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Tamiya 1/35 scale Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18t (Sd.Kfz.9) "FAMO"

Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922.
Kit: No. 35239
Scale: 1/35
Price: $82
Comments:Injection molded, 616 parts (11 vinyl, 1 nylon string), decals
Pros: Beautiful moldings and excellent parts engineering, full engine, individual-link tracks, eight figures
Cons: A few light ejector-pin marks
The Sd.Kfz. 9 18-ton half-track was developed and produced by FAMO (Fahrzeug und Motorenbau GmbH) in Breslau, Germany. It was the largest production half-track to enter service in World War II, and more than 2,500 FAMOs were built between 1938 and 1944. It was designed primarily as a heavy armor recovery vehicle and a tractor for the 24-ton trailer and the 21cm howitzer. If used as a troop carrier it could accommodate up to 30 men. Several variants were built, including versions mounting 6-ton or 10-ton cranes.

Tamiya's big FAMO kit is beautifully molded in the usual yellow-tan plastic. It has a few light ejector pin marks, but these are easily removed. Notable features are a complete engine, individual-link tracks, and steerable front wheels with beautiful soft vinyl tires. The windshield may be positioned up or down, and the storage bins can have their doors open or closed. A set of tool storage drawers is provided for one of the bins. The 40-ton winch cable can be extended, but it is difficult to rewind it if you choose to do so. Cargo-bay bow frames can be installed on the bed or stored, but no canvas cover is provided.

Eight crew figures come with the kit. While there are only four different bodies provided, a selection of arms and legs allow each figure to be different. A small, well printed decal sheet provides markings for four vehicles. A set of towing shackles is provided should you wish to show your FAMO(s) towing a tank (if money isn't a concern, you could have three FAMOs towing a Panther or Tiger tank in a diorama).

The kit features a beautiful one-piece main chassis frame, assuring that everything will be perfectly aligned when complete. I realized that it would be difficult to paint some areas with all of the parts attached to the chassis, so I painted the running gear, engine, air tank, exhaust system, and winch separately. The engineering of the kit allowed me to add these parts later and still achieve an excellent fit.

I built a simple jig to help assemble the individual link tracks: Two thick planks of styrene were glued to a sheet styrene base with a gap between them just wide enough to accommodate the teeth of the links. Each side takes 47 links. By carefully gluing the pads (C1) to the track links, they will actually work like the real thing.

I built the major subassemblies before painting. Fit overall is excellent. I left the hood loose from the cab so I could show off the detailed engine inside.

To represent the late-war three-color camouflage scheme, I painted all of the subassemblies (except the motor) with a custom mixed base coat of Tamiya desert yellow, dark yellow, and white. Streaks of Polly Scale Panzer Red Brown and Green were airbrushed over the exterior of the body and the road wheels.

When the paint was dry I finished assembling the chassis. While the kit has individual link tracks, the road wheels must be glued in place. It would not be too difficult to show the road wheels offset if you wanted to pose the vehicle on uneven groundwork. It took about six feet of nylon string to fill the reel of the winch. The decals snuggled down nicely with just a touch of Micro Sol.

Final assembly included adding all of the body parts to the chassis. The air filter assembly needs to be added after the front fender unit is in place. It's a bit of a tight fit, but take your time and eventually it will click into position. The clear plastic sheet windows were glued into the windshield frames with white glue. My clear parts were a bit warped from the die cutting process, so I placed a book on them while the glue set. The windshield pops into its mounting easily on the crew cabin. One of these days, I'm going to paint up all of those figures!

My FAMO took 28 hours to finish, a little longer than my average, but it was an enjoyable process. The finished model matches perfectly to the dimensions in John Milsom's German Half-tracks of World War 2. There is nothing difficult about building the kit, but the large number of small pieces will require experience for a successful result. Don't be surprised if Tamiya releases one of the crane versions in the future. Any collector of German WWII armor will want at least one of these kits in their collection.


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