DML 1/35 Flakpanzer V Coelian Build Review
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||February 2006||Manufacturer||DML|
|Subject||Flakpanzer V Coelian||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||9022||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting hodge-podge of kit parts with lots of spares at the end of the project||Cons||No indication in the instructions how many track links are to be used|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$31.95|
The Flakpanzer V Coelian was a concept that didn't have time to get off the drawing boards. The Wehrmacht had adapted a variety of wheeled and half-track vehicles to serve as mobile forward air defense positions to protect armor and infantry units in the field as well as for temporary forward area positions such as mobile headquarters, logistic points, etc. As Allied raiders broadened their ground attack arsenal from simple straffe and bombing to aerial bazooka launchers and rockets, the air defense positions were even more vulnerable. The answer was to adapt a tank chassis with a specialized turret to protect the gun crews while continuing to fire upon approaching Allied aircraft.
In the case of this particular vehicle, a late-model Panther (Panzer V) chassis was adapted for the job. Its similarity to the Tiger (Panzer VI) made it a logical logistical choice without using the valuable Tiger chassis. Inside the turret was a pair of Flak 43 37mm cannons that provided enough shrapnel upon exploding to damage enemy aircraft without a direct hit.
The DML Flakpanzer V Coelian kit is an interesting collection of parts. On the first page of the instructions, you see a breakdown of the fourteen parts trees that are molded in light gray styrene. What is interesting is the number of parts that are NOT used in this build. There are parts trees from several Panther and a Jagdpanther releases, an upper and lower hull, and a new tree (J) that contains the unique Coelian parts. At the end of the project, you'll have quite a few spares for future projects.
When I spotted this kit at my local hobby establishment, I thought it would be a pleasant 'quick build' project. Pleasant - yes, quick - no. I somehow became interested in air defense vehicles during my military service, so I just had to build this unique vehicle. It may not have entered service, but it inspired a variety of tactical air defense platforms well into the future.
Assembly of this project begins the same as most armored subjects, with the chassis and lower hull. Step 1 started with part of the drive sprocket, return roller and the inner road wheels. It wasn't until I got well into step 2 that I realized that the wheel pattern was so close to the Tiger (and about as much fun). I quickly figured out that I'd better paint the lower hull and around the road wheels before there were too many obstructions to shoot through. For this project I decided to try out Vallejo Model Air paints. I used the appropriate Desert Yellow as the base color and applied the color with my trusty Iwata double-action airbrush.
Step 3 assembles up the rear hull, air cleaners and other details. Step 4 installs the completed rear hull to the lower hull assembly. This too was airbrushed Desert Yellow.
Steps 5 and 6 begin the assembly of the upper hull front. Fenders, driver's and hull gunner's hatches, and other details are installed, though I opted to wait on a few of the details like light fixtures and machine gun barrel until the end.
Steps 7 through 10 assemble up all of the grillework, fans and vents on the rear engine deck. I pre-painted the rear of the hull Desert Yellow, then painted the bottoms of the vent and fan wells black before starting assembly. Once all of the various fittings were in place, they too were airbrushed with Desert Yellow.
Steps 11 through 14 install the narrow platforms on either side of the hull as well as spare track and pioneering tools. I waited on the pioneering tools and spare track until the very end.
Steps 15 through 17 cover the turret. The various fittings were installed per the instructions as was the armored shield for the vehicle commander. The Coelian had visual rangefinder that installed behind the shield, but it obstructed the commander's hatch. I opted not to use this part as this vehicle will be getting a crew later.
The twin gun barrels have flash suppressor cones molded to the ends of the barrels. Unfortunately, these are solid at the end of the barrels as molded. I drilled out a small pilot hole in the center of each flash suppressor cone, then used one of my Dremel bits to bore out the cones. The result looks so much better that straight out of the box.
