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Built Review
172
Panzerfahre II
Panzerfahre II Gepanzerte Landwasserschlepper Prototype Nr.II
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by: Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

In their customary style, Dragon have followed their September 2012 release of the Panzerfähre Prototype Nr.I with a Panzerfähre Prototype Nr.II. Both prototype vehicles were built by Magirus in response to a requirement for an armoured version of the amphibious tracked towing Landwasserschlepper, which was itself a production vehicle. An Armorama review of Panzerfähre Nr.I can be viewed here; as described in that review, the intention was that the Panzerfähren would act as ferry boats that could carry a payload across water either by means of a towed floating trailer or by employing a raft fixed between a pair of Panzerfähren. With this second release 1/72 scale fans are now ahead of those of the 1/35 persuasion, as in that scale Dragon have so far only released Prototype Nr.I.

what you get

Ron Volstad’s box art this time represents both Panzerfähren types together with their raft. As before, there are ten sprues, with eight of them being identical to Nr.I. Starting with the Panzerfähre specific parts, sprue A has the smaller deck details and D is the one piece hull, both identical to the first kit. Z is a subtly different new deck (photo 13), while C is the new sprue (photo 14), smaller than the sprue B it replaces, as this time there’s just two of the big deck vents, plus two flotation sponsons and the boxy crew compartment.

As before, and indeed as with the original Magirus prototypes, the remainder of the parts are adopted from previous PzKpfw IVs: sprue E is the bogies, F a bag of wheel hubs, with I, J, K and M being the sprockets, idlers, road wheels and return rollers respectively, and X the DS tracks.

Decals are similar to the first kit in having three white crosses, though the sheet is not identical: the sheet for Nr.I included four tiny number “1” decals, this time there are two slightly bigger “2” decals; oddly, both sheets are numbered “7489” which is the Dragon kit number of Nr.I. I have to say that I don’t understand the intention of these numbers; the instructions for Nr.II show just one of the “2”s positioned in the centre of the front plate of the driver compartment, and doesn’t show where the other one goes. In the Nr.I kit, one of the three “1”s is shown as optional on the rear hull plate. When first looking into this model, I assumed that the statement in the Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two by Hilary Doyle and Peter Chamberlain, that “Two prototypes were delivered in 1942” implied that it was two vehicles in total, so one of each type, which would create the scene shown on the box lid for this kit. Photographs however show that there were two of each prototype produced, and there is a photo which shows two of this Nr.II type either side of a raft upon which is a PzKpfw IV; one vehicle has a “2” on the driver compartment, the other a “1”. It would then I suppose have made more sense if Dragon had provided a 1 and a 2 decal, and though of course that is a small shortcoming, it seems a bit confused.

construction

Having virtually completed Nr.I for that review, I only went so far as to construct the differences for this review, so please refer to the first review for all of the other details if you wish. The construction sequence in the instructions is the same as before, beginning with wheels and hull tub, but I skipped straight to the new step 3, starting off with the crane. As noted in the Nr.I review, this is a quite simplified single part that represents a crane composed of three hollow box section members mounted on X braced supports, and as before, the flash is quite noticeable (photos 27 and 28). Next are the two vents, shown in photo 29 before and after clean up, with relatively heavy mould lines evident. The anchor and the two exhaust mufflers were then mounted, and here I realised that I had made yet another review boo-boo, in that I had removed the exhaust pipes from the ends of the mufflers (photo 31), having mistaken them for a part of the sprue. Since many modellers would probably want to drill out the opening of the pipes, it’s probably just as easy to do what I did and add the pipes from drilled 1mm rod (photo 39).

Part C38 is a very plain cylinder, presumably another ventilator (photo 32) and its location requires that some of the deck rivets are removed (photos 33, 34, 35). That was it for step 3, as I left the headlamps for later, as it makes much more sense to mount them after the crew compartment is attached, since they need to be fixed to it… very odd sequencing.

Step 4 then sees the crew cab being assembled, and in photo 36 we see the mating surface of the main component with quite a rough appearance, needing to be carefully reshaped to enable a good fit with the front plate. Photo 37 shows the assembled cab with the glue run around the inside. This is then fitted to the deck, and as with Nr.I, edges of the over-size locating holes remain visible after assembly, see photo 40.

The capstan winch was cemented into its semi-circular locating hole, which is shaped to allow installation the opposite way to that shown in the instructions, but this is easily remedied by reshaping the corresponding locating pin. This is another component that has a fair amount of moulding seam (photo 38) as well as simplification, in that the top surface should have a ridged construction, as per the box art.

