As Allied airpower's effect grew during World War II, the 20 mm quad-mount proved to have too little power and effectiveness. The Germans turned to the 3.7 cm as its replacement. Rheinmetall-Borsig and Krupp were asked to produce a new version that was less expensive and more easily produced. Krupp initially won the contract, but at the last moment the Krupp design developed weaknesses and Rheinmetall-Borsig got the award.
The new 3.7 Flak 43 was a dramatic improvement over the older models. It was a light, fully automatic, gas-operated anti-aircraft weapon that could be statically emplaced or transported on a mobile mounting or trailer. The gun itself consists of a removable, monobloc barrel fitted with a muzzle brake with six elongated ports and multi-perforated flash eliminator, and a breech casing which houses the breech mechanism. The gun is fed horizontally from the left in clips of eight rounds from a fixed loading tray, and is operated by the recoil of the gun itself. It had a theoretical rate of fire of 250 rounds per minute, but several sources state that 150 was more practical. The gun made extensive use of stampings and welding and could be produced much quicker than previous versions.
1/72 Fliegerabwherkanone 3,7 cm Flak 43, kit 7202, is the subject of this review.
The box top itself is somewhat unique in that it shows the completed model in the firing configuration. It has a minimal diorama setting and the gun and carriage are painted in an overall sand colour. This may be handy in assisting the builder with part locations that may be ambiguous in the instructions.
Upon opening the box one finds a single plastic bag enclosing one moderate sized parts sprue moulded in a light grey plastic and a single four sided instruction sheet. The single sprue contains 59 parts of which 56 will be used for the completed model. The instructions are in the form of grey scale exploded view drawings and a single unit painting guide appears on the back of the box. There are no decals provided with this kit.
Often in life first impressions are important and can lead to setting a mood towards a subject. From the first cursory inspection of the Flak 43 sprue I was pleasantly surprised. The subtle details and textures on many of the parts appeared extremely good. Details in many ways are on a par with that of more known manufacturers such as Trumpeter or Dragon. There is some light flash visible on a few parts and some exhibit moulding seam lines but again these appear light. A few thicker parts possessed sink marks, but the positioning of them would most likely lead to them being hidden after assembly. With the exception of the main gun shield, the few ejector pin marks should not be visible after building. A few of the flatter pieces show some flow marks that will hopefully not be visible after painting. A very pleasant option is that the gun can be built in either the march or firing configuration.
Some of the parts are positively miniscule but nicely represented. Another impressive feature of this kit is that the sprue attachment points (gates) are generally amongst the smallest and thinnest that this reviewer has yet to see in a Braille scale kit. This is to be commended and will certainly make removal and clean up of parts easier.
Examples of the fine detail can be found on the wheels and hubs or the fine ribbing evident on the gun base. The muzzle break and flash suppressor showed the six slots and even depressions for the perforations in the flash suppressor. Further fine detailing can be seen in the seat contours of the gunners and layers seats and even the gunners’ seat backrest. Of course, it goes without saying that care will need to be taken with handling these smaller and more delicate parts.
Unlike many other gun kits in this scale the sprue was not lacking for ammunition. Six rather nicely moulded eight round clips are provided. When displayed in the firing position one clip is meant for the gun’s feed tray (part 18) while the other five can be stowed in a storage location on the left side just in back of the shield. If the gun is to be displayed in the towed position MACO has provided an alternate folded loading tray (part 19) to be used as the sides of the gun shield are folded to the rear when in the traveling configuration.
The trailer portion of the kit shares the same 14 parts as MACO kit #7203 the Sd. Anh. 58. Two parts of the 14, (the shovels, part 47), are not part of the gun construction process. One final observation is that many may find the gun shield rather thick. Sources quote the thickness of the original shield at 9 mm, tapering to 6 mm at the outer edges. The kit shield averages 0.5 mm which would equate to 36 mm at full size. It would have been great if the manufacturer had provided an optional photo etch shield. However, the complex angles of the main gun shield might have tested the skills of a novice builder with all the bending that would have been required. The builder might like to investigate some aftermarket options for this kit. Currently Shatton Modellbau offer a 1/72 scale 3.7 cm Flak 43 barrel in brass that is hollowed and drilled. On the MACO Web site there are reported to be two new offerings to be released later this year. One is the kit #72103, Flak 43 Conversion Set
(Flak-Rohr & Hülsenfangkorb) that includes the brass barrel and a mesh to catch spent cartridges. They have also announced a Flak 43 Special Edition, kit #7202-SE, that is a combination of the kit reviewed here and the kit #72103 Conversion Set.
Painting instructions in the assembly instructions are limited to the ammunition cartridges having a black head and brass body. The back of the box has a coloured four angle painting guide for one gun painted in a three colour striped camouflage pattern. Colour references are given for Revell Acryl, ModelMaster Acryl and ModelMaster Enamel paints.
While this may seem like a rather simple kit it has more than a few redeeming qualities, with moulding details approaching, if not equal, to the big players on the market. We also see MACO producing some unique subjects. Other manufacturers (Hasegawa, Revell) have tried their hand at producing the Braille scale Flak 36 or Flack 37 version of this piece but all attempts suffered from oversized barrels and other parts.
The MACO offering is a fine and superior offering for the 1/72 scale builder. Matthias Conrad and his team at MACO have presented us with a very nice kit and now also will be offering enhancements to the original release with their Conversion Set and Special Edition kit. I can foresee little to no difficulties in constructing this kit other than having to deal with some rather miniscule and delicate parts. Except for the gun shield thickness and a few ejector marks on the main shield I see no reason to not recommend this kit.
A Build Log
has been started in the forums to evaluate the kit construction.