Kit, DML 6420, Sd.Kfz.138 Panzerjäger 38 Marder III H Fgst.38(t) Ausf.E
October 24 2009 at 1:19 PM
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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6420, Sd.Kfz.138 Panzerjäger 38 Marder III H Fgst.38(t) Ausf.E Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 453 styrene parts (including 10 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, three photo-etched brass frets, one stamped etched brass part, two water-slide decal/marking schemes and 10 pages of instructions in 27 steps.
Mush like their contemporaries during WW2, the Germans continuously tweaked their designs and their methods of production, creating a bewildering variety of sub-variants of a given type of AFV. In the case of their extemporized self-propelled anti-tank weapons, these changes would coincide with the chassis upon which they were based if the main vehicle was still in production, or with improvements made during the production/conversion cycles. So, the Marder III Ausf.H could be seen in several slightly differing guises; this kit can represent one (or more) of them. To do so it provides new bow and superstructure front plates, new engine deck hatch lids and a new exhaust muffler configuration.
In typical DML fashion, there are alternate styrene parts, as well as etched brass parts that can be used to add details in selected areas. For instance the following styrene choices are offered:
Three muzzle brake configurations.
Two exhaust muffler configurations.
Two trailer hitch configurations.
Two different drive sprockets.
Two different idler wheels.
Covered or un-covered idler wheel adjustment mechanism housings.
These are called out in the instructions. However, the original kits configuration can also be made by using some of the not for use parts still included and by slightly modifying the new parts. So, this kit is actually a bit more versatile than the original. In addition, a new fighting compartment canvas foul weather cover is provided using the very appropriate DS100 soft styrene material, allowing for even more variety. Some of the new parts are labeled as not for use and strongly indicate that DML has a Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.E/F kit planned.
Since much of this kit is based upon a previous release, this review will be mostly a cut-and-paste affair. For that I beg the readers indulgence.
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 foundry casting numbers where appropriate.
The suspension system is broken down much like most renditions of the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) from other manufacturers; this means that the road-wheels can be depicted in an articulated fashion to conform to terrain on a modelers 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 manufacturers 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; they also come in two styles, one with the extra holes around the rims, the other set without them.
The hull is the usual slide-molded 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. Whats unique here is that there is also molded-on detail on the inner faces of the side walls, in the drivers 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 no compromise in the detail department.
Separate inner and outer bow plates are provided, with the latter being new. It depicts the laminated plate configuration and has a bolt pattern seen on the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.E or F; the modeler should NOT remove the seam around the edges of the part as it is meant to represent the space between the two plates. The separate rear plate is fitted with a 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 armored shroud, and finally, the new exhaust muffler configuration. Note that the higher location of the muffler was to make room for the armored Nebelkurzenabwurfvorrichtung (smoke candle discharger rack), with its mounts, but the latter is not included. Nor is the tow cable that wrapped around the hooks situated on the circular access plate. The former was included in the original kit, while the latter was not, and still is not.
From the bow, the glacis plate features a separate transmission access hatch lid, Notek lamp with etched brass mount and lamp face, plus a styrene drivers rough sight. The new superstructure front plate features the Ausf.E/F rivet pattern as well as seams to represent laminated armor; again the seam should not be removed. Its inner face has separate view-port lids; both have clear styrene inserts for vision blocks and etched brass detail parts, and they can be shown opened or closed. A complete multi-part MG37(t) machine gun is also provided; this includes sighting scope and belted ammunition. On the outside of the front plate there is a multi-part travel lock that can be raised to hold the gun tube or lowered for combat.
The engine deck panel is a separate part that features new separate engine compartment access hatch lids, again with a rivet pattern appropriate for the Ausf.E or F. It also has separate grills and the PaK40s rear cradle travel lock; this item can be made movable, but be very sparing with the glue! The slide-molded 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. Two rectangular parts are given to represent the two small seats for the gunner/commander and loader. They lack any cushion detail as seen in photos; this can be easily added using A+B epoxy putty and styrene for the two prominent studs seen on their faces.
