In their customary style, Dragon have followed their September 2012 release of the Panzerfähre Prototype Nr.I with a Panzerfähre Prototype Nr.II. Both prototype vehicles were built by Magirus in response to a requirement for an armoured version of the amphibious tracked towing Landwasserschlepper, which was itself a production vehicle. An Armorama review of Panzerfähre Nr.I can be viewed here
; as described in that review, the intention was that the Panzerfähren would act as ferry boats that could carry a payload across water either by means of a towed floating trailer or by employing a raft fixed between a pair of Panzerfähren. With this second release 1/72 scale fans are now ahead of those of the 1/35 persuasion, as in that scale Dragon have so far only released Prototype Nr.I.
what you get
Ron Volstad’s box art this time represents both Panzerfähren types together with their raft. As before, there are ten sprues, with eight of them being identical to Nr.I. Starting with the Panzerfähre specific parts, sprue A has the smaller deck details and D is the one piece hull, both identical to the first kit. Z is a subtly different new deck (photo 13), while C is the new sprue (photo 14), smaller than the sprue B it replaces, as this time there’s just two of the big deck vents, plus two flotation sponsons and the boxy crew compartment.
As before, and indeed as with the original Magirus prototypes, the remainder of the parts are adopted from previous PzKpfw IVs: sprue E is the bogies, F a bag of wheel hubs, with I, J, K and M being the sprockets, idlers, road wheels and return rollers respectively, and X the DS tracks.
Decals are similar to the first kit in having three white crosses, though the sheet is not identical: the sheet for Nr.I included four tiny number “1” decals, this time there are two slightly bigger “2” decals; oddly, both sheets are numbered “7489” which is the Dragon kit number of Nr.I. I have to say that I don’t understand the intention of these numbers; the instructions for Nr.II show just one of the “2”s positioned in the centre of the front plate of the driver compartment, and doesn’t show where the other one goes. In the Nr.I kit, one of the three “1”s is shown as optional on the rear hull plate. When first looking into this model, I assumed that the statement in the Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two by Hilary Doyle and Peter Chamberlain, that “Two prototypes were delivered in 1942” implied that it was two vehicles in total, so one of each type, which would create the scene shown on the box lid for this kit. Photographs however show that there were two of each
prototype produced, and there is a photo which shows two of this Nr.II type either side of a raft upon which is a PzKpfw IV; one vehicle has a “2” on the driver compartment, the other a “1”. It would then I suppose have made more sense if Dragon had provided a 1 and a 2 decal, and though of course that is a small shortcoming, it seems a bit confused.
Having virtually completed Nr.I for that review, I only went so far as to construct the differences for this review, so please refer to the first review for all of the other details if you wish. The construction sequence in the instructions is the same as before, beginning with wheels and hull tub, but I skipped straight to the new step 3, starting off with the crane. As noted in the Nr.I review, this is a quite simplified single part that represents a crane composed of three hollow box section members mounted on X braced supports, and as before, the flash is quite noticeable (photos 27 and 28). Next are the two vents, shown in photo 29 before and after clean up, with relatively heavy mould lines evident. The anchor and the two exhaust mufflers were then mounted, and here I realised that I had made yet another review boo-boo, in that I had removed the exhaust pipes from the ends of the mufflers (photo 31), having mistaken them for a part of the sprue. Since many modellers would probably want to drill out the opening of the pipes, it’s probably just as easy to do what I did and add the pipes from drilled 1mm rod (photo 39).
Part C38 is a very plain cylinder, presumably another ventilator (photo 32) and its location requires that some of the deck rivets are removed (photos 33, 34, 35). That was it for step 3, as I left the headlamps for later, as it makes much more sense to mount them after the crew compartment is attached, since they need to be fixed to it… very odd sequencing.
Step 4 then sees the crew cab being assembled, and in photo 36 we see the mating surface of the main component with quite a rough appearance, needing to be carefully reshaped to enable a good fit with the front plate. Photo 37 shows the assembled cab with the glue run around the inside. This is then fitted to the deck, and as with Nr.I, edges of the over-size locating holes remain visible after assembly, see photo 40.
