As with their range of 8-rad heavy armoured cars, where similar parts were exploited to create a range of vehicles, so Roden have worked their way from their original Opel Maultier SdKfz 3 truck kit to a series of three SdKfz 4 armoured Maultiers, all four kits sharing sprues E (photo 11, rear wheels) and F (photo 9, axles). The three armoured Maultiers furthermore all share sprue B (photo 8, front wheels, 15cm rocket tubes). In fact the Sd.Kfz.4/1 Panzerwerfer 42 – 15cm
and the Gleissketten-Lastkraftwagen Munitionskraftwagen
are almost exactly the same kit, the only difference I believe is that on the main sprue D (photo 12) the latter has the hole on the top of the body, where the revolving launcher is mounted, blanked off.
Here we look at the latest addition to the family, the SdKfz 4/1 (8cm) Raketen-Vielfachwerfer
. Russ Amott posted an Armorama build review of the Munitionskraftwagen
in October 2011, so here I will mostly just concentrate on the new components, namely the 8cm Raketen-Vielfachwerfer (multiple rocket launcher).
As with the T34, the Soviet Katyusha multiple rocket launchers made a big impression on some of the invading German forces, but the Waffen-SS procured the design and manufacture of the 8cm Vielfachwerfer independently from the Wehrmacht. It seems that the numbers built were not great, and while they were used in the East mounted on Maultiers, some also made an appearance in North-Western Europe mounted on ex-French half-tracks.
In the box
This new kit is basically the entire 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 kit with the addition of two sprue Cs (photo 10) for the launching rails, frame and 48 x 8cm rockets. As a result of all these extra parts, the plastic bag as it comes out of the side opening box is positively bulging with sprues (photo 3). I would echo Russ in his review where he states that the detail is quite well defined and certainly there are quite a large number of small parts to be carefully constructed into what is rather a detailed model for such a small kit. Interior details are included for the engine, the driver compartment as well as the rear compartment, and as the doors are all provided as separate units at least, rather than moulded with the bodywork, with a little work on the door interiors, it would be possible to show the vehicle opened up in various ways, which gives quite a lot of modelling scope (for those who like doing a little work of this kind...) There’s not much danger of any of the parts becoming detached from the sprues in transit, as many components are heavily attached, hence requiring quite a bit of clean up.
Tracks are of the “traditional” vinyl type. Two choices of decals are provided to go with two paint schemes, one of which is shown in colour on the back of the box; it is stated that one of these is for an unknown SS unit in Silesia, late 1944, the other for 7 Panzer Division in Eastern Pomerania, March 1945. I have to admit that from what I have read of these launchers, they were all employed by the SS, but I presume there is some evidence for their use by the Wehrmacht.
Building the 8cm Vielfachwerfer
So, let’s move straight to step 14 in the instructions (photos 14 and 15), which essentially starts by removing all 24 launcher rails from the two C sprues. The instructions show all the rockets being attached to the rails immediately; obviously there is no obligation to attach the rockets at all, as you may wish to portray the launcher unloaded or partially loaded. As I understand it, the rockets could be made to fire either in one simultaneous barrage, or singly, one after another, so again, there are many possibilities. In any case, I would choose to assemble the launcher first, and add rockets later.
Now, the instructions can be a little confusing here as they contain a couple of errors. Note that there are two different types of rail: 1C
which has a locating pin on one side, with a locating hole on the other, and type 2C
which has what is supposed to be bolt heads moulded on, in place of the next locating holes, and this part ends the run of rails. Both step 14a which deals with part 1C, and 14b which deals with part 2C, both call for 24 of each part to be assembled, whereas there should be 22 x 1C and 2 x 2C. I have pencilled in the corrections, see photo 15.
Prior to joining any rails together you might want to make sure that all of the holes are round on both sides. On what would be the non-detailed side of the rails, the holes tend to be a little square and small, so open them up with a drill (0.85mm I believe) and / or a knife point (photos 16, 17). The two frames (photo 18) on which the rails are mounted are quite delicate and have several attachment points as well as a couple of excess lumps of sprue on them, so care is needed to tidy them up without damage.
When assembling the rails to the frame make sure to keep part 2C in the correct place: basically, it is 2 runs of 6 x 1C, 2 runs of 3 x 1C and 2 runs of 2 x 1C plus 1 x 2C as in photo 18. Make sure too, that you keep an eye on which way around you’re putting them together; you need to get a nice even, regular assemblage out of it in the end, so I’d recommend getting each section built and set before applying the next and lining them up on a flat surface (photo 19).
