by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Mercedes-Benz SK ´94 transport container AB-MANV fire brigade Essen
Brochure: Herpa Cars & Trucks 2012 / 07-08
Series: Fire brigade
Introduction Fire and rescue vehicles, with their shrieking sirens and flashing lights, capture the attention and imagination of most people. Many, such as your humble reviewer, never lose their fascination with such vehicles!
In North Rhine-Westphalia, many identical transport containers are stocked at various fire brigades for a mass casualty incident. In Essen, one of these containers is transported with a Mercedes-Benz SK truck. This M-B 1994 SK container truck of the Essen Fire Department is a new release in Herpa’s Fire Brigade ( Feuerwehr ) series. It has a tilting cab to display an engine, detailed underside, and incredible markings. It joins 386 other Feuerwehr models of the series. Herpa also lists 27 vehicles and accessory sets for the Mercedes-Benz SK.
Mercedes-Benz SK The trucks of the Mercedes-Benz series Schwere Klasse (SK, for "heavy class") were produced from 1988 through 1998, when they were succeeded by the new Mercedes-Benz Actros truck.
The SK series is basically a mere evolution of the Neue Generation, which was built up to the year 1988. There were few changes to the cab: radiator grill and wind leading plates were combined optically, and the lower edges of the side windows were made with a progressive incline towards the front. This design feature had already been realized in 1977 with the T1 and in 1984 with the LN series.
In 1994 the SK series, which apart from the upgraded engines was still based on the NG series from 1973, was facelifted for the last time with a new front design.
The SK used a wide range of engines since its inception, the most popular being the OM 402 LA, a V8 twin turbo. 
M-B SK 1994 Transport Container
AB-MANV Fire Brigade Essen Herpa securely packs this almost fully assembled model in a form-fitted tray. The tray has slots for optional parts and slots for your fingers to easily grasp and remove the tray from the box. The tray is held inside Herpa’s red carton with a cellophane display window, and opens via tabs at each end. This package design is surprisingly durable; in the past some Herpa boxes arrived partially crushed in transit, and although a model box was mashed, the model was not damaged. A holographic Daimler license sticker is on one end.
The molding is almost flawless. However, I found a mark on the container where part was removed from the sprue. Perhaps a clever modeler could weather this to look like a rusty spot. The exterior of the cab features fine recessed lines for doors and hoods, panels and the grille. The grille is a separate part snapped into place, as is the trim holding the windshield wipers, and the bumper. Door handles are recessed and a separate piece: they are the tabs holding the interior inside the cab. The cab and container set upon a detailed two-axle chassis: the frame, a basic engine bottom and transmission, drive shafts, fuel tanks, air brake reservoirs, differentials, and suspension. Along the sides is a cradle holding a spare tire and other equipment. On the rear is a bumper bar and signal lamps.
The windshield and windows are free of distortion and you can see the good interior. Soft tires mounted on detailed hubs support the model. If you buy the extra Herpa steering set then you can make the front wheels steer. Six soft plastic or rubber tires have nice tread detail.
Mounted behind the cab is the container loading and locking apparatus. It features a pair of telescoping hydraulic piston lifts that extend as the container cradle rises or lowers. This cradle is an articulated “L” shaped arm. To load the container it bends back over itself to hook a bar on the container end with a clamp at the tip of the “L”. As the pistons retract, the arm straightens and pulls the container up to straddle and set upon the arm. Herpa secures the container to the arm with two tabs that slide into slots on the arm, and the “L” hook. Almost all detail on the container is molded on: four large corrugated roller door panels. The exceptions are two rollers under the rear, and the locking bar which the lading arm hooks to.
That mechanism is delicate. No instruction sheet is included with the model to explain how to operate it without damaging the parts. This is a foible of Herpa models – lack of “how-to” directions.
DetailsFour optional parts are included with the model: two side view mirrors, a spotlight, and a quadruple air horn. Where to mount the mirrors I figured out, but there is nothing to show where the spotlight or horns are to be mounted -- not even on the Herpa webpage photo.
Individual tinted lenses simulate the emergency lights on the cab and in the grille; amber tinted lenses simulate the front signals. Chromed parts simulate the headlamps. No paint simulates the tail lights or front and rear signals.
Herpa included a molded diesel engine to view. You must tip the cab forward to expose it. To do so one must remove the grille. No instruction sheet was included with the model to show you how to do so without damaging the cab and grille. Again, a lack of “how-to” directions; I have a couple of their models that included a sheet explaining how too safely raise the cab, but most have no such information.
The cab interior is a single molded piece featuring detailed seats, dashboard and console, and a separately applied steering wheel. It is visible through the cab windows. Ordinarily I would pop off the cab and photograph the interior for you. However, as I learned when reviewing the Volvo FH Pendel-X Semitrailer, the plastic hinge that allows the cab to tilt can be damaged. So, as best I can, I show you the interior from the exterior view.
The windshield is detailed with wiper blades and black chrome. Two side view mirrors attach to the sides of the cab. Herpa did not coat the side mirrors with a simulated reflecting surface. These are delicate parts on their own sprue. The plastic is slightly flexible. Carefully cut them from the parts tree; carefully fit them into the specific pre-formed holes and slots. This takes a delicate touch. The pins seem too big for the holes and I broke one mirror.
Herpa engineered the soft plastic tires to slip over the rims. They display good detail.
Livery and FinishThe vehicle and container components are molded in color. Plenty of markings identify “FEUERWEHR ESSEN”, with emblems, logos, and data markings. As is the container, plus the reflective warning marks along its edges. All are sharply printed, not decals. Herpa does not use decals. The paint is thin, glass-smooth, and mainly opaque. Only “FEUERWEHR ESSEN” on top of the container is slightly translucent. So far this model lives up to the high standard I have come to expect with Herpa models.
SummaryHerpa has created another excellent model of a Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty truck. Molding and assembly is top-notch. It features impressive detail, as is the movable container loading/unloading arm. I really appreciate the tinted lenses of the front signals and emergency lights. Printing of the markings is superb.
Herpa substituted their usual clear lenses for headlights with chromed parts and that disappoints me. As does the lack of simulated reflective surfaces on the mirrors, and lack of any paint or lenses for the brake lamps and signals. I am also disappointed that no instructions are included explaining how to tip the cab to reveal the engine, or how to move the container arm without risk of damage.
Altogether, this is still an impressive model that should thrill modern model railroaders, dioramasist, and collectors of fire department equipment. Happily recommended to anyone who has interest in such subjects.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here – on Railroad Modeling.
. Wikipedia. Mercedes-Benz SK
. [Web.] 13 June 2012.
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