Italeri's Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper
(SWS), kit # 360, was put out some years ago, and I was fortunate enough to pick up one recently. The SWS was designed to replace the existing 3 and 5 ton tractors. Bussing-NAG was the builder, and production started in 1943 at a low rate. Production was done at the Bussing-NAG plant and at Tatra in Czechoslovakia. The Tatra vehicle employed the Tatra 111 air-cooled engine and the Bussing-NAG used the 6-cylinder Maybach HL 142 engine. Wartime production was around 1500 units.
The SWS was a non armored load carrier. Further experimentation showed an armored variant could be produced. The SWS used a suspension similar to the Panther tank, and an optional winch was offered by special request. Tatra continued production after WWII for the Czech army.
The kits comes in a cardboard slip top box. The sprues are not bagged and any parts that may have broken free from the sprues will be laying in the box.
The sprues hold 270 parts consisting of the following:
•Sprue A holds the frame and drive components.
•Sprue B holds the body & bed parts.
•Sprue C X 2 holds the tracks drive components, wheels and tracks.
•Sprue D holds 4 clear parts (windshield 2 pieces) and headlights.
Also included are a:
Instructions are a foldout sheet with multiple languages. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. The most complex assembly is the frame and components, with the tracks being the next most complex area. All assemblies proceed at an easy pace.
The sprues are molded in a light tan color. There is the occasional piece having some flash, but the biggest problem is the heavy seam lines from the moldings. I saw some small sink marks along with several ejection marks, although most of the ejection marks are on unseen surfaces. The only ejector marks that are visible are on the drive sprockets which will be hard to deal with.
The vehicle frame is made up of several parts which has some sub assemblies. The tracks are link & length, with good detail on both sides. The track segments have some flash and molding lines, so some clean up will be necessary.
The body and bed make up the most numerous steps on the instruction sheet. The cab of the SWS should go together nicely, and there is room for improvement of the basic layout. The cargo body has several steps and can be built with the canvas frame for winter operations. The Cab also has a canvas cover that can be used. The wood
grain is laid out well and should retain its pattern even with heavy paint. There are no extras in the kit so you will have to dig through the spares box for anything to add to the load area. There are a few ejection marks inside the cab sides and those can be taken care of pretty easily. Various parts are a bit thick, so some careful sanding work will be useful.
Decal & Paint Scheme:
The kit provides a paint scheme along with decal placement. This leaves much to the imagination. The paint scheme is almost non-existent, and you’re better off doing research on your own if accuracy is desired. The decal sheet gives the basic German crosses and an option for Herr or Luftwaffe vehicles. There are several numbers that can be made up from the sheet.
For an old kit this one still has some appeal to those of us who want to build something that is not armored. The kit shows its age, but still offers a good platform for adding extra detail if so desired. Italeri could update this kit into something very useful with some added useful items for the cargo area. The decal sheet could use some tactical markings that could be of better use to the builder.
Having built this kit years ago I would advise you to leave the front suspension till last. The suspension has some small thin parts that can be broken easily, so add it on or near the end of the build.
The kit is an easy build and can be enhanced with some extras. Dealing with ejector marks and thick molding lines is the main headache. A good photographic walk around would be helpful for building this kit, and checking references is recommended if depicting a certain vehicle. The spoked version of road wheels are not produced by an AM company that I know of, and Accurate Armour at one time produced add-on's for this kit.
A great site for research pictures of the SWS can be found at www.pietvanhees.nl/sws