Articles

Zvezda - German Motorcycle R-12 (6142) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6142
Year 2011
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items 1 BMW R-12 and side-car
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review 

Nowadays WWII German motorcycles still spin their wheels in the streets, in some countries a pretty often presence, particularly in those where the German Army deployed bikes in large numbers such as Greece, Italy, Romania, ex-USSR etc. Another fascinating issue is those vehicles do not belong only to collectors and reenactors which obviously highly appreciate and take huge care about, but occasionally regular people living in cities or villages could be noticed riding motorcycles directly implied in WWII. Definitely, they do not know which value they ride on but this says much about the quality and reliability of the famous WWII German motorcycles. As all bikers, the German soldiers were very attached to their ride and the affection is fully revealed by thousands of images and war-documentaries. Likewise, the incredible stunts those army-men did with their vehicles and on which terrains they entered keep amazing, wondering how that was possible. Greatly exposed to enemy fire, protected by nothing and almost all the time in front of their comrades, motorcycle units recorded one of the highest rates of casualties. Eating, sleeping, laughing, fighting, and dying on their motorcycles, they kept going forward through dust, mud, snow, rain, and sand, the love for their bikes and the riding pleasure making fear fade away.  

BMW R-12 represented the most numerous type manufactured by Germany during WWII due to its lower cost comparing with some other renowned motorcycles. More than 36,000 BMW R-12 four-stroke 745 cc single and twin carburettor were produced in military and civilian models between 1935-1942, the motorcycle taking part at all WWII German campaigns, including Africa. Likewise, this motorcycle held for 14 years the world speed record, with a sport version that reached 279.5 km/h. However, the regular ones had normal speeds, the single carburettor getting a top speed of 110 km/h while the twin carburettor version had 120 km/h. The 2100 mm length, 900 mm width and 940 mm height motorcycle weighted unloaded 185 kg and had a load ratio of 300 kg and a gas consumption of around 4 liter/100km. BMW R-12 was encountered as solo or side-car motorcycle and although since 1942 production ceased, manufacturer replacing it with the more military BMW R-75, the motorcycle remained in service till the end of war.

The BMW R-12 was selected to be depicted by Zvezda in the 1/72 scale, an excellent choice while such motorcycles have not been issued by any mass-production or cottage industry representatives within bike and crew sets. Propaganda submits an offer of a BMW R-12, a detailed resin kit but without personnel. Until now by the main attention of Braille Scale companies benefitted only two well-known German heavy motorcycles, namely BMW R-75 and Zundapp KS-750. Italeri in “WWII German Motorcycles”, Armourfast/HaT in “German BMW with Side-car”, and Hasegawa in “Kubel wagen with BMW side car” made available in the scale the BMW R-75 while again Armourfast/HaT in “German Zundapp Motorcycle” aimed at the Zundapp KS-750. A special set, the most in scale and comprehensive, forwarding both the BMW R-75 with side-car and two Zundapp KS-750 solo motorcycles with four army-men has come in white metal from El Viejo Dragon, but unfortunately the set is out-of-production. Zvezda has already listed in their 1/35 catalogue a BMW R-12 with two options for the crew, a version portraying the motorcyclists in combat being supplied in the smaller scale, too.

Due to the main tasks carried out by motorcycle units from which can be stressed fast interventions, reconnaissance, courier, traffic control, WWII German Commandment considered them as extremely important and organised those in independent formations or attached to other units. KStN 147/1941 provided for a motorcycle platoon 39 army-men with 27 solo and 3 sidecar motorcycles as well as two vehicles. The nature of missions, involving permanent contact with the enemy required powerful weapons to retaliate. Quite incommode when riding, the usual weapon of WWII German motorcyclist was Kar98K, but pistols and MPs could be found at officers, NCOs and specialised troopers. As heavy armament, the unit benefitted by MGs mounted on side-cars that could be easily removed and fired from ground positions if situation imposed. Same like their comrades from cavalry, generally in combat motorcycle units dismounted and fought like infantry-men, although occasionally they fought on the move, the MGs in the side-cars providing great support in this regard.

