Neubau-Fahrzeug Nr.1 – Dragon
Dragon has already produced a fine 1/72 scale kit of the Neubau-Fahrzeug tanks that served in Norway in 1940, and now another model is being offered in the same scale in the Armor Pro collection.
This kit features the very first prototype that was built in 1934. Although it bears strong similarities with the Nr.3-5 kit, this Neubau-Fahrzeug uses mostly brand new parts. In keeping with the prototype’s construction, it has a brand new main turret and two machine gun turrets.
The main Rh-B turret with curved profile is distinguished by having the two main armaments mounted one above the other. These turrets, as well as the detailed upper hull, are all made from slide molds. There are also new hatches and fenders, as well as the frame antenna fitted around the main turret. With the convenience of modelers in mind, the intricate road wheels are assembled as one piece, while the tracks are made of DS. As well as the vehicles that saw combat in Norway, modelers can now depict the original version of this monstrous tank!
German’s initial attempt at creating a heavy tank began in the early 1930s. Known as the Neubau-Fahrzeug (“New Construction Vehicle”), it was not a success, however. Slow-moving, boasting multiple turrets and requiring six crewmen, it wasn’t well suited to the type of rapid, mobile warfare that blitzkrieg tactics required. For this reason, only five Neubau-Fahrzeug heavy tanks were built by Rheinmetall-Borsig (Rh-B). The first two 23.41-ton prototypes (numbers 1-2) were manufactured in 1934 out of mild steel so they were not suitable for combat. Instead they were used by the tank training school at Putlos until 1940. The design featured a 3.7cm KwK L/45 cannon, a 7.5cm KwK L/24 main gun and two 7.92mm machine guns.
The Neubaufahrzeug was ordered from Rheinmetall-Borsig in 1933, and was to be a development of their earlier Grosstraktor to provide the German Army with a 20 ton multi-turreted main tank. Tests on two mild steel prototypes in 1934 led to the construction of three armoured vehicles in 1935. These were fitted with a Krupp-designed turret and gun mount which simplified construction and set the 7.5cm KwK and 3.7cm KwK side by side.
Vehicles 1 and 2 had mild steel armour and the rounded Rh-B turret and vertical gun mount. Before being used in action in 1940, vehicles 3, 4 and 5 were refitted with an extra turret similar to that of the Pz Kpfw I, but armed with only one MG34.
The prototypes were used by the tank training school at Putlos until 1940. The three armoured vehicles were attached to the Pz Abt z b V 40 (z b V == for special employment). In April 1940, they were shipped direct to Oslo in Norway and were used in action during that month. One vehicle was destroyed and the two surviving Nbfz were returned to Germany at the end of 1940.