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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6728, Ardelt-Rheinmetall 8.8cm PaK43 Waffenträger Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia construction kit. Contains 667 styrene parts (including 216 individual track links), one etched brass fret, two (identical) water-slide decal/markings schemes and four pages of instructions in 10 steps.
As German Panzer Abwehr Kanonen (PaK, or anti-tank guns) became heavier due to their enlarged caliber, complaints from users regarding their mobility began to mount. The earlier 3.7cm and 5cm guns were relatively compact and light-weight, making them somewhat man-portable. Manhandling the 7.5cm PaK40 was rather more difficult; the 8.8cm PaK43 and PaK43/41 were near impossible to displace with manpower alone. As a result, when their tractors were not available or the situation was too fluid, many guns were lost, some without even firing a single shot in anger.
German industry answered with a variety of tracked vehicles, usually classed under the generic name of Waffenträger (weapons carrier). Notable examples were the Steyr RSO, mounting a 7.5cm PaK40 and the three prototype vehicles mounting the 8.8cm PaK43. The latter were constructed by Ardelt-Rheinmetall, Krupp-Steyr and Ardelt-Krupp. Prototypes of each were constructed and tested, with the Ardelt-Krupp version seeing a production order for 100, of which seven vehicles were completed.
Trumpeter has already released a kit of the Krupp-Steyr prototype as well as the proposed (but apparently never built) Einheits Waffenträger. DML has now released the Ardelt-Rheinmetall prototype. It is based in part on legacy moldings from their old Jagdpanzer 38 kit (road-wheels and tracks), newer Jagdpanther and Nashorn kits (gun and mount), recent Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit (some suspension and internal components) and brand-new parts for the remainder.
As mentioned, these are of the individual link style and come from the Jagdpanzer 38 kit. They are not Magic Tracks, since they come attached in two places to the sprue. Each link is crisply-molded and includes a restrained ejector pin mark on its inner face. While I cannot tell for sure using available photographs, it seems that the faces of the links are of a different type than seen on the Waffenträger. The kits links have three center indentations, while that seen in the photos appears to have only two. Incidentally, both track types are correct for the Jagdpanzer 38.
The road-wheels are from the Jagdpanzer 38 and they feature the later, correct rim-bolt pattern. There is no detail on their inner faces, but this cannot be seen under normal viewing conditions of the finished model, which is probably why DML used these parts un-modified. The odd thing here is this: the road-wheels from the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit are also in the box, parts A7; these have the correct pattern AND detail on their inner faces. They will fit between the tracks guide horns, although they are slightly thinner in cross-section. The for-use Jagdpanzer 38 wheels (parts C9) are also too thin to fit snugly between the guide horns.
The drive sprockets are composed of inner and outer halves and are also from the Jagdpanzer 38 kit; their hubs are molded in place. The idler wheels, on sprue C, feature inner and outer halves, a separate center shaft and a separate hub from the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) sprue. Unfortunately, the idler wheels have four ejector pin marks on each outer face, so a total of 16 of them will have to be cleaned and filled, which will not be a pleasant task, considering the adjacent details that will have to be avoided. The separate cranked idler wheel axles are fairly obscured in the instructions (step 4, parts C2), so dont forget them. Dont fix them in place until the track sag has been worked out. The return rollers and their mounts are separate parts, coming from the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit. As such they are very well-done, to include manufacturers data on their rubber rims.
The leaf-spring suspension bogies and their mounts are mostly all-new for this kit. They are each a seven-part assembly with only the swing-arm hubs from the recent Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit. Care with the glue will result in movable swing-arms.
This is a completely new part that comes from a slide-mold. It features a separate final drive housing from the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit as well as a separate tow eye at each front corner. The belly features panel and rivet detail. At the rear, a pair of separate hatch lids are given. I presume this is where extra ammunition was stowed; if so, there is no internal detail if they are left open. Separate track-guards are mounted on each side. Since this was a prototype, there are no tools, lights or other OVM items to be seen.
