Articles

Hasegawa - Schwimmwagen with Kettenrad (31113) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Hasegawa
Scale 1/72
Set Code 31113
Year 1991
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items 1 Schwimmwagen, 1 Kettenkrad
Size Medium/Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Good (Pollycement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 -1945

 Review 

Hasegawa has become popular not only due to the large range of WWII German vehicles but also thanks to the reproduction of several of the most interesting vehicles of that army, in addition extremely hard to find within 1/72 scale. Approaches oriented on softskins where tremendously rare when Hasegawa launched their Schirmagen and Kettenkrad kit, the two vehicles were unique in the scale.

With “Schwimmwagen with Kettenkrad” the manufacturer was not at the first attempt on such combination, a previous one materialising in “Kubelwagen and BMW Side-Car”, perhaps some of the most well-known and intensively used WWII German car and motorcycle. This time Hasegawa aims at other two famous and innovative vehicles, but hard to spot in the 1/72 scale even if many years have been passed since Hasegawa issued their kit. In mass-production, Academy puts forward a Schirmawagen and a Ketternkrad, both without figures, another Kettenkrad in soft plastic with a two men crew bringing Orion’s “German Paratroopers”. Likewise, Schirmawagena and Ketternkrads are difficult to find in cottage industry catalogues, so alternatives in the field are quite limited.

Designed by Ferdinad Porsche, as many other WWII German vehicles, the Schwimmwagen was one of the most interesting cars serving with that army, built on the Kubelwagen chassis in an amphibious version, able to cross rivers and lakes, an ideal vehicle for reconnaissance units. At its turn, Ketternkrad represented a half-track motorcycle initially designed for paratroopers to tow light artillery pieces or transport ammunition and equipment but due its performances ended to be employed by all units, not only Fallschirmjager.

As all Hasegawa light vehicles, also these come with reduced number of details, especially the ones that should have been displayed on the inner side of the Schwimmwagen. The overall quality is pretty fair and broad reviews aiming the vehicles are on disposal on various specialised websites, the subject of the present one focusing on the four accompanying figures.

The common box for their 1/72 kits is deployed by the producer and in the artwork reproduces a Schwimmwagen with some army-men, inspired by a well-known photo of Kampfgruppe Peiper taken in Ardennes and in order to establish a link, the manufacturer added a Ketternkrad in the background. Next to the two spures there is a decal sheet and a very comprehensive assembly guide with instructions for putting together and paint the vehicles and soldiers. It is Hasegawa’s great merit of providing on the sheet not only the usual assembly guidelines and historical and technical data on the vehicles, but also to supply a chart with the parts and what each represent, really precious information not available in kits made by other manufacturers.  

Three figures are crafted for the vehicles plus a standing one for outside use, definitely the most interesting and unusual in the period when it appeared on the market. The mini in case depicts a soldier dressed in Kradmantel, the specialised item of garment supplied to WWII German motorcycle units but proudly worn by army-men having nothing to do with motorcycles including even Panzer troopers. Excellent protecting against rain, wind, dust, and dirt, the rubberised coat had some characteristics such as unique button system and angled slash hip pockets with button down flaps. Though Hasegawa did not succeed to capture all those, the mantel could be assessed as fair. For many years this mini has remained the single choice on the matter, but luckily, nowadays several options exists, less in mass-production sets and more in the cottage industry tenders. In the first category enter the HaT/Armourast wargaming figures from"WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle" and "WWII German BMW with Sidecar" as well as an excellent Preiser figure belonging to "Military Police. Guards" while from garage industry come El Viejo Dragon’s “German Motorbikes and Pilots”, MIG Productions’ “German Kradmelder”, other two figs supplied by Martello International in "Halt! Feldgendarme” and another in TQD Castings’ “1944 Ardennes Waffen SS Command”.

Returning to the Hasegawa fig, the pose portrays a dismounted rider with arms as gesticulating or to which might be added a map, weapon, binoculars or other thing, the right arm being provided as separate part. Except Kradmantel, he received marching/jack boots, M43 cap, and a belt but neither gear nor weapon, even if a strap runs over his chest. Taking profit by this and the belt, the hobbyist can without constrains add a weapon and correspondent ammunition pouches and if desired, even some supplementary items of gear hung by the belt. Likewise, if setting a weapon in hands or a pistol holster, then the strap should be apprised as belonging to a gas mask container and adjust one in position. Separate hard plastic weapons and gear are available in huge quantities in different Preiser, Dragon, and Caesar figure sets, so it is not a very difficult problem to get the necessary items. Definitely, this figure would have been better included in the interlinked set with Kubelwagen and BMW R75, he would have finely fitted near the motorcycle while the officer provided by the other set would find a place here, being also closer to the image of the officer depicted in the box artwork. Perhaps that would have been the intention of the manufacturer, but somehow they mix the boxes.  

