Reviewed by Brett Green
This new combination includes the unaltered FAMO kit plus parts to build the 22 tonne trailer. The trailer could be seen as several kits in its own right, with the steerable rear cab being detachable from the central platform.
The FAMO and trailer combined are 640 mm long - the biggest 1/35 scale military kit ever offered by Tamiya. To place the size into context, it is a full 50 mm longer than even the huge Dragon Wagon and its trailer.
Let's start with a recap of the FAMO half-track review from 1999. (Click here to skip to the trailer description and images)
FAMO is an abbreviation for "Fahrzeug und Motorenbau GmbH", the manufacturer of this massive tractor.
The 18 ton Famo was used for towing artillery, troop transport and armoured vehicle recovery. Despite its substantial power, recovery of Tiger or Panther tanks required three Famos linked with tow cables to handle the massive bulk of the big Panzers.
The versatile vehicle was frequently used for transporting medium tanks in combination with the 22-ton Sd.Ah.116 trailer. A wrecker version with a six-ton crane, the Sd.Kfz.9/1, was also produced.
At first glance the outline and layout of this vehicle is very similar to its smaller cousins, including the Sd.Kfz.7. The overlapping roadwheels and padded tracks bear more than a passing likeness to the armoured Sd.Kfz.250 and 251 series too.
Despite this family resemblance, the Famo has roadwheels bigger than those of a Tiger or Panther; tracks wider than a Panzer III/IV link and tyres comparable to the size of the big wheels on the Dragon Wagon.
Tamiya's Famo is a multi-media kit. The FAMO half track comprises 11 tan coloured sprues, 3 brown sprues with 96 two-part track links, 3 soft rubber hollow tyres, 8 vinyl poly caps, I sheet of stamped acetate with three windscreen parts, 1 length of nylon string and 1 small decal sheet.
Moulding is as good as one would expect from Tamiya. All detail is crisp and no sink marks are present anywhere on the kit. A few very shallow (almost invisible) ejector pin circles appear on the inside surface of some panels and doors, but these will be ignored by all but the most fastidious modeller. Tamiya continue to get the most out of injection moulding technology. The pressed vents on the side engine covers particularly impressed me - the vents are moulded open. Surface texture on the seats is very restrained but convincing.
The model is feature-rich. Here are some of the goodies included:
A Maybach HL108 engine is included. It is nicely detailed but will benefit from a little extra wiring detail.
The chassis is supplied in one piece. Extra details such as torsion bar covers and transmission are provided as separate assemblies. Roadwheels are crisply detailed but are glued direct to the positionable suspension arms. The front suspension is solidly engineered and well detailed.
The soft rubber tyres look great - they even smell good! The seam is much less prominent on the tyres in this version. These soft rubber will fittingly convey the impression of 18 tons resting over the big wheels.
The winch is another simple but effective workable feature. The workability extends all the way back to the rotating coupler at the back of the truck. I will be securing my winch though, because I can't see any easy way to retract the towrope after it has been extended. The winch drum is securely trapped between the body and the top of the chassis.
Track links are moulded in a murky brown plastic similar to Model Kasten's after market tracks. The small number of links per side (46); and the large manageable size of each link will encourage modellers' who hate individual track links. Each link is secured to its neighbor with a separate track pad. With care, the whole track run should be workable.
The punched-acetate windscreen will ensure a scale appearance for this prominent feature. The driver's section may be positioned open, and the entire assembly works on its hinge.
The 8 supplied figures are pretty good. Displaying the figures on the vehicle will give a good impression of the sheer bulk of the Famo. The extra arms and heads will help create the perception of individuality, but a small investment in some after-market heads and arms will go a long way.
A workable tow bar may be used to attach the Famo to almost any German vehicle, although in this case it will probably be stowed in the rear of the half-track. Take care not to lose the small locking pins though. The instruction sheet includes a series of diagrams illustrating connection of the tow bar to different vehicles.
Small details are well done. Pedals and shift levers are all supplied as separate parts. Pioneer tools are nice. They will look familiar to anyone who has built a recent Tamiya German tank.
The Sd.Ah.116 trailer is very long due to its multiple components. The overall length of the half track and trailer required a separate steering mechanism for the rear of the trailer. This section detached from the platform for loading vehicles.
The trailer adds 7 new sprues plus large parts for the lower chassis and loading platform. A number of multi-media components are also added including two steel reinforcing bars, a stout chain, a number of screws and even a plain sheet of Evergreen plastic sheet. A nice touch is the inclusion of a tiny Philips head screwdriver (shades of IKEA!). All of the parts are up to Tamiya's best standards of moulding.
Click the thumbnails above to view the images full-sized
The engineering is somewhat different on the trailer compared to the half-track. The FAMO half-track is a fairly conventional plastic kit. The trailer requires certain critical structural features to be screwed into place. This also permits disassembly of major components is required - handy for multiple display options.
Another clever touch is the inclusion of metal steering linkages to permit the trailer wheels to turn in unison. This feature applies to the trailer's front bogies wheels that are automatically steered by the towbar; and the rear bogie under the control of the controller in the cab.
The steering cab is a nice little model in its own right. It is slightly surprising, however, that the cab door is moulded shut, and that the tilt is supplied only in the "up" position.
Four attractive new figures are added to the existing eight crew. The new figures may be draped in various poses on the trailer and/or the loaded vehicle.
Details including skids, wheel chocks, ramps and hardware for securing the loaded vehicle have not been forgotten either. The configuration of the platform can be easily changed by raising side ramps to accommodate longer or larger vehicles.
Instructions are broken into 57 illustrated steps. The 36-page booklet includes interesting background information and towing information but does not include the usual sprue arrangement diagram. Three marking options are supplied, including two from StuG. Brigades. Placard decals are also provided for the inside of the tool access doors.
This is an incredibly impressive kit. It will dwarf its loaded Panzer III, IV or StuG. III. The quality of moulding and detail is first rate. The potential for display is almost unlimited.
Having said that, at 11,000 Yen it is an expensive kit, costing even more than the Dragon Wagon. The addition of the trailer probably makes it most appropriate for the experienced modeller. Nevertheless, my opinion is that it still represents good value as a "jewel in the crown" for experienced armour modellers.
Tamiya have posted a nice information page about this kit on their website with additional information and images of the completed model and various loads.
Review Copyright © 2000 by Brett