by: Roman [ ]
Neubau-Fahrzeug was the first “heavy” tank of Nazi Germany and it embodied the ideas of the tank designers of 1930's. Only 5 prototypes were made and vehicle Nr2 was released by Cyberhobby earlier this year.
The current model replicates vehicles Nr3, 4 and 5 and unlike Nr2 these tanks actually saw combat in Norway in 1940 as a part of Pz.Abt. z.b.V.40. Moreover, one of them was destroyed and its remains are kept in the resistance museum at Kvam. Overall, the performance of these huge tanks was rated as unsatisfactory and after their return from Norway they were recycled.
The kit comes in a cardboard box with an artwork from R. Volstad depicting one of the vehicles in a Norwegian landscape. As usual, the features are printed on sides and bottom of the box. Inside the box, sprues are packed in individual bags and a Dragon card has PE and decals on it.
The box states that the kit has more than 530 parts and those include:
• 7 grey styrene sprues
• 2 clear styrene sprues
• 1 grey styrene hull
• 1 PE fret
Decal sheet and instructions
The quality of the parts and molding are comparable to recent Dragon Model offerings and virtually there is no flash or ugly pin marks on visible areas.
Steps 1-10, running gear, tracks, hull assembly
NbFz had a coil spring suspension (5 springs per side) with 10 bogies and 20 road wheels. In addition, the drive sprockets, the idler wheels, 8 return rollers on top with their brackets plus 2 road wheels underneath the idlers must be build. That’s a lot of monotonous work but after you are done with the suspension, the construction goes really fast and smoothly.
What is surprising is that the hull of the vehicle is made as one piece regardless of its complicated shape. Only rear armor plate and bottom are separate parts. This eliminates the problem of alignment of hull sides as in some models and saves a lot of time while all detail is preserved. The axles for idlers and drive sprockets are also molded with the hull. Suspension access hatches come as separate parts but you can’t glue them opened since there is nothing inside. Additional details included are the towing eyes and clevises both in the front and rear of the vehicle.
Tracks come as individual links attached to the sprues. I know not every modeller likes magic tracks but here they would be preferable. From the first look they appear similar to early Panzer IV tracks but they are not identical. Per each side 124 links are required but 2-3 tracks can be added if more sag is desired. The fit of the tracks around the drive sprocket and other wheels is excellent and I left them on the model before adding fenders (same is suggested in the instruction).
The superstructure has nice detail with weld seams, bolts and filler caps on engine deck. Again, there are not that many parts that must be glued – visor ports, drivers hatch and small visor hatches on the hull sides under the main turret, a horn and a front light (can be assembled in raised position with a clear part for lens). On the engine deck armored air intake covers are provided and the air exhaust guard has etched baffles for better detail (styrene equivalent is included too). What is not clear – why Dragon made weld seams on sides of the air exhaust guard plate – it was not welded to the hull and could be removed as seen on war-time images.
The fenders feature correct pattern on both sides, have separate mud flaps and a PE bracket in the front. This bracket is not present on Norwegian images so please study the references before attaching it. Multi part exhaust muffler must be attached to the right fender. As in most of the Dragon kits the tools come molded with plastic clamps and I think they should be replaced by PE.
Steps 11-15, turrets, completion of the model
NbFz had 1 main turret with 7.5 cm and 3.7 co-axial guns and a separate MG34 plus 2 additional MG turrets. The main turret has separate base part, grab-irons on top, 2 hatches on sides with view-ports, view-port in the front and a multi-part commander cupola. MG34 in separate ball mount is not movable but the main guns can elevate. On the left side of the turret there is a rod antenna with mounting brackets.
Small MG turrets have movable MG34 mantlets, well detailed side visor ports with clear parts and 2-part hatches.
All turrets have great rivets and welds but the absence of interior detail on the hatches such as locks and visors (on the main turret) as well as in the commander’s cupola is disappointing.
Painting and markings
The decal sheet from Cartograf is of an excellent quality and includes 8 variants of markings. 6 are for training units in Germany, painted overall panzer grey and 2 options are for Norwegian campaign with 2-tonal camouflage (dark brown over panzer grey). The Norwegians markings include the elephant insignia as well as a memorial plate to a tanker died in Kvam, Norway.
This kit is a must for fans of multi-turret tank design, early WWII vehicles and something unusual. Definitely, it is a big step forward from resin models that were the only option a year ago, and it will look great straight from the box. However, interior details are absent thus the potential of depicting the tank with open hatches and a crew is limited unless you scratchbuild these elements yourself.
All known images are available online.