by: Robert Blokker [ ]
Originally published on:
A bit of History
When production of the 3,7cm Flak 18 (heavier gun that used a similar mount as the 2cm Flak 30) stopped in 1936, its place was immediately taken by the newer 3,7cm Flak 36 of which development started in 1935. The new gun was 1544 kilograms lighter than its predecessor and the size made it possible to be towed around on the single axle Sd.Anh. 52.
With the wheels removed, it had a 360 degree traverse and a maximum fire rate of 160 rounds per minute, although a rate of fire of around 120 RPM would prove more practical and effective on the battlefield. The effective ceiling at which the gun could do damage was 4800 meters.
In 1937 the Flak 36 was upgraded with a new aiming device from Seitz and was given a new designation as well, and that is how the 36 became the 3,7cm Flak 37. Aside from the new aiming device the gun was unchanged.
The 3,7 cm 36 was a success even more so then the 2cm Flak’s, as it delivered a bigger load to a higher altitude and was also very effective against ground targets. This gun was used in several roles in pretty much any branch the German army had to offer, from Heer to Luftwaffe to Marine and ended up on a lot of ground vehicles as well. Mostly the heavier halftracks like the 8 ton SdKfz 7 and the Schwere Wehrmacht Schlepper, which were capable of carrying it and giving the gun a large amount of mobility.
Trumpeter have released a series of light and medium flaks starting with the 2cm Vierling 38, the 3,7 Flak 37 and the 3,7 Flak 43 that probably come from their range of SdKfz 7 kits. A step that is a very well thought out one as Flaks are always popular kits among the modelers, but trumpeter is also providing the modeler with a choice to use the guns on different vehicles if they choose to do so.
The box art depicts a very nice impression of the gun in action, drawn by Vince Wai. Inside you will find 5 sprues in a light grey styrene containing a total of 118 parts (of which 33 are either not used, optional or an accessory), 2 frets of PE holding 15 parts, an instruction sheet, a decal sheet and a painting and marking guide. No figures are included in the kit.
The first appearance of the parts show them to be very nice and cleanly molded. No visible flash, but since it is an injection molded kit, the ever present molding lines where the molds meet. These mold lines are very fine and will present absolutely no problems when confronted with some scraping with a hobby knife.
As usual, I will do a rundown of what is on the sprues:
WP- on this sprue you will find the chassis of the SonderAnhanger 52 with the fenders, the inner wheel rims, leaf springs and the mechanism to hoist up the gun platform from the ground. Also you will find the stowage bins for on the fenders which are optional. To fit these on the fenders you will need to drill out 2 holes on the inside of the fenders
On sprue WT you will find all the parts for the gun platform; the base, the turntable, the travel lock, along with several smaller parts. Half of the parts on this sprue are either optional or not used on the gun as stand-alone piece.
Sprue WK holds a lot of components of the gun itself. Present are the gun which is molded in one piece with the barrel and flash suppressor. Further you will find the gunners shield molded in plastic, the back plate of the gun mount, the hydraulic cylinders for moving the gun up and down, the holders for those cylinders, a whole host of levers, rods and footsteps going on either the gun or the gun mount, the gunners seat, the little shield on the front of the 3,7cm gun and the plate on which the magazines are guided into the gun. Again, this sprue contains some optional/extra parts, 6 of them being full magazines.
On WL you find the gun mount and the gun cradle, the elevation gear with the wheels, gun cradle, gun shields and holders, the platform on which magazines are placed when in the field and the Richtgerate 37.
Sprue A is the smallest of the 5, here you will find the tires and outer wheel hubs (molded in one piece) the hook on which the back of the gun platform hooks into the trailer, the rings to make the wheels turn-able. And some optional parts as the circular plates used when the gun stands in the grass.
Trumpeter has packed the bigger PE sheet in plastic, of which both sides stick to the metal... in my kit it was extremely hard to get rid of the plastic without making some sloppy origami creation of the PE sheet. Therefore I choose to burn it off. This method takes a bit of care, but it is much neater that way and you don't have to make your PE flat again.
PE-WK is the first PE set and the larger of the 2. On this fret, Trumpeter provides the modeler with a very good alternative to the plastic gun shields of the kit, which is a common component that modelers replace by sets from AM manufacturers. The two bigger shields are made up of 2 parts each, the same goes for the gunners shield. Further, you will find a replacement for the smaller shield on the front of the gun and some detail parts for the gun mount itself (think of pedals and 2 smaller details for the mount).
