Kit, DML 6294, Aufkläungspanzer 38(t) mit 2cm KwK38 “Smart Kit”
December 24 2006 at 1:20 PM
(Login zappa93) Missing-Lynx members from IP address 22.214.171.124
DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6294, Aufkläungspanzer 38(t) mit 2cm KwK38 “Smart Kit”. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 325 styrene parts (including four clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, two photo-etched brass frets, two stamped etched brass parts, two water-slide decal/marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 21 steps.
Around the middle part of 2006, DML announced the impending release of a Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.G, which still has not seen the light of day. However, it is obvious that it is coming soon, since many of the parts in this new kit will naturally be used for the normal gun tank. DML has also recently brought out kits (Sd.Kfz.234/1, Sd.Kfz.251/23) that mount the 2cm KwK38 in the so-called Hängelafette turret; this is also a completely new unit and not a re-issue of the turret that originally came in the older kit of the Sd.Kfz.250/9 Ausf.B.
What all of this means is that DML now has the parts to produce the relatively rare (sources state that only 70 were built) Sd.Kfz.140/1 Aufkläungspanzer 38(t), which combined the Hängelafette turret with a modified Pz.Kpfw.38(t) chassis.
These are the usual “Magic Tracks” and therefore come as individual links packed loosely in a bag. Each link has an extremely tiny pour pip between the guide horns as well as two very subtle ejector pin marks on the inner face. The fit is very good, but they will not stay together unless they are glued. The guide horns are properly hollow, and the links have a very delicate cast texture. Furthermore, they all have extremely faint casting numbers where appropriate.
The suspension system is broken down much like most renditions from other manufacturers; this means that the road-wheels can be depicted in an articulated fashion to conform to terrain on a modeler’s display base. Planning will be needed since getting the bogies properly positioned and then getting the tracks to look right will be a bit of a challenge. The road-wheels are completely and properly detailed on both their inner and outer faces, while the return rollers have separate mounts and include manufacturer’s name on the rubber tire rims. The idler wheel can be mounted in various positions due to a separate “cranked” axle; this will ease using individual link tracks and therefore it should not be fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the fit of the tracks. The drive sprockets are very nicely-detailed to include the ribs and bolt patterns seen between their inner and outer halves.
DML has taken slide-molding to another level with this part. The hull is the usual pan that includes the side walls molded in place together with the belly plate. There is proper rivet and panel details on the three outer sides, as well as suspension mount details on the side walls. What’s unique here is that there is also molded-on detail on the inner faces of the side walls, in the driver’s and fighting compartment. There is also molded-on detail on the inner surfaces around the area of the drive sprockets. All this makes for a more simplified assembly process with absolutely no compromise in the detail department.
Separate inner and outer bow plates are provided as is a separate rear plate with separate circular access panel. The bow plate receives tow hooks, mounting plates, spare track links and mounting bracket. The rear plate receives more hooks and mounts as well as track tension adjustment housings (in two styles), exhaust port blanking plate (the engine in this vehicle was not the original type seen in the Pz.Kpfw.38(t), but the type mounted in the Jagdpanzer 38) and other details.
From the bow, the glacis plate features a separate transmission access hatch lid, Notek lamp with etched brass mount and lamp face and a styrene driver’s rough sight. The superstructure front plate features detailed inner and outer faces, with separate view-port lids; both have clear styrene inserts for vision blocks.
The main superstructure module is based on a slide-molded core with several separate panels. All sides have nicely-rendered rivet details where appropriate, while the roof plate features countersunk screw head details. The parts fit quite well, but the modeler is advised to proceed with care so that no seams are left when done, since clean-up will be difficult with all of the rivets in place; I had no problems whatsoever in this regard. A multi-part Sternantenna and mount is fitted on the port side, a fire extinguisher is fitted to starboard, and a bracket and spare track links can be fitted on the front.
The engine deck panel is a separate part that features separate access hatch lids, separate grills and exhaust system. Note that an opening must be made to fit the exhaust pipe (recall that I mentioned that the engine is from the Jagdpanzer 38); this is depicted in the instructions. The access hatch lids feature separate end parts with rivet detail as well as etched brass frames and screens for their undersides. The grill gets nicely done etched brass parts for the screens and the blanking plate that slid into place for cold-weather starting or to provide heated air to the fighting compartment.
The fenders are separate and feature stamped rib details on the upper and lower faces. All brackets are separate and are made up of a combination of styrene and etched brass parts. Tools are all separate and also feature etched brass brackets and straps. The perforated grouser box is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly; on this is stored the multi-part vehicle jack which, again, has etched brass mounting brackets. A jack block and large fender-mounted stowage boxes finish the OVM.
As mentioned, the turret is the same as provided in the Sd.Kfz.234/1 kit, so I will “lift” the (slightly revised) comments from that review, as follows:
The “Hängelafette” (suspended mount) turret is the later six-sided type and is a multi-media affair based on all-new styrene parts. It is far more complete and detailed than any previously seen in styrene from any manufacturer. The 2cm KwK38 is represented by an all-styrene part that includes tiny perforations and larger slits on the muzzle flash suppressor, with variations in receiver group covers; there are optional etched brass or styrene parts to depict the small shield through which the 2cm cannon protrudes.
