by: Cpt. C. Sosebee, USA (Ret) [ ]
Originally published on:
The Büssing-NAG company built many types of trucks for the Wehrmacht before and during World War II. One version of the 3-5 ton class was the 500S (2x2) and its 4x4 sibling, the 500A. Produced from 1939-1942, the 500A was an all-wheel drive truck of 5 ton capacity and powered by a 6-cylinder diesel engine generating approximately 105 horsepower. With over 15,000 of the 500S, 500A, and the subsequent 4500S and 4500A versions, this was one of the most important truck types to see service during the war.
Following on the heels of their previous releases of the two Einheits-Diesel trucks, IBG Models has released their second series of trucks, the Büssing-NAG 500S and the 500A. The 500A is the subject of this review.
What you get
Inside the standard two-piece box you will find:
• 6 sprue trees in medium grey plastic with approx. 250 parts
• 1 sprue of clear parts
• 1 decal sheet
• 20 page instruction manual with construction divided into 26 steps
There are several parts marked as "not-for-use," and are apparently intended for the two-wheel drive version of the kit. The plastic is a bit on the “thick and "chunky” side and a little “harder” than other manufacturers. Sprue attachment points are also on the thick side, and this may cause problems while removing the smaller, delicate parts, but otherwise only requires usual cleanup of the attachment points and mold seam lines before assembly.
Assembly begins with the cargo bed and frame (steps1, 2 & 4). The bed frame requires that you remove some molded-on “ribs,” but appears easy enough. The wooden bed itself is provided as a flat piece with partial frame molded on the underside; to this the other frame parts are attached. There are two types of cargo bed as an option: a stake bed-type or a low silhouette type. Each side of the cargo bed is provided as flat pieces, and there appears to be no true fit notches or attachment points for these, so care should be taken to make sure everything is true and squared. There is no wood grain molded into the wooden parts, and personally I’m OK with this. I think that the wood grain would be too small to see at this scale anyway, and some manufacturers really overdo it.
Returning to step 2 is the assembly of the wheels. These are provided as a four-part assembly: two outer thirds, with an inner third and a central hub sandwiched between. I did dry-fit one of the wheels together, and the resulting tread pattern looks pretty close to that in the very limited references I have.
In step 5, the radiator is attached to the front grill, which is well-rendered with ventilation slots that go all the way through, though the molded-on Büssing-NAG emblem appears simplistic. Again, my limited references make it hard to tell exactly what it should look like, but it looks like it could be better. The radiator has nicely-detailed cooling vents and a rather thick fan shroud molded onto it.
Assembly of the driver’s cab and hood (bonnet) is next (steps 6-10). This is the area of the kit that really fails to impress. The cab is assembled from six virtually flat parts: firewall/windscreen enclosure, floor plate, rear plate, roof and 2 door panels. Again, care will be needed to make sure that everything is squared as this might throw off the fit to the frame.
To the firewall is attached a basic instrument panel with blank-faced dials and knobs/switches. There are no indicators in the dial faces and are plain “circles” etched into the panel face. No decals are provided for the instrument dials or any other interior placards etc. A steering wheel and column is also attached, and appears adequate. But in my review copy, there is a small sink hole in the center of the steering wheel that will need filling. On the engine side of the firewall, several small parts are added. I have no idea of their purpose, but at least will add to the detail under the hood.
To the floor plate is added two separate foot pedals, a hand brake lever and a gear shift lever. I think one of the foot pedals is missing; shouldn’t there be three (brake, accelerator and clutch pedals)? The front seat is provided as a simple 3-part bench with the seat back molded into the rear cab plate. The seat cushion has no detail whatsoever, and will need considerable modification to look the least bit realistic. he floor plate does have an engraved tread plate pattern and appears OK to me, but I have no idea as to its accuracy; none of my references have any interior photos at all.
Attached to the firewall and floor plate is the rear plate (with the seat back cushion molded in), the door panels and roof plate. The door panels have all of the interior fittings molded in-place and are very simplistic, but the exterior door handle is provided as a separate part. The oddest thing is the doors are molded into the side panels and cannot be constructed in the open position. This just might be for the best ,as the interior will need an extensive makeover to look realistic.
At this point, the rear-view mirrors and clear “glass” parts are added. The mirrors are simplistic and “chunky” in appearance compared to photos of the real vehicle, and could use some thinning. The clear parts for the door glass and rear window are OK, but the windscreen is a single part. The real vehicle has a 2-pane split windscreen, and the kit part is a single piece with the separation molded into it. This will require careful painting, and is more reminiscent of kits 30-40 years ago.
To the completed cab is added the hood, side engine access panels and the radiator/grill assembly. There appears to be no positive attachment points, and these parts may well be left off until final assembly to make sure it all fits together properly. The engine access panels have cooling louvers etched into the parts, but unfortunately do not go all the way through. They also appear to be different than those in my reference photos. What’s more, there are no hinges or locking clasps for these. I cannot tell from my references how the engine is accessed, whether by tilting the side panels up, or by the removal of the side panels altogether. In any case, there is no option to model the panels raised to show off the engine compartment.
