Meng 1/35 Vs.Kfz.617 Minesweeper Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2012||Manufacturer||Meng|
|Kit Number||SS001||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting subject||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$79.95|
The Alkett Vs.Kfz.617 minesweeper looks like a war tractor or something out of a science fiction movie, but it was actually a interesting bit of German engineering to develop a vehicle that could safely drive over mines. The hull was made up of armor plate ranging between 10mm and 40mm to resist mine blasts and the huge shoe-type links on each wheel were designed to provide more than enough pressure to detonate any buried mines. Despite initial appearances, the front of the vehicle has the two large wheels and a Panzer I turret on top while the rear has a single wheel that is steered by chains.
The initial prototypes were indeed effective against mines, but the sheer weight of the vehicle made transportation a problem, its resulting low speed left the troops and combat vehicles waiting as vulnerable artillery targets, and its huge size would make an easy target for allied gunners. The project didn't advance beyond the early trials. For more on this interesting beast, look here.
Meng is a model company based in Hong Kong, China and has released an interesting new range of kits for subjects that have never been produced in plastic before. While this kit has been done before in 1/35 scale, it is my understanding that it is superior to the RPM kit.
The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on a three trees plus separate upper and lower hull halves, turret, and one set of heavy shoes and their links.
To put this vehicle into perspective, the height of the vehicle was about 9.5 feet from the ground to the top of the Panzer I turret over the crew compartment and was roughly 20+ feet long. Meng has done a great job of capturing the unique look of this vehicle.
Since this was a prototype, it didn't receive any markings (until after it arrived in a museum) and aside from the turret and lateral stowage boxes, it didn't have many details on the hull. This translates into a simple build out of the box with lots of detail focused on those unique tracked wheels.
You can take this project into a what-if and use some of the notional late-war paint schemes provided by Meng and even add your own crew stowage and personal markings to the vehicle to make it look like a combat veteran. Of course you could really take this into a what-if category by doing any number of modifications from laser canons to radar sensors to turn this odd-looking beast into something out of the Star Wars (or other science fiction) universe.
Meng has produced another interesting vehicle and unlike some of the concept panzers we've seen from Trumpeter and DML, this vehicle did exist and sits in a museum today in all of its uniqueness. This project has lots of potential for armor modelers as well as a basis for some science fiction modeling as well.
For a look at this model built-up, look here.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!