by: Tom Cromwell [ ]
No sooner had the Federal Republic of Germany formed its own army in 1956 than it set out the basic design brief for a new generation of all-terrain trucks to support the troops. The earliest years of the new Bundeswehr were marked by the use of essentially outdated trucks from the 1940’s while the new designs slowly took shape. A host of German companies formed the design bureau led by MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG), with the only major exceptions being Porsche and Daimler-Benz. The new trucks were to form three cargo weight classes of 5, 7, and 10 tonnes, riding on 4x4, 6x6, and 8x8 wheeled frames. These iconic trucks started to enter service in the 1970’s with their boxy flat-faced cabs, and many are still in service today.
This book by Heinz Peters and Tankograd Publishing covers the development of these trucks from early prototypes to series production including a number of mission-specific variants.
There are 64 A4 (297x210mm) glossy pages decorated with 51 monochrome photos, 67 colour photos, 11 technical drawings, 9 sets of 1:87 scale plans, and one set of 1:35 scale plans. The scales seemed odd until I remembered that Roco Minitanks released all the MAN variants in 1:87 scale for use by model railroaders. The text is the usual dual-language set-up of German and English, with the German text on the left and English text in italics on the right of each two-column text page. The image captions are likewise dual-language. The images themselves are mounted either two or three to a page, allowing sharp reproduction with plenty of visible detail for modellers.
Development of these trucks took decades, so the first 27 pages deal with the four different prototype design series. These have a wealth of photos and technical drawings to explain the evolving designs for drivetrains, frames, etc. Sadly they also document the incremental budget and scope reductions that eroded the original concept from a truly all-terrain armed force with full amphibious capability to a more conventional one with the greater proportion of its non-frontline transport limited to paved roads in commercial vehicles. The prototype vehicles are interesting to look at even if scale models are not readily available.
The Series production chapter features numerous colour photos of the different truck types in many different configurations, so there is much here for the modeller. There is a “Technology in Detail” section that will help improve the drivetrain of the big Revell models, and a section on the Modular Add-On Armour System that will no doubt lead to scratch-built armoured cabs!
Mission variants covered include the 5-tonne fuel tanker, 5-tonne FERA radar system, 7-tonne Engineering vehicle, 7-tonne artillery prime mover, 7-tonne container carrier, 7-tonne Drohne UAV launcher, 7-tonne bridge layer, 7-tonne tipper, 7-tonne LARS artillery missile system, and a number of 10-tonne experimental payloads. Most of these systems include 1:87 scale plans as well as the photos.
While all three weight classes are shown in 1:87 scale, the centrefold highlight is a set of 1:35 scale plans of the big 10-tonne 8x8 truck that is perfect for the Revell kit.
The subject of this book will appeal to Bundeswehr modellers in both 1:35 and 1:87 scales, but it is still a niche subject so the overall market for this book may be somewhat limited. The prototype variants are not available in plastic to my knowledge, so the truly useful modelling information only begins around page 27. However, the series production section is extremely well illustrated and well laid out so it should inspire any number of very interesting kitbashes.