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DML 1/35 German Pontoon Set Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review March 2008 Manufacturer DML
Subject German Pontoon Set Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6135 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat kit of an instant diorama once a base with water is scratchbuilt Cons Bridge deck is too short to support even the smallest AFV model
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $24.98

First Look

Pontoon Kit
Pontoon Kit
Pontoon Kit

Pontoon bridges are especially useful in wartime as river crossings. Such bridges are usually temporary, and are sometimes destroyed after crossing to keep the enemy from using them, or collapsed and carried (if on a long march). They were used to great advantage in many battles throughout time, including WWII. The pontoon bridge has been in use since ancient times.

When designing a pontoon bridge, the engineer must take into consideration the maximum amount of load that it is intended to support. Each pontoon can support a load equal to the mass of the water that it displaces, but this load also includes the mass of the bridge itself. If the maximum load of a bridge section is exceeded, one or more pontoons become submerged and will proceed to sink. The roadway across the pontoons must also be able to support the load, yet be light enough not to limit their carrying capacity.

Prior to the advent of modern military pontoon bridge-building equipment, floating bridges were typically constructed using wood. Such a wooden floating bridge could be built in a series of sections, starting from an anchored point on the shore. Pontoons were formed using boats; several barrels lashed together; rafts of timbers, or some combination of these. Each bridge section consisted of one or more pontoons, which were maneuvered into position and then anchored. These pontoons were then linked together using wooden stringers called “balks”. The balks were then covered by a series of cross planks called chesses to form a road surface, and the chesses were held in place with side rails. The bridge was repeatedly extended in this manner until the opposite bank was reached.

Precautions are needed to protect a pontoon bridge from becoming damaged. The bridge can be dislodged or inundated whenever the load limit of the bridge is exceeded. A pontoon bridge can also become overloaded when one section of the bridge is weighted down much more heavily than the other parts. The bridge can be induced to sway or oscillate in a hazardous manner due to the regular stride of a group of soldiers, or from other types of repeated loads. Drift and heavy floating objects can also accumulate on the pontoons, increasing the drag from river current and potentially damaging the bridge.

Submerged floating-tube bridges have been considered for use across ocean straits and even across entire oceans. It is estimated that a submerged floating tunnel would be two to three times more costly to build than a floating bridge, and the technology remains unproven. No submerged floating tunnel exists in the world at present.

The box art shows a short section of a pontoon bridge on 2 inflated rubber rafts. The bridge is constructed of wood planking for the road deck and has wood railings. The scene shows a motor boat, with a single figure steering it that is nudging the pontoon bridge into position in a river. Waiting on the shore is a Kubelwagen, wanting to cross. A neat boxart. A side panel shows 4 color photos of the models made up into a diorama. Another side panel has the color boxart of a similar kit marketed by DML. It is of a large German rubber dinghy with Pioneers (9 figures) Groser Florsack 34. (kit no. 6109)

The kit is recommended to modelers 10 and older.

Inside the box is 5 medium gray trees of parts in 3 sealed cello bags. A length of white string and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.

The instructions consist of a sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 7 1/8” x 10” format.

Page 1 begins with a black and white repeat of the boxart. This is followed by the parts tree drawings. There is no history of pontoon bridges provided.

Page 2 begins with “cautions” in 6 languages, including English. This is followed by international assembly symbol explanations, a list of Gunze Sangyo and Italeri brands of paints suggested to finish the set and the first assembly step.

Page 3 and 4 give a balance of a total of 8 assembly steps.

Page 5 is the marking and painting of the pontoon bridge. Why they call this MARKING is beyond me, as there are no decals in the kit. Black is called out for the rubber areas and wood brown for the floor of the raft. Small fittings around it’s edge are also to be wood brown, as is the deck and railings of the bridge. Ho hum! The hull of the motor boat is supposed to be painted green with wood brown deck. The outboard motor, it’s long propeller shaft and propeller are called out as steel.

Page 6 is the painting instructions for the single figure in the kit. The bottom of the page has decaling instructions in the same 6 languages that headed the first page. Again, this is strange as there are no decals to worry about in the kit. The figure wears a field gray uniform with silver buttons, black jack boots and belt.

The first large medium gray parts tree has the kit no. 6108 molded on the sprue. It holds the parts for the motorized sturmboot (storm boat) and the single figure. The figure is divided into separate torso, arms, legs, head and steel helmet. He is posed as standing and steering the outboard motor. (26 parts).

There are 2 identical 2nd and 3rd large medium gray parts trees. These are marked with the kit no. 6109 (the kit shown on the side panel of the box, so they are common to this kit and that one). They hold the parts for the rubber dinghies.(35 parts per tree).

There are also 2 identical 4th and 5th large medium gray parts trees. These have the kit no. 6135-B molded into the sprue, which is this kit number. They hold all the parts for the wood bridge and it’s railings. (10 parts per tree)

The length of white nylon string completes the kit’s contents. It is used to be threaded through rings around the perimeter of the rafts.

This kit is an instant diorama. All a modeler has to do is create a river on a base with some clear artist’s acrylic gel medium for the water. I tried on a couple of dioramas to create water. Once with 2 part clear epoxy. That stuff got very hot while it chemically cured and melted the plastic model it came in contact with. The Gel does not get hot.

I recommend this kit to modelers that want to do a neat diorama.