Italeri 1/35 SdKfz 139 Panzerjäger Marder III (6210) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

It’s been some time since the last post here on Model Kit World, but then as most of you probably know, real life has a way of getting in the way of the really important stuff like building old model kits. But now it’s winter again, the nights are getting distinctly chilly and I have managed to find some time for kit-building again – hurrah! Anyway, time for another review, and this time it’s the 1/35 Marder III from Italian manufacturers Italeri. 

Italeri was founded in 1962 by two young Italian friends, Giuliano Malservisi and  Gian Pietro Parmeggiani. Both loved building kits of aircraft and military vehicles and they decided to start their own company to produce high-quality plastic kits. They founded the company near the city of Bologna and their first kit, a 1/72 Fiat G-55, was released in 1968 under the brand name Airplast, but the company soon rebranded itself, first as Italaerei and then in the 1980s as Italeri using the colours of the Italian flag for its distinctive logo.

Early Italaeri box-art

This kit was originally released way back in 1972 and I’d guess it must be one of the company’s earliest 1/35 AFVs. I was very much aware of Italeri kits when I was a model-mad kid back in the early seventies. They were attractively priced compared to Tamiya kits of the period and they seemed to cover lots of odd tanks and other vehicles I had never heard of though I didn’t get round to building many of them. So, when I saw this on Ebay for very little cash indeed, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Although this kit has been re-boxed many times since its initial release, as far as I know the tooling hasn’t changed though it does appear that there are two different versions; one with flexible, rubberised tracks and the other with hard, track-and-link tracks. I bought mine on Ebay from a private seller and it’s the track-and-link version.

As ever here on MKW, let’s take a look at this venerable, almost fifty-year-old kit and see if it’s any good…

History

The Marder was created as a make-shift, temporary solution to the inability of German armour to deal with tanks such as the T-34 encountered on the Eastern Front and the British Matilda in North Africa. It was clear that there was an urgent need for a self-propelled vehicle carrying a gun capable of destroying enemy armour. To save time, a new vehicle was designed to use captured or obsolete tank chassis to mount an effective anti-tank weapon.  

The first version of the Marder, the Marder I, used a 75 mm PaK-40 anti-tank gun, initially mounted on the chassis of a French  Tracteur Blindé 37L (Lorraine), an armoured personnel carrier of which hundreds of examples were captured during the invasion of France in 1940. Later Marder Is used the chassis from both the Hotchkiss H39 and FCM 36 light tanks, also captured in 1940. Around one hundred and seventy Marder Is were produced during 1942.

A Marder I

Image: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

However, as numbers of captured French vehicles dwindled, a new version of the Marder was produced, the Marder II which used the chassis from the obsolete Panzer II and mounted either a captured Russian 7.62 cm F-22 Model 1936 field gun modified to accept German anti-tank ammunition or, in later models, a standard 7.5 cm Pak 40. 

However, even Panzer II chassis became scarce and a final version of the Marder, the Marder III, was produced using the chassis from the obsolete Czech designed Panzer 38(t). Early versions (SdKfz 139) used the same captured Soviet 22 Model 1936 field gun as the Marder II, redesignated as the 7.62 cm PaK 36(r) in German use, but the later SdKfz 138 Ausf. H and Ausf. M used the  7.5 cm PaK 40. This is claimed to represent an early Marder III SdKfz 139 with the Russian 7.62 cm gun and a Czech 7.92mm machine gun (but, it isn’t). Almost three hundred and fifty examples of this model of the Marder were produced during 1942.

A Marder III in Russia in 1943

Image: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

All versions of the Marder featured an open-topped fighting compartment and a high silhouette which made them difficult to conceal on the battlefield. They also had relatively thin side and front armour which made them extremely vulnerable. Despite these issues, Marders served in Russia, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Tunisia before being largely replaced by the superior Stug. III. However, Marders remained in service throughout the war on all fronts. 

Marder IIIs in Belgium, 1944

Image: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

What’s in the Box?

This box contains four sprues moulded in brown plastic, instructions and a small decal sheet.

Two of the four sprues are identical, with each providing the suspension, tracks and running gear for one side. The tracks seem to use the same track and link approach as I came across on a couple of Revell 1/72 kits, with single links and several complete lengths of varying length. This worked well on those smaller-scale kits and I’m hoping for similar results here.

