Horch 4X4 Type 1a Schwerer Einheits PKW A.U. 1:35 Scale Model Kit MM152 Tamiya
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Tamiya 1:35th Scale Model Kit Military Miniatures Series 1 No.52 Horch 4X4 Type 1a Schwerer Einheits PKW A.U. Model Kit with driver figure NEW andamp; SEALED This kit (152) has all the usual great detail you would expect from a Tamiya 1:35th kit. This kit will be one model to be proud of when fully built and painted. This Kit Comprises Of: 1x Horch Model Kit (152) 1x Driver figure 1x Instruction/Plans 1x Decal Set Paints and Glue not included.
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The Tamiya kit dates back to 1975. It depicts an early type, Type 1a, which had spare wheels mounted on the outside of the body to prevent the middle of the car grounding on uneven terrain. It also had all-wheel steering - heaven knows why! What use is it to be able to steer the back wheels? Anyway, the kit doesn't allow you to turn the wheels to show off this feature. You have to have them straight.
The basic vehicle was adapted for various specialist uses by the Wehrmacht, each configuration having a different inventory number. Kfz.23 was for laying telephone cables and Kfz.83 carried machinery to operate a mobile searchlight. Kfz.81 was the Flak version: sometimes it had the Flak gun mounted on the back, sometimes it just pulled it (I think). Converting the Tamiya kit to a Kfz.81 by adding a 2cm Flak gun is a popular option and there are a couple of inspiring build-logs on the internet at Armorama and Militarymodelling. There was also an ambulance version, Kfz.31, for which you might still be able to find the resin conversion set produced by Das Werk Miniatures.
Three other inventory numbers are mentioned. Kfz.18's use I don't know; perhaps it was the basic unadapted vehicle. Kfz.69 was for towing guns, and Kfz.70 was the weapons carrier. But these three, 18, 69 and 70, all seem to look the same and it's this vanilla configuration of the vehicle which you get in the Tamiya kit.
I've been unable to find information about the precise details of all the different configurations. For example it would be nice to know more about the telephone version, which had extra doors near the back; and what actually was the difference between Kfz.18, Kfz.69 and Kfz.70? Clear photos are hard to find, particularly of the inside, but there are three books which are some help. I've also found a lot of photos by trawling the internet, however there is always the problem that the old photos tend to lack detail and the modern photos are of restored vehicles which may not be authentic.
The first of the three books is German Personnel Cars in Wartime by Reinhard Frank, which deals with light, medium and heavy cars, both standard and non-standard. It has 23 old photos of the Schwerer Einheits PKW of varying clarity. The top right photo on page 41 has the doors removed so that a little of the interior can be seen. This vehicle is very similar to Tamiya's model. It shows that Tamiya's front seat design is valid.
Cars of the Wehrmacht by Reinhard Frank has 16 old pictures of the Schwerer Einheits PKW but three of these are duplications from the first book. There is a clear picture of the dashboard and foot well of a Type EG which is helpful.
The third book, Horch in Detail, published by Wings & Wheels Publications, is extremely useful. It shows very clear photos of three recently restored Schwerer Einheits PKWs. Two are the Type 40 (designed in 1940), the later type with the spare wheel on the inside and front-wheel steering. One is a Type 1a with its engine missing. All three are in the vanilla configuration - the Kfz.18/69/70. Late war vehicles survived the war in larger quantities than early war vehicles which are very rare, so it's harder to reconstruct early war vehicles. I think the people in this book have used details from the Type 40 to reconstruct the 1a. Judging by the old photos I've looked at, this has produced a few errors. For example I don't think there should be tubular steel hoops sticking up above the spare wheels and there shouldn't be a metal tab at the top left of the radiator grill.
There are two detail sets which you can buy to add to the Tamiya kit. On my first model I used the cheaper of the two which is from Eduard and consists of photo-etched metal. The best thing about it is the dashboard which looks great in my opinion. The steps behind the front wings are also good. Tamiya's windscreen is a weak point, so I replaced this with the Eduard one which is better but has two faults. There should be flanges on the sides of the frame which close the gap between the windscreen and the celluloid front door windows. These flanges are missing. Also the opening pane on the driver's side is too tall. If you don't trim it, it overlaps the lower pane, which looks noticeably wrong. Otherwise, the windscreen looks good. With a lot of this set, though, I was disappointed. A lot of the parts are too small, and the headlight brackets are too big.
