Saturday, 26 October 2013

sWS ( MACO kit no. 7207 ) & PaK 44/2 ( Ace kit no. 72521 )

Today a german duo from the second half of WWII. A model of the sWS which is an abbriviation of 'schwere Wehrmacht Schlepper' (Heavy Army Tractor) with a PaK 44/2 with PaK being an abbreviation of Panzer abwehr Kanonne (Anti-tank gun). The model of the sWS is produced by MACO (Kit No. 7207) and the PaK 44/2 by (kit no. 72521).

The sWS
The sWS is the late version of this prime mover which differs from the early version having an armored cab and all steel outer road wheels for the tracks instead of rubber rimmed wheels. It was developed by Büssing-NAG to replace the Sd.Kfz. 6 and 11. This vehicle was to be more powerful, though, about as powerful as the Sd.Kfz.7 if my sources are correct. It has several typical late war features which distinguishes this vehicle from those developed before the start of WWII. These feature are: very wide tracks to deal with muddy and sandy roads on the east front (just as the Tiger I, King Tiger and Panther tracks) and it has a simple shapes allowing easy and fast production. (The vehicle is build-up out of straight shapes rather then over two axes bended steel plate as seen on the Sd.Kfz. series) The later vehicles where fitted with an armored cab. Next to cargo versions, versions with anti-aircraft guns and mortars where build also. After the war an improved version was kept in production by the Czech company Tatra.

The PaK 44/2
On the eastern front the Germans encountered the Soviet 122mm guns which proved to be a formidable weapon, no wonder the German high command issued orders for a similar weapon. A gun was developed with a calibre of 128mm. This was a calibre already in use for the heaviest German anti aircraft or FLaK guns. The gun was already finished before a suitable carriage was availible. One of the German designs had a weight of about 11 tons which made it impractical as a field gun. About 50 barrels where mounted on carriages of captured Soviet ML-20 and French GPF-T field guns. The gun also served as the standard weapon of the Jagdtiger was the heaviest anti-tank gun used by the Germans during world war II.

The MACO sWS model
The sWS from Maco is a very nicely detailed model. The tools, steering wheel, steering pipes and with indicator rods are among the finest plastic parts I've seen. The fender features an bended edge normally seen with photo etched parts only. Needless to say this makes the model not suitable for beginners. Not everything is perfect though. The cabin of the sWS has a backplate for as far I know and this part is missing allowing you to see the inside of the cab. (not necessarily a a bad thing) The pioneering tools attached to the topside of the fenders have to be placed a bit more to the fender edges because the motor hood sits in the way. There are some sinkmarks here and there. Most can't be seen after completing the vehicle but the one in the bumper can, a very little putty can solve this problem, sanding the bumper down a little is also an acceptable option. There are some stamp marks too which mostly can not be seen accept those on the back of the chairs. These marks are difficult to remove because they are in a recessed area. Finally the border between the rubber tire and wheel is not very clear on the inner roadwheels of the tracks, the front wheels are very good. The list of 'downsides' seems to be long but most of them solve them selves. So this is not a perfect one but certainly a good model. MACO is a small manufacturer so the kit is slightly more expensive then it's Revell counterparts. MACO makes a lot of variants of this good looking machine:

  • Kit No. 7201 Cargo sWS with unarored cab
  • Kit No. 7204 Fully armored sWS with 15 cm panzerwerfer 42
  • Kit No. 7206 Unarmored sWS with Flak 43
  • Kit No. 7207 Cargo sWS with armored cab
  • Kit No. 7211 sWS with armored cab and Flak 43
  • Kit No. 7212 sWS with armored cab and Flak vierling
Be sure to check out Florin David's Unarmored sWS with FlaK 43 too!

