with separate rear panels with the detail on the bottom plate almost identical to Dragon’s including the rectangular panel not shown in any references but with the side channels moulded in place unlike the separate parts on the Dragon hull.
Detail on the sides includes the intricate detail under the final drive housing again similar to Dragon but with all the detail moulded on and no separate parts with the Dragon kit. The final drive housing is very basic in detail having the forward armoured cover moulded in place and with separate small bolts heads located on sprue B which you cut off and add which again is similar to both the Dragon and Tristar arrangements.
The instructions tell you to add 10 bolts around the armoured cover which is correct for the Ausf.F with the return roller mountings and idler mounting braces also included on the hull sides.
At the back there is the lower panel which has the contoured fillet included which has the contours almost right but slightly based on information received regarding these fillets.
The rear hull panel is simple in design with the idler mountings in just three parts unlike the multi-part assemblies of the other two kits but they still look the part and are not lacking in detail despite the fewer parts. (Must be a smart kit?)
Added to the rear panel is the small auxiliary muffler still fitted that includes a small etched mounting bracket plus the large muffler redesigned for the Ausf.F in three pieces. This is the correct width but the left side part is actually slightly larger in diameter than the main central section which is noticeable on the assembled muffler.
The other major issue is with the exhaust pipe which is in the normal Ausf.F position out the top of the muffler but like the Ausf.D/E muffler this should be relocated to the underside due to the ammo container added above. To rectify this will require you to scratch a new exhaust pipe from plastic rod to tubing and there is a clear photo of the exhaust pipe arrangement of the Ausf.F on page 55 of the Panzer Tracts Karl-Geraet book.
The join fillet between the lower rear panel and the upper section of the superstructure is available as a single plastic part or two etched parts for a choice and you should take note a few locating holes have to be cut out of the panel to fit the exhaust and other parts.
The fit of the rear panels was very good without any trimming or filler required.
On the lower front plate are the two towing shackles which again give you the choice of simple plastic parts or multi-part etched shackles with the instructions showing to cut out the locating hole from the front panel but the location is very unclear and sticking the shackles directly to the front plate could be the better option.
The road wheels are moulded with the rubber section included and just have new Ausf.F style hub cap of the correct style as a separate part with the wheel disc detail being perfectly acceptable but there is no manufacturer embossing on the sidewall as with the other kit wheels. Also the mould seam is along the front edge of the tyre and you will need to shave this off for a more rounded tyre shoulder with the return rollers also being quite basic and the front edge of the tyre section needed the mould seam shaved off.
At the back the new two part rod idler wheel is again very well done and looks the parts with just some minor mould seams to be removed from the wheel rods.
The bogie units are again broken down in the same manner as both the Dragon and Tristar bogies with the assembly the same apart from the small arms (parts A1/A2 and A20/A21) joined before adding to the unit with the bogies able to be articulated as with the other kits.
The only real issue here is the bogie mounting bolts are way undersized but have the correct spacing for the Ausf.F bogies with the assembled bogies fitting easily to the hull mounting points. The bogie bump stops are still the Ausf.D type and incorrect for the Ausf.F but as these are mostly hidden when the suspension is assembled you not be too bothered with this?
The vinyl track has nice details but there is a bit of vinyl flash that is not easy to remove while the plastic track just needs the three sprue attachment scars cleaned up before assembly.
The vinyl tracks will glue together using normal plastic cement while the individual links are designed to be glued together and it’s easiest to glue a length together and wait for the glue to “go off” before adding it around the drive sprocket or idler or to add the track sag.
The transmission inspection hatch has the corners too square but it’s difficult to remedy as the glacis cut-out will also require the corners rounded more than they are and the flush screws around the hatch are more just holes without any real detail. You also have to open out a couple of the locating holes in the hatch for the shell claw mounting brackets.
Added to the back of the glacis is the small notched panel to take the superstructure but to fit both the glacis and panel will require the mating edges smoothed out for a better fit.
The large superstructure is in one piece with separate driver’s plate and rear panel with cut-outs for the top crew hatches, side engine intake louvers and the large overhead shell container.
The front and side driver’s visors have clear sheet for the glass and the top hatches have fairly basic details but lack the keyhole and hinge flush screw detail as well as having a couple of large pin marks on the inside if you want to show the hatches open.
