new kit
Schwere Zugkraftwagen 18t
(Sd.Kfz.9) "FAMO"

Tamiya 1:35th Scale Kit No.35239
Review by Terry Ashley

What you get?:
The kit:
The parts have superb fine detail and are totally flash free, just what we have come to expect from Mr. T.
The chassis is in one piece as is now the norm with all the suspension and body bits added to this.

The road wheels have excellent detail with the different pattern of the inside and outside wheels captured nicely. The drive sprockets have 4 pieces each with a ploy cap inserted for easy fitting. Front wheels are again 4 pieces and a poly cap, with the front suspension and steering designed to work.

The front cab is nicely detailed with foot pedals, gear levers and the tools kept in this area. A nicely engraved instrument panel is provided which attaches to the front bulkhead along with a separate fuel tank and complete steering arm which marries up with the chassis when all fitted together.

A row of rifle clips is provided for behind the front seat and these are very finely moulded and look very nice.

The engine compartment covers are all separate pieces. The hood has two cooling flaps on top as further separate bits and the two side panels have cooling louvers moulded open. A nice bit of engineering. The front radiator is moulded closed, the same as on the earlier Sd.Kfz.7 kit only bigger.

A towing draw bar is included so you can attach a Panzer III or IV without problems, or the rumoured 22/23 ton SD.Ah.116 trailer which is illustrated on the front page of the instruction sheet. Is this a hint of things to come?

There are 8 figures provided, actually there are 4 different figures on double sprues to make 8. You do get 12 heads and 12 arms to add a bit of variety, which is good. Also one (two, if you know what I mean) have sleeves rolled up and two are standing.

There is mention of a "load accessory set"(available separately) on the instruction sheet. Another future release?

Markings are provided for 4 vehicles, two in Panzer Grey, one in Tunisia which is Grey with mud cam added and the fourth is in Dark Yellow with Red Brown and Green cam scheme. All these are dated 1941-43, which seems to fit in with my assumptions below.

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Decal Sheet
I have built the kit straight from the box for this review to highlight the construction and any little traps. Also this is a "review" of the Tamiya kit, not of aftermarket update sets or an article on detailing the kit, that will come later.

The kit can be built in various sub-assemblies, which helps with construction and painting.

Main Sub-Assemblies prior to painting
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Firstly comes the engine (Step 1), which is a kit in itself. With this in mind Tamiya supplies two blocks to sit the engine on if displayed outside the vehicle.

Consisting of 24 pieces, another 4 for the transmission and 3 for the radiator, this builds into one of the most detailed engines to come stock in a kit for some time. The attention to detail extends to locating points on the engine and the radiator top section for the two large hoses that connect the two. No hoses are provided but any plastic tubing can be used. The engine "clips" into its locating points on the chassis, but take note. It will not fit into the bay after the radiator (part D19) and the cabin have been attached to the chassis, so make the decision on engine placement early.

The chassis and road wheel assemble is next (Steps 2 to 13) and went together beautifully as per instructions. Points to watch are the different directions of the travel stops (parts B6) on chassis sides, this is well documented in the instructions. The other is the different assembly of the left and right drive sprockets. Again this is called out in the instructions and parts (A13) have markings for (L) and (R), so take note of the slightly different assembly here.

The drive sprockets and front wheels have poly caps trapped inside for easy attachment. The front suspension/steering is designed to operate, so take care not to get glue on the moving parts. Speaking of the front wheels, these are excellent with great detail on the rims and fitted with rubber tyres with superb tread pattern. There is a small seam running around the center, this is less prominent than on the Dragon Wagon but could do with careful removal.

The fit of the tyres to the rims is just right, not too tight or too loose just sitting snugly in place. The same applies to the spare.

The rear coupler is made up of 9 parts with some moving, so again take care with the glue. The main winch parts attach with a poly cap and is another well detailed assembly.

No problems were encountered with all parts fitting precisely and the whole assembly results in a beautifully detailed chassis sub-assembly. The only 'alterations' were to drill out the exhausts and replacing the tow rope end piece (part B30) shank with a section of appropriately sized rod (I hate those cutouts Tamiya give you for locating the tow rope).

The tracks (Step 14) complete the lower chassis and are all separate pieces designed to operate. Apart from the usual cleanup of the sprue attachment points on each piece (a bit tedious, as with any individual track) the track links simple fitted together with the separate pad holding the links together, resulting in beautifully articulating tracks.

Painting and finishing
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I did leave all the road wheels, front wheels, tracks and engine separate for ease of painting and were attached later in the assembly.

I assembled the front fenders and radiator as per instructions (Step 15) and attached to the chassis at this point with no problems. I also attached the boarding steps (Step 22) to the fenders taking care to get the right and left side correct. Parts D28 and D29 and marked R and L to make things easier.

