A major issue when putting an army of any size into the field is adequately feeding them, even if they are on the move. The answer of course is the field kitchen, and in the German Army of the 1930s and 40s this was the Hf.11 or Hf.13. The differences between these two are virtually undetectable in a model such as this, so we shall just say this model is of the Large Field Kitchen, as used throughout the war. The central pot had a capacity of 200 litres, while on the left was a 90 litre coffee-maker and on the right an oven. One of these was reckoned to cater for up to 200 men.
This Preiser model of the kitchen and it's limber is wonderful, with a wealth of very nicely done details and a fairly complex series of parts, which make this a little tricky given it is only in 1/87 scale. Nonetheless the result is superb, just as we might expect from this very consistent company. All the parts are hard plastic and wonderfully sharp and square, so everything fits together perfectly. The wheels actually revolve freely, and while the lid to the central pot does not move, you can fix it at any angle you like. The kit also has a number of options. In our photograph we have used the gear for being pulled by motor transport, but we could also have used the horse-drawn alternative, which is illustrated on the box cover. Also we show it as it would look set up and in operation, but by removing the supporting legs, closing the hatch, dropping the rear standing platform and lifting the limber tailboard you would have a vehicle ready to take to the road.
Unlike many companies that make vehicles but no figures to bring them to life, Preiser as usual supply a number of purpose-made figures. All are wearing the normal tunic and trousers with long boots. They all come in several parts, including a wide choice of headgear, so our choices above are only one possibility, and for example all could have been given steel helmets. Preiser show some of the painted figures on their box artwork in the off-white fatigue uniform, which is not strictly correct as all these tunics have breast pockets, which the fatigue tunic did not. No one is wearing any belts or kit, which is reasonable if they are well behind the line and taking a break. The usual Preiser accessories sprue includes much that makes no sense here, such as pistol holsters and back packs, but better too much than too little. Also, there are no weapons, so this is very definitely a peaceful scene.
The stand-out figure is the cook with his apron and holding his ladle. As shown he could be standing on the rear platform dishing out some welcome sustenance to the rest of the figures, who are all 'customers' rather than crew. They are all clutching their M1931 cook pots and one at least is already eating from it. By using separate arms the poses are made very realistic, so we thought all of them were great. On the right of our top row is a Speisentragen, four of which container sit behind the drivers on the limber.
The set of course lacks any motive power - so no horses or tractor here, and also has no figures that could be used as crew when it is on the move. However such figures and teams are made in abundance by this company in other sets, so to ask for them here seems unfair.
This is yet another great set for an element of the German Army rarely given any attention yet just as essential an element in conducting a war as any weapon. The lovely vehicles and highly appropriate figures make this a strong recommendation.