by: Darren Baker [ ]
The following introduction is as supplied by ICM with a few minor changes by me to make it easier to understand.
From 1933 Germany began to build a modern army. An important part of the Wehrmacht motorization of the army was the manufacture of special all--purpose passenger cars. Three types of passenger car were developed in the classes of light, Medium and heavy. All of them had all wheel drive, independent suspension and simplified open bodies. The light model all round car ‘Leichten Gelande Einheitz Personen-Kraftwagen’ was manufactured by the Stoewer Company and also by BMW and Hanomag from 1936. From 1940 to 1943 Stoewer produced the simplified model type 40 without the rear wheel steering gear. In total there were roughly 13,000 Le.Gl.Einheits-PKW produced. The base cars produced turned out to be too heavy, too complicated and unreliable in the field. Le.Gl.Einheits-PKW cars were produced with different types of bodies, in particular the Kfz.2, three seat radio communications car with Torn Fu.b1 radio set.
This model is very well packaged in a rugged cardboard flip top box and a separate card lid with an image of the vehicle on it. Inside there is a re-sealable plastic bag, this contains the kit parts for the model. An examination of the sprues for this model indicates no moulding issues other than some ejector pin marks that will ideally be dealt with. There are some flow lines on the larger mouldings, but these do not look or feel to have marred the finish of the mouldings concerned. There is no flash present anywhere on the model, and even the seam lines are very light and should be easily dealt with. All of the parts look to be easily accessed where removal is concerned, with care being needed on the really fine parts offered in order to avoid damage.
One of the cautionary tales often used with ICM concerns multi-part chassis; well there is no concern with this release as the chassis is a single frame that you add extra detail to. The twin suspension springs mounted on each side of the axles are details that would benefit from some scratch work; I would remove the spring detail on the kit part and use wire to represent the spring as I feel this is an easily done improvement. The drive axles look a little odd to me with the bend present in them, but I cannot find anything to validate the detail as correct or otherwise. ICM has put a lot of work into the underside of the vehicle model which while not really seen normally those that wish to show a damaged or overturned vehicle will find a lot less work being needed than is usual.
The engine and gear box is a blocky affair, but it does appear to match online reference for it. During several hours of searching visual reference appears to be limited; however I did find a number of photographs that potentially indicates the cooling system and exhaust manifold may be inaccurate, but it has to be remembered that the vehicle was produced by a number of companies and the reference may not refer to a Stoewer produced vehicle. The exhaust will ideally have the end opened up rather than solid as provided. My pet hate as regards wheels that cannot be assembled in a turned orientation is present and is one aspect that I really hope ICM looks to address soon. The wheels and tyres are injection moulded plastic and so should keep everyone happy regardless of the camp you fall into. I have to say that the underside of this model is stunning with what is supplied.
The interior of the model has some highs such as the dashboard which looks to be a perfect replication in miniature of the vehicle. The gearbox/transmission is partially exposed in cab and it does look as if the rear of the gearbox is missing some detail, but in all other respects looks good. I am unable to comment on the layout of the cab due to my failure to find reference; with that said it does look to be logical in its design, but I would have had the radio in front of the operator rather than his side. The seats have that new look to them which I am not a fan of in military vehicles. I am pleased to see personal weapons included and I approve of how ICM has tackled the securing brackets for them due to the fact that they do not include photo etched parts. The radio and power pack have a nice level of detail present, but I feel a headset and microphone should have been present.
The body of the vehicle has been well tackled as regards accuracy in all respects that I am able to verify. The bonnet/hood has been supplied in a multipart affair and will require a simple cut to depict open. An open bonnet is not covered in the instructions and will require a cut to free the hinged portion of the bonnet from the side panel of the engine bay; you will then need to remove the moulded securing straps and scratch replacement parts. The bonnet is vented and so will require either very careful sanding to a more realistic thickness and open up the vent detail. The easiest way would be to use the metal from a squeeze tube (Cheese spread and the like) and use the kit part as a former to shape and mark the areas where the vents are.
This model has been supplied with a folded roof and so I expect to see in time a release of this vehicle with a deployed roof; the only change I would like to make here is to improve the texture of the canvas roof. I like that ICM has provided clear lenses for the lights as it is something that is not always covered in kits. The doors of the vehicle have been well done as their is good detail on both faces and no ejector pin marks to work on. External features such as mirrors and wiper blades are present and add finesse to the model. Tools are limited on the exterior of the vehicle and what there is consists of tools with moulded on clamps; I personally do not take issue with this as it is easy to remove the clamp detail if you are going down the after market photo etched route.
The instruction booklet has been well tackled and I think you will agree that the instructions are clear and easily understood. The decal sheet is well printed with good definition, but the decals do feel a little on the thick side. Four finishing options are included for the model and I was pleased to see that in addition to Western and Eastern European stationed vehicles a North African option is included.
I like this model as offered from the box by ICM, but with a little effort a good model has the potential to be stunning. I do wish the wheels could be shown turned, but that is a wish rather than a fault. I would also like to have seen a designated crew for the vehicle but that again is not a fault. I have included some minor changes that I feel could be managed relatively easily with the exception of the Bonnet/hood. I would recommend this model to anyone regardless of skill level built from the box due to the clear instructions, and for those who are more daring with a few kits under their belts and the relevant skills that provides allows improvements to be made.