And now for something completely different comes this new kit from Dragon of the Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjäger für Pak40/2 "Marder II" which was created by marrying the reliable Panzer II chassis and the 7.5cm Pak40/2 to produce the Panzerjäger “Marder II”
The kit represents the later model “Marder II” characterised by
the deletion of the Driver’s binocular KFF.2 periscope openings and right
side Driver’s vision port, the Bosch light on the left fender in place
of the NOTEK light, the relocated tool storage and antenna mount plus the bolted
panel at the rear of the side armour.
The box art has a mixture of early and late features but is pretty crappy box art in any case unlike the excellent Ron Volstad or Tamiya box art which can be used as reference in their own right.
The kit though captures all the late features very well inside and out with
the kit dimensions matching the 1:35 plans in the four books listed below almost
perfectly but with some discrepancies while most are well with acceptable limits given the
printing processes etc.
The only part that was consistently out was the angled splinter guard on top of the hull in front of the gun shield which has the angles slightly out and the sides a little short, but this is only minor and nothing to get excited about. The other area of concern is with the running gear and one in particular being the drive sprocket which basically has one less tooth than it should but more on that later.
Included are a few options such as the standard Panzer II drive sprocket and the reinforced drive sprocket used exclusively on the Marder II and Wespe but as this is a late vehicle the Marder II sprocket would be best used. There are three types of idler wheels supplied each with a different style of hub and the choice of three muzzle brakes for the Pak40/2 and again the later style would be more appropriate for this version of the Marder II.
Much of the kit is new for the Panzer II/Marder II parts with sprues B, C, D, the metal barrel and etched parts from the 7.5cm PaK 40 Late Type w/Fallschirmjäger Anzio 1944 (kit #6250) also included.
The kit consists of 404 parts in light grey plastic, three parts in clear plastic with three small frets of etched parts and the metal 75mm barrel plus individual link “magic track” and a couple of decal small sheets.
Standard of moulding is again excellent with the heavy use of ‘plastic nodes’ on the parts which helps keep pin ejector marks to a minimum and are easy to remove. There is the usual moulding seams on the parts to remove and this require a bit of work on some parts such as the suspension springs but nothing really out of the ordinary for plastic kits.
This is a conventional plastic tub which has quite thick sides with internal bracing to eliminate any warping and this includes raised detail on the sides for the suspension mountings and access plates on the bottom with separate front and rear panels to make up the full tub. There are some quite substantial pin marks on the inside of the front plate that have to be removed so the interior parts can be added later so make sure this is done before attaching the front plate to the hull tub.
Each axle/spring assembly is made up of three parts each, the lower axle, upper spring and end plate and you have to take care as the fifth assembly is different from the first four as indicated in the instructions as well as the additional damper springs on the first, second and fifth stations.
The mould seam lines down the centre of the springs will need care during removal to ensure the definition of the springs is maintained but the springs face downwards after assembly and the seams may not be that noticeable if not cleaned up.
There is another small issue in that the Marder II used reinforced spring units which were a little wider and had more spring leaves than the standard Panzer II spring unit and while those in the kit depict the reinforced Marder II spring units the upper roller is too wide and there are only five leaf springs extending past the last bracket when there should be seven. See additional info here on the Marder II/Panzer II suspension units.
The separate dampers and rear bump stops are correctly depicted for the Marder suspension and are nicely detailed with the two rear stops being fitted in the opposite direction to each other and care is needed when fitting.
The final drive housing is a separate part with four small bolt heads moulded onto the sprue which you have to carefully cut off and attach to the final drives in four places and care is needed when cutting the bolts from the sprues so they don’t take off into the void. This method ensures good definition of the bolts which wouldn’t be possible is moulded directly onto the housings.
As mentioned there are alternate drive sprockets, the standard Panzer II type (parts E2) would be best used with the re-enforced type used exclusively on the Marder II and Wespe and these feature well defined bolt details around the rims with the correct number of bolts for the specific type and also have the bolts around the inside of the sprockets. There are some shallow pin marks on the insides which are very easy to remove as they can bee seen after assembly with the sprockets designed to be glued to the final drives.
The major issue with the drive sprockets supplied in that they only have 25 drive teeth when the actual sprocket has 26 drive teeth but there is little you can do about this other to live with the incorrect sprockets unless someone want’s to make resin replacements with the 26 drive teeth.