Above the engine deck is fitted the parts for the perforated work platform, complete with weld details on its underside. These come from a slide mold so that the perforations can all be properly rendered on the sides; there are a couple of small ejector pin marks under there, but they are unseen on the complete model. Etched brass supports are provided for the final detail touch. A pre-shaped etched brass part is provided to replicate the open rear framework; it is attached to a pair of styrene parts that represent the outer rim. The etched part is, not surprisingly, flat, but photos indicate the framework is made up of circular section rod. It is surprising that DML only gives an etched brass part for this area and not a substitute styrene part. Some may consider this a major problem, especially since scratch-building a proper replacement may be above the average modelers skill level.
The fenders are separate and feature stamped rib details on the upper and lower faces; there are no ejector pin marks to mar either surface. They should have a very subtle kink about mid-way along their edges. DML gives them as straight parts and originally provided a jig to bend them; the latter is no longer included. If this is done, the channel on the side of the hull part will not properly align with the fenders. The simple solution is to rest the front end on the channel so it aligns with the final drive housings; then apply a kink with a pair of flat-nose pliers. The simplest solution may be to ignore it completely since it is extremely hard to see, according to drawings. All fender brackets are separate and are made up of a combination of styrene and etched brass parts.
The perforated grouser box is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly. A jack block, a multi-part vehicle jack, fire extinguisher, various tools, gun tube bore swab staffs and spare track stowage completes the OVM. Almost all of these items have separate etched brass clamps or brackets, while the only missing items are the two spare rod antennae.
The armored superstructure for the gun housing is made up of three main parts, which fit into the forward roof plate as well as the superstructure side plates. The parts are fairly thin at their edges, but the modeler may wish to go a bit further. One side receives a perforated stowage rack made from etched brass parts; a sliding plate for the gun sight is also included, as well as a small armored guard for where the radio antenna is to be mounted. An antenna is provided but shown as not for use; use it. The remaining separate items for the outer surfaces include supports for a canvas cover and two small separate flaps for the roof-mounted periscope heads.
The PaK40 is essentially one large sprue from DMLs towed gun kit, along with a sprue that contains ammunition rounds, storage tubes and two steel boxes. The gun sprue includes the long-ago corrected slide section, which is now of the proper length. There are several display options including: two styles of end caps for the recuperater housing and an internal part for use if the caps are shown in the removed or opened position; three styles of double-baffle muzzle brake (circular/circular, oval/oval and oval/circular) with styrene internal retaining rings; a slide-molded gun tube designed to accept an inserted round at the breech end, and a breech that can be modeled opened or closed. The gun can recoil as well as traverse and elevate.
A separate curved inner shield is provided, as is the small metal cover that was seen on the part of the gun cradle that protrudes past the gun shield. In addition, a new recoil guard is provided; these last two items are a nice detail touch. Several items on the PaK40 sprue that were seen on the standard towed gun, attached to the inner gun shield, should also be attached to the inner side of the curved gun shield. However, they are not shown in the instructions and additionally are designated as not for use. The modeler is advised to check references and position these items as seen in photos.
Since this is essentially an open-topped AFV, there is considerable interior detail provided. For the hull, this includes a very nice transmission (including controls, drive shaft and cover), instrument panel, floor panel and bulkhead/engine compartment firewall. The drivers seat is included (there was no radio operator in the hull of a standard vehicle), as is the rack for ten rounds seen opposite the drivers station. Internal braces and cruciform mount parts are given for the PaK40.
There are a number of ammunition racks given, with some marked as not for use. However, they should actually be used; according to references, two sets of four racks go on each side of the fighting compartment, on the floor back by the rear bulkhead. These are catered for in the Cyberhobby upgrade set. Also, one set of three racks are seen on the floor either side of the guns cruciform mount, about where the breech block is located; these are not provided in the kit at all. If not opting for the Cyberhobby upgrade, some of the racks will need some framing made of flat and L-angled styrene strip as seen in photos on page 99 in reference 6.
Other items included are various panels for the hull interior. There is no ammunition stowage provided for the MG37(t), nor are the crews stowed gas masks included.
