Tag Archives: 1/35

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) Build Review

It’s time to start the build of the StuG IV. I’m looking forward to this one because, in my limited experience, these older Tamiya kits are simple to build and fit is generally very good indeed. Because they were originally designed as motorised kits, the upper and lower hull are separate assemblies that can be joined later in the construction process, and that can make painting things like the roadwheels, sprocket idler and suspension a little simpler. I have decided to use the kit decals to model a StuG of Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237 (formerly Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 237). This unit was formed in February 1944 and took part in action on the Eastern Front in defence against the Soviet offensive known as Operation Bagration.

I’ll be going for an overall dunklegelb (dark yellow) finish without any additional camouflage. As ever, I’ll be brush painting just about everything and I hope to create a slightly battered looking StuG from the early Summer of 1944.

I begin with assembling the various part of the upper and lower hull and the main gun. And it’s immediately obvious that fit is simply superb. Everything assembles with no gaps; the placement of parts is generally clear and there is no need for filler anywhere.

I assemble the upper hull with the loader’s hatch open (I’ll be placing the figure from the kit in this hatch) but with the Commander’s hatch closed. In retrospect, I might have been better to leave the Commander’s hatch open because the kit includes a rather nice representation of the periscopic Commander’s sight.

I also work on the Schurzen side armour at this point. In the kit, all five panels on each side are modelled as a single piece. However, in reality these were separate plates so I carefully cut the armour into five pieces on each side. Each panel is provided with its own mounting points and I’m hoping that cutting out the individual panels will be enough to suggest that these are separate parts without bending the individual panels as I have seen done on some kits. This also gives me the option of leaving out one or more panels, something that was frequently seen on well-used vehicles.

I then spray everything with a base coat of Tamiya TS-68 from an aerosol can, simply because I have a little left in a can and at least it gives me a consistent base to work on.

I’ll be using MIG Jimenez acrylic paint for the main colour, with Dunklegelb Base and Dunklegelb Shine for highlights. One thing I do like about these paints is that they’re translucent, so I apply the Shine first to areas that would reflect more light…

Then I add a top coat of the Base colour, leaving the highlighted areas still just visible.

Next, I carefully paint chipped areas on the upper and lower hull as well as on the gun and mantlet. I use a dark grey to suggest an exposed undercoat and I try to keep it logical – raised areas and places where there would be likely to get wear show more chipping.  

Then, I paint the tyres on the roadwheels and return rollers – not one of my favourite jobs! I also paint the tools, tow cable, jack and MG34 at this stage, and I’m trying a different technique here. I paint all these items dark grey and then highlighted edges and worn areas with a soft pencil.

I’m fairly happy with the result and these are added to the hull and the decals are applied using Vallejo Decal Fix and Decal Softener. The decals are fine, though they do feel a little thick.

Then, and I fix the gun and mantlet in position – a nice touch is that the gun can both traverse and elevate when it’s in place. Everything then gets a coat of clear matte varnish before I start on the oil wash to bring out shadows. I use Abteilung oils dark mud, a fairly dark brown which contrasts nicely with the dark yellow finish. The fine panel detail makes highlighting recessed lines fairly simple.

Then I join the upper and lower hull parts. Hey, it’s starting to look like a StuG!

I assemble the exhaust and give it a coat of Tamiya white putty to simulate a rusty texture and then paint it orange before overpainting with a thick layer of the same oil paint I used for the shadow wash. I then use thinner to rub off some of the oil paint and this gives a blotchy finish that kind of looks like rust. I’m also happy with the effect of the pencil highlights on the tow cable.

Then the tracks get the same treatment as the tools – after a base coat of dark gunmetal and a coat of clear varnish, I use a pencil to add a soft metallic shine to raised areas. When they’re in place I’ll add some brown acrylic wash to suggest rust and dirt.

Wrestling the vinyl tracks into position is fairly simple. They aren’t too tight, though it would be difficult to simulate any sort of sag. However, on this kit the top run of the tracks will be hidden by the Schurzen plates, so this isn’t a major issue.

The figure is next and, once again, I’m really not sure about the information provided by Tamiya. The painting guide on the box. This shows the figure wearing a camouflaged jacket and a green cap and trousers.