The interior of the turret has a complete mount that will elevate, styrene telescopic and etched brass “ring-and-bead” sights, balance springs, 2cm ammo magazine (of the proper ten-round capacity type), radio and transformer, hand-wheel (it had a dual function as a traverse and elevation device), two seats and co-axial machine-gun. For the latter there is a “Gen2” MG42 with complete cooling jacket detail and pre-opened muzzle. Externally there are two stowage lockers with separate lids (in styrene or etched brass) and a stamped/ etched brass anti-grenade screen, with styrene detail parts. This can be fixed in the opened or closed position and includes support rods that can be mounted in two different positions.
Strangely, although the turret has its own radio there is no antenna mount or rod designated for it in the instructions. It should be mounted on the provided “L”-shaped plate, just above the radio, which is integral with part H-11, the lower turret race. There are extra parts in the kit that will enable the modeler to add it if desired (part B-35); it fits in the conveniently placed hole on the afore-mentioned part H-11. This must be fitted regardless of weather or not the modeler adds the Fu.12 radio and/or uses the kit-provided Sternantenne (star antenna), base and armored guard. Only nine of the Aufkläungs-Abteilung’s 25 Aufkläungspanzer were fitted with the latter radio, with only one so-equipped vehicle in each three-vehicle troop.
Since this chassis will be the basis of many other kits, some that are open-topped (at the time of writing a Marder III Ausf.H has been announced), there is considerable interior detail provided. This includes a very nice transmission (including controls and drive shaft), driver’s and radio operator’s seats, instrument panel (in etched brass), floor panel and bulkhead/engine compartment firewall. An Fu12 radio set is given as are four multi-part 2cm ammo boxes. These are shown placed in the new superstructure module, but since there are no published references depicting the locations of such (to my knowledge, anyway!), I believe their positions are conjectural (but probably the best bet, although I don’t know how the RO could access his set with the turret in place). At any rate, the radio set should at least have a shock mount as commonly seen, but it does not. There is also a number of 10-round 2cm ammo magazines provided and these can be placed at the modeler’s whim.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Overall, I found no problems with the fit of any major or minor components. Of course since this kit is the basis for several others, there are many more separate parts than might be usual; the modeler is urged to clean them and check the fit as he proceeds. This is especially important when fitting together the superstructure module. No sink marks were found; in every case except for the above-mentioned individual link tracks, there were no visible ejector pin marks.
Within my reference library, there are no complete drawings of this vehicle. I have only one side view, the 31-year-old item from H. Doyle, seen in reference 2. Where it can be done, all components match. However, the drive sprocket is a bit too small. BUT, in the drawings in reference 6, from (only!) ten years ago, the sprockets match. The DML sprockets are also the same size as their counterparts in the recent Tristar kits, both of which match the drawings in reference 6. So, I will presume the DML parts are correct, since nobody has been squawking about the Tristar parts being too small.
These are in the typical, and busy, line drawing style. They worked fine for me.
Decals and Markings Information.
DML’s usual sub-contractor, Italy’s Cartograf, has provided water-slide decal markings for two Aufkläungspanzer. The decals are in excellent register, have sharp detail and fine color saturation. Colors are keyed to Gunze and Testors paints. The markings are quite generic in nature and only include variations in the Balkenkreuz national insignia.
One set is called out as belonging to an unidentified unit on the Western Front, the other set for a similarly unidentified unit on the Eastern Front. Personally, I don’t buy the deployment of any of these Aufkläungspanzer in the west, for two reasons. The first is that the well-known series of photos of the camouflaged vehicle was taken in June of 1945 in the US Third Army’s area of operations, which included Czechoslovakia and Austria (see references 3 and 4); this was hardly the “Western Front”. The second reason is that Jentz in reference number 2, states that of the 70 produced, 25 were shipped to “Großdeutschland” in April of 1944 (with a total of eight more as replacements later on), and 25 went to 3.Panzer-Division in September of 1944 (with seven replacements later on). This totals 65, no other units are mentioned, and both of the cited units fought on the Ostfront until, being squeezed from both east and west, they surrendered to US forces in south-central Europe.
Of course, that leaves five Aufkläungspanzer 38(t) un-accounted for…
With this kit, DML has “thrown its hat in the ring” in the competition for the “best” Pz.Kpfw.38(t). This kit will allow the modeler to produce a rare item (which SGFs seem to delight in) in a very detailed and relatively “high-tech” form, while waiting for the other shoe, er KIT, to drop. Stay tuned…
Frank V. “Curley the Stooge” De Sisto
References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to:
1. “Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition”, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
2. “Aufkläungspanzerwagen”, Panzer Tracts No.11-2, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. “Panzer in the Gunsights 2”, Concord 7057, by S. Zaloga.
4. “Tech Intell Vol.1”, Darlington Productions, by J. McKaughan.
5. “Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948”, Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
6. “Praga, LT vz.38 Pz.Kpfw.38(t)”, MBI Publications, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.
DML kits are available from retail and on-line shops; for details visit their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.