Interestingly, there seem to be other versions of this kit with the same product number (6210) but that come with flexible, rubberised tracks and the wheels and suspension on a single sprue. I prefer these hard plastic tracks, so I’m happy, but if you find one of these, you may want to check which version you are buying. The Italeri website shows the version with rubberised tracks, but it also shows this kit as being discontinued, so, I’m not certain if mine is an older or a newer version.

There isn’t any obvious flash and not too many prominent seams or other moulding marks. Surface detail seems reasonable and the engraved panel lines and other detail doesn’t seem to be too overdone.

Two crew figures are provided and, at first glance, these don’t seem great. In particular, the creasing on their uniforms looks way overdone and rather clumsy and the head on the commander figure looks much too large for his body. The Marder is a tiny vehicle and it would have been nice to have figures to give it scale, but I don’t think I’ll bother with these.

The instructions look pretty straightforward and provide two colour schemes – one for a Marder of an Sp. AT Gun Co. of (I think) 2nd Panzer Division in Russia in 1942 and the other for a Marder of a unit in Normandy in 1944 (the decals seem to be for 23rd Panzer Division, but as that unit was not in France in 1944, I may be wrong).

The Russian Marder is shown in an overall finish of “Sandgelb” and the Normandy version also in Sandgelb overlaid with a camouflage pattern of Dunklegrun and Schokoladenbraun.    

Would You Want One?

First of all, there seems to be some doubt about what this kit actually represents. The most recent box described it as an “SdKfz 139 Panzerjäger Marder III,” which would mean it would have the Russian Model 1936 field gun. However, the pervious box, which used the same art, identified it as “Marder III Ausf. H.” which would make it a later SdKfz 138 equipped with the German 7.5 cm PaK 40. Looking at the kit, I think the gun modelled is the Pak 40, which makes this an SdKfz 138 Ausf. H, not an SdKfz139.  

Then there are the decals. These appear to include the markings of 23rd Panzer Division, though all the instructions say is that the tank to which these markings are to be applied is from “France – 1944,” but 23rd Panzer Division took no part in the fighting in the west and remained on the Eastern Front until it surrendered in 1945. If you care about such things, it looks as though these markings are wrong. The other decals, for a tank of 2nd Panzer Division in Russia in 1942, look OK.

The colours specified in the instructions are also, perhaps, suspect. From 1940, German tanks were painted in a base grey (dunkelgrau). From February 1943 this was replaced with a base of dark yellow (dunkelgelb), usually overlaid in the field with camoulage of brown and dark green. So, the colour scheme of overall Sandgelb (which I assume is the Italeri version of dunkelgelb) would not apply to a vehicle in Russia in 1942 which would have actually been finished in overall dunkelgrau. Perhaps I’m being a bit pedantic here, though I may use a dark grey paint when I build this kit representing a Marder in Russia in 1942.

There are only around 110 parts in this kit (excluding the crew figures) which means that interior detail is going to be very limited and there are no external stowage items at all – compare this to the DML Super Kit version which has five times as many parts and you’ll understand just how simplified this is! These things can be rectified with a bit or work but, compared to other 1/35 Marder III kits, this does look a little light on the kind of details we have come to expect from more recent kits in this scale.   

So, this isn’t the most detailed or complete Marder in 1/35 but, despite that, I’m rather looking forward to the build. As you probably know if you have read other posts here, I like older kits and kits that are fairly easy to build, and this fits the bill on both counts. I know what I’ll be doing in the evenings over the Festive break!

Alternatives

Tamiya do a rather nice 1/35 Marder III, first released in 2001. This kit seems to have gone through a number of iterations and the latest version is a Marder III Ausf. M Normandy Front. This is an upgraded version of this kit with over 260 parts including additional interior detail, link-and-track lengths and four rather nicely detailed figures.  

https://www.tamiya.com/english/products/35364/index.htm

DML also do a 1/35 Marder III Ausf. M. The basic kit is very nice indeed and it’s also available as a Smart Kit with PE parts and DMLs “magic-track.” The Smart Kit version has over 600 parts and, as you’d guess, the interior is nicely detailed and there are lots of bits and pieces included for stowage.

http://www.dragon-models.com/d-m-item.asp?pid=DRA6464

Links

Marder III on the Italeri web site

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Italeri 1/35 SdKfz 139 Panzerjäger Marder III (6210) Build Review

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