The style of the unform is certainly correct with the wrap jacket, but all the references I can find suggest that StuG crews (who were members of the artillery rather than panzer troops) wore grey uniforms throughout the war. So, I give my crewman a grey uniform, which also means I don’t have to attempt a complex camouflage pattern, something I think I’d find very challenging in 1/35 – I have to admit that my figure painting skills aren’t the best! A pistol holster is included in the kit but, as the figure doesn’t have a belt, there isn’t anywhere to hang this. The kit also includes headphones, but these fit so badly on the figure’s head that I leave them off.

The last jobs are to add the two radio antenna and hang the Schurzen plates on either side – they don’t have to be glued in place, so you can display the finished kit with one or more plates missing. And that is the StuG IV pretty much done… 

 After Action Report

Other than adding some rusty texture to the exhaust with Tamiya white putty (and that was the only occasion I needed to use any filler on this kit), cutting the Schurzen side armour into individual plates and adding the radio antenna, this build is straight out of the box. I’m very happy with the result and the kit itself is a sheer pleasure to build. There aren’t a great many tiny parts and what there is fits perfectly. The instructions are generally clear (though I did struggle to understand where to place the rear towing hooks) and there is nothing really challenging in this build.

As with the other old Taimya 1/35 kits I have built, this was just fun and relaxing to build and paint. Perhaps the tracks could be better and there is a gap between the upper hull and the top of the roadwheels that can be seen from some angles through the open loader’s hatch, though it would be simple to fill this with plastic card – I failed to notice until I had joined the upper and lower hull.  I’m sure that more recent kits of the StuG IV provide more detail and things like stowage items on the outside of the hull. Nevertheless, this builds into a reasonable representation of a StuG IV for very little money.

Two generations of German tank destroyer in 1/35

Italeri Marder III behind

Overall, this kit is highly recommended and it might be especially appropriate for someone coming to 1/35 armour kits for the first time.

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Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

I thoroughly enjoyed building a couple of Tamiya 1/35 kits from the 60s and 70s (The Panzer II and M41 Walker Bulldog, as you ask…). So, when I saw another Tamiya kit from the 70s in the Special Offer section of a kit vendor’s website, I didn’t hesitate. What I liked about those other kits was their relative simplicity, as well as the fact that despite being fifty plus years old, they still fit perfectly together to make a reasonable representation of the original.  

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, I don’t much care for lots of tiny parts or a pile of PE. Not only is my eyesight a whole lot worse than it was when I first built kits in the late 1960s, my fingers seem to have got clumsier too and I seem to spend more time than productive on my hands and knees trying to find tiny parts that I have dropped. That’s one of the reasons these old kit appeal to me, but of course there’s a downside in that they’re just not as detailed as some more recent kits.

The mould date on this kit is 1975, which makes it one of the earlier vehicles in the Military Miniatures series. Unsurprisingly, it shares the lower hull, suspension, running gear, Schurzen side armour and tracks from the Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf. H (35054) released in 1975. Like most other Tamiya kits of this period, it was originally produced as a motorised kit and you’ll find holes for switches and mounting places for batteries in the lower hull.  As ever here in Model Kit World, the question is: does this forty-five-year-old kit deserve your attention and your hard-earned cash?

History

The Sturmgeschütz (StuG) IV came about, like many other things in the chaos of wartime Nazi Germany, by accident and at the whim of Adolf Hitler. By early 1943, the value of the StuG III as an anti-tank weapon was very obvious and production of that vehicle increased until it outstripped that of most other German AFVs. However, the continuation of intense fighting on the Eastern Front and the Allied landings in North Africa meant that more still were needed. Krupp, manufacturers of the Panzer IV, submitted a design for a new StuG using modified superstructure from a StuG III Ausf. F mounted on a Panzer IV chassis in February 1943, but this was rejected. The StuG III was considered perfectly adequate and Krupp were directed instead to concentrate on development of the planned Panzerjäger IV, another assault gun that would be equipped with the same 7.5 cm L/70 main gun used on the Panther tank.

A Panzerjäger IV. A fine anti-tank weapon, but relatively few were built due to shortages of the L/70 gun.

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

However, a shortage of the 7.5 cm L/70 guns delayed production of the Panzerjäger IV and in November 1943 an Allied bombing raid on Berlin severely damaged the Altmärkische Kettenwerk (Alkett) works where the StuG III was produced. At a conference in early December, Hitler agreed that a proposal from Krupp for creating a new assault gun by combining the superstructure of the StuG III Ausf. G with the chassis of the Panzer IV should go ahead immediately.