All the 1:35 plans in the references below show the 26 teeth and on checking any suitable side on photos of the Panzer II (and other types) confirms the presents of the 26 drive teeth and hopefully this will be fixed at some stage?
The road wheels have the outer wheel and tyre with a separate insert for the back to eliminate the hollow look and the wheels feature excellent details such as the weld beads around the outer rims with “Continentau” and tyre data embossing on the rubber sections. Also included is the raised seam around the middle of the rubber section which is evident on newer wheels but the attachment points to the sprues means there will be two scars in the seam line, one of which can be hidden at ground contact but the other is evident. If you take extreme care and some nifty knife work when removing the excess plastic from the sprue attachment you can preserve the raised seam line so the scar is less evident.
The return rollers again have nice details of weld beads and embossing with the raised tyre seam and the same comments apply here as with the road wheel but both types of wheels are very well done and look very good with careful painting bringing out the detail.
At the back are three alternate idler wheels with different pattern hubs and a separate outer rim with again very good detail on the wheels and checking references will show which hub design best suits your model. Providing the three types of idlers and two types of drive sprockets give a good choice and probably indicates a standard Panzer II or Wepse may be in the works.
The rear panel has separate detail for the tow pintle, tail light and four part exhaust with a separate etched heat guard which you have to bend to shape to fit and annealing the part beforehand will help with this.
As the interior of the Marder II is visible Dragon gives you a fairly comprehensive interior with some parts such as the forward vision ports and rear bulkheads added to the underside of the upper hull.
The transmission and brake drums added into the lower tub are in multiple parts with very good details with additional gear lever and the driver’s seat, foot pedals and levers added to the separate floor panel with fine tread plate pattern for a very busy interior. But of course there is scope for adding finer details and the superb interior shots in the Armor Photogallery Marder II book show all the main structures are provided in the kit as well as showing the finer detail to make the kit even more attractive.
The small equipment box located on the right hull wall needs care as its location is not clearly marked and fitting after the floor has been fitted should make it easier to line up.
Included is a set of individually moulded “magic track” with the only cleanup being a very small moulding scar on the inside of each link which really doesn’t need cleanup if you don’t want to.
The detail on the links is very good with nice face detail and hollow shell effects on the guide horns with the use of slide moulds and the links are designed to be glued together but are not workable.
Fitting the links together is quite easy as they simply intermesh but are fairly small and slippery especially when getting them to form around the drive sprockets and idler wheels. The best method is to apply a small amount of liquid cement to each link and wait for the glue to start and “go off”, you can then form them around the sprocket and add track sag easier then if the links are loose.
The assembled track runs look very good with the instructions indicating there are 99 links per side.
The upper hull is in one piece with cut-outs for the engine compartment, fighting compartment and glacis access hatch with internal bulkheads attached to the underside of the top hull.
Detail on the hull top includes nice tread plate pattern on the front and rear fender sections and open engine deck grills and equally nice details to the fighting compartment bulkheads. The rearmost bulkhead (part B53) was difficult to add as the instructions are not clear on its location and some test fitting will be needed to determine the best fit. You may also wish to blank off the insides of the engine deck grills to eliminate the hollow look and the insides of the separate engine compartment doors have basic details ready for the installation of a resin engine.
The exposed air filter at the front of the engine compartment is made up of five parts and is nicely detailed but for some reason the fuel filling port is depicted without the filler cap, either that or I couldn’t find the part as it is not indicated in the instructions.
At the front is a separate side panel for the driver’s side visor and this allows the bullet splash guard forward of the visor to be nicely represented including fine weld beads and the front driver’s plate is also a separate part with the upper and lower driver’s visor as two separate parts allowing them to be positioned open or closed. On the inside is a separate inner Driver’s visor panel with nice details as well as the Driver’s instrument panel and inner visor detail for the side vision port.
Additional details added to the glacis is the separate escape hatch, a spare road wheel that also includes the tyre embossing and rim welds, the tow cable brackets, towing hooks and late style barrel travel lock and a four part Bosch head light on the left fender.
The two superstructure side panels are separate with the upper edges bevelled for a thinner look but this does leave the inner detail with a slight bend but this is not really noticeable except if looking from directly above so shouldn’t be a problem.
The tools on the outside of the panels are in the correct late position and
you have a choice of tools with their clips moulded on or bare tools with etched
tool clips to cater for those wanting a quick build or to add additional detail.