This was a simple vehicle, which is reflected by the superstructure. A separate panel is fitted over the port-sides track guard. I presume this covers an intake opening of some sort. The main section covers the engine and drivers compartments, while overlapping the starboard side track guard. It has a separate part for an engine cooling grill as well as for the drivers front plate; the latter is complete with a molded-on sliding view-port shutter in the open position. Etched brass parts are provided for overhead cover. There is also a multi-part gun tube travel lock, but its assembly is mostly ignored in the instructions (use parts B2 and B3, and check the drawings in step 10 for their locations), except where the options for it to be folded or deployed are concerned. This assembly, when completed, is movable.
Behind this is a large plate with the opening for the turret. It also has panel lines inscribed, which I imagine represents access lids for more ammunition storage.
Internally, parts from the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit are used for the drivers seat, his hand controls and the transmission/final drive assembly. Two bulkhead parts separate him from the engine compartment and the fighting compartment. A radio transceiver is provided along with styrene brackets and etched brass mounting frame. It is complimented by various transformer parts. There is no external radio antenna base or rod antenna. This does not show in photos of the prototype, so the modeler cannot fault DML for not giving the parts for it. Regardless, the interior is suitable busy.
The main shell is slide-molded, featuring crisp bolt and weld-bead details, along with hinges for the rear access hatch lid. The latter is separate and can be posed opened or closed. It has molded-on latch detail on both faces. The front panel is separate and features the opening for the main weapon, overlapping panels and some rivet detail. All of these parts are devoid of any ejector pin marks on their inner and outer surfaces while each features exceptionally thin edges for a fine scale appearance.
The turret base plate is separate and features a rotating hand-wheel and its mount, as well as several separate strengthening gussets. A ready ammunition rack is supplied. It is composed of styrene and etched brass parts and can be filled with as many as five complete PaK43 rounds, courtesy of DMLs Nashorn kit.
The PaK43 is created by combining Nashorn and Jagdpanther parts, with several new ones. What this means for one thing is that there will be loads of left-over items, which may come in handy for those modelers who contemplate adding interior detail to a Jagdpanther (or even the Ferdinand/Elefant). The mount must be modified as per the instructions as seen in step 6. The seven-part breech block can be shown with the wedge opened or closed. The gunners seat is composed of four parts and his sights contain another five parts. As the gun was designed for high elevation, not only a gunners breech guard is provided, but there is one beneath to protect the vehicles floor. The cradle features elevation hand-wheels on each side, as well as the various linkage shafts.
The gun tube is made up of six parts with a further three making up the muzzle brake; the latter is based on a slide-molded core part and features inner locking ring detail. Recoil cylinders are then placed on top of the gun tube. An etched brass shield fits over the gun tube and covers the turret opening at the front.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Since some of the parts in this box may very well be 20-years old, the molding and engineering in this kit is from several generations. The newer parts are, as would be expected, far more refined than the older items. I am passing this kit along to a fellow modeler and thus I have not checked the fit of any parts except the road-wheels where they fit between the guide-horns of the tracks.
Accuracy and Details.
With the possible exception of the track pattern, the kit matches well with photos in Panzer Tracts 7-3, the only reference consulted for this report.
They are rather simple and are clearly drawn. I have noted a couple of pit-falls above.
Decals and Markings Information.
No markings are seen in photos of the prototype vehicle, but DML provides three Balkenkreuz national insignia. These are the usual fine product from Cartograf. The color scheme is overall Dunkelgelg, with a smear of white paint on the bow plate. Strangely, DML gives instructions for two schemes, both of which are completely identical; only their dates of use differ, with their location being the same.
This appears to be a nice kit of a relatively obscure, one-off Versuchs (experimental) AFV. For lovers of all things German this fills in yet another gap in the story of their AFV production in World War Two.
Frank V. De Sisto
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 reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com