A StuG IV draped with lots of spare track links in Ebling, East Prussia in February 1945.

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

Production of the StuG IV ran from December 1943 to March 1945 and totalled a little over eleven hundred vehicles. All were armed with the same 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 seen on the StuG III in a “Saukopf” (pig snout) mantlet and most were fitted with Schurzen side armour to protect against attack by hollow-charge projectiles and a rough, zimmerit anti-magnetic coating. By this stage of the war, most Sturmgeschütz (Assault Guns) were being as much used for their ability as tank-killers as for their original purpose of providing mobile fire support to infantry units.  No co-axial machine gun was fitted on the StuG IV but an MG34 on a shielded mount was provided on the upper hull. The StuG IV served on the Eastern front, in Italy and in Western Europe following the Allied landings in Normandy and it proved just as effective as the StuG III in the tank-killing role.

A StuG IV and crew

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

All German AFVs in World War Two were given an inventory number by the ordinance department. However and oddly, the StuG IV seems to have had two different numbers. This vehicle was classified as a Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Special Purpose Vehicle, usually abbreviated as Sd.Kfz.) and it appears on some versions of the ordinance department designation lists twice, as Sd.Kfz. 163, “Sturmgeschütz IV” and as Sd.Kfz. 167, “Sturmgeschütz IV mit 7,5 cm StuK 40”. I don’t really understand that as all StuG IVs were fitted with the same main gun but it probably explains why this kit is designated as “Sd.Kfz. 163” while almost all other StuG IV kits are shown as “Sd.Kfz. 167.” I suspect that Tamiya may have got it wrong here and the most common designation for this vehicle in Wermacht service seems to have been Sd.Kfz. 167.

What’s in the Box?

This box contains four sprues moulded in light brown plastic, the lower hull, two rubber-band style tracks, a set of soft plastic polycap retainers for the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets, a set of decals and the instructions.

The parts seem crisply moulded with good surface detail. A single figure in appropriate uniform is provided as well as Schurzen side armour and optional concrete block additional armour for the left and right sides of the hull front. No zimmerit finish is modelled.

Decals are provided for several units including 2nd Panzer Division, 9th Panzer Division, 116th Panzer Division and the Panzer-Lehr Division as well as three different Assault Gun Brigades. That covers vehicles serving on the Eastern Front and in Normandy, Belgium and Germany following the Allied landings. You can make up your own three-digit identification number because you are provided with several numerals in red with white outlines and a set of “kill” markings for the barrel are also included. The decal sheet actually references a different Tamiya kit – it’s from the Jagdpanzer IV kit (35088). But that kit doesn’t include side identification numbers, so I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.  

The suggested colour scheme is overall “dark yellow” which sounds right as all German tanks after February 1943 were finished in overall dunkelgelb. The instructions also correctly note that in the field, tanks were often camouflaged with brown (rotbraun) and green (olivgrün) paint applied either by brush or by spraying.

There are a total of well over 200 parts here, and detail generally looks good though there is a complete lack of any items representing stowage on the rear hull.

The flexible vinyl tracks have reasonable detail on the external surfaces but rather less on the inside – presumably this is a legacy from this kit’s motorised origin.

The instructions are the usual Tamiya fare and are generally clear with good, three-dimensional views of all steps of construction. The text is somewhat clumsy in terms of English usage, but there is nothing here that should cause any major problems. The instructions also provide a some very brief history of the StuG III and IV.

Would You Want One?

A quick look at the parts in the box suggests that this shares many good things with other early Tamiya kits: there aren’t too many tiny parts, what there is looks crisply moulded with decent surface detail and, going on my previous experience of similar kits, I’d expect everything to fit together nicely.

The lack of stowage bins and items for the rear hull is a little disappointing, but crafting these from scratch or the spares box shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of most modellers. The lack of a zimmerit finish is also notable as many, perhaps most, StuG IVs, carried this distinctive, wrinkled finish.

There are a number of alternatives if you fancy a kit of the StuG IV in 1/35 but you want something a little more modern and with additional detail. Dragon do a very nice early production StuG IV which is available both with and without zimmerit finish. Smart-Kit versions of this kit feature individual link tracks, PE parts in brass and nickel and a part-count of over nine hundred! Academy released a new-tool version of the StuG IV kit in 2018 to replace a previous version from 1986. This is another very nice kit featuring high detail, some slide-moulded parts and detailed vinyl tracks.