As in Nr.I, I found the attachment of the headlamps a bit woolly: photo 42 shows how I kept a portion of the sprue attachment so as to slightly extend the length of the horizontal rod so that it reaches the cab. Photo 43 shows how the lamp locating hole appears to be positioned a tiny bit too far forward so that it naturally leans back a little when trying to engage with the cab – it has to barely touch the very front of the cab surface, evident in photo 44.

Photo 45 is my warning not to do as I did with the exhaust pipes, and remember to leave sufficient attachment point for the mirrors to mount to the deck. The instructions show the mirrors being mounted dead straight, though I imagine they would have to be at some kind of angle to enable crew in the cab to see anything reflected in them. This concludes the upper deck details, and shows how this kit is actually even simpler than Nr.I.

Photo 46 shows the flotation sponsons being installed, the fit being perfect, and illustrates how they differ from those in Nr.I (the model on the left) in that they have an angled outer edge, giving a slightly more pointed appearance to the front of the vehicle. I finished off the build for this review by attaching the deck to the hull, to give the view shown in photos 47-51. Photos 55 and 56 are of the Nr.II and Nr.I prototypes respectively, to show the differences in frontal appearance and the remaining photographs continue the comparison, our Nr.II version being the lighter grey model.

conclusion

In the review of Nr.I I praised the fact that it was something a bit different, but it would seem odd to repeat that about Nr.II as it is so very similar to the first kit. Once again it is a big and impressive 1/72 model, longer and higher than its PzKpfw IV origin. It can also be built quickly, so if it’s painting you prefer, this is a good subject.

We have the by now familiar PzKpfw IV running gear with separate hubs to allow easier painting of the tyres, though it still seems odd that the instructions take no account of this at all and start the construction sequence off with the wheels; ironic , considering all their advanced moulding and CAD technology, that Dragon are so unhelpful with their instructions. Some of the details are compromised to reduce parts count and simplify construction: the crane, funnels and capstan are all noticeably cruder than they might have been, and the crew cab has all of the hatches moulded closed. I’m not convinced by the box top crew man emerging from that structure on the rear of the cab – I’m willing to be proved wrong, but isn’t that a ventilator of some kind rather than a hatch? As before there’s no attempt to provide the folding railings that line either side of the deck, although they still make an appearance in the painting guide. This time the painting guide also shows that there should be an aerial, for which there is a mount on the front left cab corner.

I was perusing old Armorama reviews of Dragon 1/72 Armor Pro kits recently and read the following from 2006:
It becomes difficult to find new things to say about these releases from Dragon, since their moulding quality has become of late, immaculate. This kit is no exception. Flawless. I would be really surprised to open a Dragon kit these days and find any trace of flash....it just doesn't happen anymore in a Dragon kit.
Looking at photos 27 – 29, 36 and 38 I think it is clear that the same could not be said for this kit. I wonder if it is partly the attempt to reduce part count and simplify construction that leads to some of the relatively complicated shapes having such heavy mould seams. Having said that, the crew cab is not a particularly complex shape yet exhibited the rough mating surface such as you might expect on an Airfix kit from the 1960s.

Enough nitpicking, there’s a little part of me that might enjoy trying to put right some of those simplified details as if on some nostalgia trip; after all, there’s fewer and fewer subjects for conversion around these days – now you can’t even spend pleasant evenings converting a Panzerfähre Nr.I to a Nr.II! So get your plastic card and styrene rods out to go detailing, or otherwise, just building it as it is will produce an impressive model that’s also a great canvas for a Schwarzgrau finish with plenty of waterstains.
SUMMARY
Highs: Still an attractive subject if no longer so unusual; beautiful hull and deck; nice PzKpfw IV running gear; an easy build.
Lows: Mould lines and simplification of some parts makes them seem almost crude; some deck holes too big; decal numbers don’t make sense; closed hatches.
Verdict: Offers no advantages over the kit of Nr.I; a large small scale model that will look impressive when well painted, and offers opportunities for super-detailers.
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 7490
  Suggested Retail: $22.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 05, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.53%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

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About Matthew Lenton (firstcircle)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM

Earliest model memory is a Super Sabre my grandmother bought for me in around 1972. We cut the pieces off the sprue with an ivory handled butter knife. Have always dabbled in painting and making things, and rediscovered doing that with plastic in 2008. Vowed then to complete the 30 year old stash...

