Zundapp KS750 ‘KriegsElefant ’
By Julian Moffat
If you look at eBay and other online auction sites you will find a little piece of modelling history. The Esci range of 1:9 scale of model kits. These included the BMW R75, Kubelwagon, BMW sidecar combo, Zundapp KS750, Zundapp KS 750 sidecar combo, Harley Davidson, Triumph despatch bike and the Kettengraftrad. All these magnificent kits were topped off with a 1:9 scale Panzergrenadier Großdeutschland figure. When they were released these kits staggered the modelling fraternity.
My first build in over twenty years is the Zundapp KS750 ‘Kriegselefant’, a kit dating from the seventies!
When the box arrived via the post from the States, it was with a great deal of anticipation that I removed the lid on a kit that I last built in 1975.
This kit has two versions and consists of the bike either sporting the winter hand and foot warmers or not. From that point on one can go as far as one imagination will go. Since it was in service from 1941 onwards one has a great choice of theatres of operations, from France, North Africa, southern Italy to Russia.
Perhaps the greatest possibilities for the imagination come from the size of the beast, being nearly 200mm wide, 250mm long and 140mm high. This size makes it possible to add an immense amount of detail, as well as the usual wear and tear and weathering.
The downside is that at this scale, one cannot get away with anything.
The Kit …
Perhaps because of the age of the kit, 30 plus years, many parts were no longer attached to the sprues. The base colour is a dark grey, with ‘hoses’ presented in gloss black PVC. Rubber tyres complete the parts list.
There are 240 parts on 8 sprues and a small bag with the springs and coiled hoses.
The first thing that becomes apparent and it shows up on the third stage, is how poorly things fit together. Numerous dry runs showed up gaps and warped parts. To be fair this might not be due to poor manufacture but perhaps the age of the kit, the way it was stored and other environmental factors. Whatever the reason, the result was that, even if one chose a basic assembly straight the box, it would not be a simple build as large amounts of filling would be required.
The first step is to start the construction of the sidecar. There are basically seven large components that make up the sidecar with some smaller components to finish off. Here the first hurdle popped into view. The car is in halves that when joined have a blaring seem running the length of the car! This was going to be a challenge.
I decided to replace the duck-board and foot warmer. The one supplied in the kit just doesn’t look right. It was replaced by one made up of wood. One can use either balsa or as in this case some 100mm matches which exactly the right size. See pics 1 to 12
I first built this kit after reading a build article in Military Modelling in 1974, by Bill Hearne. In it he describes how to assemble a carrier for the MG34. And my thanks must go to Bill as I found it extremely difficult to get proper photographs and measurements for this item. I sourced a copy on eBay and got to work. Even though it was completely impractical I decided to make a working catch, as I don’t see why the 1:6 scale boys should get all the fun! See pics 13 – 16
Next, my attention fell on the boot. The in the kit there is no wall between the seat and the boot. The boot lid is a very basic piece of moulding which is hollow on the underside. If open, this is not a pretty sight. First I added the back wall and a liner to the boot-lid. A retaining chain, similar to the real thing, was added to stop the lid from opening too far.
When one looks inside the boot compartment it is plain to see that the latching mechanism for the lid is absent so I set about making up a working copy of the mechanism based on one shown in a photograph. This consisted of making up two blocks from plastic card, drilling them measuring and cutting to length a copper rod to carry the locking hooks, cutting the hooks from plastic card and attaching the handle that was supplied with the kit. See pics.17 – 26
In some of the many photographs taken of the Zundapp KS750 ‘KriegsElefant’ some field adaptations seem to have been placed and so I decided to add a ‘jerry can’ carrier. This seems to have been made of right-angled steel so it was easy to duplicate with plastic card strips. See pics 27 to 29
I wanted to replace the nasty PVC pipes that represent the pipes that carry the heated air to the hand warmers and the sidecar, with proper spiral conduit pipes. To make these I borrowed another method from Bill Hearne. Using 2.5µ / 10thou plastic card cut into 350mm strips 1.6mm wide. This was wrapped around the copper wire of 1/32 gauge and steamed into place. When the copper is removed the black insulation from another wire and that is slid into the conduit. This is then attached to the header pipes.
There are two rings that fasten the conduits to the frame. Because the kit supplied PVC pipes are much thinner than the real thing these rings are correspondingly too small to carry the new pipes so they must be enlarged with a needle file but be warned they are VERY fragile and as you can see easily split (See pic.45). The second one went very smoothly and I was able to repair my mistake on the first ring.
The seats in the kit are made from black PVC and while they might be the right colour and are textured to represent leather, unfortunately, they look like black PVC trying to look like leather! All though I have in the past replaced these for something akin to proper leather, this was done from a very thin piece of the soft tanned hide which worked very well. However on this particular occasion, I do not have any hide of any kind, so I had to resort to painting.
Using an acrylic burnt umber, I painted over the seats effectively turning them from black to dark brown. When dry I then painted over them again in black, allowing the umber to come through in places to represent worn leather. I also added some areas where the leather, like a pair of shoes, has to warn through to produce a hole. This would be in line with where webbing and equipment would have rubbed against the seat, and were the legs of the passenger would have eventually split the front of the seat.
The seats on the bike also received the same paint treatment, though they were harder wearing so do not show the same level of damage as the seat in the sidecar. The hand warmers were given the same burnt umber undercoat, with a black top coat.
I wanted to add the canvas flap that covers the side of the sidecar and, thanks to some advice shared by Brian Balkwill on the Military Modelling website in his advice on how to make tarpaulins; I was able to produce one. Again this had to be copied from a website dedicated to Zundapp and so some guesswork had to be employed as to the dimensions.
The various elements of a diorama were taking shape in my mind and one of those was that the diorama should depict a rest scene. With that in mind, I decided that the MG 34 should be wrapped up to keep the mechanism clean. So employing the tarpaulin technique I managed to make a cover.
Removing the kit provided ‘black-out’ light cover I replaced it with a canvas copy that was common in the later part of the war.
I shall combine this Zundapp with the 1:9 scale Panzergrenadier in a diorama in the near future.
In Conclusion …
This kit is a great trip back in modelling time, but the quality and finish of the parts might be considered poor by comparison with to-days kits. Even so one can end up with a stunning showpiece. It’s well worth the effort of tracking one down.