6471, Sd.Kfz.138/1 Munitionswagen 38M für s.IG33/2 Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 624 styrene parts (including 10 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, two photo-etched brass frets, one piece of wound metal wire, one water-slide decal/marking scheme and eight pages of instructions in 17 steps.
This latest Cyberhobby limited edition release will allow the modeler to construct a Munitionswagen (ammunition transporter) based on the late-production mid-engine Geschützewagen 38(t) Ausf.M chassis. This vehicle was designed to accompany s.IG33-armed variants into battle so as to supplement their limited ammunition capacity. This version featured a mostly-welded hull and lower superstructure, a riveted upper superstructure, welded driver’s hood and an exhaust pipe that ran out of the side of the vehicle to a muffler on the rear plate. In addition, the hull side walls were extended forward and drilled to accept tow hooks. This is the first 1/35th-scale kit of this type on the market; the armed version will be with us soon as recently seen on DML’s web site.
In the interim, fans of this particular variation will be able to whet their appetites while awaiting what is sure to be the more popular kit. Nay-sayers should keep in mind that Cyberhobby’s mandate is to manufacture and market the more unusual or less-desirable variations of any particular vehicle type, in a limited-production “white box” edition. So, if this kit is not the one that the modeler has been waiting for, be patient; the manufacturer will get to you.
Readers should note that this is the third mid-engine Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kit I have recently reviewed. Therefore some of what is presented here will be somewhat familiar to those who have been paying attention.
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. Although they should be provided as right- and left-hand links (the difference being the track pin configuration on the inner and outer edges), they are not. This minute detail can be easily overlooked.
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 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. There are two styles of leaf spring bundles. There are two idler wheel types included; either can be mounted in various positions due to a separate cranked axle. This will ease using individual link tracks and therefore should not be fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the fit of the tracks. Two styles of drive sprockets are included; one type has a perforated disk circumference, while the other is solid; the latter type can be used to upgrade the previously-released Flakpanzer 38(t) kit from DML. Both these and the idler wheels are nicely-detailed to include the ribs and bolt patterns seen between their inner and outer halves.
The main features of the new hull are shown here. They are: welded driver’s hoods, welded lower hull front plate and drilled-out side wall extensions for tow hooks.
The new hull is a slide-molded pan for the mid-engine type, which includes the side walls molded in place together with the belly plate. It represents the final type that had the side walls extended and drilled-out to hold tow hooks. There is proper rivet and panel details on the three outer sides, as well as suspension mount details on the lower side walls; various air-flow openings for the engine compartment are also molded opened-up and in place. Like all previous DML/Cyberhobby Pz.Kpfw.38(t)-based kits, there’s molded-on detail on the inner faces of the side walls of the driver’s compartment. All this makes for a more simplified assembly process.
Separate inner and outer bow plates are provided as is a separate upper/lower rear plate. The outer bow plate is new and represents one that is welded in place. It receives tow hooks and their mounting plates, as well as spare track links and mounting bracket. The new rear plate is also provided with separate tow hooks and their mounting plates, a clear styrene convoy lamp, and etched brass entry step, while molded-on details include crisp rivets and access plates for the cold weather starting apparatus.
This is composed of all-new “Razor Edge” ultra slim separate panels peculiar to this type. The edges of all plates are quite delicate and this is accomplished without any beveling, since the entire plate is uniformly thin throughout. Each side is comprised of multiple styrene parts and one etched brass item, that when assembled, enclose the ammunition compartment. It is therefore critical that these all match up. To the credit of this kit’s designers, they do so rather well, but the modeler must fit the etched brass parts with extreme care; on my sample some trimming of etched brass parts MA6 and MA7 was required. Then the rear upper/lower plate is added; the fit is fine, but the modeler will have to fuss with it a bit to ensure that everything lines up. The rivet detail on these parts is superb. Included on the inside surfaces are the frames to which the armor plates were attached, complete with their own rivet heads. These are all crisply-rendered with no blemishes or ejector pin marks in sight.