The thing is, this Tamiya kit, like many of the other early kits from the Military Miniatures series, is available for considerably less cash than either of those others. Does that matter? Well, the price isn’t a deal-breaker for most of us I guess, but this is available at somewhere between half and one third of the price of the others. I like that and I’m sure that this old kit can be turned into something decent. I’m really looking forward to this build!

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Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) Build Review

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

It’s time to start the build of the Marder, and I’m a little nervous. I don’t own an airbrush and on previous 1/35 kits I have used acrylic spray-cans for the base colour. Despite what the instructions recommend, I’m going for overall panzer grey here to model a Marder in Russia in late 1942. I don’t have a spray-can of the right colour and I plan to brush-paint everything. Which of course brings its own particular challenges…

I begin with assembling the hull and almost straight away, it is clear that this kit has some fit issues. The first problem is that the rear right side of the engine compartment is badly bent. Now, I don’t think this is an issue with the kit itself, more probably in the way that this example has been stored, but it’s very noticeable. The picture above shows the assembled rear hull after I tried to straighten it out, but it’s still not straight. The second issue becomes obvious on dry assembly – the overall fit here just isn’t great, particularly round the rear hull. Compared to, for example, some Tamiya kits from the same period, parts just don’t fit together positively and a great deal of care is needed to avoid lots of unsightly gaps.

With the addition of some filler to the worst gaps, the hull is largely complete and it’s clear that there isn’t much internal detail here other than a couple of seats and a shell storage rack. I may add some helmets, gas-mask cases and other bits and pieces from the spares box to add visual interest later though, to be honest, the interior is largely hidden by the gun, mount and armour. The anti-slip mesh on the floor is quite nicely done, but it’s marred by some very obvious sink-marks and these are impossible to remove without sanding away the mesh. I paint the interior off-white, then add a layer of clear varnish and a wash of dark grey oil paint. This does enhance the detail, but it also makes the sink-marks very obvious.

Then, it’s time to work on the rest of the hull, though I’ll be leaving the upper guards off until the tracks are complete. The suspension parts fit well and without any major drama. Actually, most parts added to the hull fit fairly well, which is a relief. With the main hull done, I give that and the armour a couple of coats of well-thinned (to avoid obvious brush marks) coat of Vallejo German Grey.

Then, I rub with a household scourer to remove paint from details, high spots and edges.

Then, everything gets a very thin, lightened coat of Vallejo German Grey which leaves the highlights still visible.

Then, I add the decals and it all gets a coat of clear, acrylic varnish and then a wash of thinned black oil paint to enhance the shadows and some white streaks to give some variation to main panels. For some reason, the camera makes these look much more intense than they really are – they’re barely noticeable lighter areas, not white stripes! 

Then it’s time to start work on the gun and mount. The barrel is moulded in two halves and, though they have locating pins, fit once again isn’t great and it takes quite a bit of sanding and the use of filler to get something approximately circular and smooth.  

Overall, detail on the gun is quite good, but the location for some parts isn’t very clear and the instructions aren’t a great help. Once it’s done, it gets a couple of coats of German Grey.

Then I rub off the high spots and give it a final coat of lightened German Grey. And then a wash of black oil paint and some white streaking. Then I highlight the control wheels in a light gunmetal and add the gun shield.

The road and return wheels, idlers and sprockets get the same treatment and the tyres are painted in dark grey. Then it’s time to work on the tracks. I’ll be assembling these on the running gear and then removing them for painting. Assembly isn’t particularly difficult and the instructions are clear. However, I do note one odd thing – the instructions state that seven single track links should be used on the rear idler and six on the front sprocket, but if you do that, this is the result…

Happily, there are plenty of spare single track links provided, so it’s simple to add another on the sprocket on both sides. Then the tracks are removed and painted. I keep this pretty simple – a base coat of dark gunmetal, highlights picked out in a lighter gunmetal and then an acrylic brown wash to simulate rust and dirt.

Then, I add the painted tracks to the hull. I’m happy with the result and this wasn’t nearly as fiddly as some track-and-link kits I have built. Finishing the tracks is always a good moment during the construction of any AFV as it really starts to look like a tracked vehicle.

