Great Wall Hobby
German sWS with 2cm Flakvierling
Great Wall Hobby 1:35 kit #L3525
Review by Terry Ashley
Technical Advice by Jon Bailey

Great Wall Hobby
The Schwere Wehrmachtschlepper (sWS) was a simple 5 tonne, low-speed, half-track designed to replace the Sd.Kfz.6, Sd.Kfz.11 and similar types and used primarily for cargo transport. The initial unarmoured cargo version was produced by Büssing-NAG from December 1943 till the end of the war with a total of 825 produced; this was continuing post-war by Tatra in Czechoslovakia.

The sWS was powered by a 6 cylinder, water-cooled Maybach HL42TRKMS gasoline engine generating 100 horsepower (75 kW) which gave it a top speed of 27 klm per hour (17.0 mph) on good roads with a load capacity of 4,000 kilograms (8,800 lb).

The Kit:
Great Wall Hobby continues their sWS series of kits with this latest release labelled sWS with 2cm Flakvierling. This follows the previous kits of the Schwere Wehrmachtschlepper (sWS) 60cm Infrared Searchlight Carrier 'UHU' (kit #L3511), the sWS General cargo version with crew (kit #L3512) and most recent the 3.7cm FlaK 43 Auf (kit #L3516).

This kit is basically the sWS with 3.7cm FlaK 43 Auf kit the a new 2cm Flakvierling 38 which itself is the same as that released in the new Bronco German 2cm Flakvierling 38 (kit #CB-35057).

Just as the sWS 60cm 'UHU' didn’t actually exist, nor did this version with the 2cm Flakvierling 38 as an official production type. By the time the sWS was in production the 3.7cm FlaK 43 was considered the more appropriate weapon and was used on the actual sWS with 3.7cm FlaK 43 that did see active service.

Update: But I've beed advised there are images existing of as least one sWS with the 2cm Flakvierling 38 mounted on the rear bed as per this kit. It appears to be a one off modification as we seen with other vehicles as there was no official documention on the 2cm vehicle. (Thanks to Christian and Julian for the info)

The kit has 429 parts in light gray plastic with another 248 individual track links in the same gray plastic plus 60 etched parts. Added to this are the decal sheet and 11 page instruction booklet and a colour poster of the box art included which also has the colour painting guide on the back. Note: The images of the 2cm Flakvierling 38 included with this review are from the Bronco kit review in beige plastic but are in the same light grey plastic as the sWS parts in this kit.

Etched parts
Great Wall Hobby

The quality of the moulding is excellent with clean crisp details virtually free of any flash or pin marks and any present is quite minor and easily dealt with. There are the usual mould seam lines to be removed and as some of the parts are extremely small and you will need to take care removing these from the sprues and during assembly.

Dimensionally the kit measures up very well against the 1:35 plans in the Tank Magazine and Panzer Tracts No.12 listed below with parts such as the running gear, track and hull widths being spot on. There is also disagreement on some dimensions between the plans with the kit matching parts of one plan and parts of the other. So overall it sort of evens out and the kit certainly doesn’t look out of proportion in any way compared the available photos.

Included in the kit is a number of options including two styles of front wheel rims, two sizes of drive sprocket, the initial large and later smaller diameter sprocket as well as two styles of idler wheels, the initial spoke idler and the solid disc idler with the later style of road wheels which have the full dish wheels on the inside and spoke wheels on the outside of each wheel station.

The kit is also broken down into sub-assemblies which can be built separately and brought together at final assembly which allows you to work on one while the glue/paint dries on another and this helps speed up assembly. The sub-assemblies are the lower chassis/suspension, forward cab/engine compartment and rear cargo tray, plus of course the crew figures.

The large lower chassis is moulded perfectly square in one piece which ensures there is a solid basis for the rest of the kit to be built on and added to this are all the separate detail parts. These include the inner torsion bar channels in two halves each and care is needed here to match the right parts together as there are small differences between the channels. It’s a good idea to mark the part numbers on the parts in a fine felt pen as you remove them from the sprues to make sure there are no mix-ups.

These channels fit neatly inside the chassis without any problems and there is also a detailed 5 part winch, 4 part fuel tank, a couple of bulkheads and two air tanks added inside the chassis as well as a 5 part winch cable guide. This guide has three very small roller wheels trapped between the two sides and removing these rollers from the sprue and fitting will really test you patience as well as eyesight. Considering some of these chassis parts can't be seen after the rear cargo bay is fitted you could probably save yourself a bit of work by not fitting some of the parts, it’s your choice. It should also be noted that the winch was not fitted to Armoured sWS types so we can assume it wouldn't be fitted on this vehicle either.