The other three figures are of meagre quality, in line with the great majority of soldiers encountered in Hasegawa 1/72 vehicle kits on WWII German army. Wearing Early War uniforms, with M36 tunics, regular trousers, marching/jack boots, and steel helmets, all the items are poorly sculptured, with lots of inaccuracies in terms of shapes and details. Gear is absent, but they have got belts, “Y” straps, and another strap around the chest, maybe the gas mask container one. A single rifle is delivered for the Kettenkrad passenger and its sculpture is so weak that it looks closer to a bat than a firing weapon.

In conformity with the instructions, two minis take position in the Kettenkrad, the third representing the driver of the Schwimmwagen. In order to enter in the narrow place of the driver’s seat, the figure comes without legs below the knees. He keeps the left hand on the knee and the right hand is provided separately, perhaps with the aim of handling the handlebar. The attempt completely failed, the palm does not reach the handlebar and also it is wrongly oriented. His head is slightly bigger than the others and the helmet is ugly but somehow can be saved by painting it as covered with camouflage cloth.

The body of the passenger taking place on the back seat of the Ketternkrad is identical to the one of the Schwimmwagen driver, the only difference being conferred by the rifle held in the right hand by the latter. Both have got separate arms, which is good at least for the driver while hobbyists might try to adjust those at the steering-wheel. Still, despite all efforts, the palms do not fit well on the steering-wheel. The Kettenkrad passenger has an odd appearance particularly due to his left hand which was initially modelled for the driver. Moreover, the helmets of these figures are extremely unattractive and incorrectly modelled, having no liaison with the famous WWII German helmet. Nevertheless, even changing the heads with the excellent Preiser, Dragon or Caesar ones is not a solution, the overall sculpture and details being poor. However, in order not to throw them away, an appropriate alternative would be using the bodies as simple holders of more detailed heads. In this regard, the troopers will be engaged as drivers/passengers for armoured vehicles or trucks where they cannot be so easily perceived, the most visible part being the heads. In addition to heads, also arms might be swapped and gear and weapons added, the just nominated companies supplying within plenty of figure sets separate spues dedicated to such essential stuff.

Casting is in line with the miniatures quality, with flash in big quantity, some excess of material at the arm joint area, mould marks on backs, and low level of details. Similarly, the sculptor failed in rightly depicting the uniforms and helmets, the M36 tunics coming with wrongly shaped pockets and flaps, boots are rough and garment items possess rude creases. Except the figure dressed in Kradmantel who has the luck of being wrapped in it, for the rest anatomy is hilarious, with strange proportions, palms with indistinct fingers, and unspectacular faces. Ridiculous is shaped the M43 cap of the soldier in Kradmantel, so it would be better replacing the head though the images from here show him with the original one for reviewing purposes. Because the figure is intended for ground use, he received a separate tiny round base to which can be straightforwardly fixed with a drop of glue. Made of hard plastic the figures excellent react to standard modelling adhesive (pollycement) as well as to enamel, acrylics and artistic oils.     

The soldiers for the vehicles are in the middle side of 1/72 scale and due to their Early War uniform find large quantities of minis appropriate both in terms of size and garment, produced either by Hasegawa or other companies. As regards the trooper in Kradmantel, this is closer to the tall category of 1/72 scale and best match, especially after some upgrades, with the Preiser similar army-man from “Military Police. Guards” and EVD’ “German Motorbikes and Pilots”. With an inspired display, he might also stay on the same dio with the riders produced by the companies highlighted in the first part of the review or with the excellent Propaganda’s series of riders.  

Apart from the vehicles which certainly have a modelling value, in terms of figures, the only gain of the kit represents the soldier in Kradmantel, which as it was pointed out, for many years had stood as the single option on the matter. Concerning his other three comrades, apart from wargaming, they are good only to support better heads, obviously hidden in places where only those heads would be easily noticed.

Historical Accuracy 6
Anatomy 4
Poses Quality 4
Details Quality 3
Mould Quality 5
Sculpture 3
Recommendation/Utility 6
Reviewer’s Opinion 4