SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

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egonzinc
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SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by egonzinc » 13 Sep 2014 06:06

SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944
---First Images---

With the top down:

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With the top up:

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Many years ago, I made a group of SS reconnaissance figures, one of which was representing Stubaf. Gustav Knittel in the Eifel area, after Normandy and before the Ardennes offensive.
At that moment someone posted in one of the forums more details about Knittel (bald and very tall). Later I also realized he had not been with that particular unit (1st SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion) ubtil December the 13th, just a few days prior the beginning of the Ardennes offensive on December 16th.
Knittel led his battalion during the German attempts to counter the allied invasion in Normandy. After the retreat from France, Knittel left for a short holiday in Neu-Ulm. He was awarded the Close Combat Clasp in gold on 13 October 1944 and he tried hard to obtain a position behind the front which he found as commander of the Field Replacement Battalion LSSAH in Lübbecke. 1st SS Panzer Division LSSAH commander, Wilhelm Mohnke ordered Knittel to return to the Leibstandarte. On 13 December 1944 he arrived at the divisional headquarters near Euskirchen where he asked Mohnke to grant Emil Wawrzinek the command of the 1st SS reconnaissance Battalion LSSAH. Wawrzinek had led the battalion since its return from France and had rebuilt it during the past months. But the next day Mohnke insisted that Knittel had to lead the reinforced battalion that would become Schnelle Gruppe (fast group) Knittel.
Anyway, at that time, someone mentioned that Knittel had used a Dodge Command Car at least early in the Ardennes offensive! I decided to get a 21C Dodge Command Car to do my version of Knittel’s Dodge in the future…and the future was earlier this summer!
I had only seen a couple of images, from the After the Battle “Battle of the Bulge Then and Now” page 152, but even though the Dodge Command Car is identifiable, you only see very little of the vehicle. I asked around for more images around the forums and none came up, so I decided to do the vehicle with “absolute modeller’s license”!
I used the Patton version of the 21C WC57 Dodge Command Car. I removed all the Patton bits, horn, flags, MG mount. I was surprised that the canvas top was a solid plastic piece. Thought for sure it would have a canvas top even if it was only in the ‘top down’ position.
I decided to scratch build a ‘top down’ canvas top and also decided to try to improve the plastic stock piece for a ‘top up’ look. Made the ‘top down’ top with styrene tubing and cloth from the parts box. I then covered the plastic top with the same cloth using super glue to glue it to the plastic. It was VERY messy, but at least it looked a lot better. I also removed the attachment studs molded to the piece and replaced them with metal rivets.
Removed the markings and gave the vehicle an overall Olive Green(all colors Tamiya Acrylic) base coat. Decided to add German Yellow and Red Brown to get a three color camo. Added the white crosses as the only other markings using stencils. Wanted to make it a command car, so I added three radios to the rear of the command car. Added a few German items: gas cans,rear and front Notek lights, fire extinguisher, tow cable and twin antennae mounts.
Painted and weathered as usual.
I really like how this vehicle turned out. I have no idea of what happened to the real Dodge Command Car used by Knittel and since I have no options to model fall and winter in my yard, I have thought of a couple of potential, and VERY unlikely storylines! Mayne, just maybe, Knittel “acquired” the Dodge Command Car in Normandy. He might have used it and converted it to be used as command car then. Then after that vehicle was lost back in Normandy, his good friend Emil Wawrzinek picked up another Dodge after August 1944 and wether he knew Knittel was going to be the commander or not, he had gotten to like the Dodge back in Normandy, so he had decided to use one as a command car in the unit he was reorganizing. I’m sure Knittel was very surprised to see a Dodge Command car on December 14! So this vehicle might show up in some Normandy. As they say, that is my story and I’m sticking to it! 
As with all my vehicle projects, the recently departed Mike Stannard is always part of the project. In this particular case, only the tow cable, but in other projects his parts were the key to the projects. We 1/6 vehicle bashers are going to miss Mike a lot. Rest in Peace Mike.

Finally some close ups:

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Harro
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by Harro » 14 Sep 2014 10:46

That "somebody" was me ;)

You did a great job, the only small error that caught my eye is that during the build up to the offensive the "SS" prefix on all Leibstandarte vehicles was painted over with white paint for security reasons.

Are you planning to add the heavy foliage seen in the few pictures of the real vehicle?

