(literally “artillery car”) was part of the armored trains used by the Wehrmacht to protect its rail lines from partisans and other potential threats. The trains were symmetrical in configuration, with the engine in the middle, so one of these cars was attached to each side of the BR57 armored locomotive reviewed on Armorama in a BP42 or BP44 armored train. The history of these trains is covered very well in two books which I reviewed here
The BP42 version was originally armed with a 7.62cm 295/l(r) field cannon (captured Russian). This is the gun represented in the kit (see below). The BP44 was upgraded to a 10cm light Field Howitzer 14/19(p) (captured Polish). In addition to supplies for the artillery, these cars carried troops and other materiel. There is some indication it carried a galley as well.
The kit comes well-packed in a typical Trumpeter cardboard box. The kit consists of six unique sprues, with one duplicated. The upper hull comes protected in its own box, and is quite a piece of molding art; the lower hull is also separate. There is one small PE fret, and one small sheet of decals. The sprues consist of:
• A - contains the wheels and “suspension.” This is common to all the cars in the series
• D - (2) contains various doors, gun ports and handles
• F - has a few more doors, and the observation cupola
• G - contains the panels that make up the portal between cars
• E - contains the gun turret, and what represents the artillery piece.
• M - has the bits used to link up the cars (see below)
In addition, there are several roadbed pieces in the typical Trumpeter style.
The instruction book is only 12 pages, eight of which concern the build of the car itself. There is also a one-sheet painting guide.
Based on pictures from the books mentioned above, this appears to be a very accurate depiction of the artillery wagon of an armored train. However, most of the details are pretty soft, or non-existent.
For example, the side doors are nicely done, but the gun ports are just molded on, instead of being separate pieces that could be positioned open, or ajar. Even the gun ports that are added to the hull are molded closed in one piece.
The suspension might as well not exist. As one picture at right shows, it is just a box with one or two pieces represented, like a brake cylinder. Leaf springs and a nice journal box are provided, but end up totally hidden. I painted this all flat black, so it just goes away.
The PE fret provides details for the gun turret. Lifting points are part of this PE, but I found them nearly impossible to deal with. I did the two on top, then gave up. I justify this from the reference material, which has a few pictures of the turret showing NO such bits in sight.
The artillery piece itself is nothing but the barrel part that protrudes from the turret (in Trumpeter’s defense, nothing else would be visible). However, even this isn’t very well-done, consisting of only a couple of parts. These days, almost all tanks come with a full version of the weapon, even though only a small part will be seen.
I have assembled the model to demonstrate some of the above, and because it was a very quick build (due to the lack of detailing). I had difficulty mounting the various doors, because there aren’t any mounting lugs to align them. They fit tightly, but moved as they set (and I bumped them). To correct this, I glued scraps of sheet plastic behind each opening – makes for solid doors.
I plan on building all of the cars in this series, and review them as I go. I have used several kits’ worth of track to assemble an eight-foot display which I hope is enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t give the details of connecting one car to another much thought before I built this kit to the point shown. The panels of the passage between cars won’t allow two cars to be close enough to “couple.” One picture I found in the mentioned reference showed that these were overlapped to accommodate this need. Trumpeter doesn’t provide any instructions (or parts) to allow a full train to be assembled. What’s the point of providing all these cars without that ability? For example, the provided air hoses just hang. When a train was coupled together, these would be connected car to car.
decals & painting
The painting guide shows this car (along with the engine and other cars) in dark yellow with brown and green “tiger stripes” common to armored vehicles. I found little or no evidence of such a scheme in the references. Plain gray seemed to be the theme of choice. I read one clever comment about camouflage for trains that went something like “what’s the point, you know where it’s been, and where it’s probably going, and there’s only one way to get there (wherever the tracks go”). Also, the smoke from the engine would give away the position for miles. Hardly a stealth vehicle.
As many an old war movie would attest, that’s why saboteurs had an easy time with these. Just disrupt a short section of track, or a bridge, and the thing was stuck and easy to attack.
For the price ($120 retail, $96 discount) this kit isn’t up to the standards of current armor models. The upper hull is a marvel of molding (trapezoidal sides, in three dimensions). If this represents the cost, why not do it in multiple panels? All of the cars in this series share this technique.
The subject is interesting, and has potential. However, I doubt there is enough interest in these to drive the aftermarket world to produce the missing details.
I bought all these kits, for better or worse, and will slog my way through them. I plan to redo the passageway parts in an attempt to allow the cars to be joined. This may include moving them to their “stowed” position. I’ll show any progress in the next review of the command car. Stay tuned.