by: Colin Key [ ]
During the Second World War both the Russian and German forces made extensive use of rocket launchers, the Russians with their Katyusha’s or “Stalin’s Organ” and the Germans with the Nebelwerfer (“Smoke Mortar”). The Nebelwerfer 41 utilized a towed carriage with six 15cm tubes in a circular arrangement, firing smoke or explosive rockets with a range of up to 7,000m. These were used on the Eastern Front from 1941 on, and in the West after the Normandy landings. The main disadvantage was copious quantities of smoke generated when the rockets were fired which made the launch site a conspicuous target for counter-battery fire. In order to facilitate rapid relocation after firing, the German military mounted 10 Nebelwerfer tubes in two banks of 5 on a half-track chassis.
This self-propelled rocket launcher was designated the Sd.Kfz.4/1 Panzerwerfer 42 and was based on the Maultier. It was powered by a 6-cyliner gasoline engine whose 68 hp gave it a top speed of 40 km/h. The launcher could rotate 360 degrees with an elevation/depression of 80 to -12 degrees. The rockets were electrically fired from inside the vehicle but loading had to be performed outside of the vehicle. The cab and hull had 6-8mm of armour and a 7.92mm pintle mount machine gun was provided for anti-aircraft and ant-personnel defense. Approximately 300 of these units were built between April 1943 and March 1944, with another 280 ammunition carriers. Tamiya has re-boxed an older Italeri offering of this particular vehicle, touting the inclusion of new and re-tooled parts.
This model is packaged in the typical Tamiya cardboard box with 4 bags of sprues plus decals. It consists of 181 parts on two tan coloured Italeri sprues, 58 parts on a Tamiya sprue (one half of their German Tank Ammo-Loading Crew kit), four new sprues each with 46 pieces of link and length track, and two paintable rubber tires. The assembly instructions are up to Tamiya's usual standard and are provided on a single accordion fold sheet.
This is a re-box of Italeri’s Limited Edition Kit No. 277, and while there is no date stamp on the main sprues, I believe it originally came out around 2009. The detail is a tad soft in some areas, and there are a lot of ejection pin marks to contend with, especially if you want to model it with any hatches open. There is a fairly well detailed engine provided, but if you want to show it off you will have to get rid of the ejection pin marks on the interior of the hood hatches, and there is no interior detail on these either.
The roof top ammo hatches and rear crew doors have similar ejection pin marks to be dealt with, but both have some interior detail. The bottom half of the hull is fairly well detailed, although the checker plate floor is marred by some sink marks along the outline of the bracket for mounting the hull to the chassis. The interior of the lower hull comes with dashboard, two seats, gear and brake levers, plus ammunition racks for 12 rockets, but nothing else, and the upper hull has no additional detail whatsoever. The dash does not have a huge amount of detail, and no decals for the dials are provided, but it will likely be difficult to see anyway. Anyone wanting to show off the inside will have to get some aftermarket accessory kits. I am still undecided at this time if I will do that.
The rocket tube detail is somewhat disappointing in that the ignition wires are not provided separately, so moulding limitations mean that wherever they cross between two tubes, there is a solid “wall” of plastic under the wire. Some modelers will want to scrape these off and fashion new wires out of brass tube, stretched sprue or piano wire.
The hull rivets are very small and look like they could be inadvertently sanded off very easily or overwhelmed by a few coats of primer and paint, but new rivets are provided on the track sprues and can be used to replace the moulded on ones for extra detail.
There is a small amount of flash on most pieces to be cleaned up, and some mould seams as well. How bad these are will be revealed in my build log.
Painting and Finishing
A single Dunkelgelb paint scheme with two decal options for a unit at the Eastern Front and or one in Normandy, France are provided, but they do mention the use of whitewash for winter camoflauge and also that Red-Brown and Dark Green were applied in the field. While most of these vehicles apparently remained in single colour schemes, there are numerous photographic references that clearly show a two- or three-colour camo scheme.
While not up to the typical quality standard or level of detail of Dragon, Trumpeter or actual Tamiya kits, this is nonetheless an interesting kit of an unusual piece of equipment and I am looking forward to building it and seeing how it will turn out. It is a departure from the usual tanks and SP guns and will be a welcome addition to any WWII collection.