by: Jan Etal [ ]
As part of Germany's rearmament program, there was a need for various transport vehicles. Initially it took the form of buying commercially based vehicles for military usage. The vast diversity of makes taken on to the inventory, and the associated maintenance and spares supply problem meant that an immense inventory of spare parts was needed. Once the big armament program got under way, it was decided in 1934 to replace the range of commercially based chassis with a new range of standardized chassis types. The Horch 108 1b, represented by this kit, was introduced in 1938 and was produced by a joint Auto-Union/Horch venture. By 1940 the chassis had been simplified considerably, and the Berlin Ford factory was also by then engaged in its production.
Production of Auto-Union/Horch heavy cars (schwerer personenkraftwagen) ceased in 1941 but they remained in service throughout World War II. They were among the most common of German vehicles on every front. The Auto-Union/Horch on the heavy passenger car chassis was used in several roles and configurations. According to one source, overall production of all versions was 10036, with Horch producing 8135 and Ford 1901.
Source: Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer der Reichswehr, Wehrmacht und Bundeswehr: Katalog der deutschen Militärfahrzeuge von 1900 bis 1982: Werner Oswald: Bücher
The subject of this review is Dragon Models 1/72 Armor Pro 1 1 Heavy Uniform Personnel Vehicle Type 40, kit #7421.
Being a Dragon 1 1 kit, the box contains everything necessary to build two complete vehicles. Parts for the kit are contained in five plastic bags. Provided are two individually wrapped main vehicle bodies moulded in light grey styrene (Sprue C), two similarly encased sprues of clear styrene (Sprue A) and two large sprues, also in grey plastic, that contain the bulk of the kit parts (Sprue B). On the standard Dragon accessory card can be found two small photo-etch frets (MA-2) and one small sheet of Cartograph decals. A total of 53 parts make up each vehicle and no unused parts are present.
Also included is a four sided instruction card with one page of sprue parts layout and two pages of build diagrams. These diagrams are in the form of exploded view line drawings. The last page provides painting and marking options for one Eastern Front unidentified grey coloured vehicle with a whitewash camouflage.
Initial inspection of the sprues reveals that the parts are moulded with extremely crisp and fine detail. There are no sink holes, and ejector pin marks are only present in areas that will be mostly hidden after assembly. Flash is virtually nonexistent and the majority of moulding seam lines are light and should be easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife.
Sprue connection points (gates) are generally good but a few may prove problematic due to their location. Many of the smaller parts have equally small gates to them but will require care with their removal because of their size and delicate nature.
The only external stowage is a shovel that is moulded on the body side. External fittings such as headlights, Notek light, side mirrors and towing hooks contain beautiful details considering their sizes. Inexplicably, while the vehicle interior floor has a wonderfully represented tread-plate pattern on it, there is a total lack of any door or other side details.
The Cartograph water-slide decals provide marking for this vehicle. They are extremely generic and ideally could be used for a vehicle on any front. Unfortunately, markings for these vehicles will prove frustrating for the majority of modellers. These decals are provided for with blank white plates and then individual numbers and letters to make up your own. These are absolutely tiny and will prove awkward to individually place and get lined up. I think that while one or two modellers will love this, more will find it very frustrating and look for an alternative option.
The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.
The instructions are broken down into four individual steps with a varying parts count in each. The first three steps are extremely busy and each consists of a number of subassemblies. As always, it’s best for the builder to review the instructions to determine the most logical building sequence.
Step One consists of three subassemblies that focus on creating the extremely intricate front and rear suspension components. The assembly labeled as “1A” deals with the front segment while “1B” relates to the rear. The builder should be forewarned that these assemblies are rather complex and some parts (B9, B10) are extremely fragile. Removing them from the sprue will take time and care so as to not break or distort them. Sadly, mating features related to these steps are far from satisfactory. They involve issues such as pins or holes either too small or too large for their mating components that can result in a sloppy alignment when one tries to mate all the pieces together.
One major issue arises with the upper control arms of both front and back suspensions. There are four pieces involved and all are marked in the instructions and on the sprue as B7. In reality, these parts are suspension specific with two having mating features for the front suspension and two for the rear. The B7 parts having two pins present on their end are meant for the rear component while the ones with a long tab are to fit on the front. This situation is further compounded by the fact that the front B7 locating slot is far too long for the tab meant to fit in it.
