Designated Kfz.100 in 1943, the Büssing-NAG (Neue Automobil-Gesellschaft)
4500 A-1 with Bilstein 3t Drehkran served as a field recovery and repair asset for the Wehrmacht in Europe and North Africa from 1942 to the war’s end in 1945. It featured a revolving crane (drehkran) with a maximum capacity of 3 tons. This was reduced to 2 tons with the jib fully extended but made the Kfz.100 versatile in a range of tank engine and gun replacement operations. A variety of vehicle towing and lifting tackle was also carried in its large ubiquitous wooden toolbox and stowed on the rear deck making the Kfz.100 something of a workhorse of both the Kraftfahrzeug- and Panzer-Instandsetzungs-Dienste.
AFV Club’s box art features the business end of the Kfz.100 in dark yellow and is a very useful reference for the kit’s construction in itself. The typically sturdy box is fully packed with individually sealed sprues including sufficient parts to build either an early or late derivative of the Kfz.100. Although not called out by AFV Club in the instructions, this 2-in-1 feature comes as a surprise and is afforded by the inclusion of sprues from the earlier AF 35170 and AF 35270 kits (Büssing-NAG 4500 S and 4500 A cargo trucks respectively). This surprise also comes with a couple slight stings in the tail which will become apparent later in the build.
A further surprise is the inclusion of two engine lifting frames (one for standard vehicle engines and one for heavier tank engines), a double block pulley with folding eye (you will need to find an additional hook) and extra 20l fuel cans (five are required by the instructions leaving seven extras for the spares box). You will have to look for the lifting frame and pulley components as these are not called out in the instructions nor obvious on the sprues.
The sprues are crisply moulded in light tan or dark yellow styrene and largely free of excessive flash. There are a number of seams and some ejector pin marks that will need your attention as in all styrene kits. Care will need to be taken with some of the finer and smaller parts - there are a number of them which makes this kit an interesting and, at times, challenging build which leads me to a slight frustration I experienced with the kit. In my opinion, the modest PE fret supplied includes some small parts that could have been incorporated in styrene parts while some of the styrene parts or assemblies could have been more appropriately supplied as PE parts; but this may say more about my abilities as a modeller than a valid criticism of the engineering by AFV Club – I’ll leave that to you.
In total, the kit contents include:
- 16 styrene sprues (15 light tan/dark yellow and 1 clear – sorry, can’t be bothered with a parts count)
- 1 Photo-etch fret
- 1 length of nylon thread (sufficient to model the crane in travelling position – you will need more to model the jib extended, i.e lifting an engine out of a Panther or Tiger)
- 4 minute pieces of metal rod bagged
- 1 sheet of decals representing three Wehrmacht units along with crane placards (no interior instrument or engine placards are included)
- 1 booklet of instructions including coloured painting and vehicle/tactical marking guides
- 1 bag containing seven black vinyl tyres (nicely detailed, you either love them or hate them – AM resin might be a consideration for purists)
- 1 polyester sprue of four caps to attach wheels
From the outset I recommend thoroughly reading the supplied instructions, carefully planning sub-assembly construction including painting and dry fitting at every stage. Given the number of fine and small parts, some occasional vagaries in the instructions and some fit issues, this is not a model for beginners who want to stay with the hobby or in a relationship. I also recommend using a range of primary references (period photographs) or texts. I found Lukas Friedli’s “Repairing the Panzers: German Tank Maintenance in World War 2” (there are two volumes) extremely interesting and fascinating as a resource. Period images and documents trawled from the internet can be equally entertaining and useful. Be careful when looking at restored vehicles. I found it interesting that the only source that I could find to match the modelled version of the crane (there were a few versions developed and in use by the Wehrmacht) was an image of the crane mounted on a restored Kfz.100. No period images of the Kfz.100 I could find completely matched the AFV Club representation, nor could I find two period images of the vehicle the same which suggests ongoing development and modification. This is not unusual for model kits though and gives some licence to the modeller which makes it all the more engaging as a hobby.
Assembly is broken up into 53 steps with a number of these involving sub-assemblies. This is definitely not a weekend build.
Step one provides three of the ‘stings in the tail’ I mentioned earlier. Sub-assembly 1A simply doesn’t fit together – I had to do a little scalpel and sandpaper work to get things underway. No big deal but a little surprising at this stage. Not surprisingly the symmetrical sub-assembly 2D suffered the same problem. Sub-assembly 1B suffers from vague instructions due to the omission of the ‘Remove’ symbol – you actually have to remove the small shaded section to open the central cut-out of the cross-member. Ignoring or missing this step (as I did) causes a slight problem fitting the 4x4 drive shafts at Step 16.
Continuing the Step 1 issues, sub-assembly 1C has you making and installing a tow hook coupling or Einheitsprotzhaken. This is not correct for this kit; I suspect this part of the instructions may have been incorrectly copied from the earlier AF 35170 or AF 35270 kit. No references that I could find feature this tow coupling or Anhängerkupplung apart from other modellers who had judiciously followed the instructions. The coupling should be a self-closing jaw type or Maulkupplung made by Ringfeder as shown on the box art and that also mysteriously appears in the instructions from Step 30 (the rear convoy light, part H17, also makes its first appearance here). To make the correct coupling replace the B4, B8 and B9 assembly with parts K27, K28, K31 and K33 to make a Maulkupplung assembly for 1C (you actually get enough parts to make two couplings as there are two ‘K’ sprues provided).