I've never managed to find out when and where Knittel got his Dodge and what happened to it during that week in the Stavelot area. The last evidence of Knittel using the vehicle is when his driver August Hollenbacher drove him from La Gleize to the Antoine Farm on December 19, 1944. An estimated guess would be that, like most other vehicles of the Schnelle Gruppe Knittel, Hollenbacher drove the Dodge over the Petit-Spay bridge to Wanne to be out of reach of the extremely heavy American artillery shelling that started in the afternoon. Note that when Knittel left the Antoine Farm on December 21 to inspect his western defense line, he and his adjutant walked to the Petit-Spay bridge, which is either evidence that the car was nolonger there or that he did not want to be too visible for the American artillery spotters.

The late Jupp Steinbüchel described the vehicle Knittel used at the invasion front as "a large civilian car with a huge tail fin", which suggests he used a Tatra or similar. However, this could easily have been lost during the Normandy campaign and his battalion took part in "Unternehmen Lüttich" (the Mortain counter offensive) and fought against the 30th US Infantry Division in the Le Mesnil-Tôve area. The Dodge might have been captured there. In that case Knittel used it to get out of the Falaise Pocket and for his trip from France to Neu-Ulm (he was send on leave on August 24 when the battalion reached the Laon-Marle area near the Belgian border, with Böttcher leading the unit back to Germany before Wawrzinek took over)

egonzinc
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by egonzinc » 15 Sep 2014 00:41

Hello Harro!
Thanks for your comments then and for the wonderful information now!
Didn't know about the "whiting out" of the SS, but as I mentioned in the post, there is little hope for me in representing the Battle of the Bulge in Puerto Rico! So eventhough I will do a set up with "bundled up" troops, all the green in the background will hardly make it believable for December of 1944. So in the long run, this vehicle might also make an appearance, as mentioned in the post, as a vehicle in the Normandy front.
That is why I just love what you mention of the possibility of Knittel getting his Dodge in the Mortain counter offensive! Eventhough that would leave a very small window of operation for the captured Dodge CC and the collapse of the Normandy front.

As for doing the foliage camo on the vehicle, might do it when I set it up with figures. But if there is something hard to do in this scale is realistic looking foliage. On my relativel recent Whirbelwind I placed real foliage and it looked ok, so might try it again with this vehicle.

Thanks again!

egonzinc
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Location: Puerto Rico

Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by egonzinc » 18 Sep 2014 03:24

One more thing Harro...

In another forum someone pointed out that Knittel's decorations, sword, many other items and many incredible photos are on auction.
Astronomical price for the lot, but getting to look at the items alone is fantastic!
It is lot #350 in the upcoming auction here:

http://www.andreas-thies.de/kataloge/57_auktion.html

Once you register and go to Saalauktion area.Auction 57
Hit the download of pages 289-320. Link says "Seite 289-320"
Knittels items are in pages 300-309.
'
You would have to resiter in the site, but it is easy and the items in the lot are worth the effort.

There are several photos of Knittel in the Eastern front, with yet again another unusual uniform. Camo trousers and a custom tunic made from palm camo material. Amazing photos! I already saved them for my own use, but I imagine it is not ok to post the images here.

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Harro
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by Harro » 18 Sep 2014 16:57

All bigger Kursk photos are from the NARA and can be found in Spezzanos Kursk books. The smaller pics are very rare and most likely from his personal albums, but I'll look into this. € 75,000 is quite a sum.

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seaburn
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by seaburn » 18 Sep 2014 22:25

Firstly - well done on the model 'egonzinc' - when I first saw it a I thought it was real as I didn't look to see in which thread you had posted it in and the background looks amazing ! Secondly - thanks for sharing the link to the auction - interesting photo's indeed...I notice that the lot includes the famous one of Kurt Meyer after he was presented with his Oakleaves, but in this one you can see that there is a burnt out Russian House behind him which has normally been cropped out. Interesting indeed !

egonzinc
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by egonzinc » 19 Sep 2014 06:09

Thanks again to Harro who fueled this project from almost the beginning!
I have those Kursk books. Just realized that one of the Knittel images are in one of the covers!

How about that for a coincidence? I post this captured WC57 and in less than two months Knittel's memorabilia and decorations are up for auction!

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Marcus
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by Marcus » 22 Nov 2014 14:08

Great stuff!

/Marcus

drunkpunk19thGRU
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Re: SS-Stubaf. Gustav Knittel’s Dodge WC57 Command Car, 1944

Post by drunkpunk19thGRU » 02 Jul 2017 08:59

Sorry for bumping this old thread guys. I recently got my self a 21c patton command car and while searching for some photos I found this thread.

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