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Weathering Factory - German Sled, Horse, Driver and Wounded (72004) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Weathering Factory
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72-004
Year 2014
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items Panje horse and toboggan sled
Size Tall
Material White Metal
Colour Silver
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1941 - 1945

 

Review 

 Winter 1/72 WWII Germans have certainly become a speciality of Weathering Factory which trough an original approach in terms of garment tries covering various gaps existing in the fairly comprehensive offer on the matter. Nevertheless, the huge diversity of clothes dressed by WWII Germans remains a rich source of inspiration and the interesting topics proposed by the company should be corroborated with the excellent sculpture, accuracy, anatomy, and cast, their white metal miniatures steadily becoming some of the most attractive existing on the market.

Moreover, innovation and famine for novel themes emerge as profound characteristics of this maker, and if in Set 3, “MG-Team Charkov 1942-43 with T-34 Wreck” there was included a resin T34 wreck in order to complete the background for the figures, their Set 4 proposes something even more striking, a toboggan type sled pulled by a Panje horse. The full metal kit is the first interpretation in Braille Scale of one key mean of transportation together with crew, intensively utilised by Germas during WWII especially on the Eastern Front. The new tender released by the Weathering Factory reiterates the excellent knowledge of the 1/72 market and the subjects of interest for the target groups as well as the intention of enriching the hobby with fine works. Likewise, “German Sled, Horse, Driver and Wounded” attests once again the great resources the manufacturer has at its disposal to deliver true masterpieces and the whole kit, comprising a horse, one sled, and two figures fully relies on reference images, a very welcome feature bringing a major contribution to accuracy. 

The horse received a major role within WWII German Army and even if the general perception is that army represented one of the most mechanized and with the best motor vehicles, practically statistics highlight almost 80% of their land transport was horse-drawn, carried out by around 1,100,000 horses during each year of war, to those having to be added an unknown number of mules, donkeys, oxen, and camels. In addition, it worth pointing out that WWII German Army deployed the largest number of horses in a war in the history of mankind. Along with horses supplied by the army farms, another key source was civil population's animals, for instance in the period 1939-1943 over 1,200,000 horses being taken from civilians, for the rest of the war the figures being unknown but maybe even higher. Simple maintenance and the ability of performing in difficult conditions for motorised transportation enhanced the role of the horse, serving both on Eastern and Western fronts from the beginning till the end of WWII. 

Through “Panje” WWII Germans designated the local peasant horse they found in Russia, Poland, and other Eastern Europe countries. Shaggy, smaller in size, with short legs and a small head, the Panje is a descendant of the Polish Konik horse, also closely related to the Romanian Hutzul, fortunately often met in Carpathians Mountains even nowadays. Crossed with various breeds, including the Arabian, the Panje proved to be the toughest horse, the most resistant to extreme cold and eating almost everything, including tree bark. In the severe conditions existing on the winter Eastern Front, the large and heavy breeds normally utilised by WWII Germans such as Hanoverian or Belgian emerged almost useless, totally unsuitable to resist to -40 C temperatures or to advance through thick layer of snow. Completely ignored in the early stage of Barbarossa, when the muddy and winter season arrived, the small Panje horse became indispensable, maintaining its status as the universal mean of transportation throughout the war. Serving with all units, including Luftwaffe, there were situations when Panzer divisions had over 2000 Panje horses but only a few functional vehicles, those units being nicknamed “Panje Divisions” instead of “Panzer Divisions”. Obviously, the Panje horse fought together with the Red Army as well, and it has to be mentioned that with “Panje”, WWII Germans named not only the horse, but also the cart or sled that it had pulled. Furthermore, it seems the term was in Germans vocabulary prior the beginning of WWII, labelling a peasant cart pulled by a small horse.   

In the rough Eastern Front winter environment, also lacking utilisable roads, often the only mean of transportation that could work across the vast plains, forests, and mountains was the obsolete sled. For heavier cargo were deployed horse-drawn sleds and ackjas, hand or dog-drawn sledges being utilised for light loads. According to regulations, four versions of military horse-drawn sleds were issued for WWII German Army, particularly to mobile units, no.1 (300 kg), no.3 (500 kg), no.3/1 (ambulance), and no.5 (1000 kg). Drawn by one, tandem, or even three horses for extremely heavy cargo, different loads were transported by sleds, including ammunition, communication and engineer equipment or field-kitchens. Likewise, light cannons were mounted on sleds, usually Pak35/36, FLAK38, and leIG.18. To the standard army sleds, regulations also promoted the use of domestic models, predominantly the toboggan, the type also receiving the unofficial but largely utilised name Panje sled” and now that vehicle is transposed in the 1/72 scale by Weathering Factory together with horse, driver, and wounded. 