The main cabin assembly (Steps 16 to 21) literally fell together and is a testament to the engineering of current Tamiya kits. There were a few small pin ejector marks to be removed from the bulkheads (parts F24, F25) and the insides of the side walls (parts F7, F8) but these posed no real problem, being engineered as small as possible. I removed these by light shaving using a curved #10 blade to get into those tight places. Check the fitting of these parts as not all the ejector marks need removing (might as well save some work?). I left the tools off until after painting.

I also found that the instrument panel is very accessible after assembly, so I didn't do the detail painting until later, leave the steering wheel off or you may have a problem (also if you plan to add the driver figure)
The only seams needing attention in the whole kit where the join between the side walls and the front top panel (part F6). Not because they are big, but they shouldn't be there on the real thing.
I left the windscreen clear bits off until after painting, they'd be a bitch to mask otherwise.

The rear cargo tray (Steps 23 to 25) again just falls together, there are more small ejection pin marks to be removed from the insides of the side and rear panels. As a friend said, about the only challenge left with Tamiya kits is removing these pin marks. One thing to watch, the cargo bay floor is a single flat moulding and my part had a slight warp when viewed from the rear.

This can be easily fixed when attaching the side panels. You can choose to leave the storage boxes open if you wish and Tamiya gives you 4 very nice equipment drawers to add inside. The spare tyre goes underneath this tray in its own cage. I again left the spare separate until after painting. The whole cargo tray was also left as a separate sub-assembly for painting.

After attaching the many grab handles and other small fittings as per instructions (Step 28), it was time for painting.

Due to the decision to paint all the major sub-assemblies separately a bit of preparation is needed before committing the airbrush.

Firstly, test fit all the assemblies together on the chassis (you should have been doing this during the previous steps anyway?) and mark with a soft pencil where they fit together. Take everything apart and mask the mating surfaces on the chassis and sub-assemblies so you can glue it all together later. This also applies to the axles and roadwheels.

Once all was ready, I gave the model a coat of German Grey (Humbrol 67). Once dry I then applied clear gloss to the areas receiving decals. After applying the decals and allowing them to dry, I gave the model an overall coat of Matt varnish to seal everything.

I then added the detail painting, such as the instrument panel, seats and other smaller details. This was done after the Matt coat due to much of these details requiring a semi-gloss finish (seats, instruments etc) if these were painted before the final Matt coat, everything would have had the same Matt finish (not what was wanted).

The tracks were sprayed a dirty brown (custom mix) colour with the pads Matt black.

All the sub-assemblies, including the tracks were now fitted together before weathering to ensure a uniform application of the weathering process. Touch up any gaps in the paintwork due to the masking as above also.
The weathering was done with a combination of black oil paint wash to highlight the details followed by drybrushing and a light overspray of dust and dirt.

The 8 figures supplied have very good uniform detail and a variety of facial expressions. A far cry from the frigid static figures in the old Sd.Kfz.7 kit. I haven't included them here as I'm still working on them. I've included another figure to give some perspective to the FAMO. It is BIG!

Painting and finishing
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Another brilliant kit from Tamiya. When asked by friends what it was like? My initial comment was "it's a Tamiya kit" seems to sum it up these days. It was a joy just to build the kit OOTB without worrying about "is it correct" or waiting for detail sets to be released or any of the other things that we seem to get bogged down with these days.

There are some excellent variations built on this chassis, the 6ton crane (Sd.Kfz.9/1), the 10ton crane (Sd.Kfz.9/2), plus the Flak88 vehicles.

There were various production batches with slightly different features, this kit appears to be a mid production vehicle, earlier vehicles had a different instrument panel layout, while later vehicles had a large rear spade added and different roadwheel pattern.

Anyone who have seen the pics of Kevin Wheatcroft's brilliantly restored FAMO in Military Modelcraft International Magazine will notice the roadwheel pattern differs from the kit wheels, not a problem the restored FAMO has later pattern wheels.

Having said all that, I am in no way an expert on FAMOs. I stand to be corrected on the above and would love to be if my deductions aren't correct?

Go to it guys, this is a beautiful kit and must have the aftermarket people salivating with all the variations available.

Highly recommended.

See an in-box review of the followup kit of the FAMO and Sd.Ah.116 trailer here.

Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18 ton and Variants FAMO "Bulle" (Sd.Kfz.9)
Nuts & Bolts Vol.12
FAMO 18t
The Military Machine
By Stefan König
ISBN 3-9805216-4-8
German Halftracks 1909-1945
Book 6
Walter J. Spielberger
Ground Power Magazine
No.070 3/2000

GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd

Page created July 15, 2008

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