Part and parcel of “Art of Tactic” game, the kit consists in a single sprue with the necessary parts for putting together a BMW R-12 and two riders as well as a base and the now “classic” Zvezda wargaming flag. Inside the box there are also found the assembly guide printed on a piece of paper and a wargaming card featuring as reference image a stopped column of motorcycles. Dissimilar from many kits of the Mini-Box series, the image in case has no close connections with the figure poses. No decals for licence plates or other symbols are supplied. Though not identical, the marvellous front-artwork establishes better liaisons with the 1/72 stances forwarded, presenting a BMW R-12 with one rider and a passenger in the side-car. Furthermore, in the back-ground there are recognised several soldiers inspired by a famous colour photo published in Signal in front of a column of troopers on the march in a village in flames. Definitely it was a very common scene on the Eastern Front, fact confirmed not only by the endless column of soldiers, but also by the houses and church architecture. A very nice touch and a brilliant idea for a vignette is the dog running after the motorcycle, so specific in the area and also a situation often met in nowadays Eastern Europe. Practically, the 1/72 artwork reassemble the old one available in 1/35 with the difference that the “captured” pig transported in the side-car was replaced now by a running dog.

The back of the box gives good guidelines for painting the product, featuring three images with the assembled kit, one unpainted and two painted as well as the the wargaming card. Moreover, in the right corner it is described both in Russian and English the content of a box and a promo to the plastic used, assessed as easy to paint and glue, both qualities being fully covered and confirmed when working with the material. Nevertheless, the material is not new, except the first Zvezda kit in the series, the one on MG34 and the PaK35/36 cannon, all their products being issued in this plastic. As promoted on the package, we get a snap kit, and obviously, the motorcycle is an easy build, the proper engineering assuring good fit although one or two holes should have been larger. The pin and hole system finely holds in place the pieces but permanently gluing is more relaxing, vehicle would be fearlessly grabbed and moved while parts stay firmer in position.

Even if a fast-built motorcycle, it includes a reasonable number of details, succeeding to transpose in Braille Scale a proper representation of BMW R-12. It should be remarked that bike wheels are a micron larger than the spare and side-car ones, but the difference is extremely hard to spot and certainly the kit can be deployed in the labelled 1/72 scale without any constrain. As most of 1/72 mass-production motorcycles, wheels are cast solid and spokesmodelled on the material, but a small part of the front wheel spokes are covered by the disc brake and on the back ones are hidden by frame, disk brake, exhausts and other stuff. In some extent, the weird apparition of those solid parts can be diminished through various painting tricks as well as closer to environment where the motorcycle is going to be set. Of course, an extremely exigent hobbyist might wish to change with “genuine” spokes, but that will not be a facile operation, particularly at the back wheel. Fortunately, the bike has got authentically modelled tyres, undoubtedly improving the overall appearance of the wheels.

There are with no trouble recognised the specific exhausts of this type of bike as well as various details of the motor while the missing cables might be suggested via painting or scratch-built wires. Furthermore, on the tank there are depicted not only the round cover but also the gear-shift and the famous BMW emblem on both sides. The handlebar shows crisp handles, front brake and clutch levers while some other several specific small details are perceptible in the area, too. Likewise, the speed-dial located on top of the headlight appears pretty vague but painless enhanced by painting as well as the two bulbs flanking it at the original models. The headlight itself and the other lights are reasonably crafted and again, the tough modeller might intervene by drilling out the headlight and replacing it with lens from the spare box. The seats are accurately shaped and it is also possible to identify the straight handle designed for the pillion passenger. Front and back licence plates are more then visible, but no decals are ensured by the company in the kit. For this reason, highly recommended is either to try painting the unit and some numbers or to use Dragon plate number jungle decal sheet supplied in few kits. That would not be an easy task, the location and the thin size of the numbers making extremely difficult their emplacement.

