German Heavy Antiaircraft Car S.SP | RailRoad Modeling
Nazi Germany conquered and held vast territories for years, and much of the time they were unwelcome. Russia had a primitive road network and railroads were often the only practical way through hundreds of miles. Partisans constantly harried the tenuous supply lines. Armed trains were used throughout occupied territories, and eventually those were supplemented with armored trains. Germany created self-propelled armored rail cars (Eisb.Panz.Zg*) built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch for a fleet of schwerer Schienenpanzerspähzug (heavy Rail Armored Scout/Reconnaissance Train), or s.Sp. S.Sp. rail cars were self-propelled, powered by a 76hp air-cooled engine. An Eisb.Panz.Zg could operate independently, couple to conventional trains, or couple together with other such vehicles to form a Spähpanzerzug (scout armored train). Specific mission s.SP. types were designed and eventually Allied air superiority necessitated anti-aircraft cars.
It seems "s.SP." is the vernacular for individual cars or an entire train. I am no expert on German armored railway vehicles, but I want to be, so please feel free to post facts.
* Eisb.Panz.Zg (s.Sp.) = rail armored train (heavy armored armored car)
This is the designation according to KStN 1170x from 08/01/1944.
- Forum der Wehrmacht
A list of armored trains can be found here: Germany - Armoured Trains (Panzerzug)
Uni Model (UM) is a Ukrainian model company. UM makes dozens of AFV, weapons, softskin and aircraft kits, and six Wehrmacht armored train kits including one with 10 cars, Kit 261, Spahpanzerzug Le.Sp. Eventually they split off part of their operation, which became Ukraine Models Military Technics (UMMT), which has released over 45 Soviet armored train models and sets.
Despite all of the models Uni Model and UMMT have produced since 2005, I only found one review on Armorama: BTR-152D Russian Troop Carrier.
This is my first Uni Model kit. Out of the box, I am pleased. The parts are held in a self-adhesive sealed plastic bag. The box opens at each end and features color illustrations of the model as a painting guide.
UM uses a modular method to create their s.SP. kits. Sprue A and B are molded with kit 255 on the sprue. Sprue E carries this kit number, while sprue F is unique to this flak s.SP. This kit consists of decals and 92 parts on six sprues:
A x 2: wheels and axles; mufflers; buffers and drawhooks; miscellaneous
B: Car superstructure
E: Flakvierling 38
F: Flak car upper deck; flak mount bulges
No crew figures accompany this kit. There is no sprue C, G or H listed for this kit. The box advertises 41 photo-etch parts and these are shown as sprue H on the instruction sheet, but they were not included with my kit; looking at this model on an online auction site, only one of almost a dozen kits showed the P/E fret in the kit contents. I plan to ask UM if they discontinued making and including the P/E.
Molding is crisp. Surface detail is finely molded, both raised and recessed. The parts are fairly thin for 1/72, which could be a problem removing them from the sprue, as some connectors are thick. I can't find any ejector marks which will be visible when the model is built, no sink marks, nor significant mold lines or flash. The surface of the zug is slightly textured. However, sprue E, the Flakvierling 38, is slightly warped, although it does not appear the parts are.
The rails appear well scaled to the weight of rail of the era, and the ties look well spaced and sized, too.
UM created a good exploded diagram instruction sheet. Like the box, it is narrated in English, German, and Russian. No color is used but shading shows one what parts are not used. Humbrol is the only paint brand referenced. Only six colors are shown on the back of the box but eight are printed on the instruction sheet. Paint guidance is printed on the box.
Recall that the photo-etch fret, "sprue" H, is missing from my kit? Looking at the instructions, the P/E is mainly used for the quad-20mm.
A simple small decal sheet is included. Three each of three styles of national insignias. They are sharply printed and look thin.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," so I took close-up photos so I won't waste your time. These show how hefty are the connectors between the pieces and their sprue.
I will say that the fine surface detail looks good, plenty of rivets and hinges and lift rings. The Flakvierling 38 is, I think, very nicely done. I can't say how nice because there is no P/E set.
Did I mention the lack of a crew? You will have to source your own.
Uni Model kit 258 1/72 German Heavy Antiaircraft Car S.SP. looks to be a promising model. Molding is above average. Plenty of pieces without being overwhelming. A nicely detailed Flakvierling 38 will set it off. The instructions are good and the decals appear to be, too. The piece of track looks very good.
My main complaints are the lack of crew figures and the missing P/E. I would prefer the doors and hatches be separate so they could be posed open or closed.
I have read some articles on UM and I look forward to building this kit. Recommended.
If you want a s.SP. for your model railroad layout, they are available in HO. But they are expensive. This model is 1/72 which has no corresponding model railroad scale that I know of. One seventy-second is significantly larger - 20% - than HO but only marginally larger than OO, which is 1/76. UM models can be converted to HO wheel sets to run on that track, which OO uses, too. A few years ago our friend Kosprueone did so with a Soviet Draisine.
Why not? A s.SP. is a rail car. It is also an armored vehicle. It is both. Railroads have been essential to military activity since the American Civil War. RailRoad Modeling is meant to be for all modelers of railroad subjects - traditional electric trains, running or static, civil and military, ready-to-run or craftsman, and peripheral items.
Over the years I've had some interesting questions about what should and should not be on the site (and whether a model belongs on another site because it is a "train scale"). Automobiles? This is not a car modeling site - KitMaker Network has that: Automodeler - but cars are a popular peripheral "scenery" item. My idea is that if a model is not a railroad model but it supports model railroads because of scale, it belongs here. One eighty-seventh has a huge military model prescence, i.e., MiniTanks, Roco, Trident, Preiser, etc., yet 1/35 is the military modeling scale, as most modelers in my experience think of "military modeling." Kit manufacturers are creating "military scale" railroad cars and track and lineside models.
There is a great deal of crossover potential between the military and railroad modeling communities. Let's enjoy it.