In 1942, Germany developed two prototypes of light, amphibious tugs, known as Panzerfähre (also called Landwasser-schlepper II, or LWS II), based on the PzKpfw IV Ausf F chassis. The lightly armored vehicles could ferry tanks or be armed with gun or rocket batteries
Dragon has produced each of the prototypes; this review covers prototype No. 1. The kit is molded in Dragon’s light gray plastic, with minor mold seams to remove and a small bit of flash on some parts. The fit of the parts is good, and no filler is needed. A small photoetched-metal fret and a length of nylon cord are included. Like most Dragon kits, you will have many parts left over for your spares collection.
The biggest problem with this kit is the directions. There are numerous errors in part labeling, and colors that are incorrect or not named in the color guide.
The directions are to attach the upper hull to the large, one-piece lower hull in Step 9, after all of the fine detail has been added to both the upper and lower hulls. I chose to attach the hull halves first to avoid breaking the smaller parts. The upper deck needs holes drilled for the four exhaust shrouds and anchor clamps before gluing it to the lower hull. The directions show drilling the wrong four holes for the anchor clamps. Drill the four holes on the left side of the rear hull instead of the two larger holes on both sides of the rear hull as shown. Leave the hatches and Part D9 off for better access to the interior. This allows you to use the back end of a paint brush to push the side of the lower hull out when gluing the halves together.
In Step 1, the two hooks are mislabeled. They should be C9. Step 6 has many errors: The light should be Part B9; Part D10 should be D34; and D12 and D13 should be C12 and C13. The numbers are also mixed up in Step 7: C32 should be glued to C34, and C33 should be glued to C35. To make sure they are in the right place, the exhaust shrouds should be able to fold to the middle of the vehicle.
I had trouble getting the front floats to sit flat on the hull. The removal of two rivets on the bottom of each side fixed this problem.
On the kit’s individual track links (Dragon Magic Track ), there are two small blemishes on the inside of each track. Assembly of the tracks went smoothly with the aid of the Hobby Trax jig for the Pzkfw IV. I built four subassemblies and left the tracks off for painting.
Because the hull color is sandy brown in the painting guide, I followed the box art, using Tamiya German Gray (XF-63) for the lower hull, and Tamiya Medium Gray (XF-20) mixed with RLM gray (XF-22) for the hull top. Humbrol, Vallejo, and Model Master paints covered the details, and a Mig neutral wash along with MMP and CMK powders finished the weathering. I textured the exhaust mufflers by brushing them with liquid styrene cement and stippling the surfaces with an old brush to give them a rough, pitted appearance.
The decals include three German crosses and a small No. 1. They went down smoothly over a coat of Testors Glosscote with the aid of Micro Sol and Micro Set solutions. There was no silvering after a coat of Tamiya clear flat.
Finally, I added the safety ropes. Photoetched metal is provided for the rope hooks and loopswith nylon cord for the rope; instead, I used some old ship rigging that looked more natural. The directions do not specify the rope lengths, so I measured the distance between each pole and added three millimeters to figure in sag for the rope. However, this was too long. I bent the photoetched-metal hooks around a needle to make the loop for the rope, then super glued the rope end.
If you catch the errors in the instructions, there are no major glitches in building Dragon’s Panzerfähre. It took me 34 hours to complete this kit, with most of the time spent on the tracks and assembling the ropes and small hooks.
Waldemar Trojca’s book German Armor and Special Units of WWII (J.J. Fedorowicz, ISBN 978-0-921991-73-1) and several sites on the Internet have pictures of the two prototypes being used.
Anyone who’s built a couple of Dragon tanks should have few problems with this one, and pairing it with the other prototype and ferry will add something impressive to anyone’s collection.