by: Sean Langley [ ]
The Spähpanzer 2 Luchs was developed in the mid 1960's to replace the tracked Hotchkiss Spähpanzer in the reconnaissance role, and entered service in the 1970's. Its successor is the Fennek. In many ways the Luchs continued the German line of 8x8 armoured cars: big, highly mobile across country, mechanically sophisticated, and capable of being driven backwards at full speed. It adds a fully amphibious capability over the old wartime vehicles, though, and it was never burdened with a thumping great anti-tank gun.
Revell’s kit dates from 1998 and is being reissued this year with new box art but the same stock code. It consists of 206 parts in the characteristic hard, green Revell / Italeri plastic and ten more in clear, plus eight vinyl tyres and a length of thin wire to use as antennae.
Moulding quality is generally good, with minimal flash and very few ejector pins or sink marks. One place where pins are very obvious is the back of the trim vane, so prepare for some filling if you want the vane deployed.
Detail is a little soft in places. Some parts are very tidy (such as MG3, anti-slip patches) while others are a lot less satisfying (main guns, scrim nets), and there’s no real pattern to it. On the whole the standard is about the same as a Tamiya kit from the mid 1980's. Fit is pretty good and the parts breakdown is sensible, without too much in the way of intricate multi-part assemblies.
The main area of complexity is the oily bits underneath, where every rod and prop-shaft is built in separately to give an absolute cobweb of suspension and steering parts. Differentials and axles are rather well portrayed, although it’s a shame that all the axles are in two parts. The only real compromises down here are that the coil springs are integral with their pillars (although they are at least tucked in behind the wheels); and the propellers are a little plain compared with more recent efforts (like the cooling fans on the Mini Art Valentine, which are works of art in themselves).
Upstairs there are optional parts for early and late versions - different gun barrels and different sights.
One nice touch is that the convoy beacon is in clear plastic, making it much more convincing with a lining of clear orange. Far better than almost every other modern AFV with a beacon. Other lights are also largely in clear – again, nice.
The tyres are, alas, vinyl. Detail is fairly good but they’re quite revolting to handle. Lay them in your hand and you get the feeling they’re trying to squirm off and hunt flies. They don’t smell as strongly as, say, the tracks on the PzH 2000, so you may find that they don’t consume your wheels. That would be lucky, as replacements seem a little hard to come by.
A small decal sheet gives five options: two in plain green and three in NATO three-tone. One of the latter is for an SFOR vehicle in Bosnia and includes a red-and-yellow flag that’s meant to lie over the rear deck. I’d recommend laying it on a thin ply of foil or similar medium first, or just painting the pattern instead. The red-and-white warning markings on the mudguards aren’t decals, which is how I prefer it, and they have engraved lines to help you paint them in.
Overall, this will build into an impressive model, if only because of its sheer size. I’ve included a picture of it alongside some other 8x8 AFVs – an Italeri Puma, a Trumpeter Centauro (in grey), and an AFV Club M1128 (in olive). It’s vast. Not only that, but it sits very high as well – all a result of the amphibious capability. The small turret on top does look like the attachment for something more useful, but the hull makes up for that. Plus, of course, there’s no other Luchs on the market. Modern armour from the middle of the Cold War is all too rare*, so it’s nice to have this available. With careful construction and painting it should sit alongside other kits of the period quite nicely.
* (let’s start a campaign – we need a 1/35 Pz.68 now! And a TAM! And a Vickers MBT!)