Added to the chassis side are the 5 axles per side which have subtle cast texturing on the arms and you have to be careful removing the moulding seams so not to eliminate the texturing, the arms are hidden by the road wheels anyway so it probably doesn’t matter a lot?

The axle arms have a small pin to ensure they are all aligned correctly in the neutral position and if you wanted to articulate the suspension you just cut off the pin and reposition the arm.

At the back the idler axle mounting has a separate threaded adjustment bolt that fits through the hull bracket with a separate tensioning bolt and gives very good definition to the mounting.

There is also a three part towing pintle, boarding step and compressed air valve as well as the towing pintle on the front of the chassis with separate pin.

The front suspension/axle assembly is made up of 18 parts that apart from the moulding seams doesn’t need any further cleanup and the front wheel axle stubs are designed to be steerable so be careful with the glue. The only adjustments made were to reduce the depth of the small brackets on the end of each axle half (parts B65, B66) so these will fit a little loose inside the axle stubs (parts A13) to allow easier movement.

The pins on the steering linkages (part B10, B11) fit into the steering rod (part B63) and it’s best to heat melt the ends of the pins to secure these as there is nothing to actually hold these in place if you want the wheels steerable. The remainder of the assembly is fairly straightforward but a little fiddly so take care to get everything in the right position and the assembled suspension unit then fits neatly into the locating holes on the bottom of the chassis.

There are 4 steering linkages added to the left side of the chassis and as we have seen on some other kits these are not designed to be movable and once glued in place negate the workable steering?

This does allow you to position the front wheels at any angle as you glue the linkages for a bit of animation and it’s also a simple task to modify the steering linkages to make these workable for truly workable suspension if you wish.

This entails cutting the locating pins from the parts to fill the corresponding locating holes and when dry drill holes for the thin plastic rod pins (I used 0.6mm plastic rod) added to the appropriate places on the linkages. You then slip the pins through the holes and secure by heat melting the ends of the pins which results in fully workable steering. See images.

This entails cutting the locating pins from the parts to fill the corresponding locating holes and when dry drill holes for the thin plastic rod pins (I used 0.6mm plastic rod) added to the appropriate places on the linkages. You then slip the pins through the holes and secure by heat melting the ends of the pins which results in fully workable steering. See images.

Steering arm modifications.
Holes drilled in chassis and linkages to take the pins added to the rods.
The pins are heat welded to secure in place.
Note; the locating pins are cut from the parts and glued into the locating holes before
drilling the pin holes.

Bronco Models
Modified steering linkages allow for full movement.
Bronco Models
Steering with wheels added
Bronco Models

The front wheels have alternate hubs with subtle differences in the details such as rim bulge and number of lightening holes with both types seen in photos of the sWS so there is no real preference here as either can be used. The tyres are in six sections each which are sandwiched together for excellent representations of the tread pattern but you have to ensure the segments are put in the right order and also you should squeeze these together tightly when gluing to eliminate any gaps.

The hubs are a nice tight fit inside the tyres when assembled with the final wheels looking excellent with the well defined tread pattern; the only thing missing is any tyre side wall embossing but apart from that are very well done wheels.

Each drive sprocket is made up of three plastic parts and care is needed to clean up the mould seams inside the outer disc spokes and you need to watch the tooth alignment when gluing the inner and outer sprocket discs together. There are two locating pins between the two sprocket halves and you should test fit these as the teeth only align with the pins one way, if you fit the pins the other way the teeth don’t align so make sure you get the two dish halves aligned correctly before gluing.

Added to the sprockets are etched step rings around the central hub and these have tread plate texturing on both sides for a good impression. It’s best to bend the etched part around a suitably sized drill bit shaft and to solder the ends together for a stronger join, cyanoacrylate just won’t hold in this situation.

The soldered ring can then be added to the sprocket hub with the fit being spot on making for a snug fit and this adds excellent definition to the sprocket hub.

As mentioned there two sizes of drive sprockets supplied in the kit and the majority of reference photos of the sWS show the larger sprocket with only one shot I found with the smaller sprocket. This does show both were used but it appears the larger is far more common, it also looks better IMHO.

The road wheels are the early solid dish type with 5 small cut-outs and these are well done with excellent hub details and good dish profile. Assembly is quite straightforward but I did have to enlarge the locating hole on the inside of the outer wheel (parts A25) slightly to better fit over the end of the axles. You just need a couple of twists of a 1mm drill bit to enlarge the hole but be extremely careful you don’t drill right through the outer wheel hub in the process.

