Author Topic: SturmGeschutz Rad  (Read 200 times)

Offline raafif

  • Is formally accused of doing nasty things to DC-3s...and officially our first whiffing zombie
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SturmGeschutz Rad
« on: May 19, 2022, 08:38:11 AM »
SturmGeschutz Rad “Nashorn” (Rhinoceros)

After W.W.2, Germany continued its development of armoured vehicles along the same lines as before.  This lead in the early 1970's to the low-profile JagdKanone (a “Hetzer” type vehicle) for anti-tank ambush & the wheeled SpähPanzer Luchs 2 (Lynx II) for reconnaissance.
((according to my German dictionary, SpähPanzer literally means "armoured peeking vehicle" after "spähen" – to peek at something.))

In late 1979, with the Cold War in Europe a stalemate, Russia's invasion of Afghanistan opened a new front for Soviet aggression.  The Soviet force was known as the “Limited Contingent of Forces - Afghanistan” (OKDvA), it consisted of Russia’s 40th Army equipped mainly with the BTR-60, BMP-2 & the T-62 battle-tank.
As Afghanistan was a long-time British fighting spot & Brixmis had had much success in East Germany (both in military spying and diplomacy with Soviet generals) NATO felt that a similar mission would be advantageous in this new arena.
                     The new mission was called BrixGhan.

As it turned out, the local Soviet general in charge of the Afghanistan invasion had been previously stationed in East Germany & had established fairly cordial negotiations with certain Brixmis officers due to a mutual professional respect.  The Soviets had found that they had much more in common with British officers than American, French or German.  So one of these Brixmis officers was appointed to head BrixGhan - their official mission being to liaise with Soviet Forces Afghanistan to offer advice on local customs so as not to unnecessarily offend “peaceful” tribes who ostensibly also had “much respect for the British”.

Their secondary mission being, like in the DDR, to learn about standard & new Soviet military technology & OrBat in use there – as it turned out almost nothing new was learned here.  Another purpose would be emasculating the Russians through third parties (the Mujahadine & other indigenous militias) by supplying them with arms, supposedly through the usual independent arms dealers.

Their first job was to try & sell Britain's new shoulder-fired missile system to the Mujahadine, "Blowpipe" as it was known, as they were not too happy with the Russian RPG-7s they had obtained via arms dealers.  But the Americans were also in the game of selling weapons.  It was unfortunate that the Mujahadine's interpreter had been educated in the U.S, and the constant American referral to the British weapon as "BlowHard" (with its bad connotation) had the desired effect in favour of their buying the US item, the LAW.

While Brixmis troops in East Germany were not armed, relying on the discipline of the local Soviet Army to control its troops, those in Afghanistan & the various indigenous militias were deemed too unreliable to be trusted so, in agreement with the Soviet High Command, vehicles were allowed to be armed purely for self-defence.  Crews were supposed to remain in their vehicles at all times.

Britain knew the terrain was rough, especially in the mountains, & impossible to negotiate by the regular vehicles they used.  Initially Saxon armoured cars and FV-432 "shoebox" tracked APCs were deployed but it was quickly recognised that the West German SpähPanzer 2 with its superior rock-crossing ability would be more suitable than the British vehicles – a few Ferret armoured cars were added for general running around.  BrixGhan crews were drilled in this new vehicle by their experienced counterparts who had been using it in Bundeswehr service since 1975.  While, in deference to the Russians, Bundeswehr soldiers weren’t allowed to serve in BrixGhan, two German chief mechanics anglicised their names by Deed Poll, joined the British Army, & thence were attached to the BrixGhan HQ (well away from Soviet areas) to supervise maintenance of the vehicles.  This, of course, didn’t fool the Soviets but there was nothing to be gained by arguing about it.

Like its W.W.2 forebear (the SdKfz-234/2 Puma), the SpähPanzer 2 ("Lynx") was only equipped with a 20mm main gun & while acceptable against trucks & light-armour like the BTR-50PK, it was not deemed good enough against the BTR-60/70 & tanks the Russians (and through supply & capture, the Afghani militias) were fielding.  To remedy this SpähPanzer troops were issued an 8.2cm squeeze-bore-gunned version named Nashorn (Rhino) to accompany them in the ratio of one "Rhino" to four "Lynx".  Most SpähPanzer had their water propellers removed as they were expensive units, vulnerable to damage & not needed on the mission.

The Rhino, also like its 7.5cm equipped forebear (the SdKfz-234/4), was open-topped - this would become a problem for its crews as it was known that Russia had deployed sub-molecular chemical weapons on at least one occasion necessitating supply of special NBC suits able to protect against such agents in their kit.

The model ….
Many years ago I bought the Revell kit of the SpähPanzer2 but was immediately disappointed as it didn't have the distinctive feature of inward canted lower sides with a narrow belt-line.  This is surprising as even the first prototype vehicle had these features & the much older RoCo HO-scale kit had these correctly shown.  The tyres are a glossy vinyl off-road type – smaller diameter, wider & with a chunky tread not seen on this vehicle in service, but sexier-looking than the proper ones.  All other features are well done, the side foot-steps having non-slip serrated edges, the drive-train & suspension being slightly simplified but complete.  On the opposite side to the entry-door is stowage for what looks like jerry-cans but turns out to be wheel-chocks.
I put this kit in the stash & waited for a better kit of this nice vehicle to appear - Takom have now done this but like all Takom kits, the suspension is complicated being totally accurate down to working steering on all eight wheels.

First for this whif-model I decided to “use up” the Revell kit & made an 8.2cm gun using an old PaK40 kit as a basis - the kit barrel was acceptably sized for an 8.2cm squeeze-bore so I just added a muzzle-brake from an M-48 to give a different appearance.  I then cut out the roof of the SpähPanzer to take it, added a mount inside & edged the cutout with plastruct angle – I also added the fixed side-shields & stowage box from a wrecked Italeri SdKfz 234/4 kit.  Then I joined the upper & lower hulls, puttied the join line & added the entry-door.  Next was the quite complete drive-train & suspension - fit is a bit iffy & needs care as the steering rods are fragile - pay close attention to the instructions & study them a lot first !!  I then added all the minor kit parts like lights, grab handles, etc.

I painted the vehicle’s underside in Nato green then the uppers & sides in Pale Stone.  For cam I gave it broad stripes of red-brown as per the current scheme seen on some Bundeswehr Fuchs – Humbrol #70 Hull Red seemed right for the faded look as Rotbraun was too dark.

Vinyl tyres on models are a right pain - why do kit manufacturers do this ?? Tamiya & Italeri mold them in plastic which is far better for static models.
As I prefer enamels, I usually paint tyres in Humbrol 67 Panzer-Grey as it looks more authentic for military vehicles but this kind of vinyl doesn't take paint well, leaks “oil” & often shrink & break or melt their plastic hubs -- matt acrylic paint dries matt but flakes off .  This kit's are no different – enamel paint dries shiny & sticky due to the oils from the vinyl carcass, I set them aside for a few months to dry out which, after several hot days they finally did.