Since this was a vehicle that was to be fielded after the date the war ended, I assumed that it would still use a mix of Desert Yellow, Brown and Green. The camouflage on the box art was interesting to say the least, but since the Coelian was shooting at a Gloster Meteor, I would assume the Germans would have applied a more disruptive color scheme to break up the vehicle silhouette from low-flying pilots. After applying the three colors the way I wanted, I decided to add a faded black outline to further break up the colors and silhouette.
Step 20 and 21 deal with the assembly and installation of the track, but rather poorly. Up until now, I've never used individual track links. I've heard that DML track was relatively easy to work with and they were right, but I was still dealing with the unknown and really didn't know how to proceed.
Each of the track links for this project have dual blades that run through the wheels and straddle the return roller. The opposite side has a cleat for traction on one edge. In other words, these track links were not going to sit flat on either side. With the twin blades, I started off using an Plastruct I-beam as a guide to assemble the track. With the blades straddling the beam, the track would sit flat for assembly. I opted to assemble the track in sections of 5-6 track links. I slid each link into position and most of the time they would virtually click into place. Those that didn't want to connect were set aside. I used Tamiya liquid cement on just the outer edges of the track links, otherwise I'd be gluing the track links directly to the I beam. This would prove to be ideal.
Once I had enough sections to complete one side of the tank, I assembled the sections into two halves. The lower half was treaded between the wheels, drive sprocket and the fender. The other half was laid across the road wheels. Connecting the two halves at the drive sprocket, I found I had two too many links and removed them from the other end. I double-checked that there was enough track to properly sag over the top of the road wheels without sagging off of the rear return roller as well. With all being well, I made the final connections in the track and applied cement at key track/wheel/sprocket locations to keep the track in place.
It turns out that by only gluing the outer edges of the track links, the lengths of track remained quite flexible. If a link did come loose, a spot of cement solved the problem. Once the track was installed on the tank and the cement in the key locations had set, I did one last visual check of the installation, then ran Tamiya Thin Cement over all of the track links to make them rigid in place. Once the one side was completed, I repeated the process on the other side of the tank. This time, the process only took half the time since I'm getting a little more experienced at these track links.
Oh yes, the non-cooperative links that were set aside were eventually used. There was just a touch of flash in these links that were easily cleaned up with a microfile and these too were added to the track.
Once both sets of track were assembled and installed, I was surprised at how many spare links remained. The instructions didn't indicate how many links to use, and I didn't stop to count the number I used (sorry). I am liking individual track links!
Painting & Weathering
I applied Vallejo Model Air Gun Metal to the tracks. I used small sheets of paper to protect the vehicle camouflage as I painted the tracks. What little overspray that did settle was quickly touched up.
Once the four colors had dried, I applied a protective coating of Future as a barrier to the oil washes that followed. I used a wash of Burnt Sienna followed by a wash of Lamp Black to bring out the recessed details and weather the camouflage. Both of these washes were used heavily on the tracks.
With the basic painting and weathering finished, it was time to install the remaining details and track.
I went back through the instructions to identify those pioneering tools that I wanted to add to the vehicle as well as the headlight fixture and hull machine gun barrel. These were painted appropriately and installed on the hull. The spare track links were painted rust overall and installed on their rear hull racks. These were then given a wash of Lamp Black oils. A final pass was made over the assembled tank with a dry brush of light gray enamel to bring out some of the raised details.
This was an interesting build. I was nearly finished with assembling my track when I remembered a track link jig that I purchased at a hobby show a few years back. That actually sped up assembly of the track links even further.
If you have one of these DML kits with individual track links but have been hesitant to jump into the fray, don't be. You'd be surprised just how quickly you'll catch on with a little trial and error. There are also tools out there to help with the assembly of track links and we've looked at one here
in case the Plastruct I-beam doesn't work for you.
While the final result you see here isn't too bad, it isn't done yet. This vehicle will be getting some additional paint and markings as it is brought into a diorama. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, this kit is recommended to skilled modelers with experience dealing with small parts. You'll like it!