In May 1935 the request came to develop an amphibious tractor for the purpose of towing and carrying heavy loads across rivers and for landings. It should be a vehicle with multiple functions. A tractor on land, a tugboat for landing craft in the water, and even suitable to tow a 10 ton trailer for Panzer II or 20 ton trailer for PzKfw IV as an ever-ready motorized ferry. Several firms joined in the design of which Rheinmetall Borsig, Alkett and Maybach participated.
The boat-shaped hull of the LWS drew only 1.6 meters in the water at a weight of 15 metric tons. The vehicle was 9 meters long, 3 meters wide, and 3.15 meters high. Powered with a Maybach HL120 engine, it managed to reach 12.5 km/hr on the water and a maximum speed of 40 km/hr on land. The LWS had a crew of three but had the space for another 20 soldiers. The first series of four was ordered on 11 December 1940 and the second series was to be produced from March through June 1941. On the 1st of July 1942 reports tell that only 7 were finished. Another contract was planned for an additional 14 LWS´s starting in July/August 1942 up till September 1943. There is a bit of controversy on how many Landwasserschleppers were actually built. Several sources state several opinions on this. The info about the numbers above came from Jentz and Doyle. But other sources state that more LWS’s are built (amounts between 14 and even as much as 29 LWS’s). One LWS was sent to North Africa one went to the Kriegsmarine and the rest vanished into Russia.
The kit comes packed in a box approximately 44.5 cm wide, 30 cm high and 6.7 cm deep. The front shows a very colorful box art of the LWS in three tone camo (which is the Kriegsmarine LWS) coming ashore together with the kit #. What is interesting is the fact that it is a Mid production LWS. With such a small amount of vehicles made it is hard to speak of an Early, Mid, and Late production vehicle however the pictures in the books and what I found through the years show that almost all the LWS’s where just a little different from each other so it is quite possible that during production they found flaws when vehicles were tested and those flaws were corrected in the later vehicles. The box sides show line drawings of the same LWS that is on the box in several views as well as the photo etch and decals provided.
When opening the box you are greeted by 803 parts. A big chunk of the parts are the tracks which are 300 pieces. 21 parts of clear plastic and the other 461 pieces are on beige plastic sprues except for the hull and the top deck which are added separately. The remaining 21 parts are in the sheet of PE. Further you will also find in the box a sheet of decals, a Kriegsmarine flag printed on real fabric, a length of twine and a 16 page instruction booklet.
The molding of the kit is without doubt excellent and the details intricate. The hull tub has literally hundreds of very small rivets. There are some fine mold lines to be removed which should be no problem with some scraping of a sharp exacto blade. Bronco provides the LWS with a very detailed interior too which should make for an interesting model. The model shows some knockout marks but looking at the instruction sheet those are cleverly hidden when assembled, which in my eyes, is clever engineering.
Aside from the boat-shaped hull and the upper deck, the rest of the plastic parts are on 10 sprues which are labelled from C to J of which J is the transparent sprue. Some of the sprues are in the kit twice. Sprue C holds all the parts for the upper structure like the walls with the portholes and the roof, Sprue D is in the kit twice and deals primarily with the suspension, the sprockets and the wheels (both road wheels and return rollers). Also the rudders can be found on this sprue as well as a lot of small detail parts.
Sprue E is also twice in the set. On this sprue you will find some hatches, a lot of small parts, Grab handles, the structures that go on the side of the upper structure on which a rope is wound. Also you will find two ribs that go on the underside of the hull just above the tracks. These parts are extremely thin so care is needed when you take them off the sprue.
The majority of the parts of sprue F goes to the inside of the upper structure and there are hatches for the holes in the floor of the upper deck. For the entrance to the crew compartment, there are again some hatches for doors and such, the propellers, and the plate on which the sprockets are mounted.
Sprue G holds the bigger parts for the crew compartment as well as the air intake vent and a lot of interior details. The parts of Sprue H hold pretty much everything for the roof of the vehicle and includes a lot of very small parts and also very fragile parts. For instance the hand-railings on the roof are to be found here and all three are extremely thin.
Sprue I holds a lot of detail parts for both the interior as the exterior. Things like pioneer tools, the anchor, headlights etc. For the interior it provides you with 3 rifles, a MP40 for on the smokestack, steering wheel, and more hatches among the parts.
Sprue J is the sprue with all the transparent parts. All the lenses of the lights are found here as well as the windows. The windows are molded with the rim with which they are bolted to the inside of the walls of the crew compartment. Some masking is needed but it is a nice touch which gives you extra detail in the interior. The PE fret holds the engine grills. Details for the air intake vent and for the inside of the crew compartment.
