In WW2, the German Air Force developed a special external power supply unit, called the "Anlasswagen", to use when starting airplane engines or testing weapons or instruments. The unit consisted of a power generator driven by a two-stroke engine. Controls on the upper panel allowed switching between power supply and recharge modes.The unit was installed in a two-wheeled cart that could easily be towed. A hood, wich was folded back while the generator was in operation in order to keep the engine from overheating, protected the engine from the influences of weather. power was carried to the external power socket of the aircraft via a cable with a special plug. When not in use, and when the vehicule was in tow, this cable lay in an open box in front of the main switch.
The "Kettenkraftrad" Sd.Kfz.2 was a unique half-track motorcycle developed by the NSU Company of Neckarsulm, Germany. Originaly intended to be used as a light tractor by airborn troops, this vehicle went into mass production and was used for a variety of functions. Firts deployed during the invasion of Crete in 1941, Kettenkraftrads served throughout Europe, as well as in North africa and on the Eastern front. 8345 were produced by 1944, and some even after the war for civilian agricultural use.
Tamiya's new Luftwaffe airfield accessories kit comes in a small side opening cardboard box with a nice cover artwork: two mechanics are servicing a Fw 190 A-8/R-8 from JG3, flown by Willi Maximowitz in June 1944. The scene is buccolic, the grass is green, the sky is blue and the birds are singing!
The packaging is top quality (picture 1) and each sprue is protected within it's own plastic bag (picture 2).
BEWARE! The kit is not 100% new! One sprue is dedicated to the now well known "Kettenkraftrad" kit (picture 3). This vehicle can be found as a separate reference in it's army version accompanied by a Goliath demolition unit (32502) but also within some limited kits of Luftwaffe aircraft such as the Do 335, Me 262 or Ta 183. Nonetheless it's a very nice kit with a lot of diorama potential. The parts are superb and crisply done (picture 4) and two figures are included (picture 5), one mechanic and one pilot.
What's really new in this kit is the Power Supply Unit kit (picture 6). It is made out of the same grey plastic than the kettenkraftrad and the molding quality is as good: no flash, no sink marks, no shifts... just perfect! (picture 7) The Power Supply Unit is pretty small and it was obvious Tamiya would include some more figures to go with the new servicing cart. Tamiya included two (picture 8) wich is a minimum and they are almost to the same quality level as the ICM ones wich are the best injected Luftwaffe figures in my opinion. The figures have seperate arms but I don't think they are "multipose" as they are designed to operate the Power unit and therefore have a specific attitude. Two fuel drums (picture 9) are also provided in the kit as well as one manual pump, one tool box and one fire extinguisher. In this case I would paraphrase someone and say: "you can't have too many fuel drums!"
The fuel cable in the kit is made out of a metal wire surrounded by vinyl plastic (picture 10). This may be a detail, but it allows the cable to keep it's shape once bent. this would not have been the case if the cable was only made of vinyl.
Small decals are meant to go on the Power Unit and the Fuel Drums but obvioulsy the Kettenkraftrad was forgotten! Maybe the good people at Tamiya thought we have enough spare ones from other Sd.Kfz.2 kits, wich in my case is true as I have now four of such Kettenkraftrads in various boxes! How many do you have? You would be surprised!
The instructions are printed on a "panoramic" paper sheet (picture 11). I don't know why it was made that way, but it isn't very practical! I would have prefered the instructions to be horizontal rather than vertical . Other than that they are easy to follow and are accompanied by a painting guide for the figures on the underside of the box.
This is a great kit... if you don't already have one or more kettenkraftrads in your stash! Otherwise it's a little expensive if you only want the Power Supply Unit with the figures. I would have prefered another vehicle than the Sd.Kfz.2 to go whit the cart, such as a Renault UE or a Fiat Tractor... maybe next time.
For those who don't have any Luftwaffe vehicle and want to make a small diorama, this is the perfect kit to buy! I recommend it to every WW2 aircraft builder wanting to add a little life to a luftwaffe scene.
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Aircraft airfield accessories kits are not common in injected plastic. So it is always nice to see a new reference showing up from time to time and the release of Tamiya's 1/48 scale German Aircraft Power Supply Unit & Kettenkraftrad kit is welcomed.Wait, did I say new? In fact not totally!