The present side-car is well-shaped and in scale, illustrating a W.Krad.B2 manufactured by Steib attached to the BMW R-12 and clearly dissimilar to the one on rectangle chassis set on BMW R-75 heavy motorcycle, so often met in 1/72 scale. The side-car goes well on the under-frame and same is valid for the MG mount, back trunk, and spare wheel, provided as separate parts, too. Like the motorcycle, the side-car misses panniers and in order to get the perfect distance, it might be good shortening a little the pin where the spare wheel should be snapped. The MG mount for the weapon held in hand by the passenger is correctly located but due to casting reasons it was modelled filled with plastic. The excess of material can be removed with some efforts as well as the one of the side-car handle. Two pins of the under-frame join the side-car to the motorcycle, but the fit is not perfect, the hole from the back of the bike should be enlarged or the related pin thinned. In the side-car the passenger take place here but WWII Germans used to load different cargo in side-cars such as ammunition, food, gas canisters etc, so conversions are potentially unnumbered with or without keeping the MG gunner.          

Designed as a wargaming and diorama vehicle, and the great level of details certainly certifies that, the wheels have got pegs for fixing the motorcycle on the supplied base. In case of outside the base deployments, the pegs might be eliminated with a simple cut, the remaining marks not affecting at all the tyres while traces of the surgery are on the area facing the ground.

The two member crew come dressed in M36 tunics, regular trousers, boots, and steel helmets, missing the legendary Kradmantels, the special rubberised long coat issued to motorcyclist units. Likewise, both ignore gloves or gauntlets but the driver received a pair of goggles on the chest, a normal location when riding at low speeds or in combat. The goggles have not so crispy details and painting would put in valour their presence. Regarding clothing, there is no problem having motorcyclists in tunics and even the lack of gloves is fully covered by information materials shot in the period, often those disclosing riders without hand covers though by nowadays standards that is harder to understand. Dressed in the Early War style, the figures find a place throughout the entire period of the war but restricted to warm or temperate climates. Moreover, according to the waffenfarbe painted by the hobbyist on collar and shoulder boards, these soldiers can belong not only to motorcycle units but also to infantry, Panzer-Grenadier, artillery, pioneer, signal etc of Wehrmacht or Waffen SS, all WW2 German Army branches intensively making use of motorcycles.      

In terms of interaction with the vehicle, the crewmen ideally match it, persuasively depicting a motorcycle on the move, even in combat, the separate arms and legs approach bringing a major contribution to this. The limbs join the bodies by snapping, the method finely working and not letting obvious gaps between. Like in case of motorcycle, wise would be adding a drop of glue both for keeping the limbs in the desired positions and closer to the bodies, annihilating any potential gap.

Zvezda delivers the driver and the side-car passenger but it would have been nicer to receive as an extra option, the pillion passenger. Although a three member crew was regulated for a war side-car motorcycle, two soldiers for a side-car bike are very fine, the greatest amount of reference images showing the vehicle like that and without pillion passenger. An excellent thing is offering the driver with separate arms, conferring the modeller the possibility of adjusting the miniature in few stances, either sitting or raised a little as driving on rough ground. When going cross-country rather is ridden like that, disburdening the bike and letting follow the terrain without shaking the driver. Driver’s feet rests of BMW R-12 give plenty of room and the separate arms permit few positions without affecting the anatomy at shoulders or credibility of the figure. The palms perfectly grab and hold the handle-bar, perhaps in the best manner encountered in Braille Scale. Endowed with Kar98K, the driver is lightly kitted with related ammunition pouches, canteen, and gas mask container with gas cape pouch attached. Although regulations enforced the gas mask container to be worn in front when riding motorcycle, our figure has got it on the back in the traditional location. Nevertheless, it is not an accuracy problem, information sources confirming that modality, as well.

His colleague from side-car has got separate hands, in the right holding an MG34 and left rested on the shoulder-stock trying to increase the stability of the weapon. Zvezda reiterates they know how to sculpture MGs, the present one looking perfect, in scale, and abounding in details. The weapon is fed by the 50 rounds drum-magazine and it incorporates a part of the MG mount that has to join the one of the side-car. If not gluing the arms there is no problem, those can be readjusted until fit the mount on the side-car, but if gluing the arms, then recommended is first to put together the bike and then the limbs, checking the report of the whole MG mount once more.

