Tamiya #35237 Mobelwagen 3.7cm Flak (in box review)
Developed in 1943 to give Panzer units a mobile vehicle to defend against aerial attack, the Sd.Kfz. 161/3 3.7cm Flak auf Fgst. Pz. Kpfw. IV (Sf) was fielded in March 1944. A total of 240 had been produced when production was terminated in March 1945. Based on late-production Panzer IV hull chassis supplied by Krupp-Gruson, the vehicle carried one 3.7cm Flak43 anti- aircraft gun. A 7.92mm MG42 was provided as a secondary defense weapon. The vehicle's high slab sides gained it the sobriquet "Mobelwagen" or moving van. While awkward looking, the vehicle was deadly. It's 3.7cm gun could be traversed through 360 degrees and elevated from -6 degrees to 90 degrees. It carried 416 rounds of 3.7cm ammo. While it was planned to replace the vehicles with the Panzer IV Kugelblitz with twin 30mm guns and the Panther 3.7cm doppelflak, the war ended before either of these upgrades became practical.
The new Tamiya kit isn't all that new. The lower hull is from the 1994 vintage Panzer IV as is the suspension and running gear. Both tube type idler and the later style are provided on the suspension sprue, although the only photos I've seen of a 3.7cm Mobelwagen show it with the later style idler. Return rollers are the late style all-steel, and all of the road wheels are rubber tired. Tools and accessories also are from the earlier Panzer IV on-board equipment and weapons set.
Construction begins with the lower hull, cementing on the return rollers, rubber bump stops, front hull plate and towing brackets. Step two takes you to the rear hull plate with assembly of the tow bar, exhaust mounts, track tensioning levers, and ends of the idler wheel axles. Step three installs the final drive housings, road wheel bogies and assembled rear hull plate. Step four sees the modeler assemble the road wheels, select either early or late idler wheels, and assemble the drive sprocket, trapping the vinyl collar between the halves in order that the drive sprocket might rotate. Step 5 installs the assembled wheels plus adds the rear tow hooks and the front bar for spare track.
In step 6 we begin work on the upper hull, doing its underside first. Rear fenders and cooling vents for the engine are installed along with the upper rear hull plate. Turning the upper hull over so that the top is visible, we begin step 7 by installing ammo lockers in the gun well and installing hatches for the driver and assistant driver. The instruction show that these open by sliding inward toward the center of the vehicle and can be positioned opened or closed. Small parts such as a crow bar, rear light bar, and lifting handles for the engine deck hatches are installed at this point.
In step 8 we assemble the front Bosch light, three-piece jack, and spare road wheels. In step 9, the 3.7cm gun's turntable is installed with a polyvinyl cap to hold it in place, thus permitting the gun to be traversed. Small tools and some detail parts are added at this stage. More tools and gun well details are added in step 10, along with the spare road wheel brackets. Tracks (late war style with ice cleats molded in) are cemented together and installed in step 11, followed by the upper hull being mated to the lower hull. In step 12, the late style flame dampening exhaust covers and spare road wheels are added.
The armored shield walls of the upper superstructure are tackled in steps 13 and 14 with quite a bit of interior detail showing or added to these parts. Get ready with the body putty to fill in a bunch of honking big knock-out pin marks on the insides of these walls. Once this is finished, the optional position front, side and rear gun tub shield walls can be installed on the vehicle. Cement the plastic hooks (parts E43) onto the side walls. They are designed to be engaged when the walls are raised to hold them upright. The vehicle can be built with the armored tub walls either raised or lowered, however some master modelers out there surely will devise a way to make them functional. This shield wall assembly takes the modeler through step 20.
In step 21 work begins on the 3.7cm FlaK43. This is a rather complicated assembly where care with the glue must be observed if the gun is to be elevated and depressed. The gun's inside and outside trunnion cement to a central frame which fits into a lower frame cradle. The 37-piece gun assembly runs through step 26, and this doesn't include assembly of its ammo feed trays or the mesh and framework for the spent shell casings net. Templates are provided to cut the screen to fit. At step 30, the completed gun assembly is pressed into the turntable in the upper hull gun tub and the model is done.
One crew figure is provided in summer black panzer jacket and pants, scanning the skies. A three-color (dark yellow, red brown, dark green) paint scheme for an unknown unit in France, summer 1944, is provided along with two black w/white outline German crosses for the sides of the shields.
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