The Mercedes-Benz Kfz 384 refuelling truck was the Luftwaffe's standard tanker from early in the Second world War until the famous "Battle of Britain". After that it was mainly used on concrete airfields and aerodromes. The truck wore various paint shemes depending on the location and unit and could be painted in grey or with splinter/striped camouflages.
The kit comes in a simple zip bag (picture 1). Included are two smaller bags with detail parts and two A4 sheets of recommendations and instructions.
The main parts (picture 2) are quite big and, like the smaller parts (picture 3), made of pale yellow resin. The epoxy used is pretty hard and, from previous experiences with Fliegerhorst products, very difficult to work with. Fortunately, Eric Kappner (Fliegerhorst's owner) obviously managed to design silicone molds with almost no pouring stubs! Therefore, only minimal cleaning will be necessary. The chassis part, for example, is made of one frame with schock absorbers, muffler and driveshaft already molded in it (picture 4). The detail, while not exceptional, is sufficient for the underside - which won't be visible once placed on the diorama anyway. The fuel tank (the biggest part of the kit) is very nicely rendered with numerous side doors in relief (picture 05). No doubt this area will look great once painted, drybrushed and weathered. One corner of the cab's backplate was broken on my sample (see red arrow) but since the missing bit was in the bag, it must have happened during transportation. One drop of CA glue will easily solve the problem.
The small parts (picture 6) are also nicely done. The front radiator has a fine Mercedes logo for example and the wheels are of various designs depending on their locations on the truck. On picture 7 you can see the cab's canvas roof has a nice texture and some inner details are also present (inner door handle, instrument panel etc...).
Now I've listed the positive aspects of the model, let's talk about the bad sides... fortunately there aren't many. The first annoying thing I noticed are air bubbles here and there. On the fuel tank part, for example, there are some (picture 8). Knowing by experience how difficult it is to produce good silicone molds, I must be honest and say that bubbles are not uncommon on such "garage kits". By "garage kit", I mean kits that are manufactured without the use of dedicated equipment such as expensive vacuum pumps for the resin. Considering this, the overall quality is good and the bubbles appear on places wich are barely visible and will be easy to fill. I would complain more about the instructions, as they are only in German and are mainly based on two pictures of a completed model with step by step assembly notes (picture 9). An exploded view or a 3-view drawing would have been more user friendly!
Not being a German WW2 truck specialist (in fact I'm not a truck specialist at all!), I don't exactly know where all the detail parts belong. But here too, I must admit that the good breakdown of the parts should mean it's not difficult to assemble kit. Finally, it would have been nice to have more details at the back of the fuel tank rather than an empty hole covered by a door! As supplied, the truck can't be shown while refueling a plane as there is no gasoline pipes and no fuel pump provided. Some scratchbuilding will be necessary to depict the model in such a situation.
To give you an idea of size, I placed the main parts of the truck aside a Bf 109 model (picture 10).
As I said before, I'm not a truck specialist! Having no scale plans of the Kfz 384, I can't tell you exactly if the dimensions are accurate. All I can say is that next to my Messerschmitt, it doesn't look over- or undersized. But I won't give a definitive opinion on that matter. I've searched for some pictures on the web but did not found much. Basing my judgment on the few I gathered and the few that are in the "Luftwaffe Airfield Equipment" book , it seems Eric Kappner made a very good and precise job!
Fliegerhorst's German Kfz 384 "Tankwagen" is a nice addition to the slowly growing range of 1/48 scale WW2 airfield vehicles. Of course, it is not enginereed like a Tamiya Kübelwagen kit, but it is as detailed and won't suffer from the comparison once assembled and painted. If you know the 1/48 resin kits produced by Sol Models (they have an Opel Blitz Fueltruck in their product range), you will have a good idea of the overall quality of the Fliegerhorst kit, as they are very similar.
I would recommend this kit to every aircraft diorama specialist wanting to place a spectacular counter point near a model of a German WW2 plane. If you like original subjects, this one is made for you!
Thanks to Fliegerhorst for their support and for providing information.