Then, I add the track-guards, the rear storage and some other bits and pieces. The deformation in the rear hull causes some issues when fitting the guards, but with a bit of fiddling, it doesn’t look too bad. There are also some very evident sink-marks on the upper surfaces of the guards, and I’ll try to cover these with spare track links. After some more varnishing and oil wash, the hull is pretty much done.

Then, the gun and mount are attached to the hull which is straightforward. Finally, it’s starting to look a bit like a Marder.

Then, the top and side armour panels are then added and that’s another frustrating experience. There is a complete absence of mounting guides on the armour panels or the hull to say where and how these fit. It’s just way too easy to get the whole armour construction too far forward (or back) or to find that it’s not straight – I managed all three at various points before arriving at something I could live with. It takes a fair amount of referring to photographs of real Marders to work out where everything goes and some care and attention to make sure things are the same on both sides.

And finally the last parts like the exhaust, tools, jack and spare tracks links are added. The final touch is the addition, from my spares box, of helmets, gas-mask containers and an MP40 in the rear stowage and the addition of a radio antenna. I left out the expended shell casings provided with the kit, partly because they look a little oversize and mostly because my attempt to mix a brass colour looked so horrible. Finally, everything gets a well-thinned coat of matt varnish mixed with a little Panzer Grey. This tones everything in and reduces highlights while still leaving them visible.

And that is the Marder done.  

After Action Report

Other than drilling out the exhaust and adding some rusty texture to the same part with Tamiya white putty and adding a couple of bits and pieces to the rear stowage, this build is straight out of the box. Like just about every other kit I have attempted, this has both positives and negatives. The biggest negative is poor or imprecise fitting, especially in the hull and upper armour though this also applies to many smaller parts – almost every time there is a part with pegs intended to fit in locating holes, they either don’t fit without sanding or the locating holes are not provided and must be drilled-out. The instructions aren’t always great either, and I had to refer to some pictures of actual Marder IIIs to be certain about where some parts fitted. That said, there is nothing here that’s a complete disaster.

Set against that, the suspension, running gear and tracks are well done, the gun is fairly detailed and simple to construct and I’m happy with how these parts of the kit look now that they’re finished. Brush painting any 1/35 kit is a challenge, but overall I’m fairly happy with how this looks now it’s finished. There aren’t too many obvious brush-marks and I feel that the highlighting of things like rivets, bolts and other high-spots adds to the overall effect. 

Compared to more modern kits, I’m aware that interior and exterior detail here is sparse and I do feel that this kit would benefit greatly from the inclusion of two or more nicely detailed, convincingly-posed figures (I know, it comes with two figures but frankly, you probably aren’t going to want to use either of them).

Overall, this was a pleasant kit to build. Fit frustrations mean that it wasn’t quite as relaxing as, for example, some Tamiya kits of a similar vintage, but I generally enjoyed building this Italeiri Marder and the finished model does look pretty much like the original. If you can find one (especially a version like this, with length-and-link tracks) I recommend this as a pleasant way to spend a few evenings. And that, after all, is why we do this…

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

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. The Marder is a tiny vehicle and it would have been nice to have figures to give it scale, but I’m not sure 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 II on the Italeri web site

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Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) Build Review

Construction of the PaK 35/36 itself is very straightforward and the instructions show clearly what’s needed. Fit of, for example, the main parts of the loading section and breech is not great and some filler is need to avoid a visible seam on the top. Getting the forward part of the barrel absolutely straight also takes a little bit of care.

The wheels, chassis and stabilising legs are all added. I am leaving off the shield until I have finished basic painting.

I then do a basic assembly of the main parts of the figures. Quite a lot of filler is needed, particularly at the shoulders and where the legs join on to the torsos. At least the poses don’t look too bad. The shell that the loader is clutching in his right hand really does look a little silly – it’s just too small, so I cut it off and I will replace it later with one of the loose shells from the kit.

I have made a small base out of an old picture frame and I try placing the gun and figures on this, just to see how everything will fit. I am aiming for a muddy lane, somewhere in Russia in the Autumn of 1941, and I have used some strips of plastic card to suggest the basic layout.

Then, it’s back to the gun. First, everything gets a lightened coat of Vallejo German Grey (I find the base colour too dark).

Then some light chipping is added and the tyres get a coat of dark grey.

Then, the shield is added and everything gets a wash of dark oil paint. And that’s pretty much the PaK finished.

