Kit, Academy 13230, Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Late Version
April 6 2012 at 8:10 PM
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13230, Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Late Version. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia construction kit. Contains 344 styrene parts, one etched brass part, one piece of string, one sheet of pre-cut self-adhesive masking material, one decal/markings scheme and 10 pages of instructions in 13 steps.
Since Italeri first introduced a 1/35th-scale kit of this vehicle back in about 1971 or so, the so-called Hetzer (if you want to see steam shoot-out of Tom Jentzs ears at his AMPS seminars, simply say that word!!) has remained popular with both modelers and kit manufacturers. The Jagdpanzer 38 (the t was dropped in this designation) has been kitted in many popular scales in both resin and styrene. In 1/35th-scale, DML followed Italeri, with Eduard and then, most recently, Tamiya, also issuing kits. Not to be left out, Academy has just chimed in with their own release, calling it a Late Version.
While it is a typically well-fitting and easily-constructed Academy offering, this kit has some dimensional issues, which I will touch upon as this report proceeds. The detail in many places is rather clunky and not worthy of a 21st-century kit. There are some omissions and simplifications, especially concerning the tools and other OVM fittings. Although Academy has boldly included a pre-cut sheet of self-adhesive masking material to ease the creation of the so-called disk camouflage, its use will be problematic due to shortcomings in the instructions, and it appears not to capture the patterns properly.
These are crisply and accurately molded, matching available drawings in the detail and dimensional departments rather well. They are of the link-and-length style and feature an upper run in two parts, with the subtle sagging effect rather nicely represented. They are festooned with subtle ejector pin marks on their inner faces, but most will be invisible after assembly. The remainder are rather subtle, so they should pass all but the most close scrutiny.
The road-wheels are well-done and include the later pattern of 16 rim-bolts. Their hubs are molded in place and their rear faces are completely and properly detailed. They are situated on the sprues in such a way as to preclude the need to remove any mold seams. The drive sprockets are molded as inner and outer halves, with a separate hub-cap. The separate hub-cap means that there is no shrinkage in the center of the hub, which is always a concern when a part is designed to be rather thick. Therefore it is all-the-more of a puzzle that the idler wheels have their hub-caps molded in place. Because of that particular design decision, every hub-cap has a sink mark, which, if mended, will surely destroy the fine bolt and grease fitting details molded in place. This is a shame since Academy provides no less than three different idler wheels: four, six or eight holes around the edge of the dished disk. The single-piece return rollers are OK and are mounted on a separate axle.
The suspension bogies mount on a two-part bracket. The bogies are two-parts each and are not designed to be movable. The separate spring bundles, also not movable, have hollow backs so that shrinkage will not be a problem. The backs can not be seen on the assembled kit, so there are no worries here. The multi-part idler wheel housings are separate as are their cranked axles. The latter parts should not be fixed in place until after the fit of the tracks are finalized. The final drive housings are separate, three-part affairs.
The hull tub is a one-piece, slide-molded part that includes the lower bow plate. The belly plate has access panel detail molded in place as well as some rivets; the lower bow plate features an interlocking weld pattern, a prominent feature of this small vehicle. Separate panels are fitted up front to replicate the integral tow eyes. The same goes for the rear, except that some of the track-guard is molded with the parts.
The rear plate is a separate part, with a separate circular engine access plate. The latter has the large circular cap molded in place and the two nubs for an engine starter device are fitted from inside. Separate tow cable end-loops are provided in styrene, to which a length of provided string is to be fixed. The cables are then designed to be glued directly to the area around the circular access panel, without ANY kind of hanging fixture included. Really?! Separate racks for spare track lengths are next fitted and another separate part provides a brace for the muffler assembly.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The forward sections of the track-guards are molded with the superstructure, while the rear sections are separate parts. Each of the rear track-guards features a separate bracket part at their ends. That on the port-side has a rather poorly-rendered tubular tail-lamp molded in place.
The forward, starboard side track-guard mounts a separate jack block; it is very basic. The aft track-guard on that side mounts a multi-part jack; it consists of five parts and includes four more separate parts to represent its holding brackets and their clamps. A pair of wire cutters is also fitted; these have no clamp details. On the opposite side is the perforated grouser stowage box. The perforations must be drilled through for a proper appearance, but this will reveal that the parts are rather thick. The non-perforated box is also included but is not for use. The tool fit may or may not be complete as referenced drawings show differing stowage arrangements, probably a result of when the vehicle was produced.
This main molding includes the roof plate, but the engine deck comes in several separate parts. The glacis plate receives a nicely-textured cast inner gun mantlet, to which seven parts are fitted internally. These allow the main gun to elevate and traverse. The slide-molded outer cast Topfblende mantlet is well-shaped, lightly-textured and includes a separate blanking plate for the back, as well as properly-placed set-screws at the 9-, 12- and 3-oclock positions. There are three gun tubes in the box, two of which appear to be identical and one of which has the threads at the bore end represented; it is not for use. These are all single-piece slide-molded items with a pre-drilled bore end. The drivers periscope and housing is a separate part and the Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek lamp is a two-part assembly.