The upper rear panel fits neatly in place and it should be noted that the small circular port cover has the hinges on the opposite side from the normal Ausf.F port which is correct for the Munitionsschlepper.
At the sides are the engine intake grills which are provided as plastic parts moulded quite thick as well as multi-part etched intakes with mesh rear screen that look excellent when assembled.
The full length fenders have nice tread plate on the top but no detail on the undersides and include the front and rear extensions with holes for the separate tools. Also included are again multi-part etched parts for the front and back fender extensions that require you to cut off the plastic fenders but again the etched fender extensions give excellent detail finished off with actual small springs to replace the plastic items adding further detail.
All the tools have moulded on tool clips which does seem a bit odd given the amount of etched parts included with the kit but the crew boarding step is provided in etched with wire step as is the track tool on the right fender to add good definition to these parts.
The crane operator’s platform on the right front has a plastic frame with etched grillwork for a good appearance and this can be positioned raised or lowered as required.
The side panels are separate parts that can be positioned in the closed or open position with separate lip panels that again can be shown open or closed with additional small braces added.
Detail on the end panels and door panels is very good with internal ribbing and bolt head details but there are substantial deep pin ejector marks on all the inside panels that will take a bit of effort to deal with so you don’t damage the nice detail.
Six mounting brackets are added to the bottom of the bin to attach this to the superstructure and added at the back are two wooden slat working platforms that have superbly rendered wood grain effect that is thankfully free of any pin marks.
The plastic heavy shells have separate base plates with the embossed detail included with the fit of the shell halves being very good requiring just minor sanding to deal with the join seam. The metal heavy shell has additional etched parts for the base details and this looks excellent when assembled with the shell dimensions matching exactly to those stated in the Panzer Tracts No.17 Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge book.
The twine included is used for the crane rope which is fed from the rear cable drum through the various pulleys and while the instructions show the rope fitted in place you are going to carefully work out the correct cable runs as it is not that clear at all.
To finish off there is the large double shell lifting claw that is provided in a simple four plastic part assembly or replaced entirely in 24 etched parts for a very intricate assembly that will add considerably to the final appearance.
The assembled shell claws can be shown in the stowed position on the glacis plate or in the working position on the crane jib and this is where the heavy large aluminium shell provided will help keep the cables tensioned for a good appearance.
The crane jib is designed to rotate when attached to the base as well as being raised or lowered allowing you to position this in any position with the lower crane base pin simply fitting into the hole in the superstructure top but without anything to hold it in place. The fit is quite tight and it should hold in place but it would be quite easy to attach the base plate (part H51) to the superstructure roof with an inner bracket made from card and rod before fitting the superstructure in place to ensure the crane base stays in place or simply glue it when you have decided on the final crane configuration.
No markings are included as pictures of the Munitionsschleppers don’t show any and the full colour painting guide included gives five view drawings on one Munitionsschlepper in overall Panzer Grey and another in three colour Dark Yellow, Dark Green and Tan finish as the later Ausf.Fs were often painted.
There are a couple of reference pictures available that show markings, on page 4 of Allied & Axis No.9 is a rear view of a Munitionsschlepper with the s.Art.Abt.(mot) 833 emblem (the same image is on page 33 of "The Military Machine "FAMO 18T" book) and on page 38 of Panzer Tracts "Karl-Geraet" book is a shot of a Munitionsschlepper from the same unit showing the emblem and a name on the side of the ammo bin which is difficult to read.
The main area of concern is the rear muffler/exhaust which will need some work for the correct Munitionsschlepper Ausf.F muffler configuration but other than that it's just normal modelling required.
The ability to show the model in the travel mode or loading configuration adds to the usefulness of the kit and anyone with a Karl kit will want one or two of these kits to complete the family.
Highly recommended. 7.5/10
See the Mörser Karl-Gerät 040/041 Subjects page for reviews of other Karl kits accessories/updates.
|Panzer Tracts No.17
Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge
by Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle
Big Brother Karl-Geraet (60 & 54cm)"
by Thomas L. Jentz
|Allied & Axis
|Panzer Tracts No.4
by Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle
|Achtung Panzer No.3