At the back are alternate 2 part idler wheels, the initial spoke type and the later solid dish type with references showing the spoke type are more commonly seen so check if you are building a particular vehicle as to the idler type used.

These are individual plastic links that are not workable but designed to just glue together with the track runs formed around the drive sprockets and idlers before the glue dries completely. Detail on the track links is very well defined but there are some small pin marks on the inside of the alternate links without the guide teeth but these seem to disappear after assembly and are not at all obvious on the links I glued together for this review.

While the links are not workable they are large enough for you to drill and add a 5mm wire pin at each side to make them workable if you wished. Or if you have a set of Friul metal sWS tracks (set #ATL44) these should also fit as the Italeri sWS sprockets are the same size and tooth pitch as the sprockets in this kit.

The kit includes a large moulding for the front fenders and interior floor pan that includes a full driver’s compartment and this can be seen if you leave the cabin top hatch and visors open but if you are building the kit buttoned up you can eliminate the interior to save on assembly time.

The engine firewall has details included on both the engine and cabin side with a separate horn on the engine side and separate instrument panel with decal dials, radio and small lever box with three very small levers added to the driver’s side as well as the three separate foot pedals and three gear levers for a fairly well populated compartment. The seats are in three parts each and the floor has subtle tread plate included and there is additional equipment added to the sidewalls such as junction boxes and an MP40.

The two forward visors have separate 4 part inner brackets which allow these to be positioned open or closed depending on your preference?

Added to the fenders are the pioneer tools with moulded on clips, the two front head lights with separate base and two part light, the width indicator posts with a mirror on the left post plus the Notek light with etched bracket.

Under the left fender is a three part exhaust muffler with the end of the short pipe hollowed out for a better appearance and two bumper bars are added to the front.

Armoured Cab/Engine Compartment:
The engine compartment shell is a one piece moulding with separate panels for the Driver’s visor plate, roof, rear wall and the fixed and opening engine bay panels plus the large front armour plate.

There are two small armoured “wings” added to the front plate and you should test fit this to the engine compartment to ensure these are glued at the correct angle.

All the panels fitted perfectly without the need for any trimming and the central engine doors can be shown open or closed if you wish and it’s all ready for a resin engine from the likes of CMK or SKP?

One notable detail on the engine doors is the 4 large intake louvers on the left door are moulded open for a very good appearance and the two part roof hatch is free of inner pin marks and can also be shown open or closed as can the driver’s visors as mentioned above.

The fit of the upper armoured cab to the lower fenders is very good with small locating pins resulting in no filler or trimming being required.

Rear Bed Tray:
The rear tray bed is one large section thankfully moulded perfectly flat without any warping and has fine tread plate on the top and ribbing on the underside. Added to this are the underside mounting frame and the rear storage compartment and forward crew seats and the side fold down sides with plastic frames and etched mesh panels.

Being from the 3.7cm FlaK 43 kit the rear bed still has the indented locating points for the FlaK 43 triangular base which are virtually impossible to eliminate without damaging the treat plate pattern with you drilling a further two holes for the 2cm Flakvierling mounting pedestal. This is a circular base with three mounting posts but this is conjecture and it's feasible it would have been mounted on its own triangular base the same as the 3.7cm FlaK 43 allowing the gun to dismounted if need be?

Flakvierling 38:
As mentioned above this is a joint development between Bronco and Lion Roar and is the same Flakvierling 38 that is included in the Bronco 2cm Flakvierling 38 w/Sd.Ah.52 (kit #CB-35057).

Therefore this section of the review is basically the same as for the Bronco kit review apart from the minor differences for this kit such as the fixed Loader’s seat support and the rounded pedestal base replacing the Triangular base for mounting on the rear sWS bed tray.

Upper Carriage:
The Upper Carriage is in two main halves with an inner bushing that connects the two side mounted Gun Cradles, this bushing can be fitted later as it is not actually trapped between the two carriage halves. Note there are two holes that need to be drilled out on either side of the carriage if you are going to fit the armoured recuperator/spent shell collector box later.

At the front is a three part recuperator housing with the circular ribbing moulded on and two small etched parts added for detail. The join seam between the two recuperator halves (parts P10, P11) will need some filler with the assembled recuperator housing fitting to the front of the carriage without any problems.

The large locking lever (part P20) can be left off until later in the assembly for ease of handling and the front flap for the spent shell collector box is in two halves and again the inside join seam will need some filler if you are going to have the flap in the open position. The flap is designed to open and close which it does nicely allowing you to alter the position at any time depending on the final configuration of the model.