A multi-part exhaust pipe and muffler arrangement can then be fitted, which is based on a slide-molded core; it includes a perforated etched brass guard. It begins on the inside of the very well-rendered grill-work on the starboard side, and ends up on the rear plate; it is engineered to be fitted after painting. Above it is the hinged rear access door for the ammunition compartment, which is extremely thin-walled. The tray for three 15cm ready rounds seen on its inner surface is also included; it has fine mounting bolt details. Below the door is a pair of styrene braces and etched brass straps for stowing a tow cable. The latter is supplied as slide-molded styrene end-loops that are pre-bored to take the included braided metal wire cable.
Working forward, a brand-new type-specific engine deck access hatch lid arrangement is included, consisting of four separate plates, all of which can be depicted opened or closed. They have no ejector pin marks on either surface and have various hinge details delicately molded in place. The two forward sections also have opened grab handles molded in place using a slide mold, which is a very nice little touch. Some small bits are added as well as a multi-part 15cm gun travel lock; this is included because these vehicles were designed to be converted in the field to the armed version if it became necessary.
The driver’s hood is based on a slide-molded part with excellent all-around rivet and hinge detail. It well-represents the welded type, has very nice bead details and includes the driver’s front visor’s spring molded in place. The split hatch lids are separate as is the visor itself; all can be positioned opened or closed. Up forward, the glacis plate features a separate transmission access hatch lid, spare track rack with its attendant links, plus a Notek lamp with etched brass mount and lamp face.
Separate track-guards with separate braces are then added. These have the stamped ribs represented on both surfaces and are devoid of ejector pin marks. They are fitted with the various tools commonly seen on these Czech-manufactured AFVs, all of which feature etched brass straps, brackets and clamps. The perforated grouser box is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly. A jack block, a multi-part vehicle jack, fire extinguisher and various tools completes the OVM fit.
Illustrated here are some of the main bits fitted on the interior walls of the superstructure as well as the etched brass ammunition stowage basket and frames.
Assembly of this area begins with the rear engine compartment bulkhead, to which is attached the usual separate circular access plate. There are two heating ducts from the engine compartment, which are each provided with a separate baffle; these can be positioned opened or closed. Above this is the platform for the 15cm s.IG33 which gets two 15cm rounds for stowage. Below that can be mounted MP38/40 ammunition magazine storage pouches or their empty etched brass racks. The inside of the front plate has a row of five charge bag stowage cubes and a range chart on the port side, and a small stowage box on the starboard side. The outside features the opening for the 15cm gun, which was closed off by a sliding armor assembly, with a coil spring counter-balance; this moved when the weapon elevated. On this version it is strapped in place with an etched brass part, but could be made to operate if the vehicle was field-modified to mount the gun.
The inner walls on the port side receive a very nice radio rack to which are mounted the transmitter, receiver, transformers and other ancillary items; this is capped by an etched brass weather cover. Next to the rack is a crewman’s seat pad. Various stowage boxes, an etched brass assembly to hold three Kar98k rifles (they are not included but should be readily available to most modelers after a search in the spares bin), a gas mask canister and its etched brass rack and a fire extinguisher are also included. Finally there are three 15cm rounds in their holders and two charge bag stowage cubes. On the outside, the radio antenna mounting bracket, flexible rubber base and rod antenna are mounted. There are etched brass tie-down loops as well as replacement etched brass tie-down strips to replace those molded onto the outer surface. The small posts that helped keep the foul weather tarp in place are also provided (they go on the inside) as is a two-position (who knew?) transverse frame for said tarp.
The starboard side inner wall mounts ten 15cm rounds in their holders as well as nine charge bag stowage cubes. An MP38/40 in its rack as well as the various foul weather tarp supports finish the inside, while the etched brass tie-downs complete the outside.
A large open-frame tray for stowing additional loose 15cm rounds is provided as a complex etched brass assembly; it is extremely delicate and will require very special handling by the modeler to prevent it from being mangled. It is provided with the adjustable dividing strips that held the rounds in place; these were moved to secure the rounds if the tray was not filled to capacity. Two more racks were mounted directly on the floor plates. Finally, two more seat cushions are fixed to the inside of the rear plate.
There are several replacement ammunition racks that can be shown empty; they are depicted at the top of the image. A 15 projectile in its rack is below that, while at right is the rear plate and its hatch lid; at left is the front superstructure plate with its separate embrasure cover.