Inside a clear plastic box and with an artwork introducing the title and few other information but lacking an image on the content, the approach represents a routine for this manufacturer as well as the care the product to safely arrive to customers. A plastic bag accommodates all the parts and for extra protection, the content and the base are wrapped in polystyrene paper. The concessions made for safeness have the draw-back of not permitting to be perceived what is inside without opening the box. Considering the products launched by this company are intended for e-commerce, the issue is not big, but definitely it will not be advantageous when the kits will start being sold in hobby shops while potential buyers cannot be tempted by a sealed box in which nothing is seen.

In order to be easier handled or moved, as well as a starting point for a small but attractive vignette, there is supplied a base that can accommodate the entire horse-sled assembly. As a funny joke, the base received the shape of a human footprint and it is cast in white plaster, so it can be utilised in display purposes direct, without panting it. In the base the sculptor has already carved horse hoof prints as well as the tracks of the sledge. Obviously, if the base is going to be employed by the modeller, then the sled runners should be emplaced either at the end or in its own tracks. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out this stand is extremely useful during assembly, more precisely when setting the horse in position between the sled poles. The base permits to easy rotate the kit for fitting both poles as well as to move it from the working table in an appropriate location to let the glue dry.

The toboggan sled here incorporated comes in eleven parts and has to be put together with cyanoacrylate, recommended being super glue gel, the adhesive managing to create a very strong bond and also permitting further rearrangements for few seconds. Neither an image of the kit nor assembly instructions are granted, so the hobbyists have to check the website of the manufacturer or other specialised websites such as the present one or Henk of Holland for getting a picture on how to finish the sled. Moreover, the quite many historical images might give a very helpful-hand on the matter, the extra study being highly advocated especially for seeing how the poles were fixed, how the wooden frame on the back of the horse stayed as well as for other useful hints. 

Although composed by few parts, the kit addresses to hobbyists with some experience in the field, and for those, putting together the sledge might appear fairly easy. The finely detailed floor excellent fits between the two runners supplied as individual parts, a little more complicated being to set in position the frame and its vertical bars. The manufacturer designed four bars, two shorter for the rear and two longer for the front and all are provided lengthier than normal, so the hobbyist has to cut them to the appropriate length. For where the bars should be emplaced there are offered some guidance, both on the floor and on the inner side of the horizontal frame, but in spite these, the assembly remains tricky.  

The two poles for fixing the horse in position might raise a supplementary issue. One end of each pole has a thickened spot and it is not very clear if the sculptor deliberately imagined them like that or there are just residuals from where the poles were kept in the mould. Most of the reference images show these poles without such pieces, being tied directly to the sledge runners, eventually through a ring. However, bearing in mind those vehicles were taken from civilians or front made, lots of variations could be possible and are proved by materials of the period. Like in reality, also in this kit, the two poles should be fixed to the sled runners and there is some guidance on both. Still, on the reviewed pattern the manufacturer made a small mistake, both assembly marks being sculptured on the same side, so when the sledge is assembled, one goes under the sledge and it had to be previously removed. Nevertheless, even without those benchmarks, the poles are easily fixed, first on the sledge, and modellers should consider from the very beginning these parts must be at a particular angle in order to fit to the wooden frame on the back of the horse. This operation is fairly facile taking into account the metal deployed by Weathering Factory is not vey sturdy, so it allows little bending for further adjustments in the proper angle.  

Concerning the wooden frame on the back of the horse, the problem with residuals is repeated and it is again unclear if both ends are designed like that or must be removed. Manufacturer’s interpretation of a test shot available on Henk of Holland website shows the frame without those parts but on the other hand, reference photos indicate two possibilities, either with the poles ending at the frame or overcoming it, the second version being even more often encountered. In this light, hobbyists have two alternatives, either to keep or escape of these things that potentially represent residuals. In addition, it should be strongly emphasised that if deciding to preserve them, as prolongations of the poles, than the correct matching with the part of the poles coming from the sled is much more difficult. In order the angle to appear in a normal manner and to recreate the appearance of the same pole, it should be take good care even if many photos of the period often show gnarled poles. The sled presented in this review deliberately keeps all those parts that might be residuals, while they do not alter the final product and do not contradict references, completing those and certainly working very fine.

The wooden frame for the horse, shaped like an arch and where the two poles have to be glued for fixing the animal, is given separately and is quite malleable, it can be squeezed prior gluing for checking the angle and the place on the back of the Panje. One more time, the historical images attest for the frame many locations along the back of the horse or even right near the neck. However, paying attention to the strap passing under the animal, maybe best would be placing the frame there, in the angle decided by the hobbyist. If the sled poles are longer, those can be easily shortened for best fit. It also should be pointed out that there are photos of the period revealing Panje pulling the sled but without the wooden frame on the horse, the poles being tied directly to the harness. Nonetheless, in those pictures the harness differs than the one here illustrated, much more straps being visible. 