It is also during this step that the front suspension is attached to the front chassis/body component B14. An engine firewall (B15) will also be added to complete this subassembly.
Step Two is the mating of the two front and rear suspension pieces to the main vehicle body. The fit of both were not perfect and required some judicious sanding.
Other parts indicated to be fitted during this step are the exhaust system pieces, rear towing pintle and the side spare tires. There were no issues with fit here other than I chose to not fit the spare tires until after painting.
During Step Three the bulk of the remaining interior and exterior body parts are attached. There is no definite assembly order even implied in the instructions. It will be up to the individual builder to determine what is most sensible. It seems most logical to initially place the two PE pieces that represent the centre and rear floors as a first step. This operation went without a major issue and the fit was nothing short of perfect. One minor thing to note is to position the centre floor plate so it will not interfere when the rear seats are attached.
The next step to be done was adding the interior detail pieces. The front dashboard (B24) requires a little sanding on its ends to fit into its locating slots in the hull sides. The gearshift bottom plate also needed some light sanding to properly fit in the depression in the floor meant for it.
The front seats are side specific with B29 being the driver's seat and B30 the front passenger. Small pins and tabs fit into a depression with holes in it and required some judicious sanding to sit properly. The middle bench seat (B26) fits rather snugly and some effort may be required to get it positioned. The rearmost seat is shown in position in the drawing but there are no reference numbers associated with it. As it was the last seat-like part on the sprue it was not too difficult to deduce that it is labeled as B25 on the sprue.
Other than its small size, the parking brake lever (B23) fit fine. The steering wheel shaft B20 was a bit fiddly to fit as it’s locating depression was partly obscured by the dashboard. With the steering wheel glued on, attention can be focused on the remaining external fittings.
Fit of the external pieces varied from the front bumper needing it’s attachment points sanded a bit to the headlights fitting perfectly into their locating holes. The Notek lamp locating hole needed a bit of widening and the passenger side width marker required its locating hole to be drilled out from the bottom.
The final part placement for this step was the attaching of the side markers, one with a mirror (B19) and the other with a searchlight (B18). A small problem here may cause some confusion for some builders. On the box top picture and CAD images on the box side, as well as in the instruction drawings, the searchlight (B18) on the passenger side is shown with its lens facing forward. The way the part is moulded the lens must face towards the rear or its orientation will be incorrect.
Step Four is the attaching of the windshield and canvas top with side windows. The windshield (A2) will need to be slightly bent to fit into its two locating holes on either side of the front passenger compartment. Care will need to be taken during this process as not to snap the part in half. The rest of the top covering (A1) fits quite nicely but required a bit of trimming where a sprue gate attached to its front portion so that the windshield will sit properly.
Having built and reviewed numerous Dragon kits since my return to the hobby, how to summarize about this kit has proved quite difficult. It is definitely a wonderful thing to see this prolific vehicle rendered in Braille Scale. The base vehicle appeared on all fronts in the European theatre in a wide variety of configurations. With this base kit there is a great potential for not only Dragon but an adventurous modeller to create many of its variants.
It goes without saying that getting two vehicles in one kit is most welcome. One would think that with only 53 total parts, this kit should be buildable in no time. However, with their technological advantages of superior slide-moulding, why the excessively complex and problem prone suspension. They managed with the same technology to make “child’s play” of the extremely complicated suspension on their LVT series of vehicles! I have built extremely complex wheeled suspensions in the past (Revell Luchs 8X8 and Fuchs 6X6) so a complex suspension unit in this scale was not foreign to me.
Also perplexingly notable is the lack of any kind of interior detail on the vehicle sides or rear, particularly door outlines, and handles. While this particular variant is meant to have the view in the passenger area limited with the top on, that won’t be the case if one wishes to leave it off. From looking at builders’ models of earlier Dragon Horch offerings, it is evident that they also display this lack of interior detail even though they do not have a closed top option. I am sure that many modellers will wonder why optional tops (up and down) are not provided with each version of this vehicle as they often are by other manufacturers.
The bottom line is that this kit will make a great addition to any Braille builders collection. Recommended but not ideal for beginners or novices.