Kit Reviews

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CMK 1/35 scale Volkswagen Type 87

By Matthew Usher
Published: September 1, 1999
Kit: No. T35013
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: CMK, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, &972-242-8663
Price: $12.98
Comments: Injection molded, 57 parts, decals
Pros: Fine molding, good fit, interesting subject
Cons: Cloudy clear parts, missing four-wheel-drive shifter
Kit: No. T35013
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: CMK, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, &972-242-8663
Price: $12.98
Comments: Injection molded, 57 parts, decals
Pros: Fine molding, good fit, interesting subject
Cons: Cloudy clear parts, missing four-wheel-drive shifter
Ask soldiers which vehicle they'd least like to ride into combat, and I imagine the VW Beetle would be near the top of the list. However, from 1941 to 1944, almost 600 Type 87 Beetles were produced. With a 25-horsepower engine and optional four-wheel drive, the Type 87 was mainly used by the Afrika Corps, fitted with special dust filters and huge Kronprinz sand tires.

Previously available only in resin from cottage manufacturers, CMK's Type 87 is cleanly molded in light-gray styrene. Lots of extra parts are included, most notably eight wheels with standard tires - clearly more versions of the Beetle are on the way. The window glass, headlights, and taillights are included on a clear sprue.

I started assembly with the chassis. Although its underside correctly represents the Type 87's four-wheel-drive running gear, the interior represents a standard two-wheel-drive car with a single gear lever and central hand brake. My main reference for the model, VW Beetle at War by Dr. Hans-Georg Mayer, has a photo of the Type 87 chassis showing the correct arrangement of the interior. I added a second gear lever from my spares box, relocated the hand brake to the passenger's footwell, and added a music-wire shift linkage to correct things as shown. The fix was simple and took less than half an hour. Afterward, I added the nicely detailed seats and sand tires.

After painting the upper body and installing the separate interior door panels, I glued the windows in place with Micro Kristal-Kleer. The windows let the kit down a bit; they're too thick and a little on the hazy side. The rear windows were smaller than their openings and were difficult to glue in place. If I build this kit again, I'll be tempted to replace the kit parts with windows cut from clear sheet.

I left off part 36, the folded sunroof. A deep sinkhole marred the folded-fabric pattern and would have been tough to fill. I'll replace it with a more realistic top made from rolled tissue, as I imagine many modelers will. The black-and-white decals went on well, even without setting solution. They're nice and opaque, too, even over the dark-yellow paint.

Despite the few problems I had with the kit, I had a great time building my Type 87. It fills a hole in my soft-skinned collection between the Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen, its VW cousins. The project took less than 15 hours, and I look forward to building a second one sometime soon. Beginning modelers should be able to handle this one straight out of the box, and more advanced modelers should enjoy detailing their version of VW's unlikely fighting vehicle.

- Matthew Usher
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