PE-A is the smaller of the PE frets and holds 4 parts that are used to detail the fenders of the Sd.Anh 52.
The instruction sheet is just a bit smaller than an A4 when folded up. When folded open the sheet shows six sides; first is the standard do’s and don’ts, the second shows an overview of the kits contents, the other 4 pages show the assembly of the gun in very clear steps.
The painting and marking guide is a separate sheet showing the gun in several angles both on and off the trailer, and the color it is presented in is Panzer grey. Paint references are given in 5 popular paint brands: Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Modelmaster, Tamiya and Humbrol. Only from Mister Hobby are the three recommended color numbers given, the other brands are not mentioned with alternatives for either 1 or 2 of the colors, but I think most modelers are experienced enough to know which color “tire black” is, and “steel” or “gunmetal” should not be a real problem either.
The decal sheet is filled, with most of them representing either kill rings or kill markings (planes, tanks, artillery and even…. yes…. bunkers) in several sizes. No unit markings are included.
The Kit vs the real deal
Comparing the gun with drawings from Panzer tracts 12, it comes out at pretty much the same dimensions, the barrel length is well within acceptable boundaries, and the height also matches very well. The flash suppressor seems a bit short when comparing it to pictures of 3,7 cm Flak barrels, also the flash suppressor cone only has ‘dents’ where the holes should be. Drilling them out would greatly improve this. The holes in the collar are a bit of a different story as they are not open. These will need a bit of work or replacement from a metal variant.
The smaller details seem to match up with walk around pictures I have of this type of gun, both in dimensions and placement.
Building the kit
While building the kit it felt a bit like they made an exact copy of the old Tamiya offering. The build steps and parts are nearly identical, albeit sometimes differently placed in the instructions and a lot of the parts in the Trumpeter kit are better detailed or broken up in some small sub-assemblies. Still, the similarities between the two kits is ridiculous...maybe I’m a bit of a conspiracy theory guy here. Several things on the Trumpeter kit match up so well with their Tamiya counterpart, be it in size, shape, attachment points, way of assembly etc. etc., I hope the pictures show what I mean.
The gun barrel is molded in one piece which means some careful sanding is required to get rid of the mold line, also drilling out the holes in the flash suppressor makes a lot of difference. The build is straightforward, and not many problems will be encountered.
There are a few ejector marks present on places where they will be in sight when the gun is in travel mode, others will be visible when the gun is elevated and some planning needs to be done to see what is visible or not depending on how you choose to build the kit. Mostly they are engineered in such places that they are obscured by other parts or at the underside of parts. The tray on which the magazines stay when in the field has 4 of them on the underside, these are visible when in travel mode. The inside of the back plate of the gun mount also has a few that are in plain sight in either mode. The two sides of the gun mount also have ejector marks.
Other than that this build should be a breeze. The PE parts are nice and thin, and with some careful bending and a drop of CA glue here and there these should not bring up any problems. And they are definitely an improvement on the kit’s plastic versions.
The hydraulic cylinders that are for the elevation of the gun need a bit of care when assembling the kit. They exist of two halves and you will need to do some very careful sanding to get rid of the seam between the parts. Don’t use too much glue here either, otherwise you risk to glue the pin inside the cylinders and your gun will not be moveable.
Also the Richtgerat does not elevate with the gun. You have to decide in which position you want the gun and you have to place the visor in the same direction as the gun.
This Flak 37 from Trumpeter is a welcome addition to the market, where until now the only real option was to get the old Tamiya kit from the late 80’s, (which is a decent kit of the well known Tamiya quality but needed some AM additions to bring it up to standard). Trumpeter made a good decision to not only include plastic shields, but also offering them in PE.
The details are perfect, nice and crisp, well molded. The engineering is clever (almost carbon copy from the Tamiya kit). Basically the only letdown of the kit is the fact that the flash suppressor is a bit on the small side and the holes are not open in both the cone and the collar. But then again… there is a choice in a lot of AM manufacturers that offer a replacement barrel for the Flak 37. And you have to do some work with the ejector marks in some very visible areas.
If you want an accurate representation of this anti aircraft gun I would recommend this kit to you without doubt. In this review you will see some side by side pictures of the Trumpeter kit and the old Tamiya Flak 37. My build still needs to be cleaned up here and there as I have not yet removed all the mold lines and ejector marks, to give you an idea of what will need to be done in this kit.