The roof plate is well-detailed to include panel lines and raised fasteners. Crisp hinges and three Pilzen are molded in place, as is the base for the Rundumfeuer and the tracks for the sliding cover over the gunners sight. Separate periscope guards and hatch lids are given, with two, out of three, of the latter having no ejector pin marks on any surface, inside or out. A separate sliding plate for the gunners sight is given, as is a brush guard for it. The gunners sight is slide-molded so the open end is hollowed-out; it is designed to fit to the sliding plate, so it will move with it. However, this is not connected to the gun mount, so it must be aligned separately when the gun is traversed.
The Rundumfeuer is a ten-part assembly with a slide-molded, pre-bored MG34. The mount is well done and the included drum magazine is a two-part assembly. The shields are nice and thin, but each has a pair of notches along their top rims not seen in photos or drawings; there are subtle ejector pin marks on their inner surfaces. In addition, the sighting periscope seen at the base of the mount is not given. A scissors periscope is inserted from the inside and can be shown poking out of its appropriate hatch. Two more separate periscope heads are also placed in their locations from beneath the roof plate or the engine deck; these also have separate brush guards.
The engine deck features the main hatch lids as separate parts, along with separate grab-handles where appropriate. The air intake grill is molded in place and it is covered with an etched brass screen. No sliding cover is given for the crew compartment heater. A rack and a length of spare track is provided for stowage and the exhaust muffler is a four-part assembly with internal pipe detail; the latters end must be drilled-out for the proper appearance.
The superstructure side walls and the upper glacis plate feature tiny cube-shaped bumps that are supposed to represent tie-down loops. These resemble nothing seen on the real Hetzer and are best removed. On the starboard side, an antenna base is fitted, but no rod antenna or dimensions for a stretched sprue part are given. A pry-bar is also stowed here. The port side has the small tubes molded in place that were used to store spare rod antennae. These are best scraped off and replaced; the bracket that sat on the track-guard to hold the opposite ends of the stowed rod antennae is not provided. Nor are the rod antennae themselves.
The side skirts are molded as one continuous section per side. Their mounting brackets are all separate and they are quite finely-rendered. The skirts can be cut apart for a more candid appearance and some sections can be damaged or deleted as the modeler sees fit. Finally, below the superstructure, some fillets are provided around the engine deck area to close things up. These are textured as if they were grills and should actually be etched brass items.
Two figures are provided, each consisting of a torso, separate arms, legs and heads; one wears a separate side-arm holster. In addition, one man has a separate brim for his cap; the other wears an officers cap. The detail is crisp and more than acceptable. They will build up quickly and well; a good paint job and resin heads will lift them above the norm. Each wears bloused trousers, boots and the typical AFV crewmans short jacket.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding is nice, if rather basic. It is a shame more effort was not put in to the smaller details and that the optics are not clear styrene parts. Sink marks mar the idler wheel hub-caps, and some knock-out pins will need to be removed. The engineering of the road-wheels eliminates having to deal with a seam on the tire, something I certainly appreciate. Fit was fine.
Accuracy and Details.
Comparing the kit parts to the scale drawings in the MBI and Panzer Tracts books reveals some discrepancies between the two sets of drawings, as well as between the drawings and the kit parts. Using a simple millimeter ruler, I made the following measurements:
Kit: MBI: PT:
Width overall 70mm 69mm 72mm
Width, Bottom 37mm 36mm 38-plus mm
Width, Top 46mm 47mm 47mm
Width 37mm 36mm 38-plus mm
Hull, Lower Glacis
Width, Top 45mm 44mm 46mm
Width, Bottom 37mm 36mm 38.5 mm
Hull, Upper Glacis
Width, Top 39.5 mm 39mm 40mm
Width, Middle 69.5 mm 67mm 70mm
Width, Bottom 45mm 44mm 46mm
Generally, any place where measurements could be compared, the Academy kit is larger than the MBI drawings and smaller than the Panzer Tracts drawings. Often the differences are only one millimeter, so this can be considered by some to be in the acceptable range; generally the kit is a closer match to the Panzer Tracts drawings overall.
These are logically laid-out and clearly drawn. The parts break-down is quite conventional so no problems should crop up. Color information as well as placement information for the masking material is provided. However, the placement sequence for the masks is not given, so the modeler is on his own when it comes to which mask and which color should be used, and in which order this should be done. Furthermore, although the masks are numbered on the instruction sheet, the numbers are not printed on the masks themselves.
Decals and Markings Information.
Only standard black/white Balkenkreuz national insignia are provided. They are well-printed and in register, with thin carrier film.
Simply stated, this kit is no better than any Hetzer kit that has come before and is possibly out-classed by some. I applaud the inclusion of the masking material, but I also question its accuracy and ease of use. The dimensional issues, as well as the relatively unsophisticated level of detail, may be hard for some serious modelers to live with; those who appreciate a well-fitting and fairly easy build may, on the other hand, find this kit attractive.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included, but were not limited to:
1. Jagdpanzer; Panzer Tracts No.9, by T. Jentz & H.Doyle.
2. Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer 1944-1945; Osprey New Vanguard 36, by T. Jentz & H.Doyle.
3. Hetzer Jagdpanzer 38; MBI, by V. Francev, C. Kliment & M. Kopecky.
4. Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer Model File; MBI, by V. Francev & M. Bily.
5. Czechoslovak Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945; Bellona, by H. Doyle & C. Kliment.
6. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948; Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
7. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.