The capstan winch was cemented into its semi-circular locating hole, which is shaped to allow installation the opposite way to that shown in the instructions, but this is easily remedied by reshaping the corresponding locating pin. This is another component that has a fair amount of moulding seam (photo 38) as well as simplification, in that the top surface should have a ridged construction, as per the box art.
As in Nr.I, I found the attachment of the headlamps a bit woolly: photo 42 shows how I kept a portion of the sprue attachment so as to slightly extend the length of the horizontal rod so that it reaches the cab. Photo 43 shows how the lamp locating hole appears to be positioned a tiny bit too far forward so that it naturally leans back a little when trying to engage with the cab – it has to barely touch the very front of the cab surface, evident in photo 44.
Photo 45 is my warning not to do as I did with the exhaust pipes, and remember to leave sufficient attachment point for the mirrors to mount to the deck. The instructions show the mirrors being mounted dead straight, though I imagine they would have to be at some kind of angle to enable crew in the cab to see anything reflected in them. This concludes the upper deck details, and shows how this kit is actually even simpler than Nr.I.
Photo 46 shows the flotation sponsons being installed, the fit being perfect, and illustrates how they differ from those in Nr.I (the model on the left) in that they have an angled outer edge, giving a slightly more pointed appearance to the front of the vehicle. I finished off the build for this review by attaching the deck to the hull, to give the view shown in photos 47-51. Photos 55 and 56 are of the Nr.II and Nr.I prototypes respectively, to show the differences in frontal appearance and the remaining photographs continue the comparison, our Nr.II version being the lighter grey model.
In the review of Nr.I I praised the fact that it was something a bit different, but it would seem odd to repeat that about Nr.II as it is so very similar to the first kit. Once again it is a big and impressive 1/72 model, longer and higher than its PzKpfw IV origin. It can also be built quickly, so if it’s painting you prefer, this is a good subject.
We have the by now familiar PzKpfw IV running gear with separate hubs to allow easier painting of the tyres, though it still seems odd that the instructions take no account of this at all and start the construction sequence off with the wheels; ironic , considering all their advanced moulding and CAD technology, that Dragon are so unhelpful with their instructions. Some of the details are compromised to reduce parts count and simplify construction: the crane, funnels and capstan are all noticeably cruder than they might have been, and the crew cab has all of the hatches moulded closed. I’m not convinced by the box top crew man emerging from that structure on the rear of the cab – I’m willing to be proved wrong, but isn’t that a ventilator of some kind rather than a hatch? As before there’s no attempt to provide the folding railings that line either side of the deck, although they still make an appearance in the painting guide. This time the painting guide also shows that there should be an aerial, for which there is a mount on the front left cab corner.
I was perusing old Armorama reviews of Dragon 1/72 Armor Pro kits recently and read the following from 2006:
It becomes difficult to find new things to say about these releases from Dragon, since their moulding quality has become of late, immaculate. This kit is no exception. Flawless. I would be really surprised to open a Dragon kit these days and find any trace of flash....it just doesn't happen anymore in a Dragon kit.
Looking at photos 27 – 29, 36 and 38 I think it is clear that the same could not be said for this kit. I wonder if it is partly the attempt to reduce part count and simplify construction that leads to some of the relatively complicated shapes having such heavy mould seams. Having said that, the crew cab is not a particularly complex shape yet exhibited the rough mating surface such as you might expect on an Airfix kit from the 1960s.
Enough nitpicking, there’s a little part of me that might enjoy trying to put right some of those simplified details as if on some nostalgia trip; after all, there’s fewer and fewer subjects for conversion around these days – now you can’t even spend pleasant evenings converting a Panzerfähre Nr.I to a Nr.II! So get your plastic card and styrene rods out to go detailing, or otherwise, just building it as it is will produce an impressive model that’s also a great canvas for a Schwarzgrau finish with plenty of waterstains.