The tale of the four Famos

Yes, I know it’s not the name of the vehicle. But since Sd.Kfz.9 does not roll off the tongue as smoothly, and since everyone calls this half-track Famo , I’ll call it Famo , and you’ll just have to deal with it.

I always had a fascination with halftracks, especially the 251 series (more on that later). The angular shapes make it look like a futuristic vehicle, rather than something from WWII. Compared to this, the Famo looks very traditional, albeit oversized. (Ridiculously so, in fact. It dwarfs the people who are driving it.) It’s a truck with tracks.

No, those are average-sized humans, not Gimli’s relatives.

The Famo was HUGE, in other words. It could tow the heavies guns, and three of them were theoretically able to tow even a Tiger.

Anyhow, as all half-tracks, the Famo was modified over and over again, with several interesting-looking conversions. The Germans –as usual– stuck an 88 on top, but they also used several different cranes on top of it.

Revell has come out long time ago with an excellent 1/72 kit, and a couple of years ago Trumpeter has started to churn out their own versions. (Well, I hoped they would. They stopped at two.) There has been a lot of aftermarket conversion available since the Revell version came out, but fortunately for the stingy, Trumpeter did issue a vehicle with a 6-ton crane installed.

This left me with no choice. I had to try both the Revell and the Trumpeter flavored Famos, and I had to have the Flak88 conversion, along with the 6-ton crane one. That meant four kits total.

The two companies produced two excellent, although quite different models. Both of them have more parts than your average 1/35 kit.

The Revell kit is easier to build; it has a lot of details, link and length tracks, and the plastic is nice to the touch.

The Trumpeter kits are a bit more difficult to build; there are more parts (and a lot of details), individual track links, and a more brittle, less friendly plastic. The moulding quality is not as good as the Revell kit’s. It feels a bit less sophisticated, to be honest, but the end result is excellent. I thought the tracks were insane, but to be honest, I have not built the Hobby Boss Toldi I yet. Why did I not like the tracks? You get individual track links, as I said, but the tracks are made up by two parts: the metal tracks, and the rubber shoes that come on top. The problem is the fit is not perfect, so it’s more difficult to make the tracks look good, AND it takes forever to clean everything. But then again: the Toldi tracks are way-way-way worse. The absolute highlight of this kit? The engine, no doubt. It’s a small model on its own right. Trumpeter also has the trailer issued. I was tempted to put a Famo on top of the trailer, but sanity prevailed- I saved a 20 dollars by not purchasing the trailer itself.

One thing is common in both kits: the bloody with indicator rods keep breaking like nobody’s business. I pray for an aftermarket replacement made out of metal.

Parts, parts, parts – the Revell offering.

Revell-Trumpeter-Trumpeter with crane

Revell Famo finished in German gray.

Trumpeter Famo finished in late-war camo pattern. Hand painting was the name of the game back then – I was living in a student accommodation. (Good times… Mature student in the midst of undergrad hell. There were late nights I wished I had a paintball gun.)

I’ve enhanced it with a Famo detail kit: comes with cargo and tarp. If anyone’s interested I can find the company’s name in my ebay history, but I cannot be asked to look it up right now… I replaced the rods with wire as cleaning the plastic parts meant breakage in a massive scale. (Delicate, long parts with attachment points, and mould-lines.)

Flak 88…

As I said I have a deep-seated fascination with this gun. This was the reason I switched to ground stuff from airplanes: I was completely won over by the excellent DML offering.

The conversion set comes from CMK. The fit of the armored cab is excellent, and -despite of my misgivings about building the armored cab due to my limited skills with PE- the conversion builds like a dream. Except for the grab handles. Those are just insane.

And last, the 6-ton crane.

This version was used as a useful addition for field shops; it could lift tank engines (although not turrets), and other relatively heavy stuff. Strangely it’s a bit different from the “base” Trumpeter version the with indicators are more chunky, for example. It looks like Trumpeter simplified a lot of details for this model. It builds up into a nice representation of the original, though. The horrible (but not as horrible as the Toldi’s) tracks remained, though. The only real challenge was to make sure the cables are tight; in this scale thread (I used my own synthetic thread not the one provided by Trumpeter) has a tendency to be very “rigid”; it does not have the same sag as a real metal cable does. A lot of superglue, and reasonably tight fit helped to solve this issue somewhat. I wanted to depict the crane in the process of lifting an engine (conveniently from a Famo), but the engine looked weightless regardless of what I did. In the end I just put the crane into a travel position.

Overall, I’m really happy with both company’s kits; if I had to choose to build another one it’d be the Revell offering, though. Due to the limitation of my skills with paintbrushes, I’m not very satisfied with the late-war camos, but I’ll have to live with them; there’s no way I’m building yet another Famo version to bring out the airbrush. Unless it has an 88 on top, while towing another one.

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