by: Jan Etal [ ]
IntroductionIn 1933 the German Army High Command (OKH) issued an initial contract to Rheinmetall-Borsig to develop a multi-turreted tank to test the concept of this type of design. The original specifications were for a vehicle in the 20 ton class, armed with a low velocity 7.5 cm gun and a 3.7 cm AT gun in a combination mount in the main turret, and secondary turrets armed with machine guns. The Neubaufahrzeug series of tank prototypes were the result.
In total five prototypes were built with the first two (#1, #2) fabricated of soft steel with a Rheinmetall-designed turret featuring the main guns mounted one above the other. A further three units (#3, #4, #5) were constructed using armour plate.
While the basic hull design was acceptable the turret was found to be unnecessarily complex and difficult to repair. In 1935 Krupp was given an order to design and manufacture new turrets. These new turrets had simple lines, using mostly flat plates. Problems with the combination main gun mount were solved by Krupp mounting the guns side by side.
The tanks were initially used for propaganda purposes but after war broke out, the three armoured versions were to see action during the invasion of Norway in 1940. One tank reportedly bogged down in a creek near Lillehammer and this in turn resulted in engine failure. A combination of a lack of recovery equipment and spare parts resulted in its crew having to blow it up because it blocked the way of following vehicles. None of the tanks survived the war but some pieces of the running gear survive at the Gudbrandsdal War Memorial collection, at Kvam in Norway.
The subject of this review is the Neubau-Fahrzeug Nr. 3-5, 1/72 Armor Pro kit #7438.
ContentsOn opening the box one is presented with two large, two medium and two smaller-sized sprues moulded in the standard Dragon lighter grey styrene plastic. Each is separately bagged, as is the slide-moulded upper hull. On the standard Dragon accessory card one will find a pair of Dragon-DS plastic tracks, the main turret top, two machine-gun turret tops and a set of Cartograph water-slide decals. Total parts count is 62 with only one part (an axe) being marked as unused.
A four-sided instruction card is provided displaying a parts diagram and two pages with six assembly steps in the form of exploded-view line drawings with arrows for parts placement. The last page shows painting and markings options. The painting and marking pictures are provided for five tanks. Two are for two-colour camouflaged tanks of the Pz.Abt.z.b V.40, Norway 1940 and the others for Pz.Abt.z.b V.40, Germany 1940 painted overall Field Grey. The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same companyís Mr. Color, and Model Master enamels.
ReviewAs to be expected from most Dragon kits, flash is all but nonexistent and mould seams are for the most part light and easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife. There are a few light ejector pin marks but most live in areas that will not be seen after construction. Sink holes on my sample were nonexistent.
The quality of the moulded detail in this kit is extremely impressive, to say the least. Slide-moulding is used very effectively and is visible in numerous pieces. Examples of it can be found in the bores of the main guns, the one-piece idler pairs and even the exhaust pipe outlets on the mufflers.
Tread plate detail is moulded onto both upper and lower surfaces of the fenders and hinge detail on the various hatches is delicately reproduced. For those desiring more detail, it can be found in the numerous weld seams, rivets and bolts that adorn this model. These high levels of detail even extend to the rather intricate tool attachment mechanisms on the cast on tools. Unfortunately, all hand- or grab-rails on the tank are moulded on and there are no photo-etch alternatives provided.
External stowage is limited to the jack, gun cleaning rods and fire extinguisher. However, even with these items, one will again be impressed with extremely delicately cast-on detail. Clamps on the fire extinguisher mounting brackets, and even a representation of ratchet teeth on the jack, are examples.
The turret side hatches are moulded in place. This is also the case with the hatches of the smaller machine-gun turrets. The commanderís hatch is a one-piece affair with no internal detail. The turret-mounted antenna is a separate piece and appears to be positionable in either the stowed or deployed orientation.
Sprue attachment-point (gate) sizes and locations are overall much better than on some recent Dragon kits. While some smaller parts have correspondingly tiny attachment points (eg - the machine-guns), other large parts have numerous sprue gates that will require careful cutting and sanding.
Finally, as with many recent kits by this manufacturer, an information box on the instructions is provided to detail all pertinent information about using the kitís DS-Styrene tracks.
