Wednesday, September 7

Construction & finishing review: Versuchsträger 1-2 in 1/35th scale from Takom

A weird creation indeed - Paul still felt like he would give Takom's 1/35th scale Versuchsträger 1-2 kit some love in a review, which oon turned to a full build & finishing article. See a little about the vehicle, & how the kit came out in his review...

Construction & finishing review: Versuchsträger 1-2
From Takom
1/35th scale
Kit No #2155
Photo-etch included 
Price: $38 USD from Hobbylink Japan
The Subject: The Versuchsträger 1-2
The MBT-70 was supposed to be the successor to the very successful Leopard 1, however it was unable to live up to expectations, so the VT turretless tanks was proposed as a potential successor. Two versions were built, the VT 1-1 armed with a pair of 105mm guns, and the VT 1-2, which was armed with a pair of 120mm guns. Being turretless, the guns were mounted on both sides of the hull, with the idea being that the tank could advance in a zig-zag pattern in an attempt to avoid enemy fire, and at the same time being able to aim and fire the guns alternately. This was ultimately a flawed concept, and ultimately lost out to the Leopard 2.
The Versuchsträger 1-2 (abbreviated: VT, meaning "test-beds" or "experiment carrier") were two German prototype twin-gun turretless main battle tanks. Since the early 1970s, a number of West German companies have been working on conceptual designs for a successor to the Leopard 1. This project had the name Kampfpanzer 3 (KPz 3). The KPz 3 project was temporarily a British-German joint project until the UK withdrew because they wanted a turreted tank. The Germans had already developed the Leopard 2 and therefore didn't see the need for another conventional tank. One of the companies involved was MaK, developing the VT 1-1 and VT 1-2. The test programme ended proving that a twin-gunned turretless tank could be created with enough technical effort but had drawbacks in both practical and tactical use.

The business end of the Versuchsträger 1-2 with its twin 120mm smoothbore guns with an automatic loading mechanism.
The first VT tank, VT 1-1, was built in 1974 by Maschinenbau Kiel (MaK). One year later they produced the second VT tank, the VT 1-2. For further testing of the mobility and the concept of a tank with two main guns, five Gefechtsfeld Versuchsträger (GVT, "battlefield test-beds") were designed and built-in 1975 and 1976.

The Versuchsträger 1-2 with double the danger (note the hazard tape on the barrels...)
The VT 1-1 was based on the shortened chassis of the cancelled MBT-70 tank. Since the tank had no autoloaders, a crew of four was needed to operate it. All VT tanks followed to some extent the traditional design of German Jagdpanzers like the post-war Kanonenjagdpanzer. The VT 1-2 featured a turbocharged engine, which was capable of 1,500 PS sustained and 2,400 PS for short periods. The tank had a three-man crew seated at the front, with a driver between commander and gunner. A comparison with the Leopard 2 was held, which proved that the VT 1-2 tank wouldn't have any significant advantages over the Leopard 2. The engine of the Leopard 2 wasn't defining the concept and could therefore be replaced by the stronger 12-cylinder engine of the VT 1-2 if required. The Leopard 2 also had a high first-round hit probability, due to its advanced fire control system, which corresponds to or even surpasses the calculated first-round hit probability of the twin guns.

The VT tanks were designed to:
- Reach a higher weapon efficiency through short reaction times, higher hit probability and higher kill probability by using twin guns in a casemate structure.
- To be more mobile by using a stronger engine and a new suspension.
- To have a higher level of survivability by reducing the crew compartment, using heavy frontal armour and the ability to use the Wechselkurs technique, i.e. driving sideward (like beating on land).
The VT 1-2 carried two 120 mm smoothbore guns equipped with 6-round automatic loaders. The GVTs were not fitted with guns, instead; they mounted two gun simulators. For combat simulations, they used Talissi laser fire simulators. The propellant gases were created with a 20 mm cannon mounted on the roof.

The new kit from Takom:
The hull of the VT 1-2 is a slightly shortened version of the MBT-70 hull, with five road wheels per side instead of six, which the kit provides as a tub. The VT also features the hydro-pneumatic suspension of the MBT-70 which the kit gives you, allowing you to pose the model with its nose or tail down through the removal of a locating pin on the back of the suspension arms. 
A jig is provided to help with the correct alignment of the suspension arms, although I have chosen to keep my model flat on the ground.
The tracks are provided in a single length of a very soft and flexible styrene like material, where the ends are attached with a pin like the real thing so no glue is required. Given that the tracks are live and will not need to be sagged, these seem acceptable to me, although the purists may differ. The outer faces of the road wheels come with separate tyres which make painting a bit easier, although there is still a small rim on the outer tyre faces so they will still need to be masked. Interestingly enough, the sprues give you a pair of road wheels left over so it’s quite likely that Takom will be releasing an MBT-70 in the near future.
The upper hull comes in a front and top plate with a variety of details to be added, including some clear vision devices and PE grills and details. The headlight guards are fine and fragile, which snapped when I was trying to clean them up so I had to replace them with staples. There are some other PE details to be added with no plastic alternatives, although I would say only the plates at the front of the crew positions are necessary.
The rear hull plate is a fairly straight forward affair with a few derails, and some PE grills for the exhausts. The rear indicator lights are provided in clear parts, although these will be attached later. The fit of the rear hull plate to the lower hull, and dry fit of the upper hull plate shows the fit to be absolutely perfect.
The gun casemates are designed to be sandwiched in between the hull and sideskirts so they can be posed corresponding to how you pose the suspension. The barrels are slide moulded in front and rear halves with the fume extractor in between them so no seams to worry about! However, the fume extractors do come with a very subtle pattern to them, with the attachment point right on the middle of the top, with a slight mould line. I thought it would be easier just to sand it all smooth rather than trying to restore the detail after cleaning up the parts so that is what I did.
There are four schemes, with two in all green, and two what-if schemes if that is your thing, although there are not a lot of decals for any of them. I went with one of the actual schemes, spraying the model in Vallejo Bronze Green, and then applied some modulation before applying the handful of decals for the marking scheme. Attaching the tracks is easy enough, although make sure the alignment of the track ends is right because it is quite easy to push the pin through the soft material instead of through the holes.
Being a test vehicle, I limited weathering to just a brown wash, and some light dirt and dust and this is the end result.

Here it is completed...
This is a quick and easy project, and looks like something between a ship turret on tracks, or some sci-fi/ computer game vehicle. I must admit that I didn’t even know that this vehicle even existed, but it is a big chunky vehicle, and looks quite imposing on the shelf. Highly recommended for those that want something a bit different on their shelf.
Paul Lee

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to build and review. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their Facebook page