There are a total of 20 15cm rounds provided already in their holders, with another four rounds supplied as loose items. In many cases these rounds are to be precisely placed using holes on the surface of several panels, into which the pegs at the base of each round are supposed to fit. However, the modeler with a hasty hand will inadvertently remove these pegs from parts R3, because their presence is completely covered by the sprue attachment point. You have been warned. In addition, there are six empty 15cm round holders which can replace filled ones at the modeler’s discretion; these are slide-molded for the best possible rendition. A total of 20 slide-molded two-part charge stowage cubes are provided; each can be modeled closed or opened, but if left open, there are no charges to fill them.
The driver’s compartment includes a very nice multi-part transmission/final drive unit based on a slide-molded core, with attached driver’s hand controls. A new, shorter non-skid protective cover for the drive shaft completes this assembly. There is a multi-part driver’s seat, but his instrument panel (which attached to the area beneath his hood on mid-engine vehicles) is not provided; likewise some levers, rods and his foot pedals are also absent. A bulkhead/engine compartment firewall encloses the compartment from the rear. Do not fit this until after mounting the engine or that assembly will not fit onto its locating pins
The engine compartment features fuel cells, battery box and various accessories, often enhanced with etched brass parts. A multi-part radiator and housing as well as fan are also given. The engine itself is broken down into many separate parts and comparing it to photographs reveals that it is visually very accurate. The instructions are a bit dodgy when it comes to the sequence in which some parts should be added; I recommend the modeler work in sub-assemblies and test fit everything prior to using glue. Just about all that is needed is for the modeler to add wiring and fuel lines for a complete appearance.
The kit includes a Gen2 sprue for the previously-mentioned gas mask cylinders. Also on the sprue are steel helmets, water bottles, mess kits, bayonets in their frogs, two styles of entrenching tools and a single pair of binoculars. Although only the gas mask cylinders are called-out for use, these other items can all be used wherever the modeler so desires.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Overall, I found no problems with the fit of any major components. Since this kit is the basis for several others, there are many more separate parts than might be usual and many are not for use; the modeler is urged to clean the parts carefully and check the fit as he proceeds. This is especially important when fitting together the superstructure module. No sink marks were found anywhere, and ejector pin marks on visible surfaces were non-existent. However, there are pin nodes on many parts, which will require care in removal and clean-up; this is still superior to having to fill pin marks around delicate details. Mold seams are very restrained and no flash was encountered.
The single side-view drawing in the Panzer Tracts book, reference 2, below, indicates that the kit is accurate; these observations were supplemented by the three-view drawings of a late-production Befehlsjäger Marder III Ausf.M in reference 3, below. The ammunition compartment is especially complete, according to photos seen in reference 7, below. The only major known omissions are seen in the driver’s compartment and are mentioned previously.
These are in the typical, and busy, line drawing style. Many of the main steps feature discreet sub-assembly steps, all enclosed within separate boxes.
Decals and Markings Information.
Italy’s Cartograf has provided water-slide decal markings that consist solely of three Balkenkreuze national insignia. The decals are in excellent register, have sharp detail and fine color saturation. Vehicle colors are keyed to Gunze and Testors paints. Two schemes are noted in the instructions, both from unidentified units; one is overall Dunkelgelb, while the second has a pattern consisting of Olivgrün and Rotbraun. They are rather generic, with the three-tone scheme probably based on a photo of one of these vehicles that mounted a 3cm MK in an improvised mount. Actually, anyone with the DML kit of that gun may consider kit-bashing to produce an ultra-unique model.
At top is the remaining etched brass parts for the ammo baskets, while below is the general set for the vehicle as well as the water-slide decals and wound metal wire tow cable.
As stated in the introduction, this kit, although extremely well-done, will have rather limited appeal due to the relative obscurity of the type and its rather non-threatening battlefield role. Regardless, it is an excellent product and is certainly just the thing for the modeler of German WW2 AFVs who has everything.
Frank V. Curly 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. Gepanzert Nachschub Fahrzeuge; Panzer Tracts 17, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Panzerjäger, Panzer Tracts 7-2, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
4. Czechoslovak Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945; Bellona, by H. Doyle & C. Kliment.
5. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948; Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
6. Marder III & Grille; MBI Publications, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
7. Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Variants: 2cm, 3.7cm, 7.5cm, 7.62cm, 15cm; Zimmerit Press, by D. Nielson.
Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to Cyberhobby. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.
Cyberhobby kits are available from their web site at: www.cyber-hobby.com.
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