The more expensive set is from the Italian company, Royal Model, and this includes both photo-etch and resin. I'm currently trying to use this on my second model. It modifies the Tamiya kit more heavily, and is better designed although still far from perfect. It's very expensive at 39 euros. Good points are the replacement non-slip floor and the folded down canvas hood that is better than Tamiya's. Some smaller parts are not to scale, though. Also the instructions are inadequate. You will definitely need Horch in Detail to make sense of them. They are based on the Type 1a vehicle in that book. In my opinion the instructions copy the errors which the restorers of that vehicle have made. On one point in particular I think they should be ignored. They ask you to omit the partition in the Tamiya kit which seperates the front seats from the passenger compartment. They ask you to replace it with a frame, made of wire to represent tubular steel. I think it's apparent from a couple of the old photos that Tamiya are right - there is a partition, or at least a board. It doesn't have the thick edge which Tamiya have given it.
Both of the photo-etch sets give you stuff you don't really need (e.g. because you can do a better job with sheet styrene) while missing out stuff that would be very helpful. Tamiya's doors are too thick. In reality the doors consisted of a frame on the inside supporting a skin of metal on the outside. Photo-etch would have been very useful here, but we're not given it.
The Tamiya kit is not too difficult to put together but there are some problems. The main ones are the rear doors, the fit of the radiator/bonnet sub-assembly, the driver's footwell, the optional raised canvas hood and possibly the internal partitions (particularly the front one).
The rear doors are a single piece of plastic, and Tamiya made an error here, which needs to be corrected before you put the model together. They must have misinterpreted a blurry old photo. In reality there are two simple square doors hanging on the back, with some odd brackets on them which have a purpose: The two trapezium-shaped passenger doors on the side of the vehicle could be removed to enable soldiers to get in and out more quickly, and for storage these were hung on the brackets on the rear doors which were designed to hold them. However, Tamiya, looking at the back, didn't understand what they were seeing. They give you doors within doors. That is to say, they have the correct square doors on the back with smaller trapezium-shaped doors set in them - which makes no sense. Up to a point this error is fairly easy to correct by filling the grooves round the doors, but you also need to cut a new groove between the doors, and you have to make a new recessed door handle. This can be done by using the photo-etch set provided by Eduard. This is what I did, but frankly it's not an ideal solution.
The instructions tell you to start by building the chassis, which is easy and looks good. They then tell you to put together the "Engine Hood" as a sub-assembly: radiator, bonnet, bonnet-sides & firewall. This is a mistake in my opinion. The sub-assembly didn't fit properly when I tried to attach it to the chassis, and I ended up making a mess of it. I found that it's better to start by fitting the body sides onto the chassis, braced by the partitions (if you are using them both) and the rear doors. Then fix on the firewall - this will be held in the right place by the sides - and then fit on the other four pieces that surround the engine. By going in this order it should be easy to get everything in the right place. There is still a lot of filling and sanding involved though.
Before you fix the firewall you may want to cut a big hole in it for the driver's feet. The pedals should be in this recess. Its shape can be seen in Horch in Detail.
If you want to make the model with the canvas hood raised and you are a pedant then you have a problem because the hood is the wrong shape, especially at the front where it incorrectly narrows to the width of the windscreen instead of overhanging it. Also, neither of the detail sets give you any of the metal framework for the hood, not even the struts on the outside, which is a poor omission in my opinion. I made a mould for my hood and cast it out of resin. There were probably easier and faster ways to do it though.
There is also a minor problem with the wheels. The real wheels usually had special flanges to hold snow chains. The kit lacks these unfortunately. A replacement resin set of wheels was once made by Spanish company Toro Models but these don't seem to be available any longer.
Overall, this is the only model of this ugly beast at 1:35 and despite its problems it's an okay kit. By modern standards it isn't great, but it gets the basics about right. You don't necessarily need the after-market detail sets. If you build the kit straight out of the box with no modifications it looks good. If you like the subject and you're prepared to do more work then it can be turned into a more authentic model.
MiniArt are now releasing a model of the Mercedes L1500A which is a later but very similar vehicle. Looking at the pictures on their website, they seem to have made a much more convincing job of the hood and the celluloid side curtains.
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