CB35103, German Telemeter KDO Mod.40 w/Sd.Ah.52 Trailer (Kommandogerät 40). 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 144 injection-molded styrene parts, one photo-etched brass fret, three water-slide decal markings/schemes and 14 pages of instructions in 16 steps.
Contrary to what may be a popular belief, heavy, long-range anti-aircraft guns could not track moving aerial targets on their own. The German practice was to have four guns controlled by an optical device called Kommandogerät, or control device. In this case, the Kommandogerät 40 combined a 4m Em (R) 40 rangefinder with an electro-mechanical ballistic computing device. This unit required an outside power source, so a Motorgenerator was connected to a Betriebßchaltkasten, mounted on top of a Sammlergestell; a power transmission line ran from this unit to the KDO40. A data transmission line, the Übertragungsleitung 37, ran from the KDO40 to a Verteilerkasten, which in turn, sent hard-wired data to the four guns in a typical FlaK-Batterie. This is why a heavy FlaK gun had cable reels fitted to its transport limber units.
Up to now, the KDO40 was available as a resin kit in 1/35th-scale; one was also a part of Revells 8.8cm FlaK kit in 1/72nd-scale. Now, Bronco has released this rather vital piece of equipment in a styrene, 1/35th-scale rendition. It is based in part on their 3.7cm FlaK37 and Sd.Ah.52 ammunition trailer kits.
Wheels & Suspension System.
These are conventionally-molded as a three-part assembly. The wheel hub and both sides of the tread are one part, the inner side-walls another, and the brake drum is the third; they can remain movable with careful assembly. The leaf spring bundles come as a two-part assembly, featuring a separate bracket. The wheels have a stub as part of the brake drum that fits the spring bundle.
This item begins with two main wish-bone shaped parts that represent the upper and lower halves. A separate tow lunette is fitted up forward, while a number of smaller fittings are scattered about. A number of detail parts are attached to include the landing gear, which will keep the trailer level when un-hitched. This is a multi-part item which, unfortunately, is not engineered to be movable. The modeler can pose it up or down and with some work it can be made movable. Other items of note is a brake cylinder, as well as a nice hand-brake. A pair of multi-part winch assemblies are to be fitted at either end of the wish-bone. These are embellished with etched brass parts.
The wheel-well/fender sections are very well-detailed, to include separate grab handles, brackets, hooks, reflectors and distance-keeping tail lamp. A number of etched brass parts are provided for braces as well. Tread plate sections and a 3.7cm ammunition box are to be fitted to each wheel-well/fender. However, Id leave the ammo boxes off as this version of the Sd.Ah.52 did not need them; photos show they were not fitted. So, leave off both parts A41 and cut off the small, square mounting stub in the center of both parts Da6. Multi-part cable reels and holders are given, but photos show that these are not fitted.
Tripod and Work Platform.
This is the standard item upon which a 2cm Flakvierling 38 or 3.7cm FlaK36/37 would have been mounted upon. One part represents the main assembly, with various access and stowage box lids, as well as leveling pads and adjustment levers being separate parts. Circular foot-pads are added next as are a number of sometimes very tiny etched brass parts. The latter include bolt or rivet heads which may be best replaced with styrene items for the sake of ease of assembly. Finally, a semi-circular brace is added over everything. The instructions show where bolt heads are to be removed so that the platform for the main device can be fitted.
The platform is based on styrene parts to include a two-part turntable, with separate parts to represent conduits. The main platform part is flanked by a styrene folding segment on each side. A socket in the turntable plugs into the base of the computing device assembly, allowing the latter to traverse 360-degrees. Each is topped by an etched brass tread-plate section with a proper open square pattern. The segments can be folded up for transport. If the latter configuration is chosen, it should be noted that the rangefinder section was removed, encased in a special locker, and stowed in a specially-modified mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8-ton Sd.Kfz.7/6. The remainder of the device was towed behind the half-track on the Sd.Ah.52 trailer.