Next, it’s on to painting the figures. The faces and hands are done in an approximate flesh colour and then a wash of dark brown oil paint is added. Then tunics are painted in green and belts, collars and epaulettes are added in black – the Tamiya paint scheme suggest bottle-green for the collars, but by the time of the Russian Campaign most German Army uniforms featured black collars. I use a fairly light green for the tunics because I intend to add a wash of dark green oil paint which will darken the overall colour and provide some shadow detail in folds and creases.

I’m going for grey rather than green for trousers as this seems to have been fairly common. Again, I use a light grey acrylic paint and then add a darker grey oil wash to darken things down and add shadows.

Finally, boots are painted dark grey and helmets and pieces of equipment are added. Here’s the finished commander figure.

I try the loader and gunner next to the gun. Neither relates particularly well to the PaK, and I still think the hands on the gunner look like bunches of bananas!

Nest, the base. I make the muddy ground out of exterior filler and add some small stones and debris from my wife’s cactus garden (don’t tell her!). I press the gun and figures into the filler before it’s completely dry so that all will appear to sit in rather than on the muddy surface.

Then it gets painted with several shades of brown – it looks very dark in this photo for some reason and the overall effect is actually much lighter.

Then, I make some “mud” out of a mix of brown paint, coffee grounds and PVA glue and add this to the tyres of the gun and the boots of the figures.

Then the figures and gun are placed on the base, ammo boxes are added and a few empty shell-casings scattered around. And it’s done…

After Action Report

This was straightforward and simple build, something I really appreciate. As far as I can tell, the PaK 35/36 is a reasonable representation of the actual weapon.

The figures aren’t as bad as I had expected, but they’re not up to current standards either. The poses are OK, but there is nothing dynamic or interesting and the lack of facial expressions is disappointing. It took a fair bit of filler to get reasonable joins and even then, they aren’t perfect.

That said, I’m not too unhappy with the finished result. The poses mean that the faces are mostly in shadow and/or hidden, which, given my lack of skill at painting faces, is probably a good thing. And given that this kit is just so cheap, it’s a great way of practising if, like me, you aren’t sure of your ability to paint 1/35 figures.

If you simply want to build a kit of the Pak 35/36, or if you’re going for a diorama and you can accept the limitations of early 1970s figures, I can heartily recommend this as a quick and satisfying build.

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Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

This time, a review of another Tamiya 1/35 kit from the early 1970s; the PaK 35/36 first released in 1974 as number 35 in the Military Miniatures series. I find myself increasingly drawn to these older kits, though I’m not entirely certain why. Nostalgia, certainly, but I also appreciate the simplicity of these old kits. This one doesn’t seem to have changed at all since its first release, though it was re-boxed in 1988.

This kit was available silly-cheap here in Spain and, as ever, I was unable to resist a bargain. However, there is one thing that does worry me slightly about this kit; it comes with a crew of four. Now, building a tank or armoured vehicle buttoned-up and without figures is fine, but I don’t see how I can avoid using figures here. Are old Tamiya figures really as bad as some reviews seem to suggest? Will my less than perfect eyesight allow me to paint figures in any level of detail? Is this elderly, cheap kit worth spending time on?

Let’s take a look and find out…

History

The PanzerAbwehrKanone (PaK) 35/36 was developed by Rheinmetall as a crew-served anti-tank weapon light enough to be manouvred into position by its crew of three and capable of being towed behind a vehicle or pack animal. It began to enter service with the German Army in 1935 and it fitted well with the armoured tactics being developed at that time.

The German army was experimenting with panzer formations that used tanks supported by motorised infantry. Part of the doctrine inviolved the aggressive use of anti-tank weapons. While most nations still viewed these as mainly defensive weapons, in the German Army there were plans to use anti-tank weapons to support tank-led assaults. To be effective in this role the weapons had to be easily manouvrable and capable of being brought into action rapidly. The PaK 35/36 fitted this role well.

A PaK 35/36 on the Eastern Front

Fitted with an L45 barrel, the Pak 35/36 was capable of firing a variety of rounds including HE and armour-piercing. This weapon first saw service with German and Spanish troops fighting on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) where it proved very effective in use against Soviet-supplied light tanks such as the BT-5 and T-26.