The inner sides of the upper superstructure plates are also detailed with styrene and etched brass ammunition racks on each inner side wall, a radio rack with accessories, flare pistol ammunition box and four periscope heads on movable mounts. The scope heads are clear parts for an extra detail touch. Missing is the flare pistol itself as well as the usual crewmans MP40, its ammunition containers and stowage rack.
Two types of complete rounds for the PaK40 are provided (four each for a total of eight), as well as three spent cartridge cases. Ten metal single-round packing tubes are provided, six of which have separate end caps and slide-molded openings; these can be shown to be discarded. Two steel multi-round boxes are also given; these have separate lids. The finishing touch is a water-slide decal sheet with stencil data for the rounds and their various containers. Note also that the new sprue containing the parts for the superstructure and gun mount also has four PaK40 rounds attached; these are shortened and are designed to fit into the provided ammunition racks. Certainly, more rounds will be needed unless the model depicted has been in recent intense combat; Id have liked to have seen that option included in the box, anyway! Of course, the extra full rounds can be modified accordingly for use in filling the racks.
New for this kit is a nicely-rendered canvas foul weather cover. It is molded in DS100 soft styrene and can be fixed with conventional styrene cement. I have found that the best way to get rid of the fine mold seams on this material is to paint them away with liquid styrene cement; just be careful here!
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; 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 anywhere, but I noted some ejector pin marks on the inner parts of the superstructure parts; some will be hidden after construction while others may be visible.
The five-view drawings in both of the Panzer Tracts books show that the kit is basically quite accurate. I noted that both variations of the kits muffler were not as long as the drawings indicate they should be (the difference is very slight), and that the gun compartment roof plate has slightly different contours towards its front.
It is in the area of some of the internal details where I have questions. Most concern ammunition storage and the radio fit. These include:
The number and location of the ammunition racks for the main gun.
The type and location of the original Fu.d or the later Fu.5 radio and intercom sets.
The location of the standard antenna for the original Fu.d or the later Fu.5 radio set.
The number and location of the ammunition boxes for the MG37(t).
The location of other internal stowage items such as the flare pistol, MP40 and its ammo, gas mask containers, etc.
The 2-meter rod antenna is included, but labeled as not for use and is not shown in the instructions; use it!
Armored Nebelkurzenabwurfvorrichtung not included.
Reference 2 states that the radio set was located above drive shaft cover. If so, how did the operator (who commanded the vehicle and acted as the gunner) access it from his position, especially with the ten rounds of ammunition stowed next to it? In reference 6, page 80 top, shows the mount for an Fu.5 radio as provided in the kit on the starboard side of the superstructure. This photo also shows an antenna mount on the outer edge of the superstructure on that same side. Reference 2, page 7/148 also shows this antenna mount. But most photos show the mount as given in the kit on the port side, for what I presume is the Fu.d radio set. Since as I just mentioned, the commander was also the gunner AND the radio operator, one would presume the radio itself would be on that side. And of course, reference 6 shows mounts for a radio set on that side as well!
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.
Italys Cartograf has provided water-slide decal markings for two Marder IIIs. The decals are in excellent register, have sharp detail and fine color saturation. Markings consist of Balkenkreuz national insignia, while one scheme is overall Dunkelgrau and the other is overall Dunkelgelb. Vehicle colors are keyed to Gunze and Testors paints.
While an improvement in many ways over the previous kit, there are still several questions on the internal configuration as well as some relatively omissions. However, if the modeler never acquired the original kit and still wishes to add this vehicle to the display case, Id recommend he does so.
Frank V. 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. Panzerjäger; Panzer Tracts No.7-2, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Panzerkampfwagen 38(t); Panzer Tracts No.18, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
4. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948; Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
5. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945; Bellona, by C. Kliment & H. Doyle.
6. Praga, LT vz.38 Pz.Kpfw.38(t); MBI Publications, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
7. Marder III & Grille; MBI Publications, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
8. Marder III Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7.5cm PaK40/3 (Sd.Kfz.138) Part 2: Ausfürung H & 7.5cm PaK40 mot. Zug; Nuts & Bolts Vol.18, by V. Andorfer, M. Block & J. Nelson.
9. Pz.Kpfw.38(t); Squadron in Action 19, by C. Kliment and H. Doyle.
Reviewers 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.