Step One of the instructions focuses on constructing the lower hull and in particular the suspension. Idlers, sprockets and return rollers are attached, as well as a pair of armour plates to each side. With only one exception, the instructions are quite concise about parts placement. The exception lies in the fact that part A7 (a return roller piece) shows only a placement arrow for one part on one side. While the parts reference has a ĎX4í notation beside it, the actual placement of four return rollers per side is rather vague. Similarly, the positioning of parts B6 and B10 (rollers located below the front idler) is also not clearly indicated.
The final steps of this section are the placing of the bottom floor pan and the towing shackles that attach to it. From studying the instructions it appears that the shackle placement should be left until a later step and the floor should be glued prior to starting the suspension components as pieces of parts A6 and A10 appear to overlap the floor bottom.
In Step Two, a number of parts are added to the upper hull and hull side, while the left fender has a jack and fire extinguisher attached to it and then it in turn is glued to the body.
Step Three sees the last parts added to the upper hull and the right fender prepared and attached. The one anomaly in this step is the placement of what appears to be a small light, part A2, on the protruding area just below the turret ring. On the left side a hole was provided for a similar piece but on the right there is no indication of the mounting location. While the instructions do indicate that a hole should be drilled, its exact location is vague at best.
The main turret construction is the centre of attention of Step Four. As with most Dragon kits, the turret is rotatable and the main guns are positionable in elevation. Everything appeared straight forward and if the parts all fit well, should be a quick build. Unfortunately this is not the case as we run into a problem in the instructions with the commanderís cupola. The lowest part of the cupola ring is marked as being part A33 and the next part that sits on top of it is A42. This is wrong as the numbers on the sprue are reversed. A42 is the lowest or base part and A33 sits on top of it.
As noted earlier, the commanderís hatch is a one-piece part while the original hatch was a two-piece affair. The instructions show no option for an open hatch although the adventurous modeller should have little trouble attaining this goal.
In Step Five the two small machine-gun turrets are to be constructed. Provision is made for them to be posable or moveable in both rotation and elevation. Be prepared as these turrets are small and their accompanying parts even smaller.
The final step, Step Six, sees the turrets placed on the hull and the tracks attached. The tracks are a single piece made from DS-Styrene and easily glued with regular styrene cement. The only thing to note here is that these particular tracks are extremely delicate and if stretching is required, appropriate care will need to be exercised.
Assembly ImpressionsIt was the original intention for this to be an In-Box review but this reviewer was fascinated enough by this kit to see how parts of it would assemble. As with any kit, it is up to each individual to survey the instructions and determine the best order in which to proceed.
The following is meant provide a brief overview of each step and any possible issues.
Step 1 - Lower Hull and Suspension
Assembly started by attaching the hull bottom plate B1 to the main lower hull tub, Part ĎCí. Fit was reasonably good and required minimal attention. Most of the running gear and armour pieces fit well but a potential small problem arose with the return rollers (A7). There are very light mounting projections on which these parts will rest. Care needs to be taken to not sand the edges of the partsí bases too much or they will not be supported properly. The builder needs to also make sure that all the spaces between the idler and return roller pairs are in alignment as the track guide horns must rest between them. There are no definite horizontal locating features and this process will have to be done by eye.
Step 2 - Lower Hull Upper Surfaces and FendersThe few parts involved appear to fit acceptably except the fenders. In my sample the fenders were slightly warped and will need straightening. This should be fairly simple as the fenders are quite thin and malleable.
Similar observations to Step 2
Step 4 - Main Turret
Parts fit was generally good with the exception of the commanderís cupola as noted in the above review section. The fit of the two main gun pieces (B20, B21) was a bit loose so care needs to be taken that all edges align properly.
Step 5 - Machine Gun Turrets
Parts fit was good but small size of some parts might be a challenge to some.
Step 6 - Turrets Placement and Tracks
No issues noted
ConclusionsMany will bemoan the fact that there are still so many more prominent vehicles that manufacturers should release rather than this almost obscure Neubaufahrzeug. However, small scale modellers should be rejoicing that finally the manufacturers are taking notice of this scale and providing us with ever increasing numbers and subject variety.
As with almost all models, there will be those that would desire more options or extra feature. In the past Dragon has provided us with alternate parts in both PE and plastic. On a personal note, this reviewer would have preferred some alternate PE grab handles along with separate-piece side hatches and tools, as opposed to the moulded-on variety.
While this kit has a more limited parts count than past kits, detail is not lacking. Other than having to handle some small size pieces there appears no reason to not recommend this kit to the wide spectrum of builders.