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Built Review
135
German Minenraumer
Minenraumer Operation Citadelle, Kursk 1943
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by: Shawn [ SCIPIO2010 ]

Introduction

The Minenraumer was designed for leading panzer formations through the immense minefields planted by the Red Army on the Eastern Front. Although only one prototype was ever built, and it never saw combat, the vehicle provides a very unique modeling subject.

I discovered the Minenraumer through via a website link, and it sparked my interest in building a scale model of it. Luckily I was able to find an RPM 1/35th scale Minenraumer on eBay for half the MSRP. Despite the cartoonish cover art, and a relatively unknown manufacturer (to me) I was very optimistic for the build.

Opening the box

When first looking into the box one would believe this to be a relatively simple and quick build. There are a total of 6 sprues; one for the hull, one for the turret, and four for the massive wheels. The instruction sheet (almost exclusively written in Polish) provides a diagram with all six sprues and indicates the part numbers. None of the parts on the sprues have part numbers stamped near them, so there is a constant need to refer to the diagram.

The Build

The problems with this kit begin to surface at the very start with Step 1; which covers the assembly of the two halves of the rear wheel. The instructions label the parts incorrectly, having you piece together the front wheel sections instead of the rear. Steps 2 & 3 are also mislabelled with incorrect part numbers. There is also an issue with part number 10 - which are the link pieces for the wheel assembly first seen in step 3. There are in fact two different pieces on the sprues, however these are listed as the same part number in the instructions. Once I figured out the proper parts for each step, the piecing together of the whole wheel assembly took some considerable time and effort.

Getting past the shock of the foul up with the first steps you come to the hull assembly. There are no 'pegs & holes' on any piece of the kit to assist in assembly, so you are always trying to affix two flat surfaces together. This might not be that much of an issue on most other kits, but the hull assembly for this kit was terribly warped. I am not sure if my kit in particular was more warped than others, but it almost seemed irreparable. Getting all five pieces of the hull glued together was really only possible with the use of superglue which kept the warped pieces from moving.

Moving on to step 16, which is the addition of smaller parts to the hull, i.e. vents, lift lugs, and hatches. The hatches in step 16 feature rounded edges, yet the hole in the hull is squared off, which makes for an awkward fit, requiring much putty to fill in the gaps.

The final ten steps deal with the assembly of the turret, which came off of a Panzer I. Although there was no mislabelling of part numbers for these steps, the general fit of the pieces left a lot to be desired.

Step 29 - This has you build the chains leading from the hull to the rear wheel - which is supposedly how the rear wheel was turned. The kit comes with plastic individual links which you must glue together to make the sections of chains...more work than its worth. I would suggest buying some aftermarket lengths of metal chain.

Step 30 - Final assembly of all sub components (hull, 3 wheels, turret) I have not begun the painting and weathering process, as I am still debating on what scheme to go with.

Conclusion

Honestly this has been a truly difficult, yet rewarding build. My most recent builds leading up to this were all Dragon kits, which spoiled me with their ease of assembly. Between the mislabelled, warped, and ill fitting parts, it is easy to become frustrated over this kit. I think I've used more putty, and put my Dremel to work more on this kit alone than all of my previous builds combined. If you are able to push through and get this kit built, it will definitely be an interesting addition to any collection.
SUMMARY
Highs: Interesting subject, somewhat rare among collections. You really get to hone your sanding and filling skills.
Lows: Mislabled parts on instruction sheet Poor fitting of pieces - requiring a lot of sanding and filling Lack of any PE, or metal chain
Verdict: Although I have only seen the assembly of the Meng Minenraumer kit in photos, it appears to be a higher quality, and better fitting kit. I would avoid this RPM kit unless you are really desiring a challenge.
Percentage Rating
51%
  Scale: 1:35
  Suggested Retail: $35.00 - $40.00
  Related Link: ALKETT VsKfz 617 MINENRÄUMER
  PUBLISHED: Dec 30, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 62.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 67.57%

About Shawn (Scipio2010)
FROM: GEORGIA, UNITED STATES

I love building German AFVs from WWII, and really enjoy the artistic licensing available in What If builds and Paper Panzers.

Copyright ©2018 text by Shawn [ SCIPIO2010 ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

I confess to be somewhat surprized that about anyone would do this old thing, given as we now have a much more up-to-date kit available! But my hat is off to you, Sir, for tackling this! The difficulties you reported in this build are, alas, almost the typical litany for these elderly Polish / eastern-bloc kits, so, by me, pretty much just what I would expect to see. Rough fit, iffy labels and part-numbering (if any at all), oft-times soft detail, etc. But, on the plus side, these folks have done up many things which have seldom, if ever, emerged from other makers, so they do have a niche for subjects not attainable elsewhere. And you have to admit that this kit is of a "different" subject indeed! And your outcome looks to have been quite respectable. As an aside, I was amused to see someone actually say that assembling a Dragon kit was "easy" - even in comparison, let alone as an experiential referent! Ever try a Tamiya thing? Bob
DEC 30, 2013 - 08:41 AM
A complete dog of a kit, and one that should really be avoided like the plague. But that said, you are to be commended and congratulated for sticking at it, and producing a decent result at the end. I had one of these a few years back, got about a quarter of the way through assembly and then binned it. That is something I seldom do to any kit, but I would have felt very bad about foisting it off on some other unsuspecting modeller. But it really was that bad. Thankfuly the recent Meng release looks to be FAR superior to this abomination, and so should render it completely redundant. - Steve
JAN 01, 2014 - 04:09 AM
Steve, while I agree kit can be, shall we say, challenging , I think your assessment is a bit harsh. It just takes time, patience, and a bit of skill. Shawn seems to have gotten through it pretty well. And, as you can see in this picture, so did I:
JAN 01, 2014 - 09:06 AM
Thank you all for the comments! I must admit that when I purchased this kit I was still a little naive about the varying quality of brands on the market. I would love to build the Meng kit sometime in the future to do a real build comparison.
JAN 04, 2014 - 06:53 AM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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