Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, dominated grand Prix racing in the mid to late’30s. MB had previous racing experience but Auto Union was a new team, their success was built upon the abilities of Ferdinand Porsche Bernd Rosemeyer.

     Porsche mounted a V16 engine centrally in the chassis and extracted a staggering 520 bhp from it. Although the cars had a reputation for being difficult to drive it was the rear suspension swing axle and outdated tires, rather than the engine location, that was the problem. Rosemeyer, a former motorcycle racer, had the least trouble driving the car, probably because he didn’t have any preconceived ideas of how a car should handle so simply adjusted to it instead of fighting it. The loss of Porsche, to the Fuhrer’s Volkswagon project, and Rosemeyer’s death during a speed test, hit the team hard. Fortunately two highly capable people were found in Prof. Eberan von Eberhorst and the greatest driver of the time Tazio Nuvolari.

     The 1938  D Type shared the mid-engine layout of it’s predecessors but in all other ways was a new car. Firstly the fuel was now put in two side-tanks, allowing the driver to sit further back in the chassis. The tubular ladder frame had the torsion bars fitted inside the frame members. A new DeDion tube with single radius arms was installed in the rear suspension. Von Eberhorst's completely new V12 engine design sported 3 camshafts for the exhausts valves and a single camshaft mounted inside the V to operate the intake valves via push-rods. A roots-type supercharger helped produce 420bhp at 7000 rpm.

1938 Donington Park GP

     The debut of the D-type at the French Grand Prix was a sad affair, both cars retiring on the opening lap. Auto Union generally had a lean year with even the 'Flying Mantuan' struggling to get to grips with the D Type. When he did get on top of the car he took well deserved victories at Monza and at the Donington Grand Prix.

     Nuvolari hit a deer during practice and had to run the 250-mile race with a fractured rib. He led the field until running into trouble and needing to pit and change plugs. Fortunately this stop coincided with an oil spill on the fast downhill section between the holly wood and the hairpin (now called the Craner Curves). Hasse crashed and Seaman spun and stalled, This kept Nuvolari in with a chance, but Lang was leading the race, and held nearly a minute over Nuvolari. His response and chase of Lang amazed and thrilled the crowd. In 10 laps he had pulled back 30 sec’s and, on lap 66, caught and passed Lang. The great Nuvolari finished over 90 sec’s ahead of Lang;s Mercedes, with Seamen finishing third.

     Within 12 months Nuvolari was dead, killed in a crash at Spa, Britain and Germany were at war and Donington Park had been requisitioned as a military transport base...

                                                                   1/32nd scale kit. 

                                                                                                   top Built by Rod.

                                                                 bottom built by Ian.

      Rod built his version (the top photo and top right) of this model back in the 1970s soon after the release of the kit. It is built from the box and painted by brush with Humbrol enamels. It is very much a product of those modelling times.

     Ian built his (the lower three photo's) in the 1990s and with a more modern approach. The body on Ians was sprayed with Humbrol enamel metalic silver from the rattle can, the details were painted with Humbrol enamels and then washed and drybrushed with citadel acrylic paints. These techniques give more 3D, and life, to the model than block painting does, note how the row of rivets in the cockpit stand out because of this painting technique. Ian also detailed the engine using household items to provide spark plug leads and additional engine plumbing.