At Step 3 I chose to install the late front fenders and bumper assembly supplied on the ‘AA’ sprue. You will also find the finer vehicle width indicators or Peilstangen to match on the PE fret. However, my plan was scuppered as I had imprudently glued the four side step brackets (B45) to the chassis according to the instructions to match the earlier fenders (the side steps are integrated into this part in both versions). The later version has the brackets positioned differently and slightly closer together. Always test fit first! I have now created a ‘Frankenstein’ version of the Kfz.100 featuring the later simplified military bumper with the earlier commercial style fenders that I have convinced myself is the product of some field modification following damage to the original commercial style bumper . . .
From this point the assembly was quite straight forward if a little fiddly in places (Step 5 – 4x4 steering linkages was a challenging but character-building learning experience). The cabin and engine sub-assemblies were painted before proceeding with assembly from Step 22. I opted to leave the tools off the engine cowl, but again, the instructions failed to indicate that to proceed with fitting these tools, the attachment points required drilling. This would not be a problem as the position for drilling is marked on the inside of the cowl parts – it is just not called out in the instructions.
Further character development opportunities are provided at Step 27 with the construction of fuel can stowage frame sub-assembly. This may have been more appropriately assembled completely out of PE.
Step 29 sees the assembly of the rear tray sub-frame. Be careful to dry fit and check your dimensions before attaching to the chassis. Complete and use the Step 32 sub-assembly to do this as I found the forward sub-frame channel 2mm out of position which required some major plastic surgery and counselling.
At Step 31 be careful to only glue I20 to I8. I21 should then be glued to the I25, I7 and I19 assembly if you want to allow the crane to rotate. If you are modelling the crane pointing directly aft or in the stowed/travelling position, glue away!
To take advantage of the superb interior detail of the tool box I chose to use part H25 to show the box in the open position at Step 35. This will also allow you to raid the spares box and add a number of engineering tools and other items.
The crane sub-assembly dealt with in Steps 42 to 49 is really a kit in itself with some excellent detail and extensive possibilities in positioning. I chose to extend and raise the jib to represent the lifting of a Maybach HL 230 P30 engine from a Panther Ausf. D. I also used the aforementioned lifting frame here (parts found on sprues ‘I’ and ‘K’). It is not really worth the attendant agony of trying to make the crane completely workable, although I am sure this can be done, but the instruction indicators that show where not to glue are worthy of your attention when it comes to running and fixing the cables, pulleys and hooks. At Step 49 I used CA glue and extra nylon thread to thread and fix the cable at each point based on my calculation of where I wanted the payload to be suspended. I think this is sage advice, especially if you are new to model rigging of any kind. I also surrendered to my own failings by not clamping the cable at the points indicated with the torturously minute u-clamps (L32). Instead, I simply used a length of cotton thread and a drop of CA glue at each position. Haemostats are very handy during this type of rigging operation and I can’t recommend these too highly.
If positioning the crane in anything but stowed/travel mode I suggest fitting the crank handles (K43 x 2 and H13) to the cranks, but this is a matter of choice. These delicate handles may get in the way later when painting and weathering. Part I6 features two pointed indicators in the instructions but the these were missing from the actual part in my case which was not a problem as I quickly made these using some thin, short lengths of styrene strip. Leftover PE fret could also be used – be careful as there is not much clearance here when the crane is assembled and you will have to be able to get a decal (19 and 20 – one on each side) in here later. I also used foil to represent the two canvas covers almost always found in sources covering the large openings for the cables on the crane.
Step 50 covers the outboard adjustable stabilizing legs. These were used when operating on uneven ground and when lifting at extreme capacity to prevent the vehicle from shifting or toppling. There are three positions sown in the instructions (vertical, fully extended with braces and stowed) and these were employed in a variety of combinations. I chose to represent the rear legs extended but without braces (I could not find any primary source images showing these deployed) and the forward legs stowed.
The final build mystery is revealed at Step 52. There is a small plumb-bob and cross table at the lower rear of the crane assembly. The addition of these parts (from sprue ‘I’) are not called out in the instructions but feature in all of the references I could find along with the painting and marking guides at the end of the instruction booklet. Similarly, it was at this point that I realised that I had not fitted the rear convoy light or Abstandsrücklicht. Again, not called out in the instructions, it appeared for the first time at Step 30 and is found on sprue ‘H’ (part H17). It is reasonably conspicuous on the box art as well and should be attached.
I tend to finish soft-skinned models with a coat of Tamiya Grey Fine Surface Primer followed by acrylic colours. In this case after pre-shading with a mat black I chose the generic Wehrmacht late war dunkelgelb scheme airbrushing Tamiya Dark Yellow (XF-60). Tamiya Field Blue (XF-50) was used for the engines. A complete coat of Vallejo Acrylic Gloss Varnish was then applied as a base for the decals and pin washing. I applied Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color (Dark Brown) to accentuate the details and then applied a top coat of Vallejo Acrylic Satin Varnish. My weathering these days is restricted to a final spot application of Tamiya Weathering Master colours, usually for small rust, soot, oil and grime marks and areas. The rubber tyres were treated with successive layers of Tamiya Weathering Master Oil Stain, Gray and Mud to produce a slightly aged but still-in-business appearance. I also do my version of a final dry brush using Tamiya Weathering Master Gun Metal and Light Gun Metal over obvious edges as a final step. While I find these techniques work for me, like everyone else I have pored over numerous articles on finishing techniques – I suppose much like the way people pore over exotic cookbooks while eating a peanut butter sandwich – and have reached what I think is a workable compromise between finish and time.
AFV Club’s 1/35 Büssing-NAG 4500 A-1 with Bilstein 3t Drehkran is a great kit depicting a fascinating subject. It was an intriguing build on the basis of a combination of the occasional instructional mystery and the hidden gems of unexpected inclusions offering the adaptable modeller considerable licence. While not by any measure a fall-together weekend build, it delivered an ultimately educational and satisfying modelling experience. Four out of five rubber chickens.