The Ace PaK 44/2 model
Ace is a small company from the Ukrane. There kits suffer from heavy flash but most of them can be made in to very fine models with basic modelling skills. The instructions are a bit complicated since there are no part numbers on the sprue. You can find a layout of the sprue in the instructions with numbers. This is a complicated way of working. With the PaK44/2 these downsides are all there. In addition the instructions are not mentioning that you have to add 2 handlebars on each side of the trailer legs. This particular kit also suffered from sinkmarks in the parts so you need filler. The trailer legs have some big sinkmarks in them as well. The problem here is that the sinkmarks are in very recessed areas. I filled the holes with filler but couldn't remove the excess putty. I ended up making my own trailer legs from plastic card. I didn't recreated the rivet detail because I didn't had the right tools (thank goodness ;) )

An original and rebuild trailer leg. My advice: Don't putty away the sinkmarks in the trailerlegs. They will be obscured by other parts.

I can't recommend this model to beginners or modellers that are not willing to spend time cleaning up and puttying parts. This model is of a lesser quality then the other Ace releases I've build but with the proper attention it can be build into quite a nice representation of a heavy hitter as well. Not a model for beginners!

On to the photo's, click on them for a larger version:
The sWS:

The PaK 44/2:

The sWS and PaK44/2

The Pak and sWS compared with their contemporary counterparts: 3,7 cm PaK 36; 7,5 cm PaK 40, 8,8 cm PaK 43 Scheunentor and Sd.Kfz.7:

The sWS looks very good too with the PaK 43, also an ACE model (kit no. 72215) and is a better quality kit then the PaK 44.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

F-4 Phantom II

With 5.195 built the F-4 Phantom II is the most produced American jet fighter ever. Development began in 1953 and the aircraft made it's first flight in 1958. The phantom was designed as an interceptor and was fitted with a powerful radar but no gun. In the following years it was bought by more US defence parts and by the mid sixties it formed the backbone of the U.S. Air force, U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy air fleet. At the beginning of the Vietnam war it was thought that air to air combat between aircraft was fought solely via radars and missiles but this turned out to be a mistake and the Phantom II was equipped with a 20mm gatling gun. Needless to say the phantom II was capable of landing on an aircraft carrier. The Phantom was a popular export product as well and was used by air forces from: Germany, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom the Phantom was replaced by the tornado in the early nineties while other air forces are still using the Phantom up to today although replacement is on the way. More on the long history of this interesting fighter can be read on wikipedia and numerous other sources.

The first picture shows 4 American Phantoms, the second one 4 phantoms from the 'Thunderbirds' US Air Force stunt team (note the characteristic smoke trail behind the engines):

Phantoms in service with RAF:

A Greek, Japanese and German Phantom respectively:

Like it's real life counterpart, model phantoms are numerous too and many model kit manufactures have several phantoms in their in catalogue often in more then one scale. In 1/48th and 1/72th scale the choice is largest but in 1/144th scale there is less to choose from. I myself build 3 phantoms from 'ARII', known these days under the name 'MicroAce' available from Hobbylink Japan. At this moment they only produce packs of 3 aircraft but I bought what turned out to be the last of the kits produced under the ARII label. The benefit of having one model per box is of course the fact that you could choose many decal options. I don't really know how old the moulds are these models are from but I build several aircraft from this brand and I'm very pleased with the quality. These are build up from about 20 parts and sometimes include a simple cockpit which is also the case with there phantom. I only added seat belts.
MicroAce also produces two weapon sets for aircraft, weapon set A and B. These sets can be handy and at less then €2,00 per set not really expensive. The missiles and bombs are not as good as those delivered with the latest Revell and Dragon kits though!

Time for some photo's. I build an American, German and Japanese machine. For the American machine I used bombs from the weapon sets. For the Japanese Navy aircraft I used a the anti-ship missile from the weapon set. The decals where also very good, they are not extremely sharp in print but the adhere well to even mat painted surfaces. The German Phantom had most decals, since all 'no step' symbols are included.

These kits might be not as good as recent releases from other manufactures, this shows especially with parts from the exhaust, cockpit and wheel bays. Point is that the last two are hardly visible so although these bit are in the 'subtop' of model kits these days I still recommend them. Under the ARII label an extensive range of kits where produced and many are not availible under the MicroAce label. I hope they will produce all these aircraft in time.