The engine and transmission assembly is next (steps 10-12). The engine block is provided as two halves to which is added a bottom plate and the oil pan, provided as three parts. Very little effort was made to conceal the seams, so these parts will require some filling and sanding. To the basic engine block, the water pump, fan belt, fan, starter and exhaust manifolds are added. These all appear adequate, but the fan belt is a bit chunky. The transmission is in six parts and will also need the seams filled and sanded. As usual there is plenty to add for extra detail, such as wiring.
The rear transfer case is assembled in step 14. The gearbox is in two halves with a driveshaft casing also in two halves. To this is added a three-part wheel hub/brake drum assembly to each side. Again, the seams will need to be filled and sanded.
Steps 15-18 brings us to the truck frame assembly. The frame is provided in two long U-shaped beams that require two slots to be filled in each. These slots are presumably required for the other version of this kit (500S), and are not used with this kit. The beams are joined by six cross-members and the front bumper. Care will be needed to make sure that this is all true and squared. Added to the frame assembly are 2 two-part fuel tanks with molded-on straps, a two-part tool box, driveshaft transfer housing and various other bits. More filling and sanding will be needed on the seams of the fuel tanks and tool box.
The front bumper has raised lettering: “BüSSING-NAG” on the left side and “ALLRAD-ANTRIEB” on the right side. These match an advertisement poster from January 1942 that is shown in the Schiffer reference listed below, but I cannot tell if this is accurate from the photos of the real vehicle.
The leaf springs, front and rear gearboxes and drive-shaft are added in step 19. The rear gearbox was previously assembled in step14, and the front gearbox (also in two halves) is assembled and added here. More seam filling and sanding.
The engine, with four separate mounts, and the main drive-shaft are added in step 20. The exhaust pipe and muffler consist of 14 parts, with the pipe alone requiring 7 parts joined end-to-end with the seams hidden by separate clamp parts that attach to the truck’s frame. The muffler is in two halves, so more filling and sanding.
Steps 22-24 is the final frame assembly: the front wheel hub/brake drum assemblies and a steering arm are attached, but no apparent attachment point is provided to the steering column. The wheels are also attached with the front set in the “neutral” position. The wheel fenders are added at this time, too. The front fenders also include the side running boards, which have a decent tread pattern, though here again I cannot attest to its accuracy. The width indicators and tow hooks are added to the front bumper, and are quite delicate. The front headlights are also added at this stage, but are just terrible, awful parts. They are solid with the lenses molded-on, and are not even the black-out type, so, if added as is, will need to be painted silver! Very 1960’s.
The final kit assembly is attaching the cab and truck bed to the frame in step 25, and then the final parts in step 26: license plates, taillight and eight delicate, u-shaped parts that represent the bed attachment bolts.
Painting and decals
There are two painting and decal options provided. First is of the stake-bed version from the motorized supply company of the 5th Infantry Division in East Prussia, April 1941. The other is the low-bed type of the transport column, 84th divisional supply unit, 4th Panzer Division, France, April 1940. Both are in the early war German grey color. The decals are printed by Techmod and are adequate. The all-white decals are almost impossible to see on the background paper (see pic), but the carrier film does look to be very thin. The other decals appear well-registered with sharp edges and good color.
The instructions are 20 pages in booklet form. The first seven pages show the parts layout in large scale. The next eleven pages are the assembly instructions divided into 26 steps. The format is the exploded-view derived from 3-D CAD drawings, with arrows pointing where the parts are to be attached. The instructions are adequate, but are vague on the exact locations for a few parts. The final two pages show five profiles for painting and decal placement.
Unfortunately, this kit is reminiscent of models made four decades ago. The quality of the plastic is good, with no flash or ejector pin marks evident, and only a couple of sink marks that will be easy enough to fix. Most parts are crisply-molded, but are on the rather thick and chunky side, something I like in a candy bar, not a model kit. Lack of positive attachment points for many parts will require the modeler to take care that everything is true and square for proper fit. There was really no attempt to hide the seams in many of the parts, such as the fuel tanks that have the straps molded into them. Detail will inevitably be lost while cleaning the seams of these and other items.
IBG Models has also released an update set (kit 3513) that includes photo-etched parts, upgraded plastic parts, acetate instrument gauges and a vacuform canvas bed cover. The upgrade set, priced at more than the kit itself (!), should have been included. An upgrade set will be a minimum requirement to make this a decent model, but from what I can tell from IBG's website photo, their upgrade set doesn’t fix the headlights or the split windscreen issues. Fortunately there is plenty for the after-market cottage industries to provide.
At around $45 plus another $54 for the IBG upgrade set, this comes to almost $100 total. The two together will yield a fairly decent model of this important German truck, but even then, there are still issues that will need correcting to make an outstanding replica. My money would be better spent elsewhere, on much better-engineered and more-accurate kits that can be had at half the price. I hope that I am not too tough in reviewing this kit. Maybe I have come to expect too much from manufacturers these days.
Trucks of the Wehrmacht, by Reinhard Frank, (Schiffer Military History, 1994)
Samochody Wermachtu, Volume III, by Robert Sawicki (Wydawnictwo Militaria #118, 2000)
Thanks to IBG Models for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.