The Sd.Ah.52-- or more precisely, the Sonder Anhänger
52 (simply put, special trailer), was conceived out of the need to have a larger ammunition and equipment carrier more appropriate to the requirements of larger artillery pieces such as the 2cm Flakvierling 38, the 3,7cm FlaK 36/37 (though not for the later 3,7cm FlaK 43, although some were also seen carried with these) towed by wheeled and half-tracked vehicles. This is not to be confused with the much larger Sd.Ah. 56 and Sd.Ah. 57. The Sd.Ah. 56 was reserved for the 2cm Flakvierling 38 and the Sd.Ah.57 for the 3,7cm Flak 36/37, as well as for the 3,7cm Flak 43.
The initial concept of the Sd.Ah.52 (which only comprised the trailer chassis) was exclusively reserved for the actual carrying of the anti-aircraft artillery piece, or even the Kommandogerät
40 (literally “brain box,” a fire control device). While this initial use was considered adequate, later developments of the War required that artillery pieces had to be mounted on more efficient and more reliable vehicles.
The need for speedy transfers of guns from one point to another on the battlefield and in any terrain condition was especially notable for FlaK guns (Flieger-Abwehrkanone
, or simply Anti-Aircraft Gun). They were considered vital on all fronts, seeing that the Luftwaffe had failed in its intended “Air Supremacy” role. With more and more FlaK guns mounted directly on fast moving vehicles (and if possible, well-armored ones), the need for support trailers became apparent. So the Sd.Ah.52 was converted into another role. The German Wehrmacht was highly skilled in such adaptations and conversions, especially given its lack of raw materials during the later period of World War II, and adapted anything at hand to its needs.
Therefore, in order to reassign the role to this specific chassis to another purpose, it was decided to apply a "caisson" (a box) that could carry enough reserve ammunition, fuel (for the towing vehicle) and water canisters (for the cooling of the gun barrels), as well as various field and personal equipment for the crew. This allowed the transporting vehicle to become more self-sufficient, and eliminated the need for additional and separate resupply vehicles, as was customary during the early years of the War.
While in this role, the trailer became very useful, though it was soon discovered that its capacity was rather limited, thus requiring a new trailer altogether. This led to the Sd.Anh.56 and 57 (see the review of the Sd.Ah. 57 by Bill Cross here
). But in general, the Sd.Ah.52 remained in use to the end of the War, and was seen towed by many vehicles.
Bronco has reproduced a version purely reserved for FlaK vehicles like those mentioned above, replacing the "hybrid" trailer produced by Trumpeter (except as said, for the 3,7cm FlaK 43, which still requires a Sd.Ah.57).
Mind you, the "hybrid" ones, despite having been put down by the usual purists, are not wrong at all as such. Trumpeter has attempted to produce the "interim" versions, which indeed were Sd.Ah.52 trailers, with the application of Sd.Ah.56/57 "caissons" (boxes). This is why they look "funny" to some.
But indeed, the Germans were in a hurry to put as many such trailers as possible in the field (and so must have Trumpeter with its releases) to equip its FlaK units, so therefore some "funny" looking objects suddenly appeared. Some were even modified by the troops in the field themselves, a practice that lasts up to this day (see the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts).
In short, this Bronco release reflects the need for the correct trailer to be released on the market, without all the "hybrids" applied to it.
The kit comes in the usual tan color sprues:
1 is fully reserved for the substructure, or trailer proper
A second is reserved exclusively for the "caisson" (or box)
2 are reserved for the wheels and other tiny details
1 is for the fuel and water containers
8 small ones are for the ammunition boxes for a FlaK 36 or 37.
1 small Photo-Etched fret for the fuel and water canisters
1 for smaller details such as latches
In one word: a masterpiece! The entire execution of the Sd.Ah.52 (or “Special Trailer 52”) shows carefully-researched details. The shape, in general, seems accurate to the actual item.
Many models appear on the market stating that they are of a certain make and year and when compared with Museum pieces or actual photographs taken during that particular historic period, one can clearly see that either the shape, the supporting structure, or both are in fact heavily flawed or completely wrong. If one really wants to have an accurate model of a certain vehicle or trailer, one must also be sure to have an accurate replica, or at least, as well-studied and researched by the staff concerned.
If this is not the case, one might risk to be considered an amateur, or at worst, incompetent on the subject.
After all, we are not dealing with mere toys here, but rather in scale replicas, which have to depict the real look and “feel” of the actual item, either on a simple display base, or (and even more important) if one decides to reproduce a Diorama of a certain battle, following actual pictures of World War II.
Germans were very specific on what had to go with what and where, and although in some cases, particularly toward the end of the War, they practiced patching-up of various equipments together (due to the said shortening in deliveries and materials, see above), earlier manifestations may not reflect this tendency and should be applied as clearly indicated in documents and orders of the period.
Thus said, I must point out a couple of let-downs, one being the wheels. They come molded in one piece, and although they look fine, they will have to be painted with a mask of some kind. That could have been avoided had they been molded in two separate pieces, or, as I usually prefer, provided in vinyl. The second disappointment is the ammunition boxes, which despite being accurate in this scale, come with the tiny ammunition details engraved in them, not separate. This, too, will constitute a pain to be painted. Their handles are also molded-on, which could easily have been produced in photo-etched format. Perhaps Bronco thought to leave some space for the After-Market industry to come to the rescue? In fact, both Griffon Models and Aber have been offering such details in photo-etched format for some time, as well as having brass ammunition available to the consumer. It would have been a nice touch to at least include some of these details, or as an additional option to the modeler the way AFV Club does with its tracks and ammo sets.
But perhaps it is not Bronco's policy to do so. But if one just takes the Sd.Ah.52 as is, perhaps displaying it in a closed position next to an Sd.Kfz.7/2 with FlaK 37, this would be enough to enhance any diorama. If you would prefer to add that extra touch to your construction, then you may expect to spend a little bit more and invest in PE parts to substitute the ammunition boxes and brass ammunition to fill them.
The instruction sheet has been very well-conceived, but still demands particular attention to details.
decals & painting
The decal sheet has stencils and markings for the 1st SS Panzer Division "LSAH" (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler
There are only two color schemes given:
The standard three-tone camouflage (German Yellow, Red Brown and Dark Green, although none of these give the actual model paint specifications)
Plain dark German Grey (generally known as Panzer Grey)
I personally welcome this release, because it saves me the embarrassment of having to display trailers that were inaccurate to start with, inappropriate for the vehicle, or in the case of the Dragon kits, missing altogether. The suggested retail price is, as usual, about US$ 40., but the model can be bought at lower prices at several vendors I’ve checked. Take time to compare prices and shipping costs.