Copyright ©2017 text by Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

I read your review of the last version but wasn't impressed with the vehicle and didn't comment about it, sorry. But with this one I reread part of the first and this new one and you're reviews have changed my mind, sort of. If I could find one at a good price I'd be tempted to get one as, as you say, it's a big and interesting vehicle. I found this review and the last very informative and appreciate that this site has reviews of this calibre. It is just so sad that Dragon seems to be lowering the standard that they took so long to develop and has been talked about in other threads. Did you have any problems with all the road wheels fitting well on the suspension? A few guys that I know mentioned that the Pz IV wheels are a bit wobbly on their pegs. Very informative review, thanks. Regards, AJ
JUN 05, 2013 - 07:05 PM
Thanks AJ, for your appreciation of this review and indeed of this type of review on this site. It certainly is hard to fathom what is going on in the Dragon mind; it's been widely speculated that a reason for the apparent trend towards simplification is because easy to build kits have a wider appeal. I would have thought however that the apparent drop in quality in terms of the moulding of those parts that there are, doesn't seem to make sense in those terms. Certainly on this kit some of the components seem very precisely moulded, e.g. the deck, while others, as mentioned in the review, seem sloppily executed. As to the wheels, well, yes, this did get a mention in the first review in fact as follows: So once this basic grey painting is done, I attach the tyres to their hub caps, then carefully assemble them, along with the sprockets, idlers and rollers, to the hull. Care is needed to get all these wheels lined up nice and straight and even, and keep them that way while they set; each side is done on successive evenings, resting the model on a piece of foam so as not to knock off the wing mirrors. Careful and patient… So, yes, patience is needed in terms of the wheels cannot be stuck on one side and then the model flipped straight over to do those on the other side. I think it was the case that I used the table top and a steel rule to ensure that they were all aligned and correctly vertical. Using a glue that is slightly slower setting helps in that you can still adjust the first wheel even after you have the other seven attached - the old Humbrol Poly70. I think ever since I read something about aligned road wheels being one of the things that competition judges home in on, I have been conscientious about trying to get this right...
JUN 06, 2013 - 07:09 AM
@firstcircle -Matthew, Another impeccably detailed review that may be setting quite a standard for reviews in general. Seeing this second kit has also peeked my curiosity about the potential in building one of these (perhaps even a pair with a scratch-built ramp between them. Of course with suitably thought out enhancements of the nature that Dragon now deems unnecessary (open hatches, railing stanchions etc). This contradiction in standards within the same kit appears to be the norm in the predominance of their recent releases. I am very disappointed to see some flash, sloppily thought out moulding (large and/or inconveniently placed sprue attachment points) and a few parts with rather nasty looking moulding seams. When these seams appear on smaller parts with complex contours it will make cleaning them up most difficult. The oversized locating holes for certain parts that you mention is also totally unacceptable for a supposedly "Pro" kit. The issue you had with cutting off the muffler tail pipes due to no clear demarkation point also is something that I've had the misfortune to deal with in recent kits. Would not the "old Dragon" have gone out of their way to make sure that something like an exhaust pipe would have a hollowed out end? I was quite amused when I read your quote from the 2006 review and then your statement comparing some parts to 1960's Airfix kits. In truth I nearly snorted out my morning sip of coffee! As for AJ's question about the Panzer IV suspension, it is as you stated something to take your time with. I have seen a few at club meetings and shows and the majority have had some alignment issues with the road wheels. As for a glue to use with them, on this side of the pond I might recommend Testors tube cement which seems to be available everywhere. I often use this type on builds with numerous road wheels. Cheers, Jan
JUN 06, 2013 - 11:22 AM
I wasn't trying to be funny... I promise. I was inspired to go back and read the old reviews by some of the similar comments about other recent Armor Pro releases; I had also been reading about some other related "historic" matters - ahem. In case you are interested, that review was for the Hummel Early Version, and I must admit that I am tempted to obtain the kit to see for myself. Overall, I think that despite the shortcomings you and AJ are right to be tempted by this kit, since it is so different from other armour kits, but I do think it is begging to be put on to a scenic base with plenty of water. PS, in relation to your assertion about slide moulded exhaust pipes in the old days, I read this in another old review: That said, some of the areas in construction, whilst superbly detailed, do seem a touch 'over-engineered' I'm not sure that a one-piece moulding wouldn't have been sufficient for the rear exhausts/covers - slide moulded exhaust tubes are also present.. That's from T34/76 Mod. 1941.
JUN 07, 2013 - 07:26 AM
LINK The link shows clearly that the structures are part of the driver's and commander's position and not (only?) intended as vents.
JUN 07, 2013 - 07:34 AM
Hi Paul, not 100% if this is the photo you mean, but if so I think this is Prototype Nr.I but with the funnel type tubes removed from the vents; you can see the base of the front vent arrowed 2, and also the shape of the prow is square with the side of the hull rather than angled in, arrowed 1.
JUN 07, 2013 - 06:36 PM
OK! Since I only looked at the box art I thought you refered to the big structures at the front. I do not see the samen vents on the Dragon model. Maybe, these kind of equipment was not as standard as we may think and was every type subject of minor changes. Would love to see an old Wehrmacht film with these pioneers................
JUN 09, 2013 - 11:43 AM
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