Kit Review: cyber-hobby.com (Dragon Models Limited) 1/35 scale kit No.17 (6339)Kuebelwagen Radio Car w/Cold Weather Starter and Mechanics; 176 parts (154 in grey styrene, 14 etched brass, 8 clear styrene) : retail price US $19.95
Advantages: another useful variant of the Bego VW kit; includes tank kit adapters for Tiger II and Panther chassis
Disadvantages: few noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German VW fans and dioramists
I am never sure if DML actually reads reviews but I was particularly disappointed in the last of their Bego VW kits - the radio car - as it required a bunch of cables and there was not one whit of directions, wires or any other means to assemble them. This time happily there are instructions for what this kit does and how to use it.
The Germans - like the Americans, the British and the Soviets - all provided for manual (crank) starting of their tank engines if either the batteries went dead, the electrical system was damaged, or it required "pre-starting" in very cold weather. But trying to kick over a big engine in cold weather can be extremely tedious, frustrating and fatiguing for the crew. (I found that out back in 1975 with simple little 10 HP four-cylinder gasoline generator engines, which do not instinctively want to start at 20 below zero...)
The German solution was to create a simple starter mechanism driven by the power of the "boxer" engine in the VW Kuebelwagen. By attaching a special drive to the crankshaft output on the engine, the VW engine could be used to provide direct-drive cranking to the bigger engines.
This kit provides such a system, as well as three mechanics in winter parkas and two different connector heads for the drive mechanism and an open adapter plate for both the Panther series chassis and the Tiger II (a Jagdtiger is shown in the directions) hulls. They do point out that the Jagdtiger plate on the kit's stern plate must be cut off for the new one to mount, but the Panther ones are separate so it is just a matter of replacement. A blowtorch (basic heating 101) is provided along with a weld-on rack for stowage on the back of the Panther.
The drive unit is nicely detailed but only a "stick-on" assembly as there is no provision for connecting it to the vehicle's engine. It simply attaches to the lower part of part A23 with no feed-through to the crankshaft take-off.
The Bego VW itself now comes as a pre-packaged element of the kit with all five major sprues in a bag so they can easily be packed in the kits. It's a nice kit, but as its merits and failings have been discussed in the past I will not dwell on it. Suffice it to say it is pretty decent and most modelers are happy with the kit.
The figures are all dressed in late-war parkas with "splinter" camouflage being indicated, and one figure is operating the clutches on the takeoff unit while the other two hold the drive unit up to the rear of the tank. All are typical DML products with well-rendered faces, uniforms and details and normal "six-piece" basic shapes (legs, arms, torso, head.)
Three generic sets of markings are provided: one Luftwaffe, one German Army (Heeres) and one "German Armed Forces" (the telltale SS runes say who it really belongs to, and the "Totenkopf" divisional symbol pretty much nails it down.) Once again the painting directions are pretty much hosed up as it calls for a mixture of black, grey and one other color (H59/15) which is not listed, but some variety of field grey seems to be the ultimate result. The color directions for painting the mechanic's parkas are similarly screwy, and it is too bad cyber-hobby.com could not have provided a color painting diagram for the crew. The decals from Cartograf have number jungles for the license plates and a few more divisional symbols on them.
Overall this kit makes more sense than some from the "boutique" series and should be very popular with those modelers who like to do dioramas.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.