Griffon Model
1/35 WWII German Ammo Boxes
for Pak43/41 & Pak43/1/2/3 & Kwk43
Stock Number: L35A023
Reviewed By  Rob Folden, IPMS# 45545

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MSRP: $19.95
Manufacturer's website: www.griffonmodel.com
Distributor's website: www.dragonmodelsusa.com

Okay, so at first I was a little skeptical of photo-etched ammo boxes. We all know photo-etch to be thin and, well, metal looking. But when I got my hands on the Pak 43/41 ammo boxes from Griffon Model, I was proven wrong. For starters, the brass for the crates is thick and definitely not flimsy. I gauged it to be just about 1mm thick, which lends itself well to etched-relief detail including screw holes and recessed areas for the locks. The set includes two of these thick frets, with a thinner standard fret for detail pieces including the locks and hinges. Also included are decals and a length of thin brass wire. To finish this set, itís recommended you have a metal file, several pairs of tweezers, snips to remove the PE from the fret, and super glue. As for the glue, I recommend IC-Gel from Insta-Cure. Iíve found it works best for PE assembly (as good or better than soldering). I also recommend replacing the thin brass wire provided for the hinges with brass rod. I used .016mm.

The instructions are printed on a single sheet and are separated into instructions for the single-round box and the double-round box. I chose the single-round box to start with. I began by lightly sanding both sides of all three frets with 800-grit automotive sandpaper. This gives the glue/solder a better surface to bond to. Construction starts with the sides and bottom of the box. Having used both CA glue and solder in the past, I opted for soldering the joints. I soon found that the tight confines of the box didnít work very well with soldering. Additionally, since other pieces must be placed inside the boxes, the solder joints are too large. After assembling the box, I switched to CA glue. I chose Insta-cureís IC-GEL for its thickness. After completing the box, I added the bracing to the lid and inside of the box as per the instructions.

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The set gives the option of having fixed or workable hinges. I decided to give the workable ones a try. This is where the brass rod came into play. The wire provided in the kit is too soft and bendable to hold the hinge. The hinge requires a lot of patience and a good magnifying glass. But I was able to make the hinges work [I later glued them for stability]. After finishing the single round crate, I found that my brass ammo didnít fit due to the excess solder in the corners (another reason for the switch to CA glue). I chose a leftover resin round which did fit. Total assembly time was about 2.5 hours without paint.

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The second box, a double-ammo version, went together much easier than the first box. Whether it was the change to glue, or the fact I had already built one. Construction started with the box again, however this one has a wood slat bottom. One nice touch for this set is that there are guides etched into the brass to help with alignment. After building the sides and bottom, I added the "trim" strips. The round cradles were then added to the box, as were the locks. The lid was built by laying out the slats and gluing the cross straps to it, then adding the cradle tops and then the hinges. Again, I opted for workable hinges. I would recommend the use of the Griffon Modelís Workable Hinge and Grab Handle maker if you plan on making your hinges workable. It holds the brass rod still while you bend the hinge around it. Otherwise, you will need an extra set of hands. Having used CA instead of solder, I was able to place two turned brass rounds in this box. And the lid still shut! Total build time for the double round box was 2 hours.

The last step is to paint and decal the boxes. Painting is a little tricky as there is no wood grain detail to bring out with dry-brushing or oil washes. I started by priming the pieces with Mr. Surfacer 1000 cut about 50% with lacquer thinner. I then mixed Tamiya Flat Earth with Deck Tan (about 60/30) and sprayed it on. For the wood grain, I went with a technique I read about several years back. I laid out a pallet of Windsor and Newton burnt umber and yellow ochre. I then lightly dragged a feather through the paint and "brushed" it onto the ammo boxes. To soften it, I went over the boxes with a clean soft-bristled brush. After achieving a look I was happy with, I applied a pin wash of Burnt Umber to the details such as screw holes. A bit of Testors steel was then applied to the latches, locks, and hinges. After applying the decals, I loaded the ammo and stood back to admire the ammo crates. I have to say I am very pleased with the finished product, although Iím still a little less pleased about the almost six hours of total work time involved. Overall I have to recommend the set to anyone wanting to add some detail and realism to their model or diorama. Although they take some work, the boxes are works of art. The brass is scaled to be the right thickness. And the set yields two of the double boxes and four of the smaller ones. I would like to thank Dragon Models USA and Griffon Models for providing the set for review.

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