The Land Wasser Schlepper or LWS was a multi-purpose, amphibious vehicle
developed by the Germans during WWII. It was designed to act as a tugboat
to tow and transport heavy loads over bodies of water and act as a tractor
on land, amongst other roles. Despite the hopes placed on this vehicle it
did not meet expectations. Records indicate that 21 examples were built,
apparently none of which have survived.
Since one-offs and oddities have always drawn my attention, the LWS was
naturally at the top of my wish-list. For years the Mini Art Studio resin
kit was the only game in town, and after endless wishing and drooling over
pictures I finally obtained one a couple years ago on eBay. I paid a princely sum
(ask my wife) but I was ecstatic to get it. Of course, since then two mainstream
styrene kits have been released. Isn’t that always the case?
As I still plan to build my ‘grail kit’, please note that this review
pertains to the Mini Art Studios resin release, although I believe that the
differences between this and the Bronco and Hobby Boss releases should be
negligible and MAY apply equally without modification.
The kit consists of four bumpers; two long ones which run the length of
the port and starboard sides, one for the stern and one for the bow. The
side pieces are longer than the length of the flat hull sides, designed to
slightly overlap the front bumper and wrap around the stern. Photos of the
time confirm this configuration (and other variations). Scott Taylor at Thachweave
has indicated to me that they may release a three-bumper version in the future.
The standout piece is the bow unit; there is a woven-in ‘pinch’ where it
meets the peak of the bow. How they did this with just drawings
to reference is beyond me, but it fits perfectly and is quite impressive.
Additional thread is provided, I didn’t unravel it but it’s several feet worth.
Strong, 100% cotton thread is used. The bumpers come in a light colour,
which will readily take stain. Fuzz is virtually imperceptible. There’s a
noticeable seam running down the length of each piece; this is part of the
weaving process and is intended to be placed against the model so as not to
be seen. No instructions were provided as this was a pre-production sample,
however I was given copies of period photos of the LWS for reference and
assured by Scott that instructions are provided in the production set.
The modeller is left to his own devices on how to attach the bumpers.
It's recommended to either modify the kit to allow them to be tied to the hull,
or using adhesive (CA or epoxy). Scott also indicated I could contact him directly
if I needed further assistance. I’d call that pretty good customer service. My
purchasing experience with their DUKW and Ford GPA set was the same.
Both Bronco Model and Hobby Boss surprised the modelling community by releasing 1/35 versions of the Land Wasser Schlepper, Germany's WWII amphibious tractor. However, neither kit to date has included the prominent bumpers which surround the hull. Thachweave's set addresses that 'oversight'. An excellent aftermarket product which offers great realism and attention to detail.
Highs: Hand-made, great quality, value for money, personal customer service.Lows: Price-point could ward away modellers who are unaware of the work and time involved to make this product.Verdict: Highly recommended.