Few references show the sleds not only with poles, but also with traces, exactly like the more known WWII horse-drawn wagons, carts, and limbers. However, a good number of filmed and photographed materials reveal the sledges without traces, exactly like it is here transposed. Anyway, the issue was disclosed for modellers wishing to add those traces, the best being metal wire because it excellent glues and do not produce fluffs like thread.

For getting a more realistic and natural appearance of the horse, as well as without excess of material, the animal is provided in two pieces, one with half of the body and two legs and the other with the rest. It is good the maker has chosen this method because the head, mane and tail splendid come out, without any mark. Still, the fitting of the two parts is not the best, the modeller having to fill with putty or other materials a pretty large space at the neck area and with a smaller quantity on the back. Nevertheless, nothing is complicated or unusual and Weathering Factory’s Panje horse looks awesome, a very fine replica in the 1/72 scale, fully respecting the characteristics of the breed. In some extent it is normal to be like that while this animal clearly relocates in the scale a Panje in WWII German Army service from a quite known photograph of the period, also pulling a sledge. The animal is a hair smaller than Revell, Modelltrans, CMK, and Miniaturas Allemany’s horses and obviously smaller than the very large ones provided by FoV, Waterloo1815, and HaT in “WWII German Mounted Infantry”. Smaller than this horse are those supplied by HaT for “WWII German Horse Drawn Multi-Purpose Vehicle”, so they might be apprised as relatives. The head details wonderfully develop, with perfect eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Furthermore, in comparison with the body, the head is smaller than at other horses, which is entirely accurate, such proportion being an individuality of the breed. 

As regards the harness, references attest more models, a normal aspect bearing in mind there was not a standardised version for sledges and many of those were confiscated from civilians or crafted in the rear workshops. This Panje horse received the harness introduced by plenty of historical materials, the webbing being correctly located and sculptured directly on the animal. The bridle incorporates all major pieces such as crownpiece, browband, cavesson, and nose band, the breast plate features the related webbing and under the horse passes an adjusting strap for the wooden frame set on the back. In spite of the small scale, there can be noticed small elements on the harness as adjusting buckles. Practically, the same system of webbing, with most parts made of leather, is still encountered in European countries where draught horses are, luckily, still a common presence on the nowadays roads. The impressive appearance is completed by a gorgeous mane and tail, the hair coming out very crisp as well as the not over-accentuated muscles and the size and shape of hoofs. The animal advances at pace or slow trout, moving extremely natural its legs and with the neck straight, as pulling the sled. 

For augmenting the true appearance, the modeller has to add reins to the horse, otherwise the driver might look a little bizarre. The reins are not supplied in the box and have to be scratch-built, the reviewer pledging for the use of metal wire bearing in mind it provides several advantages versus thread or aluminium paper, as two other choices in the field. As the great majority of references demonstrate, the reins utilised by WWII Germans in connection with the sledge were made of ropes, like traces and not of leather. The metal wire do not produce fluffs like thread, it is round, like the traces, it perfectly glues, and it can be bent in any stage for ideally folding on horse, sled frame, and driver. Moreover, by selecting the proper thickness, the metal wire does not look over-scaled at all.  

As cargo for the sled, the sculptor planned a wounded soldier, laid back and except the head, all the body is wrapped in a heavy blanket, including the feet, in order to protect as much as possible him against the freezing temperature. Resting the head on a big pillow, he wears nothing on the head because he was hit there and now is bandaged, most of the left hand side of the face being hidden. The blanket was modelled very nice, a fairly large part of its upper part being turned over. While that area features more and thinner creases than the rest of the blanket, it might be assessed below was set a bedsheet, so a good option for the hobbyist to add a spot of colour to the cover. However, both the pillow and the blanket might be painted not only in military colours, but also as confiscated from civilians, a wide-spread practice especially on the Eastern Front where such items were rare and valuable. On the other hand, for better fitting inside the sledge, on the reverse of the figure, between the pillow and blanket, there is carved a ditch, this not only delimitating the two items, but also housing the wooden stick emplaced as reinforcement at the back of the sled. The ditch cannot be perceived from any side, enhancing the proper design applied to the model. The incentive of making available such a figure, as separate part, is great and improves in a certain manner the appearance of the vehicle, in the same time leaving room for manoeuvre for modellers whishing to replace the load with something better fitting in the scenario they imagine for the sled or even to let it without any cargo. In addition, it might be taken into account this figure not necessary represents a WWII German, he can easily embody a soldier of any army and in various periods as well as a civilian.

