The Sd.Kfz. 6 BNL 4 (BN for Büssing-NAG, L for light) was developed by Büssing-NAG in 1934, primarily as a towing tractor for various engineering trailers and the 10.5cm light field howitzer. Subsequent types were the BNL 5 (1935), BNL 7 (1936), BNL 8 (1938) and finally the BN9 and BN9b in 1939 (the L designation was dropped that year). Each type incorporated different suspension and mechanical improvements, and production was joined by Daimler-Benz in 1935 (designated DB). Production from these two manufacturers continued until 1943 in favor of the sWS ( Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper
), but continued under license to Praga of Czechoslovakia and Saurer of Austria through 1944.
The final, BN9 version had torsion bar suspension with six wheels per side in place of the original four, a new Maybach HL54 TUKRM 6-cylinder engine developing 115bhp, and rigidly mounted idler wheels. The BN9b differed only by adding a new type of braking system. More than 3,500 of all types were manufactured and served on all fronts throughout the war.
There were three main versions: the Sd.Kfz. 6 Pioneer version (Armorama build review here
), the 6/1 artillery version, and the 6/2 self-propelled gun mounting the 3.7cm FlaK (reviewed on Armorama here
). The subject of this review, the Sd.Kfz. 6/1 (BN9b) artillery version, differed from the Pioneer version only in the type of body, seating for 13 (instead of 15) and a larger stowage area at the rear for ammo storage. The 6/1 was primarily developed as a prime mover for the 10.5cm light field howitzer, but was also used to tow other guns, including the infamous 88mm FlaK. Enough history, let’s get to the kit.
Here’s what you get
The box itself is oversized at 45cm x 30cm with the following contents:
• 46 sprue trees (several as individual parts) in tan styrene (appx. 825 parts including 232 track link parts)
• 2 sprue trees of clear parts (8 parts)
• 3 frets of Photo-Etched (PE) parts (appx. 90 parts)
• 1 decal sheet
• 1 length of string (winch cable)
• A 20-page instruction manual with a 4-page supplement with “revised” assembly steps.
• A poster of the box art suitable for framing (44cm x 25cm)
As with many vehicles, construction of the kit begins with the chassis. The frame is provided as a single part that is straight and true with excellent detail. Added to this is a longitudinal leaf spring, winch, gearbox and power transfer case, all as multi-part assemblies. Torsion bar covers are provided as separate parts for good detail. The engine is made from more than 20 parts, and is very well-detailed.
This is the same engine provided in the previously-released versions, and is apparently the wrong type, instead being an engine type for earlier versions of the SdKfz 6, not the BN9 version. If some other expert hadn’t pointed this out, I would have never known, but even if it is the wrong version, it is very well-detailed and will require very little to make it look good. Ahead of the engine is a radiator with excellent detail, and a front grill with accurate cooling louvers representing the Büssing-NAG-built versions. Several other parts and sub-assemblies are added to the chassis, including a newly-tooled exhaust pipe and muffler that replaces the older, inaccurate version.
The suspension parts provided compare very well to the photos in references I have. The sprockets have very nicely-detailed rollers, and now have a new PE part for the inner rim; additionally, these are assembled to be moveable. The road wheels and idlers have the oblong lightening holes on the outer wheels and the distinctive round holes on the inner wheels (one way to tell halftrack types in photos is the shape & number of holes in the road wheels).
For the front wheels (and spare too), there are two options, each with a different tread pattern. First are wheels with integrated rim and an inner, free-moving part sandwiched inside that allows the wheel to turn. These are noted as the early version. The other, noted as the late version, has a separate rim for better detail and will also turn. Both tread patterns seem to be accurate in photos, but the early version appears more common. Also of note, the wheels are constructed in the neutral forward position, and it appears that only minor modification is required to assemble them in a turned position. Tracks are provided as very nicely detailed two-part assemblies that remain workable if you’re careful in assembling them. They will look excellent on the model.
There are several newly-tooled parts to correct some of the inaccuracies in regards to the width and details of the firewall, windscreen, dashboard and side body panels. Unfortunately, the hood and engine access panels remain unchanged, and other reviews of the previous Bronco releases point out that they are too short and not long enough. I cannot confirm this without constructing the kit, but even if built as is, the kit should look very much the part. The windscreen is a very delicate newly-tooled part with tiny PE components, and is now provided with wiper blades and separate wiper motor modules. The old-tooled canvas-covered windscreen is also provided, but this may not fit well with the new, wider and more accurate firewall/hood assembly.
