With the release of the Berlin supplement for Flames of War, there are a few of the more unusual self-propelled anti-tank vehicles available to take in your Berlin Kampfgruppe. Battlefront included the 8.8cm PaK43 auf Waffenträger as an option in the Tank-hunter Platoon on page 25. However, the Germans ended up producing several different Waffenträger on the venerable Panzer 38(t) chassis, and at this point Battlefront only produces one variant. Their version appears to be the Ardelt prototype, and is available in a full unit of three as the Waffenträger Tank-hunter Platoon (GBX88). These are neat vehicles, but I’ve always liked the look of the Krupp-Steyr version a bit better, known as the leichte Einheitswaffenträger fur 8.8cm PaK 43/3.
The Ardelt prototype simply mounted the PaK43 in a pretty much unaltered form on the back of the vehicle (shown below). This effectively created a fully mobile PaK 43 anti-tank gun, though aiming the gun through a larger arc could be problematic as the vehicle itself was somewhat narrow. This results in the vehicle having the “Awkward layout” special rule in the game.
The Krupp version looks a bit more elegant with the large PaK 34 being housed in a small turret on the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle itself is a bit lower to the ground, and the turret in the rear is very tiny, so in game terms it would retain the "Awkward layout" rule.
While Battlefront doesn't make a miniature of this version of the Waffenträger, Heer 46 does, though he tends to sell out of his more popular miniatures frequently - it may take several visits or an email to get one in stock. Heer 46 specializes in hypothetical and prototype armor from late World War II with a focus on German subjects. Many of his products begin with 3D-printed masters, which on many subjects leads to a certain level of simplification. However, the detailing on the Krupp Waffenträger is quite good overall. It helps that the vehicle itself is slab sided with only a few details.
Overall the casting on the hull is quite good, especially for a cottage industry product, but it isn't without its problems. The mounting hole for the turret is too shallow and had to be drilled out. With the weight of the white metal main armament added, a rare earth magnet is NOT optional, and since the size of the hole is smaller than the standard Battlefront version, I'm going to need to pick up some smaller magnets.
The only glaring problem with the miniature is in the deck and rear hull casting. It is clear that the sprue attaches through the back hull, and the clean-up job (remember - likely done by hand!) isn't perfect. The deck itself has shrunk away from the mold creating a concave rather than flat profile for the upper hull. Given the rest of the detailing is so good, I'm not going to bother with correcting it. There are also some resin bubbles typically found around the rear axle, but an engraving tool makes short work of those.
The kit includes canvas covers for the turret, but I'm going to model all three of mine with the turret open. The turret sides are thick molded (the sides drop vertically from the top rather than following the angle of the plate), but throw in a couple of crewmen and you'll never notice!
What really sold me on this model was the running gear, which is absolutely beautiful! The front fenders are VERY thin and the detail on the roadwheels and sprockets is amazing for this scale. They'll paint up very nicely.
The gun is white metal, and two out of the three I received were nearly flawless. The third had only a bit of mold slippage. Bear in mind you may have to do a fair amount of straightening as Heer 46 uses minimal packaging and mine took a little bit of a beating coming over from Europe! I'm going to add a couple of figures from the Vehicle Artillery Crew (GSO114) and a few left over from other vehicles as the miniatures themselves came with no crew. Given the stats should be exactly the same, I plan on using these little beasts as the Waffenträger in one of my Flames of War armies using the Berlin book or the digital lists.
If you're ambitious, there are several more variants of the Waffenträger out there. In an earlier blog, I mentioned the Ammo of Mig 1945 weathering magazine covering "1945." The issue also includes an exceptionally well executed Waffenträger by Sergiucz Pęczek that is based on what appears to be fairly standard Panzer 38(t) running gear. His version is a Rheinmetall/Ardelt prototype combination which was produced in April, 1944.