Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922.
Kit: No. 35237
Comments: Injection molded, 342 parts (7 vinyl), decals.
Pros: Excellent detail, excellent fit, interesting subject.
Cons: Shell-catcher screen too large for scale.
Faced with increasing Allied air superiority during World War II, the Germans developed several mobile anti-aircraft weapons to protect their armored columns. One such vehicle combined the basic chassis of a Panzer IV with a 3.7cm anti-aircraft gun. Protection for the crew was accomplished by adding slab-sided armor panels that could be lowered in order to fire the gun. The bulky look of the vehicle coined its nickname, Möbelwagen (furniture delivery truck). Initially the vehicle was to be armed with the quad barreled 2cm FlaK38 gun, but the heavier caliber, single barreled 3.7cm Flak 43 gun was eventually chosen for the Möbelwagen. While it was seen as a stopgap system until a better one could be developed, more than 200 were produced between 1944 and 1945.
Tamiya continues the process of releasing kits based on its excellent Panzer IV J chassis. While the chassis will be familiar to any one who has built the Panzer IV J kit, the Flak 43 gun is all-new (Tamiya released a Flak 36 version of the 3.7cm gun a few years ago).
The Möbelwagen features excellent detail. The one-piece vinyl tracks can be assembled with glue (they're the easiest of any track system to install). The gun shields can be positioned in up, down, or partially lowered positions. The gun can be rotated and elevated in any position. Only one choice of markings is provided: two national insignia decals for the slab armor sides. A single standing figure is also included. Two crew hatches can be mounted either open or closed, but no interior is provided with the kit.
I started by installing the suspension parts onto the lower hull. I left the tracks, road wheels, drivers, and idlers off until I had finished painting the entire vehicle. The upper hull is a new molding to provide for the gun mount and fighting compartment. To make painting a little easier I left the upper hull separate. If you do this, make sure you don't install the exhaust pipes (E2) to the rear plate, as the hull halves won't fit with them in place. To make them easier to paint, leave off the tools until the rest of the model is painted.
You need to decide which position you want for the gun shields before you assemble them. The fold-out armor plates for the partially lowered position must be glued into place before the panels are added to the hull. I added the slab armor sides, but left them loose so I could raise them to the upright position when painting the camouflage pattern.
The Flak 43 is a beautiful kit - don't be surprised if Tamiya eventually releases a towed version of this gun. The fit is excellent, and I left off the shield so I could paint the barrel after the main color was applied. I also left off the shell ejector catcher assembly to simplify painting. The catcher's screen is over scale, but doesn't look too bad when complete. The gun mounts to the hull with a poly cap, so you can leave the gun off until final assembly.
With the major assembly finished, I airbrushed my model with a mix of Tamiya acrylics for the Panzer yellow base color. When it dried I added the camouflage pattern using Polly Scale Panzer red-brown and green. I painted the road wheels grimy black, and the tracks Testor Acryl rust, dry-brushed with silver.
After painting I added the running gear and tracks. The tracks fit snugly and looked great. Next I added the shields and shell catcher to the gun, then the armor shields were added. The gun was pressed into its poly cap mounting.
The finished model matches exactly the dimensions given in the Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two by Chamberlain, Doyle, and Jentz. I spent about 17 enjoyable hours building my Möbelwagen. Tamiya has turned out another great kit. The fit and detail are excellent. While I had no problems, the large number of small parts and complex paint scheme require some modeling experience.