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Trumpeter 1/72 scale FAMO SdKfz 9 18-ton halftrack

Kit: No. 7203
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555, www.stevenshobby.com
Price: $24.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 385 parts, decals
Pros: Highly detailed engine, individual track links
Cons: Fit problems, fragile small parts, ejector-pin marks in hard-to-fix locations
Trumpeter's release of the FAMO is an all-out effort in detail. The box is packed with five sand-yellow and four metallic-gray sprues, three soft vinyl tires, and a piece of string. A detailed chassis, engine, and the two-piece individual track links are extraordinary for 1/72 scale. Markings are provided for three different units.

Trumpeter includes a jig for assembling the two-piece track links and a form for making wire supports for the vehicle's canvas top. You get the form, but not the wire or top. A plastic part representing a stack of all the supports is included, too. A well-illustrated, 12-page instruction book with exploded views is provided.

When assembling the chassis, I discovered two parts mis-marked on the sprue. Parts C13 and C14 should be switched. The axles for the road wheels (B5) fit loosely, so I used a straightedge to make sure they were aligned properly. The interleaved road wheels do not have enough clearance for all the wheels to line up. You may want to sand the wheel flanges and test fit. The jig for assembling the two-piece track is handy. The tracks end up a little long and loose.

Building the bodywork in stages brought to light fit problems between various subassemblies. The most noticeable were gaps between the hood assembly and side panels (C24 and C25). I filled them with white glue.

I chose the three-color late-war paint scheme, worn by the 190th StuG Brigade, Russia in 1944. I used Floquil's depot buff, rust, and Pullman green. Because numerous locations were hard to reach, I painted the subassemblies and parts before final assembly. A light amount of weathering was applied with an oil wash. The kit decals are in register and went down nicely on a gloss overcoat. Jan Suermondt's World War II Wehrmacht Vehicles was my main reference.

The finished model scales well to published dimensions. I spent 20 hours completing this model. For fans of small-scale armor looking for a prime mover, this kit will get your panzer out of the mud.

- Tom Foti

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