German model company Das Werk have been busy releasing kits at a fair rate over the last two or so years. Their range covers WW2 German military and air force hardware, but as well as a few standard offerings (STuG, Tiger II), many of their products are more unusual, and the subject of this brief review is an example: the FMG 39 / FuSE 62D “Würzburg”, a target acquiring radar installation.
Although the principles behind what would become radar had been known since around 1900, work on developing practical equipment did not gather pace in various countries until the 1930s. By the outbreak of war, Germany had a few installations on North Sea islands for naval use, but were not yet making use of the technology for their anti-aircraft defences. However, once it was demonstrated that radar could provide AAA with targeting systems that were not dependent on visual or acoustic observation, and could detect the position of aircraft more accurately and at a greater distance no matter what the weather conditions, then development proceeded rapidly.
In 1942 the model D Würzburg equipment started to be deployed to front line units. This consisted of a 3m parabolic dish mounted on a central column or pedestal that powered the tilt and rotation of the dish. On one side were seats for two radio operators who passed information on to the command and control centre. Mounted on the other side a cathode ray tube rangefinder and a CRT height tracking scope were each operated by standing crew members. At the end on this side was a “sidecar” seat, equipped with a back rest and heated leg shrouds which contained controls for powering the antenna on and off, and for rotating the entire device. The cruciform mounting plate was similar to that of the Flak 88, on top of which was a circular wooden platform for the crew. For transportation purposes both the sides of the wooden platform and the steel base plate were folded up, and the dish split in two and folded down to reduce height. Single axle wheel units, again similar to those used for the Flak 88, were attached to each end to allow the device to be towed as a trailer.
The kit comes in a good quality top opening box with each of the three sprues separately bagged.
- Sprue G – mounting base, control seat shrouds and other medium size parts
- Sprue F – wooden platform, parabolic dish, mounting arms and central column
- Sprue H – smaller components.
No decals or etched metal parts are included, so the only other thing in the box is the instruction booklet which has been printed to appear aged, complete with a coffee cup ring. Four colour profiles have been provided by Ammo (Mig Jimenez) three of which show attractive camouflage schemes, the final one being just dark yellow. The box lid states that the kit has been produced in co-operation with Amusing Hobby.
On first view the kit looks to be well detailed and the parts crisply rendered in the dark yellow plastic. The kit seems to be designed to be a relatively quick and simple build. The main mount for example is basically in two parts, upper and lower, (parts 10 and 13 on sprue G), and I imagine some manufacturers would have broken this down into several more components. Another example is the wooden platform being in a single part (part 6 on sprue F). Clearly this has advantages in terms of simplicity and speed of construction, but it does mean that neither the platform nor the mount can be optionally built folded up in their transport configuration. Sprue H is well spaced out with most of the smaller parts attached at one point, and nothing had fallen off on my example, which had arrived through the post. Slide moulding has been used on some of the components on this sprue.
On closer inspection we can see some subtle texturing on the mounting ring and leg shrouds for example. Buttons, switches and vents on the various control panels are well defined, as are most of the many rivets and bolts. We can see minor flash on many parts such as the seat back (G17), the control handle gear housing (H57) and the control seat base (G19). Parts also feature fairly prominent mould seam lines, for example the frame of the seat pad (H26) and the central antenna (H39).
A number of components have injection tags attached, I think this is where parts are relatively thick and is an attempt to ensure that the mould is filled, but there are a few examples of sunken indentations where this hasn’t quite succeeded, such as the two axles that the dish attaches to (H58), that gear housing again (H57), and also at the edges on the face of the parabolic dish (F9). Sprue G in particular has a number of semi-circular tags on the backs of parts, but these aren’t a problem and can easily be snipped off with cutters and won’t show on the finished model.
While most of the small rivets are well moulded, there is a problem where rivets are at the edge of the mould, so that the seam line runs through them; the worst case is the dish mounting arms where it will be difficult to clean up the seam line and have regular looking rivets on the back edges (F3/4 and F7/8), and those rivets around the outer edge of the dish suffer the same problem.
The wooden platform doesn’t feature any wood grain detail, possibly a good thing. The upper side features many well defined indentations which I assume represent countersunk screws or bolts. Photos suggest that this platform was of relatively lightweight construction, and there is probably plenty of scope for roughing up the wooden elements to look worn and less even.
The instructions are good and clear, with well-defined steps and minor subassemblies in sub-step call-outs. There are a few instances where the same isometric view of the same part is repeated cross several steps, when sometimes a different view might have been more helpful in order to get angles and alignments right.
As stated previously, this is a relatively simple kit in terms of the numbers of parts and steps. There is no photo etch to get hung up about, and no decals, so it’s just build up the plastic and then paint it. Most of the construction time is likely to be spent cleaning up parts, removing mould seams, filing off tags, and probably some minor filler work on those small indentations. The central pedestal and the housing for the controls are effectively a series of cylindrical and cuboid boxes, and these will need to be assembled carefully to ensure that edges are neat and square.
While the platform and base cannot be built in the folded transportation configuration, the dish is built in two parts mounted on separate arms, and these can be made movable so that the dish can be tilted up and down, and also split in two and folded back in the stowed position. The entire device is also to be mounted on the base so that it can be rotated through 360˚. Note that wheeled trailer axles are not included in the kit, so it can only be built as an operational installation on the ground, and neither are any crew figures included.
Painting instructions are comprehensive in terms of giving three interesting camouflage schemes plus the basic dunkelgelb, but also simplified in that the only items that are not painted in the camo colours are the seats which are said to be polished metal. With some of the control panels there is some scope for detail painting of knobs and dials, and perhaps guidance or decals could have been provided. As it is that will have to be down to the modeller’s research or imagination.
This has been a quick in box review, but I have been building it and below there is a link to the build log.
This is an intriguing kit if you are looking for a military model that is completely different from the usual subject matter. Something that struck me was that in comparison to most kits I look at, I don’t know what any of the parts are called nor, mostly, what they are for. It may also be an interesting diversion from large and complex builds, and of course could be used in a diorama alongside flak installations.
Although above I mentioned a number of minor shortcomings in terms of the moulding, I think these points are less significant than the fact that otherwise the kit looks to be well designed and reasonably detailed. It retails in the UK for around £20 which seems a very fair price, and of course if figures, etched metal, decals and perhaps trailer wheels had been included then the price would likely have been nearing double that amount. If you want to add figures, some of Das Werk’s own resin flak crew may well be adaptable.
As stated above there is a Build Log
in which I look at how this model builds up in detail.
Werner Muller Ground Radar Systems of the Luftwaffe 1939-1945
Arthur O. Bauer Deckname “Würzburg”
(Verlag Historischer Technikerliteratur, Herten)