|DRAGON - Kettenkrad w/3.7cm PaK and Crew|
Small and perfectly formed...the new Kettenkrad kit!
Kettenkrad w/3.7cm PaK and Crew
Manufacturer: Dragon models
Serial Number: 6446
As most armour modeller's will know, Dragon have many different series of models, and often a kit of the same vehicle can be found in different ranges. Different variants of the NSU Kettenkrad or Sd.Kfz.2 have been released over time in the '39-'45 series, and sometimes with different crews and small guns etc. This time it's been radically updated, and now consists of the Late production variant, coupled with a 3.7cm PaK 36 and crew, and is released as a kit in the Premium series.
The nature of this release means that the contents are a little varied with regards to their origins. In total there are thirteen sprues of varying sizes, plus a small photo-etched fret and a small decal sheet. Four of the sprues, plus an additional tiny one are concerned with the construction of the Kettenkrad itself, whilst two are supplied with the construction of the PaK36, and four sprues hold the parts for the various figures. There's also two lengths of Dragon tan-coloured DS100 Vinyl tracks.
Of course, as you would expect, most of the sprues have been seen before, although on those sprues that have been seen in earlier releases, the comparison between the old and new is quite marked, in that Dragon have performed some tweaking, and the old parts now look a lot sharper indeed. Even where the sprue is an old one, some parts have been omitted and newer ones such as the main body sidewalls, to represent those found on a late production model are now supplied on another sprue. Another new addition is a very small sprue 'D', that contains three parts to construct a new cooler tower at the rear of the vehicle. In addition to this we're also offered a new set of front forks without the triangular headlight mounting brackets, since this was omitted on later production variants.
If you have built one of the Dragon Kettenkrads, you'll be surprised by the level of detail in these kits, and all the more so with this Premium version. Construction, unusually, begins with assembling the running gear onto the sidewalls of the hull. Unusually because at this point the sidewalls are not yet assembled onto the floor of the vehicle, and therefore a little planning and re-arranging of the assembly sequence might be called for, since there is always some play in attaching roadwheels and axles, and you cement these before being able to confirm that everything is lined up correctly then you're asking for trouble. We're also asked to attach the on-vehicle tools at this point, and there are small photo-etched brackets supplied for this, although they just consist of strips which don't resemble any tool bracket I've seen, and I was unable to find a photograph showing this type of bracket. In fact, the majority of wartime photographs of the Kettenkrad show them with tools fixed, so most modellers might well choose to leave these off completely. Each of the sidewall, as mentioned earlier, are new toolings with the covered armrests indicative of late models, and minus the indictor lights on the front.
Construction then continues with the assembly of the transmission and engine onto the floor of the vehicle. This is a nicely detailed part, although most of it will be hidden on the finished model unless you leave the engine cover open. There's some scope for super-detailing here, and things like the gearlever gate can be easily improved so that it shows the gear positions, since the kit part just has an oval shape for the gear lever. Decals are supplied for the dials on the dash, although the smaller centre dial is a little too convex and should be flatter.
Once the engine, transmission and drivers' seat has been installed onto the floor, the two sidewalls are fixed to it, each having an inner wall fitted to represent the thickness of these walls. The front wall with the dash on top is also fixed at this point, although the two front towing hooks that were fitted much lower on late variants are missing from the instructions, they are supplied in the kit on sprue B.
Assembly then moves to building and installing the front forks. The front wheel itself is provided as one part, and therefore no halves to join. It done mean you have to be careful not to destroy the tread pattern when cleaning the wheel up though. There's small straight bracket on each fork, about halfway up at ninety degrees, and this looks a tad simplified, although it wouldn't take much to change it to resemble the actual part more.
Fender tops, back bench, engine cover and cooling tower are all fitted next, and are fairly straightforward. There has been some discussion on the shape of the cooling tower, but this new one actually looks alright to me when compared to references. The engine hood itself is provided with photo-etched grills to replace the moulded ones, however this will require you to cut out the moulded ones, and no mention of this is made on the instructions, and it just shows the PE ones fitted. The Kettenkrad is supplied with DS100 vinyl tracks, which a lot of modellers prefer since they are easy to fix and can be cemented with ordinary styrene cement. I would have liked to have seen them include the option of individual links since they've already made them, and are the sort I prefer.
The PaK 36 supplied with the set is of course the previously released as kit #6152 and in various other guises such as with the 251 etc. It's basically a sound kit, although showing its age with such things as the barrel being supplied in two halves. There are detail sets around for it however, such as a very nice Lionroar set which provides a replacement barrel and complete shield amongst other details, although if you're prepared to do some work on it and disguising the barrel seam you'll end up with an excellent gun to tow!
Crew-wise, we have the original rider figure supplied on one of the older sprues, however, as mentioned he's considerably better looking now since the tooling has been sharpened up, and if you really don't want to use him because he's supplied wearing a parka, then a new rider figure is supplied on the figure sprue wearing a normal tunic. On a new smaller sprue, there is a new pair of legs supplied for the rider, along with four pairs of arms. There's also another smaller sprue with five pairs of arms. Given that the instructions only illustrate the assembly of four figures, you have quite a bit of play to decide which arms or legs you put with which torso to obtain the poses you want, or you can assemble as per the instructions and see what you want to do with the figure parts left over!
Markings-wise, there are only decals supplied for he number plates, of the sort that you can decide according to you references, since the numerals themselves are separate decals.
I have to admit that the Kettenkrad is one of my favourite vehicles. It just has 'something' about it, and any new kit is welcome as far as I'm concerned! Having said that, this is a cracking kit, almost a ready diorama in a box, and the potential for super-detailing is excellent. All the late features are there, and it just looks 'right'. I can feel myself wanting to build this one. Badly. Highly recommended.
My thanks to Dragon models for the review sample.