Computing Device and Rangefinder.
This is the heart of this kit, and while basically fine as far as general shapes go, it falls quite short in the realm of small details. The main rangefinder tube will require care in clean-up, especially towards its center. Note that parts B11 and B12, as well as both parts C4 should not be glued in place on the rangefinder, but only to each other. This is not noted in the instructions and if care is not exercised, the rangefinder will not be able to elevate. Four separate binocular devices are fitted in various positions as are a pair of guards on each end of the rangefinder. The binocular devices are not properly detailed, especially where it concerns certain knobs. Each end of the RF receives a multi-part optical port that includes etched brass details. None of the rather prominent power and data transmission conduits are included. In addition, many of the small details are over-simplified, are improperly placed and/or proportioned, or simply incorrect.
The computing device consists of five main parts that make up the cabinet. Separate parts are then added to provide for large detail assemblies as well as such thing as access panel lids. A number of smaller detail parts are then added, to include various hand-wheels, as is a three-part etched brass stand for one of the operators. The latter should not be fitted in transport mode, but this is not noted in the instructions. In addition, its stowed position, whatever that may be, is not indicated. Again, much of the small detail is either simplified or incorrect. Notably, nearly every switch lever is mis-represented and many of the flush-mounted access panels are molded proud of the surface. There are other small detail glitches as well and only referring to the cited references, below, will clarify matters. Finally, again, no parts for conduits are provided.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding is crisp and delicate, with minimal mold seams and no flash. No knock-out pin marks are visible on the finished kit. Fit was fine throughout. The modeler should note that the rangefinder is not a completely smooth tube; some parts overlapped, so a seam is supposed to be visible, especially outboard of the elevation trunnions.
Accuracy and Details.
I have no scale drawings of the trailer and tripod platform, so I cannot comment on dimensional accuracy with any certainty. Based on available photographs scattered throughout several books and web-sites, these items seem correct in appearance. The basic outline and features of the computing device and the rangefinder seem to match photos well. I have noted the many annoying small detail errors on these two assemblies, above. In the area of omissions, there should be a davit-shaped rod to support the Übertragungsleitung 37 data cable, as well as vital accessories in the form of the Motorgenerator, Betriebßchaltkasten, Sammlergestell and the power transmission line ran from these units to the KDO40.
These are clearly-presented in line drawing form. I have noted where they fall short in the relevant sections, above. The painting section is shown in full color (with a separate two-page leaflet included), while the colors themselves are keyed to paints manufactured by Gunze, Tamiya and Humbrol.
Decals and Markings Information.
A smell sheet of water-slide decals is provided. The designs are crisply-printed with clear, matte carrier film cut close to the edges of the individual designs. They consist almost solely of dial faces for the instruments, as well as data placards. There are stripes to represent kill rings, presumably from the entire battery this device supported. Three color schemes are noted; one is overall Dunkelgrau, the second overall Dunkelgelb. The third is a base of Dunkelgelb with a mottle of Olivgrün.
This is an extremely useful accessory kit. However, the small details are more reminiscent of a kit produced in the 1970s, than one of 21st-Century manufacture. Some accessories should also have been included to help create a completely-equipped unit. The modeler can leave it as is or he can use this as a practice kit for learning how to modify molded-in detail, or add other small detail items. Working with available photos, and using some basic modeling skills will make this a stand-out item.
Frank V. De Sisto
References for this report are as follows:
1. The Heavy Flak Guns 1933-1945; Schiffer, by W. Müller. This title has an excellent series of photos of the KDO40 in-place and in transport mode. Virtually the only English-language book available on the subject, it shows many of the smaller details and highlights areas where this kit can be improved.
Shows some photos of museum examples.
. Shows how the KDO40 was hard-wired into the gun battery and its accessories.
Bronco Models are available in North America from DragonUSA. For more information, visit their web-site at: www.dragonusaonline.com.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been writing books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DragonUSA, the current North American importer of Bronco products. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
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