If the wounded is almost fully covered by a blanket, the sledge driver restates the great passion of Weathering Factory’s sculptor for WWII German attire and his intention to supply the hobby with items of clothing barely met in the scale. This time he proposes a fur lined greatcoat as well as attractive fur cap and footwear, perhaps a pair of captured or tailor made leather and fur boots that could be as well the leather and felt type although the vertical leather reinforcement miss. When travelling tens of kilometres per day in an opened sledge in the freezing Russian winter, where temperatures often went below – 40 C, appropriate clothes and footwear were of foremost importance. The coat reproduced for the sled driver is certainly a fur lined surcoat, according to the fur clearly sculptured on the front closure, bottom skirt, and collar. Such garment was provided to personnel as drivers, sentinels, and guards, carrying out duties outside in extreme cold conditions, with a high risk of freezing. The surcoat was cut large enough to be worn over the standard greatcoat and the model here illustrated seems fairly similar with the one emerging in the original photo. During the war, various standard models and tailor-made or captured surcoats, including animal skin ones, were intensively used, particularly on the Eastern Front. Not only the mantel and footwear, but also the headgear completes the winter appearance, the soldier wearing a dog fur cap and toque. The collar is turned up for enhanced protection and perhaps in hands he has got the classical five fingers knitted gloves, the presence of those items being little unclear due to the pose he keeps both hands, as holding the reins. Except the belt, no other gear or weapon is visible, which is fairly genuine, films and photos taken during WWII most often introducing the horse-drawn sled drivers in the same manner. However, a rifle, and eventually supplementary gear, can be easily arranged inside the sledge, Weathering Factory’s spare rifles and zeltbahn available inside “German Tank Riders 1944 - 45” as well as Preiser, Dragon or Caesar items delivered in large stocks within various figure sets offering lots of options on the matter. In standard approach, the driver stays on the wooden frame, on the right-hand side of the sled but he can occupy another position if the load is changed, for instance staying on a barrel, ammo box etc. Likewise, the miniature is suitable for utilisations outside the sledge, he perfectly might sit in a chair or on an armoured vehicle, embodying a soldier resting during a break. 

Albeit heavily dressed or covered, anatomy of both figures look awesome, with fine proportions and excellent facial details,  eyes, ears, noses, cheeks, and chins being greatly done. The palms match the size of the body and could be even larger considering the driver might have worn gloves. Details on garment are crisp, with a plus for the buttons and fur. 

Apart the previously highlighted minor issue on horse and the questions related to the excess of material on poles and horse wooden frame, cast and mould arrive very fine, the entire kit recording a low amount of flash that is immediately removed with any modelling knife or improvised tool. Dealing with a metal kit, hobbyists must prime the material before starting painting and only after that enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils will properly adhere and the product can be touched without fear the paint will go away. 

Belonging to the medium/tall side of the 1/72 scale, both figures perfectly fit in size with plenty of troopers wearing winter clothes made available by mass-production and cottage industry manufacturers. They greatly work with soldiers from Caesar "German Infantry with Winter Gear", Revell "German Infantry", Pegasus Hobby "Germans in Berlin 1945", Dragon “LAH Panzergrenadiers + Sd.Kfz.251/7 Ausf.D, Ardennes 1944”, and Strelets “Germans in Stalingrad”. On account the kit mainly portrays a vehicle at a fair distance from the front- line, most appropriate would be the utilization in conjunction with miniatures in relaxed or marching stances issued by Juwella, Preiser, Warriors, D-Day, TQD Castings, El Viejo Dragon, Miniaturas Alemany, and even Esci "Nebelwerfer 41". Nevertheless, a remarkable connection is established with the army-men featured inside the previous three sets on WWII Germans made available by Weathering Factory, the present ones also excellent completing the huge diversity of winter clothing featured there. 

Extremely useful in any scenario targeting winter WWII German Army on the way, this unique kit finds its place both in dioramas or gaming table, giving a special touch to any column of soldiers advancing or retreating. Furthermore, the versatility of receiving various loads increases the value of the sled and in case owning more sets, in order to increase diversity, the legs of one horse can be bent in slightly different positions. The Panje horse released by the Weathering Factory pays a well-deserved tribute for the remarkable contribution and sacrifice of this noble animal. Likewise, both figures are of particular interest, featuring attractive garment and suitable for various roles, not limiting just to the sled. In a certain manner, the manufacturer should be congratulated for finally making available the key mean of transportation of WWII German Army in winter on the Eastern Front, also the overall quality of the kit fully supporting the wonderful idea. Additionally, the importance of the kit is certainly much amplified due to its multi-functionality, both the Panje horse and sled, and even the wounded soldier can properly serve with the Red Army, the Germans taking the horse and the pattern of toboggan sled from local population on the Eastern Front. By simply replacing the driver with a Russian soldier, the whole assembly is fully accurate for accompanying or transporting Red Army stuff. 

 

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