If you look at photo 29, you can see some of the compromises that have been made in order to render this quite complex structure into 1/72 scale; the rails were in reality joined to one another on circular section steel bars, with round spacers to separate them, while the kit has them separated by over-sized square section blocks, and these are repeated on the frames. Note the two bent brackets which protrude from the front of the rail assembly, I think to engage with the travel lock; in reality these are flat rods welded onto the thick tubular frame; on the kit these are still shown as tubular, and it would be possible to at least sand or file these to a flatter, thinner profile. Of course, if you wanted to, it wouldn’t be too hard to rebuild these frames from pieces of styrene rod and strip and probably gain some improvement.
The other main part of the launcher assembly is the turntable. The base of this part is common to both the 15cm and 8cm launchers, but make sure to attach it to the wider set of arms which hold up the launcher rail assembly. When in place there is an unacceptably deep ridge all the way around the join, arrowed on photo 20; this can be lessened by removing material from the vertical edge of the base unit so that the arms piece locates further in, but nevertheless, considerable filing and sanding was necessary to get a flush fit, photo 21, and you can see how a little detail was lost which will need to be re-scribed in.
The turntable has what might be called an actuator, like a piston, that raised and lowered the angle of the launcher rails, emerging from the turntable base unit through a thick vertical cylinder; the circular location point is however too small for the cylinder that needs to attach to it (photo 22) so I had to drill this out completely and then cut the base of the cylinder at an angle in order to get a satisfactory fit (photo 23). Fortunately the cylinder as it comes is probably a bit on the too long side, so there’s enough length to allow this adjustment.
The rod that elevates and lowers the rails is attached to the launcher frame by a fairly short lever which the kit more or less portrays as a straight piece of steel bar (ringed in photo 24). In reality this lever was a kind of cam-shape, attached to the elevating rod with a bolt and washer, arrowed yellow on photos 26 and 27. Again, it would be relatively easy to reproduce this from styrene sheet and rod. The other main feature noticeably omitted from the kit’s launcher are the armoured electrical cables feeding from the outside of each mounting arm up into the frame; these could be detailed with something like wound guitar string (arrowed red on the same two photos).
At instruction step 20, where the rails and frame are mounted on to the turntable and arm assembly, there is the fairly common “blind” illustration of attachment points of some of the details, i.e. arrows pointing up underneath an object so that you can’t quite see where they locate. When mounting the turntable onto the vehicle body, I had to use a file to open up the locating tabs on the turntable base a little so that it could be inserted then rotated into place in the vehicle body without undue force. It is then possible to rotate the launcher around to the desired angle, and prior to connecting the elevating mechanism, to your chosen elevation, should you wish to portray it in action and with the travel lock off.
Looking at the rails compared with photos, I wonder if they look a bit less chunky than the real thing, and my possibly inaccurate measuring of up some photos suggested that they may be slightly too thin. On photo 26 the rocket is taken as the starting point, being 8cm in diameter, making the rail it is being loaded on to 16cm, which scales down to 2.2mm, while the kit rail is a touch under 2mm, so scales up to 14.4cm (so about 5/8” too small… not much). In terms of length they seem closer, my reckoning being that the real things were exactly 2 metres long, so 27.7mm.
Enough nitpicking; when news of this kit was featured on Armorama I cursed the luck of the scratch builder, as I'd built my own version only last year, and as seems normal when scratching an unusual variant, a kit manufacturer immediately releases the same vehicle. My interest in the Vielfachwerfer was originally started by the two obscure looking photos included in the old Doyle and Chamberlain Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of WW2. I actually think it is great to see this unusual subject addressed, and I’m looking forward to building the rest of the kit. From what I can tell the only previous model offerings of this type of launcher were both mounted on the Somua MCL S303 halftrack, one being the Flames of War war gaming piece, the other the Retrokit (sometime DES, I think) resin kit – which I also have, still unbuilt.
I like the fact that the kit includes the internal details, and with the variations possible with the launcher and rockets, the kit presents quite a few enjoyable modelling possibilities. Perhaps with the internals present, it would have been nice if the doors had been given some form of interior detailing and presented in two parts. Finally, something nice is that this kit can be bought in the UK for under £10 (in fact mine was via Ebay from Eastern Europe), which means it is more or less in pocket money range for younger modellers, and when you consider the amount of content included, that seems like good value.