The track (300) pieces come attached on 25 long sprues although sprue is not the correct word here. The tracks are divided in left and right which in the kit are named L and F. The tracks are connected to each other so the first is F the second is L, the next is again an F etc. etc. Each string of tracks holds 12 links, 6 F and 6 L, and three burs need to be cleaned. Another nice thing about the tracks is that they are workable. I assembled a couple of the track links and they go together quite easily and even hold pretty tight. However, the best thing to do is click them together, put them in place, add the sag, and then go over it with ultra thin cement. Although the links hold tight they are not very well suited for some rough handling.
Decal sheet and instructions
The decal sheet provides you with decals for three vehicles. LWS667 which is the LWS that went to Africa and is painted Dark Yellow, the LWS 1071 Early which went to Russia with the Engineer Assault Company 771 to the Eastern Front in June 1943 painted in overall German Grey, and last but not least LWS 1071 Late which is the same as the other 1071 but repainted in the three tone camo: light grey, blue grey and light green. The 16 page instruction booklet starts with some background information on the vehicle on the front and is the standard black and white exploded-diagram style of assembly steps.
At this moment I can’t say much about the fit but I will go into more detail in the build log. However I dry fitted the Hull tub to the upper deck and it proved to be a bit tricky. The upper deck has a number of small pins on the underside which in turn fit into slots in the hull tub. But... the hull tub is a bit tight which means that the upper deck has a tendency to pop out of the slots. Once you have managed to get the holes lined up correctly and glued the fit is perfect. One thing that also is apparent is that none of the hatches have inside detail so it is either some creative scratch building or have the hatches closed. Another little thing I noted is that the road wheels and sprocket only have detail on one side. Which for the majority of the wheels should not be a real problem since you cannot see them properly however the road wheels on the front should be visible in some angles.
The kit vs the real deal
I compared the kit to the data of Jentz and Doyle. More publications offer data but all vary a bit (they are “roughly” the same). The vehicle dimensions according Jentz and Doyle come to 9 meters long, 3 meters wide and 3.15 meters high. Respectively this becomes in scale 25.7cm, 8.5 cm and 9 cm. However the kit’s dimensions come up to 25.2 cm, 9.2cm, and the height I cannot determine yet as I have not started the build. The other things I have compared dimensions of are the sprockets which are pretty equal to the dimensions in the line drawing by Doyle, as are the road wheels and return rollers and the idler. The propellers with which the vehicle moves itself through the water however seem to be a bit too large compared to the data of Jentz and Doyle.
As to what makes this LWS a mid vehicle has got something to do with the features in the kit. The early LWS had three air vents/smokestacks, large rectangular windows, and three small portholes in the sides of the crew compartment as well as the mud guards on the front of the vehicle just above the tracks. The Mid production LWS has no mudguards, smaller rectangular windows (the large ones were prone to cracking when waves hit them), one air vent/smokestack, 1 big round window just behind the front of the upper structure, and 2 smaller round windows halfway along the side.
The kit actually provides you with an early and late mid production possibilities with the parts provided. This difference is pretty much made up of the placement of 2 parts and more info about this can be found on page 9 of the instruction booklet. In all the pictures I have of the vehicle, I have not spotted this difference. But then again I have not yet all the publications on this subject and I certainly have not yet seen all the pictures about it.
One thing I think is really a shame that it is not provided in the kit is the rope bumpers. I have not seen a single picture of an LWS where they were not mounted. So I think it is a bit of a miss of Bronco not to have them in the box. Thachweave
has made some quite good looking bumpers and will absolutely be the right finish for the vehicle.
I think this is probably one kit of which people have waited a long time to appear in injection molded plastic. The Miniart Studio’s kit was already a very popular one but was quite rare and the prices of them were extremely high. This release is, for many, the chance now to get their vehicle. I think overall the kit is very good but there are some misses though. The lack of interior detail on the hatches and on the backside of the road wheels and the lack of the rope bumpers in particular. There are some nice bonuses though such as the workable tracks, the PE fret, and the extras like the flag and twine.
The molding is absolutely fantastic and all the details are nice and sharp and the kit includes a nice set of decals. The lettering of the decals is pretty much spot on and do also seem to be right when it comes to size. In the end you will end up with a very nice detailed model of an LWS which will be a very impressive vehicle as a stand-alone piece or as a centrepiece of a diorama. So despite the minor flaws and misses the kit has I still recommend it to everybody.
A Build Log will follow via the forums to evaluate the kit parts fit and assembly.