Decals are provided for the dashboard dials and placards that will make the driver’s compartment stand out. Separate foot pedals, steering column, steering wheel, gear shift & hand brake levers, battery box with separate cover and a very well-molded bench seat provide for a complete and well-detailed driver’s compartment. Very delicate "driver knows" width indicator poles with PE bases are provided, as well as nicely-detailed headlights with the option of clear lenses or the black-out type covers. A Notek light and an optional command pennant holder are also included. The license plates are plastic parts that could use a little thinning or maybe PE replacements.
For the artillery version of the Sd.Kfz. 6, newly-tooled parts are provided for the crew compartment and storage lockers at the rear. Other details include a very delicate luggage rack, nicely-molded seats and side body panels with storage access doors as separate parts. These can be modeled open or closed, and have separated compartments inside, but no ammunition racks. Also included are very well-executed rifle racks mounted to the seat backs. These are the best I have seen in plastic. The mudguards and fenders also appear very well-molded and appropriately thin, with photo-etched mud flaps for added detail.
Final assembly has all of the main sub-assemblies put together with an optional canvas cover to top it all off. This is also very well-molded, with a very delicate frame that compares well with reference photos. Accessories provided include 4 types of jerry cans, each made up of 4 plastic parts and a PE “seam.” There are also two sets of 5 jerry cans molded together as in a rack with separate handles and filler caps, but no PE seams. To fill the rifle racks, there are 10 slide-molded rifles with hollow muzzles and separate bolts, enough to fill all of the racks on the vehicle. And finally there are 3 types of backpacks, 5 of each, and 15 in total. These should fill out some of the space in the vehicle, as well as provide fodder for a diorama.
The instructions provided are in a 20 page booklet format with a 4 page supplement, both printed on good quality, glossy type paper. The assembly instructions are of the exploded line drawing type with English/Chinese text. These are very easy to follow and understand. The revised sections actually replace assembly steps in the original instructions, so there shouldn’t be any confusion when incorporating the newly-tooled and revised parts.
Paining and Marking
There are eight marking and painting options provided for in the kit. A color chart for Mr. Hobby, Hobby Color, Humbrol and Tamiya paints is also included, with the following paint/marking schemes:
• mZgkw 5t Sd.Kfz 6/1 from unidentified unit, Ardennes, Dec 1944. Dark yellow base coat with hard-edge dark green and red brown splotches.
• 2 different marking options for a Bulgarian mZgkw 5t Sd.Kfz 6/1 from the Artillery unit of an Armored Rgt, Bulgaria, summer 1941. Both overall German grey
• mZgkw 5t Sd.Kfz 6/1 from the 1st Bn. Artillerie Rgt. “Großdeutschland”, Kursk, June 1943 German grey base coat with dark yellow painted over leaving dark grey stripes.
• mZgkw 5t Sd.Kfz 6/1 from the 1st Bn. 75th Artillerie Rgt. (mot.), 3rd Panzer Div., Russia, July 1941. Overall German grey.
• 3 different markings for unknown units in overall German grey.
It is refreshing to see that Bronco has included revised parts to correct inaccuracies, even though not all of the issues were addressed in this kit. Until recently, kit manufacturers turned a blind eye to inaccuracies pointed out by reviewers/experts, and if inaccuracy issues were to be fixed, the modeler was forced to scratch-build or wait for a cottage industry to provide corrected parts, adding to the cost.
Even with the issues remaining with this kit, such as the "wrong" engine type and the "shortened" hood/bonnet, it will still build into an excellent model of the real vehicle. To be honest, I can’t tell that the kit is wrong without careful study of scale drawings and a micrometer. I can’t tell the differences between a "correct" engine and the one provided in the kit without extensive references on the subject. Most modelers do want the most accurate kit, but I’d rather have a model of the Sd.Kfz. 6/1 that’s 95% accurate than not have one at all. Besides, I’m not one of those rivet counters; if the kit is close enough, it’s good enough for me.
German Half-Tracked Vehicles of World War 2: Unarmoured support vehicles of the German Army 1933/45
, by John Milsom, Arms & Armour Press (London, 1975)
Die Halbkettenfahrzeuge des Deutschen Heeres 1909-1945
, by Walter J Spielberger, Motorbuch Verlag (1993)
German Medium Half-Tracked Prime Movers
, by Reinhard Frank, Schiffer Military History (1997)
Tank Power Vol. LVIII - mZgkw 5t SdKfz 6
, by Robert Sawicki & Janusz Ledwoch, Wydawnictwo Militaria No. 287 (2007)