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Kits compared: Bronco 1/35 scale Land-Wasser-Schlepper

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Kit: No. CB-35015
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Bronco, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Price: $69.99 Comments: Injection-molded, 781 parts (21 photoetched-metal), string, fabric flag, decals
Pros: Cleanly molded; excellent detail; click-together tracks
Cons: Difficult instructions; lack of interior paint guidance; numerous small parts; no rope fenders
Issue Published: February 2009
It looks like a boat on tracks, but the 17-ton amphibious transport saw service with German forces on the Eastern front. John Plzak built 1/35 scale kits of the LWS from Bronco and HobbyBoss.

Bronco Land-Wasser-Schlepper

Bronco's it models a mid-production version with round forward ports; the earlier version had large square windows in the sides at the fore). While the cabin is a mid-production style, the drive sprockets are those found on the early version.

Molded in orange-tan plastic, the kit features excellent detail. I was impressed by the lack of ejector-pin marks, especially in the large cabin panels. The hull is molded as one piece, as is the deck. In addition to the injection-molded pieces, Bronco provides a small photoetched-metal sheet, a fabric flag, and decals covering three subjects. Missing from the kit are the rope fenders that are seen in almost every photo of the LWS as well as the box art. No figures are included.

Assembly starts by adding the deck and detail to the hull. I left off the running gear until main painting was complete. The photoetched-metal screens for the deck intakes are nice, but I wish there was a little more depth to the recesses they cover. Assembly of the cabin interior went smoothly but, as with most kits, there is very little painting information for the cabin interior. Directions are vague on placement of some parts, such as the round photoetched-metal hatches (parts S2). The instructions are inadequate for several deck details, especially those that appear on both sides (such as hatches E19 and parts E15).

When building the stack (Subassembly 12), it is important that part G5 is positioned correctly - but there is nothing to make sure it is aligned properly. If it is placed incorrectly, the stack assembly will not line up properly when attached to the deck. I avoided this problem by gluing the assembly to the roof and grinding away the stack's positioning lug on the deck.

Rather than build the cabin separately as the instructions indicate, I added the walls to the deck, then glued the roof to the walls. While installing the roof, I discovered the cabin entrance (Subassembly 9) was not flush to the deck on one side; I had to file it at the top to make the roof fit properly. I still needed to add a few dabs of epoxy putty to the roof and a couple of the wall joints. The tiny posts for the forward handrail are molded separately.

The tracks are some of the best kit-supplied individual links I've ever seen, delicately molded with hollow guide teeth, no ejector-pin marks, and very little flash. Cleaning them up is tedious (each link has three sprue attachment points), but they click together securely. Once the tracks were in place and sagged as I wanted, I brushed Weld-On 3 liquid cement over them to lock them in place.

I spent about 32 hours building my LWS. The finished model matched almost exactly to the dimensions in David Doyle's Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles (Krause Publications); the model was about 0.1" wider and ½" taller than my references. The numerous tiny parts will require some experience, but if you take your time you will be rewarded with a beautiful model of this unusual vehicle for your collection.

Comparing the kits

While both kits have the same style cabin, the Bronco kit features Panzer II-style running gear, and the HobbyBoss kit uses Panzer IV-style running gear. The Bronco kit gets the edge in quality of molding, detail, and its beautiful individual-link tracks. However, this comes at a cost - not only in price but in the complexity of assembly. On the other hand, the HobbyBoss kit is easy to assemble with a little more than a third of the parts. Either kit makes a fine Land-Wasser-Schlepper that would be an excellent and unusual addition to any German armor collection.

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