Bunker Models is a new company owned by Javier Luis Sanz Sanchez who operates from Spain. These two products are the first of a series of 1:35 Atlantic Wall items he is currently producing.
I know for a fact that Javier meticulously researches the subjects he manufactures. Not only did he send me the bunkers to review, but he typed a comprehensive document to aid my own research. Javier also stated that he took detailed first-hand measurements of these bunkers, and the pictures of the real bunkers you see in this review are from his personal collection (unless otherwise noted).
I will be reviewing two of Javier’s bunker products, the Ringstand VF58c and the Offene Bettung 600.
The Ringstand VF58c
The first bunker that I am going to review is the Ringstand VF58c (a variant of the famous VF58d, commonly known as ‘Tobruk’ pits). The VF58c was one of the most widely built bunkers along the ‘Atlantic Wall’, Germany’s fortification of occupied Europe’s coastline. The original main purpose of ‘Tobruk’ pits was to provide cover/shelter for the infantry during enemy bombardment. Access was through a small door in the side or rear of the structure. Since the Tobruks were only built to ‘Class B1’ protection standards (concrete 1.5m thick or less), they were generally constructed flush to the ground so that the earth formed an additional layer of protection.
Javier’s bunker has walls ranging from 1-2cm thick (see image #7) measuring 35-70cm in 1:1 scale. I checked these and other dimension with original plans and I am pleased to say that Javier is very accurate, any maximum deviation was only a matter of millimetres. Javier tells me that model was built to scale using actual measurements “in situ” and plans from Alain Chazette and Harry Lippmann books.
As the prospect of an Allied invasion became imminent, most of the Tobruks were armed with a single MG34 or MG42. The term Ringstand comes from a rail that runs around the inside of the circular opening. This rail provided a track for rotating a machine-gun mount, giving the gun a 360-degree traverse. Overall, the bunkers presented a very difficult target for Allied troops, as they were not easily visible and could only be knocked out by a direct hit.
Javier has deliberately cast the bunker structurally incorrect (see 3D diagram #6 for an illustration of the correct structure). This model has been designed so the inside of the roof is accurately depicted, and so that the whole top section is solid with no visible join lines. This means that after attachment to the smaller bottom section, the join gap can easily be covered by groundwork when it’s applied correctly (see image # 5 with the brown line, which illustrates where the groundwork should be built up around the bunker). So that’s the reason of the unusual yet logical structure of the kit.
“In situ”, there was always a trench with steps leading from the bunker door up to ground-level. This is best illustrated in picture #14 (although not a VF58c, the same principle applies, picture credit: DJ Judge). My references also suggest that the VF58c had one or two in-built concrete steps for the gunner to stand on while firing. These are left out of Javier’s model, but my references are too few and perhaps not reliable enough to conclude that this is an oversight.
Everything about this model so far seems very positive and accurate, even down to the raised concrete layering detail. However there is one issue I am not happy about. The bunkers are made from plaster meaning that they are very fragile, rough handling can result in pieces either chipping or flaking off. When I was attempting to dry fit the top and bottom section, the top section caught on one of the steps and chipped off some detail. Image # 8 illustrates this damage while images #7 and #10 illustrate hairline cracks which have developed in the plaster (circled in red). This can be repaired using wall spackle (spakfilla), but if the products were cast in plastic or resin, this would not be an issue. Although it may compromise the price, Javier may wish to reconsider using plaster.
The Offene Bettung 600
The next bunker Javier sent for review is an open bunker known as the OB 600 (Offene Bettung 600). It is essentially a simplification of the Regelbau 600, of which only the gun position remains. The bunker was widely used on the Normandy coast, and the measurements for this model were made at Utah Beach. The OB 600 was designed for the 5cm Festungspak L/42 or L/60 gun, which was originally designed for the PzKpfw III and later adapted for bunker defence. Javier has hinted that he will be releasing this gun in the future (based on accurate CAD drawings, actual measures), but in the meantime there are versions made by Verlinden and PNSud Modelisme.
Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find a very small amount of historical information on the OB 600, therefore I cannot compare measurements. I will do my very best to describe the product accurately to you.
The model is octagonal, each side measuring 5.5cm in length. Inside the bunker are four in-built wooded compartments, presumably for ammunition storage for the 5cm Festungspak L/42 or L/60 gun. On the reverse side of the model (the bottom which would be unseen), there are some very obvious details as if the bunker had been hit by shell fire. Obviously, shells would not be able to create this effect underground, so as to why Javier has cast this detail into the bottom of the bunker, I simply don’t know. (see images # 21 and 22). This bunker does not require any assembly.
Overall, I am very impressed with both bunkers. My only negative comment is against the plaster material they are made with as I cannot find any flaws in accuracy (apart from, perhaps, the missing steps in the VF58c).. Javier has obviously done a lot of research in order to create bunkers this realistic and accurate. At this early stage, no instructions are included with the bunkers but construction is so simple they are probably not needed. My advice to Javier is to include a leaflet illustrating where the earth should be built around the VF58c. A warning of how fragile the bunkers are i.e. assemble with care, sand parts before fitting etc. would be thoughtful also.
Bunker Models is a new company so orders need to be sent via email directly to Javier at: [email protected]
The kits will be released separately and eventually be available for order from www.bunkermodels.com (site currently under construction).
I give both the Offene Bettung 600 and the Ringstand VF58c a rating of 95%.
Recommended Reading and References:
“D-Day Fortifications in Normandy” By Steven J. Zaloga, Hugh Johnson. Osprey Publishing.
If you can read French and German, search for books and documents by Alain Chazette and Harry Lippmann, well known for their research on the Atlantic Wall. Both have published specialised subjects such as the journal Deutsches Atlantik Wall Archiv Nachrichten, which are very useful and essential to students of the Atlantic Wall.