by: dharris [ ]
Originally published on:
The Horch 108 Typ 40 Soft Top was a large four-wheel drive Personnel car used by all arms of the German army during the Second World War, in North Africa, Italy, France and the Soviet Union. It could carry ten men, with stowage space in the boot, and weighed just over three tons. It was produced, and used in service, from 1937 up until the end of the war.
Over 8000 of these vehicles were produced and, along with a 60mph top speed (on road), it had good cross-country performance, but they were not particularly robust or reliable.
They were mostly used in rear-areas as a result of their lack of any armour-plating or offensive weapons (other than those carried by the occupants).
This is my first experience with an ICM kit, but everything I've heard about this manufacturer's products has been positive so I was expecting a reasonably decent kit. The first impressions are very good. A well painted image of a winter-camouflaged Horch crossing a snow-covered landscape adorns the very sturdy box, which contains seven sand-coloured sprues, one transparent sprue (for the headlight lenses and front windscreens), a small acetate sheet pre-marked with cut-lines for the side windows, a black vinyl sprue for the five tyres, a small decal sheet and the instruction manual. There are no etched details provided, or tow-ropes, chains, etc.
The instructions are well presented, with a glossy, full-colour cover, repeating the box-art on the front page, and with full-colour painting and decal options, for four vehicles, on the last page. The front page also gives a short history of the vehicle, along with specifications, weights and dimensions for the real thing.
Pages 2 and 3 give a complete plan of the sprue layout, with part numbers and sprue letters, to assist in locating parts during assembly. The assembly instructions themselves are clear and well laid out, in a sensible and easy-to-follow sequence, set out into seventy-five steps, over 24 pages.
There are a small number of unused parts in this kit, which are highlighted in red, and are actually to enable an open-topped version (roof lowered) of this car to be modelled, giving hint of other versions of this kit on the way. There are no options given in the instructions to build this open-topped version but, on examination of the parts, it should be possible to build this alternative roof, if you should so wish.
The parts themselves are cleanly moulded, with crisp and clear detail. The mould-halves seem to be very well aligned, with no flash that I could see. The louvres on the front of the bonnet are very finely moulded, and the clear headlight lenses have a pleasing and realistic "ribbed" glass effect. There are a number of ejector-pin marks across the kit which will require filling and sanding, but a number of them look like they'll be hidden once assembled. The door and canvas roof inner surfaces will need some attention - the depressions in the doors look so regular and precise that upon first glance I thought they were locating holes for parts!
There are some very fine, thin, parts that are free of pin-marks as they use "knock-out" lugs, but these will need careful clean-up, and even more careful removal from the sprue (the seat-frames and anti-roll bars are particularly delicate and have multiple attachment points). The fabric-sag on top of the canvas roof looks to be well rendered, and should look realistic once painted and weathered.
The first four steps in the instructions cover assembling the engine block, along with basic pipework and exhausts. The engine is well moulded with all the basic details present. The bonnet (later in the build) is moulded separately so there is the option to display the model with the bonnet open and, with some wiring added, would look perfectly respectable.
The chassis is next, with the transmission and the suspension parts. The ladder-type chassis is moulded as one part, so will avoid any later problems with alignment. The next twenty-three steps cover the assembly of the transmission and suspension parts, to produce a completed chassis unit. The suspension, whilst not overly-complicated, is constructed of separate swinging arms and spring units so will produce a realistic-looking setup behind the wheels once finished. Looking at the parts, it may be possible to pose the wheels in a "steered" position without having to result to major surgery, but that remains to be seen. The instructions also indicate attaching the wheels during these stages, but most modellers will want to leave these off until after assembly, to assist painting and weathering.
The instructions then move onto the main body, which is provided as a one-piece floor pan, with separate full-length side plates, with cut-outs for the individual doors. The rear bulkhead, driver's firewall and the wheel arches are provided as separate pieces, which allow for better moulding, but will need careful alignment when assembling to avoid any gaps or misaligned areas. The bulkheads, cockpit details, doors, seats and other internal details are fitted at this point, and all these parts seem to be well executed. There are four Mauser rifles to populate the interior rifle-racks, but this is the only "stowage" that's provided, so the modeller will need to source or scratch build any extras.
The doors are where the clear acetate sheet needs to be carefully cut (with a new, sharp blade) to provide their glazing, and here we come across the only provided build-option for this kit; the doors can either be of the regular, full length glazed type, or a half-door (with no upper part or glazing - perhaps more suited to the open-topped version).
The body and chassis are then joined, with the bonnet, roof (raised) and the last few fittings completing the build. Each step in the instructions only covers a small number of parts to be added, which makes for a very easy-to-follow guide, but it does mean that these last few details make up the last fifteen assembly steps, and also what necessitates so many steps for what is a comparatively simple and straightforward build! There are painting references given throughout the build, which will be necessary for painting the interior during assembly.
As mentioned earlier, there are four painting/decal options given. Three are mainly Schwarzgrau - two having RLM Grau 02 canvas roofs (Russia, Summer, 41/42) and one with a black roof and a winter-whitewash effect - and a Dunkelgelb vehicle with Grau roof canvas (Russia, Summer, 1943).
The legend for the paint colours is on the front cover, and gives the basic colour description, as well as reference numbers for Model Master paints.
The decals are clearly printed, well defined and perfectly on-register. They are limited to front and rear number plates, three different units' markings, plus one unidentified vehicle, and a marking for the wheel arches (common to the three Russian-theatre vehicles). There are also, however, decals provided for the dashboard dials, which will save having to try and paint them in!
All in all, this appears to be a well-executed kit that I am looking forward to building. It should make up into a very nice-looking model and, if the "roof-down" route is chosen there is plenty of scope for adding figures and stowage that should bring this very-Hummer-looking German WWII personnel car to life! This appears to be a very nice kit, well boxed, well moulded and with crisp, well defined, detail. The parts breakdown and instructions seem quite logical and easy to follow, with clearly set out steps. The four painting options are nice, the full-colour reproduction giving an instant visual indication and guide for the colours, and what the finished vehicle will look like (the winter whitewash version would hint towards the application of weathering effects, for example).
Out of the box, the only lows appear to be the somewhat delicate nature of some of the parts (needing careful clean-up), and the (admittedly small) ejector pin marks on some of the components, those on the chassis for example, which will be visible so will need attention. It would have been nice to have the option for the lowered roof too, but perhaps on a future release? I personally would also have preferred styrene tyres, as opposed to the vinyl alternative.
Some not-so-experienced modellers may be put off a little by the acetate windows for the doors, but styrene moulding would’ve made them too thick for the scale. A sharp knife and steel rule should take care of this though.
By the time of writing this, however, I have commenced on the build, and can reveal that there are a few parts that wrongly numbered in the instructions, so something to keep you on your toes - more on that on the upcoming build review.
All in all, this seems to be a very nice looking kit, and should prove a fairly straightforward build (please, don’t let me regret saying that!). It is a very nice looking vehicle in real life, so should make a fantastic addition to any modeller’s collection. It seems well proportioned, and, from the box-art, does have a certain ‘look’ about it. I mentioned earlier that this does look rather similar to the modern US Hummer, but I suppose it was designed to fill a very similar role. I am very much looking forward to building this!
Upon first impressions, I would give this kit 80% - it would have been higher, but I’m slightly biased by the part-numbering issue I discovered!