by: Eirik Sandaas [ ]
I started my model building career building Tamiya’s 1/35th scale Military Miniatures. The Sherman, The Panther, The Schwimmwagen. Now that means Tamiya has a special place in my kit building heart, and I give the good quality of those old kits part of the honor of being responsible with staying with this hobby for 30 odd years.
Unfortunately I sprained my wrist doing silly things in the snow just after I started the build, and it was agony just having to look at it for better part of two weeks.
The subject of this building review is Tamiya’s new quarter scale kit, released late last year, of the Horch Type 1a, heavy personnel vehicle.
The Horch Type 1a sprang from the German Einheits-PKW (German for 'standard passenger cars') program which ran from 1936 to 1940. The idea was to standarize the different models of vehicles used by the Wehrmacht to make supply and logistics easier, as well as ensure that the vehicles had a minimum of cross-country capabilities. The program did not really succeed in any of these targets.
The German company Horch, which up until then mostly produced luxuries salons won a bid for a Schwerer geländegängiger PKW, (or heavy, off-road passenger car) with their Model 108. (Later on Horch would be included into the Auto Union car conglomerate, the precursor to today’s Audi.)
The subject of this kit is a Type 1a, which was an improved version of the original model, Type 1. (The changes was as far as I can tell mostly internal, better brakes and so on.) The Type 1a was in production from 1939 until august 1941. Then Horch introduces an improved design, the Type 40. One of the most striking visual clues was that the spare wheels were moved inside the body of the vehicle. On the Type 1a, these external wheels were free running, the idea being that they would help the vehicle avoid getting stuck when crossing obstacles. Whether this worked is not clear, but as they dropped the idea later on I suspect it did not.
Another point worth noting is that the Type 1a, unlike the Type 40, had 4-wheel steering. So if you're inclined to do a bit of work, to change the angle of the front wheels, make sure you do some research and change the angle of the rear wheels as well.
This kit comes on five sprues, of which one is transparent.
There are two “A” sprues that make up part of the suspension, seats, as well as the driver/passenger riding shotgun. The main sprue is “B”, the transparent “C” sprue is just the windshield and the optional non-covered headlamps and “Z” are the four passengers.
The Vehicles is constructed of 85 parts, not including the passengers.
Included are also decals for two vehicles:
-A vehicle of 1st Panzer Division, Russia 1941-1942
-A vehicle of the Hermann Göring Division, Southern France, late 1942
I say two, but Tamiya has also supplied a third set of (Luftwaffe) number-plates, with no further explanation of which unit that vehicle belonged to. The instructions just say “Use extra decals as you wish”. Most peculiar.
Both the described vehicles are painted German grey. All painting instructions are coded in Tamiya’s own system. But I'm glad to see they include a list of the colours at the start of the instruction guide, so even without a conversion chart there should be no problem substituting colours of your own preferred brand. (As I don't use Tamiya’s paint range I used Vallejo Model Color 70.995)
The driver and passenger are dressed in standard field grey field uniforms of different types.
Let me start of by saying that the fit of this kit is excellent. Tamiya model kits have a reputation as being well planned out, and easy to construct, and it is because of kits like this.
The typical, clear instructions detail the construction in 17 stages
Stage 1-2: The chassis and suspension.
Stage 3: The wheels.
Stage 4: Sub-assemblies of the seats and benches.
Stage 5: Mounting the seats and benches on the floor plate, gear sticks and mudflap.
Stage 6: The torpedo wall and instrument panel
Stage 7: Bodywork
Stage 8: Mounting the body to the chassis
Stage 9: Exhaust
Stage 10: Driver and doors.
Stage 11: Radiator, hood and front bumper
Stage 12: Several small sub-assemblies.
Stage 13: Front passenger, tools.
Stage 14: Windshield, spare wheels
Stage 15: Canvas roof
Stage 16: Sub-assembly of the back seat passengers
Stage 17: Mounting the passengers, guns etc.
Now, some of these can be done out of order. Personally I left off gluing in the seats and benches until I had painted the interior, similarly the wheels and tools were left until last.
Unlike some kits in this scale there is no body hub, the body is composed of flat panels. Thanks to Tamiya’s engineering it is a pain free process, and hard to get wrong. Just ensure you follow the suggested order the parts are fitted, as they interlock. Nevertheless, very young modellers might need a helping hand to make sure the parts line up. Except the two front doors all other doors and panels are molded shut, and there is no engine supplied.
There are just a few remaining Horch 108 Type 1a vehicles left. I found a lot of pictures of one of them online, a restored example in working order owned by an American re-enactment group. From what I could see from these pictures it looks like the kit has somewhat simplified detail on the interior. But if you use the supplied passengers it will be rather effectively hidden.
As noted the fit is very good, and there is no need for any filling or putty work on the body. The only point where a bit of work is needed is the canvas roof.
I did a few small improvements. First of all I drilled out the exhaust pipe. Secondly I found the searchlight to be quite small and featureless, so I glued a small lens to the front of the kit part, and painted the rim, making it look a bit more the part.
As the driver/passenger is on the duplicated “A”-spruce they are identical, except for the arms. Since the head is molded separately I'd wish Tamiya had molded two different heads on the sprue. My solution was to file down a bit of the neck on the passenger to get the head in a different position, which hides the case of “same-face-syndrome”. The rest of the passengers are quite good for being molded in plastic, but I could wish for a bit more interesting hand and arm poses. There are also some rather prominent molding lines which need to be cleaned up. Except for four rifles there is no other equipment. Steel helmets, canteens or similar personal items would have been nice.
This is a interesting kit that is very enjoyable to construct. The inclusion of the passengers is an added bonus, and takes you halfway to a diorama in a box. It is a rather busy little kit, with several tiny parts, so good light and good tweezers are your friend!