On the inside are the separate five bulkheads at the front of the panels and other equipment such as the side pericopes in clear plastic and the MG34 and MP40 mounts with nicely rendered weapons all of which are in the correct late Marder II positions. On the right side of the compartment is the large radio rack made up of no less than 22 parts with excellent detail on the radio faces. The racks are moulded as thin as you could probably get in plastic and look okay when assembled but there will no doubt be etched sets released with the rack in fine brass for those wanting to go that extra step.
The side panels fit precisely to the upper hull with lower attachment strips on the hull aiding in fitting them the right position and added to the upper hull are the central gun mounting plate and forward angled splash guard although there is a little work needed as this should sit flush with the side panels and there is a bit of a gap to contend with but nothing too difficult to deal with.
At the back are the three ammunition boxes which have separate inner rack faces and outer doors plus some 75mm rounds provided if you want to show the boxes open and again the boxes are the right style for the later Marder.
The PaK40 is basically the same gun as in kit #6250 7.5cm PaK40 w/Fallschirmjäger with additions for the front shields and still provides a choice of aluminium or plastic barrels depending on your preference and a choice of the three different styles of muzzle brake seen on the PaK40s from early to late war guns.
These are in one piece for the main muzzle brake using slid mould technology and have separate end fillets with internal flanges either from plastic or etched metal again depending on your preference. As this kit represents the later model Marder choosing the late style muzzle brake would be the preferable option.
The rear breech block is very detailed with the breech made up of four main parts with a separate movable breech block of three parts plus breech opening handle, side piston and lower support for a very detailed barrel assembly.
The gun cradle is in the usual two halves for this type of gun and is the correct length with the assembled barrel fitting neatly into the cradle.
The rest of the gun cradle is very well detailed with many separate parts and alternate front cradle panel, separate side trunnion supports, two part recoil cylinders, traverse hand wheels and smaller fittings for a very busy assembly.
The two part main gun shields are in plastic and are butt joined together but have heavily bevelled edges that give a very good appearance of separate thin shields with etched parts for the small upper shield and sight aperture opening.
The additional shields added to the sides of the main shields designed to fill in gaps between the gun shield and side armour panels on the real Marder are provided as separate parts and fit neatly to the front of the main shields. Fine weld beads are included as well as additional etched parts for the lower shield fillets that give a good appearance to the shields.
Included in the kit is a nice selection of wood ammo boxes, 7.5cm rounds and shell cases in plastic with the detail on the parts being very good with nice wood grain effect on the boxes with the canisters and three empty shell cases having hollowed out ends for a very realistic finish and there are separate end caps for the hollowed out canisters.
To finish off the ammo boxes and rounds the decal sheet has a good selection of stencil data in both black and white lettering to really give an authentic feel to the ammo boxes, canisters and ammo.
There are two decal sheets included, one from the PaK40 kit with an array of stencilling for the ammo rounds and containers plus a new sheet for the Marder with markings for eleven vehicles.
The decal are well printed with thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image and should adhere well as most decal locations are flat plates on the Marder.
The markings included are:
- 1. Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944
- 2. Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943
- 3. Unidentified Unit, Russia 1943
- 4. 10.Pz.Div., Tunisia 1943
- 5. Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943
- 6. Pz.Jg.Abt49, Eastern Front 1944
- 7. Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944
- 8. Unidentified Unit, France 1944
- 9. Panzer Korps “Grosdeutschland”, East Prussia 1944-45
- 10. Pz.Div., Hungary 1945
- 11. Unidentified Unit, Hungury 1945
Overall this is an excellent little kit of the late Marder II with all the correct late features included with very nicely rendered details and the inclusion of multiple choices for the suspension and muzzle brakes offer various alternatives for the final model.
The full interior also adds to the appeal of the kit and leaves scope for those wanting to go to town and add all the finer details if you wish.
Dragon have now released the kit of the Panzer II Ausf.F, see full review here
|Pz.Kpfw.I/Pz.Kpfw.II and variants
Achtung Panzer No.7
Dainippon Kaiga Co.,Ltd..
Panzer Tracts No 7-2
Thomas L Jentz and
Hilary Louis Doyle
|Ground Power Magazine
Issue #069 Jan 2000
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
Thanks to my credit card and the guys at Rainbow Ten for the review kit.