The pose greatly evokes a soldier firing or preparing to fire this deadly weapon, a little bent in front and extremely focused on what he does, matching the driver’s attitude as well. Except the MG, the soldier received just “Y” straps but anyway, other items of gear would have been hard to spot bearing in mind he occupies the side-car. Furthermore, when riding it was normal to be as light kitted as possible, especially bearing in mind the bikers had at their disposal the trunk of the side-car and other places to keep their personal gear. There are acknowledged the difficulties encountered by most of 1/72 manufacturers concerning figures for side-cars, often those being supplied without leg/legs. Zvezda choose to supply a full miniature although a compromise has been done in terms of thighs thickness, the shape permitting figure a faultless entrance in location and covering the unnatural zones.

On attire the level of details is generally fair even if on chests it does not make the strongest impression. Luckily, in other areas garment is properly carved, with accurate creases, buttons, and shoulder boards while the boots feature the stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse. With the passenger tights pointed out reserve, anatomy is impeccable,with excellent ratios, impressively sculptured faces, and highly detailed palms where counting the fingers is an easily task. Gear and weapons respect the sizes applied by the manufacturer inside other sets, in fact remarkably at Zvezda figures is the perfect match between them, no mater the kit they come from.

Flash is average on figures and really low on motorcycle while excess of material miss on figures and appears just on the MG mount and side-car handle. As adverted on the box, the innovative hard plastic utilised by Zvezda happily combine the propensity of gluing with modelling polly-cement with the elasticity of the soft plastic, parts, including the thin ones, being almost unbreakable. Taking into account the kit targets both gamers and modellers, these are important characteristics, the product corresponding to standards applied in wargaming and dioramas. Though a little shinny, this material outstandingly accepts enamels, acrylics, and artistic oils, not influencing with anything the initial attributes of paints and holding those in spite intensive handlings. In order to satisfy the wargamers, a special base reproducing a road through a grass field was supplied, the motorcycle and the flag having to be snapped in it. 

Issued in the tall side of the 1/72 scale, these troopers ideally accompany not only Zvezda miniatures, but also work fine next to figures dressed in M36 tunics made by Pegasus Hobbies, Imex, Esci, Preiser, Dragon etc. With reference to specialised sets on motorcycle issues, the minis match with Italeri’s “WWII German Motorcycles” even if those riders are a little taller and aims at Afrika Korps, the few differences between sizes and uniforms make them fairly compatible, too. As stressed at the beginning of the review, Zvezda motorcycle is perhaps the most in-scale such vehicle available in mass production sets. Because of that, the greatest companions might be found in cottage industry catalogues, except Propaganda bikes, others are the BMW R-75 and the Zundapp KS-750 released by El Viejo Dragon though the figures wear Kradmantels. In addition, Zvezda’s vehicle is a first-rate equivalent for figures targeting motorcycle matters but without mean of locomotion such as Preiser’s "Military Police. Guards", Martello International’s “Halt!Feldgendarme” or MIG Production’s “German Kradmelder”.   

Impressing through highly detailed models at extremely accessible prices, Zvezda continues covering serious gaps in the field of WWII Germans. In general motorcycles benefit by great interest of the target groups, and when it is about one never depicted together with crew in mass-production or cottage industry catalogues, then it is easily understood the impact of the kit on the market. Furthermore, apart from the motorcycle wheels, the vehicle emerge as the closest to the scale mass-production WWII German bike, also supported by excellent crewmen, wholly interacting with the machine. It is a true pleasure seeing how fine grabs the driver the handle bar and how natural operates the weapon the MG gunner.  Practically the “German Motorcycle R-12” sets out as a most wanted kit, with special value inside “Art of Tactic” series and able to satisfy desires both of wargamers and diorama builders.

           

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 10
Poses Quality 10
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 9
Sculpture 9
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 10