At the back of the carriage is the gunner’s position with lower firing pedals moulded with the foot plate, this makes the pedals a bit chunky and you may wish to trim these at the back for a better appearance? The seat rest and traverse gear drive shaft are in one piece with the gunner’s seat and backrest as separate parts, the drive shaft ends fit into the foot plate and underside of the traverse gear housing without any problems.

Close-up of Gunner's foot pedals

The traverse gear housing is in two parts with the two small thumb knobs included along with separate traverse hand wheels with the assembled gear housing attached to its mounting plate which in turn is attached to the upper carriage while aligning with the top of the traverse gear drive shaft.

The main sight bracket is a one piece moulding with clean detail on both sides and this is attached to the upper carriage recess next to the battery box  with the stop handle (part P37) also attached to the upper carriage. The smaller L shaped sight bracket arm is attached to the main bracket by way of the small locating pin but this is not designed to move so you have to decide on the final elevation of the guns when gluing in place.

Added to the bracket arm is the gun sight (part P25) with moulded on solid plastic sight ring or a three part etched ring that provides far better detail, this requires you to cut off the plastic sight ring to take the etched part. Unfortunately the sight provided in the kit doesn’t represent any known Flakvierling 38 sight I have seen in any references or photos.

Early versions of the Flakvierling 38 had the Flakvisier 40 sight (also used on the FlaK 38) with distinctive square sight housing; later versions had the Linealvisier 21 or the revised Schwebekreisvisier 30/38 sight.

As mentioned the sight provided doesn’t represent any of these apart from the ring sight itself and one option is to replace the kit sight with the etched Schwebekreisvisier 30/38 sight from the Lion Roar Flakvierling 38 update set #LAS35008 . This also is not perfect missing the eye guard and being a little oversized but does give a better representation of the sight than the kit sight does.

Close-ups of the incorrect kit sight (left) and the Lion Roar sight (right)

The small gunner’s shield with separate sight door is added to the top of the carriage.

2cm FlaK guns and cradles:
The 2cm guns are dimensionally accurate with the barrels having the textured hand grips included on the tubes. Being plastic these are not that well defined and are slightly raised and the flash suppressors not fully hollowed out with just indentations for the suppressor holes. As they go, they are quite good plastic representations of the 2cm barrel if the finer details are not of paramount concern but can be enhanced considerably by replacement with available metal 2cm barrels.

Barrel detail close-ups showing the depicted hand grips and flash supressor
Overall 2cm FlaK gun

Added to the guns are a choice of magazine bracket with or without a magazine and two part sleighs, these are different for the top and bottom on either side so check the instructions for the correct numbered part. The sleigh gun attachment bracket is also separate for good definition between the gun and bracket and these are attached to the circular gun cradle along with the recoil cylinders and the curved front gun shield.

Detail on the cradle is very well done and includes the two fine firing levers and engraved elevation quadrants around the curved lower cable drum bracket on the left side but the three rectangular holes are not opened out as they should be, and hollowing these out will improve the appearance. Also the two small deflecting pullies on the rear edge of the left side cradle are missing, but it should be fairly easy to add these with plastic card discs.

When fitting the gun cradles to the Upper Carriage there is a central bushing (part P16) with square locating lugs that slips into the carriage and joins the two cradles to ensure they align correctly.

After attaching the Gun Cradles to the Upper Carriage the left side Cradle is attached to the sight arm by way of the connecting rod (part P28) but this along with the sight arm are not designed to move. Therefore you have to decide on the gun elevation required as you glue the connecting rod in place as mentioned above along with gluing the sight arm in place.

If you wanted to have the guns elevate the pivot points for the sight arm and connecting rod would need to be altered with pins added to allow movement which shouldn’t be a huge task for the average modeller.

The Platform includes the central cut-out plate for fitting the Triangular Base; the two tube couplings for the gun shields plus the two side magazine racks and the inner sections of the slatted crew walk boards, the separate outer walk boards can be positioned in the down or raised position for the travel mode.

The magazine racks have the small square wood pads on the bottom and rear plates with the triangular segments as etched parts for excellent definition; this allows you to add any number of 20 round magazines provided to the racks as required.

Omissions from the Platform are the rectangular box and bent rod tubes on rear of the magazine racks, the two foot rest posts at the front and the brackets for securing the outer walk boards when in the travel position. Most of these items are included in otherFlakvierling kits and their omission here is quite puzzling.

The two Loader’s seats have separate back rests and the mounting posts have the lower U bracket for fitting (unglued) to the separate small mounting bracket (part Db9), this mounting bracket is glued to the outer walk board section allowing the seats to be movable for positioning in the raised firing or folded travel modes, a nice feature. 

Fitting of the Upper Carriage to the Platform is very precise and will hold in place without glue such is the good fit, you would of course glue the assemblies together to avoid and embarrassing incident, but it does allow you to temporarily fit the two together to test fit other components along the way.

Gun Shields:
As I don’t have the actual dimensions of the shields and the only 1:35 plans available to me are those in the Model Art Sd.Kfz.7/1/2 book with the kit shields matching quite well overall but I won’t comment further on the dimensions until further info is available.

The plastic shield/mounting plates are moulded a uniform thickness (or should that be thinness?) with fine rivet, bracket and latch detail on both sides as well as being completely free of any pin marks for nice looking plastic shields.

The inner shields are in one piece which means you have to cut off and reposition the top folding section should you want the shields in the travel position, also note the inner shield panels are fitted at an angle of about 70 degrees to the main shields which is not that clear in the instructions.

The pin on the bottom of the inner section fits into the tube couplings on the platform for easy fitting. The square armoured box over the front deflector box is in three parts with alternate front plates in the open or closed position depending on your choice.

Additional items:
Included in the kit are four 2 magazine ammo boxes in two halves with separate top lids to allow you to show open or closed as well as sixteen 20 round magazines that can be added to the magazine racks or inside the ammo boxes. To fit the magazines into the boxes you will need to cut off the moulded on detail on the parts of the magazine that are inside the box to allow these to fit properly due to the thickness of the box sides.

Also included are two spare barrel cases with the barrels and other detail moulded into the lower section with the lids as separate parts allowing you again to build them open or closed.

The detail on the magazines and ammo boxes is very nicely done with the magazines having a round moulded into the top of the magazine for a good appearance if displayed on their own, note you get magazines with the bracket moulded on for fitting to the guns as mentioned above leaving all the 16 magazines provided to populate the model.

These are the same as for the sWS 3.7cm FlaK 43 kit with the replacement of the 3.7cm FlaK parts with those for the 2cm Flakvierling 38. They are the usual exploded view line drawings which are clear and easy to follow, I didn’t notice any miss numbered parts or other bloopers but of course you should study these carefully before assembly to eliminate any problems.

The small decal sheet is well printed in black & white with two WL number plates, two data blocks, 5 instrument panel dials and a selection of number 1-0 in two different sizes to allow you to create any n umber plate you wish. The one paint scheme provided on the colour painting guide is in overall dark yellow with a red brown and green cam scheme, but as the vehicle didn’t exist you could paint it any way you wanted really.

The overall quality of the kit is very well done with the basic sWS vehicle featuring some excellent details such as the driver’s compartment interior, armoured cab and the rear tray with etched sides as well as being mostly dimensionally acceptable overall. There is very little cleanup required and the fit of the parts very good overall with the front wheels and running gear/track being especially well done.

The Flakvierling 38 is nicely done with a high standard of moulding and part fit although some issues such as the poor gun sight and notable items missing from the platform let it down a little. As with all kits of the FlaK 38/Flakvierling 38 replacing the plastic barrels with metal barrels will greatly improve the appearance.

As mentioned above this wasn't an actual official production vehicle there is photo evidence of at least a single vehicle modified to the Flakvierling configuration. It's difficult ro determine the paint finish or markings from the images, so any finish would be possible.

But despite this it is a nicely produced kit that will look impressive once finished if reality is of no concern.

Rating: 8/10.

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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Detail Images
Great Wall HobbyGreat Wall HobbyGreat Wall HobbyBronco Models


Büssing's schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper (sWS), armored and unarmored variants
Nuts & Bolts Vol.41
mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5t (Sd.Kfz.6) and
Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper

Panzer Tracks No.22-3
Halftrack Vehicles of the
German Army 1395-1945

Schiffer Military History
ISBN: 0-88740-758-7
German Medium Half-Tracked
Prime Movers 1934-1945

Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 0-7643-0263-9
2 cm Flakvierling 38
Nuts & Bolts Vol.27
Detlev Terlisten
Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV
and other Flakpanzer projects
from 1942 to 1945

Panzer Tracks No.12-1
German 20mm FlaK
in WWII 1395-1945

Schiffer Military History
ISBN: 0-88740-758-7
2cm Flakvierling 38
Four barrelled mount

Easy 1 Productions
Easy 1 Productions
Thanks to Lion Roar/Great Wall Hobby for the review kit.

Page created September 24, 2010
Updated September 24, 2010

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