By the beginning of World War Two, large numbers of PaK 35/36 were in use but, for the first time they came up against tanks such as the French Char B1 and the British Matilda which both had frontal armour that this weapon was unable to penetrate. When the German Army invaded Russia in 1941, the PaK 35/36 was still effective against Russian light tanks, but completely ineffective against the T-34 and KV series. By 1942 it had gained the contemptuous nickname Heeresanklopfgerat (Army Door Knocker) in the German Army.

A PaK 35/36 ready to fire a Stielgranate 41

An attempt was made to provide the PaK 35/35 with additional anti-armour capability with the introduction of the Stielgranate 41, a hollow-charge projectile with stabilising tail-fins that could be launched from the barrel of the gun. However, this proved inaccurate and required the gun to be dangerously close to its target. Production of the PaK 35/36 ended in 1942 though this weapon remained in German Army service until the end of World War Two. It was also fitted to some vehicles including the SdKfz 251 half-track in an attempt to provide a light, mobile, anti-armour weapon.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains just two sprues, one moulded in dark grey plastic and the other in a green/grey. There are also the usual Tamiya instructions in Japanese and English giving some detail of the history of the PaK 35/36, and that’s it. There are no decals here but then most of these guns carried no markings.

The grey sprue contains all the parts required to construct the gun itself. Mouldings are generally clean and fairly sharp and there is very little flash.

A nice surprise is the gun barrel itself – I had expected that I would have to drill this out, but it is moulded open. The wheels and tyres are nicely done with the correct five-bolt mounting, a hole in the wheel where the tyre valve would be accessed and “Continental” markings on the tyres.

Detail on the front of gun shield is good, but the reverse shows four fairly obvious sink-marks that will have to be cleaned-up. Parts are also provided to build a single Stielgranate 41 as well as three ammunition boxes and shell casings and un-fired shells.

Three parts are also provided to allow the PaK 35/36 to be mounted on the Tamiya 1/35 SdKfz 251 half-track.  

The other sprue contains parts for the four crew-members; the PaK 35/36 was generally served by a crew of three – commander, gunner and loader, but the kit also contains a fourth soldier, dragging up an additional ammunition box.

Detail on the figures looks sort of OK, but not nearly as sharp as you will see on modern 1/35 figures. The uniforms look reasonable for the early part of the war but things like hands are not particularly well done (the gunner notably seems to have a bunch of bananas attached to each wrist) and the faces are devoid of expression. It is difficult to tell if the poses are good until I actually start construction.

Would You Want One?

In terms of accuracy, what you get in the box isn’t bad and the addition of things like the ammunition boxes and Stielgranate 41 are nice touches. However, the supplied 3.7cm ammunition does not look particularly convincing and the shell that the loader is holding in his hand looks notably smaller than the others.

I simply don’t know enough about the PaK 35/36 to know if the parts modelled are accurate. Looking at photographs, the gun shield, wheels and towing/stabilising legs look reasonable but other parts seem to have been simplified or even left out entirely.

Overall, there is nothing here that makes me wince. The gun itself looks fairly simple to construct but I’m more than a little nervous about my ability to paint the figures effectively and I suppose that I will really have to think about constructing some sort of diorama base to display the gun and crew. Overall I’m looking forward to building this and, if it all goes wrong, at little more than the price of a couple of beers, I won’t have lost much.

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I began construction with the turret. The main gun is moulded in two halves, and it does take some careful sanding to remove evidence of the join. The upper and lower halves of the turret itself join on what would be a weld line on the original, and this continues at an angle to meet the top edge. It was fairly simple to sand a small bevel on the joining surfaces and add a small piece of plastic rod to replicate the weld.

Then I added the canvas blast-shield. I used tissue paper and PVA glue, carefully building up layers to achieve a suitably wrinkled look. I also added a small extension tube in front of the co-axial mg using clear plastic tubing, as that is what most photographs seem to show. It took several attempts to get a reasonable look, but I’m not too unhappy with the result.

I added the hatch and other parts to the turret and gave the canvas screen a quick coat of acrylic dark green, which showed up a couple of areas that needed further work. I also added a little filler to the rear of the turret to cover some small gaps.

Then, the turret got a coat of Vallejo spray olive drab.

Then I added the decals (I’m going for a tank of the JGSDF) and painted the canvas screen.

Next, I started work on the hull. The holes in the lower hull were filled using pieces of plastic card and Tamiya white putty.

I added the driver’s hatch and other parts to the upper hull and joined the upper and lower hull halves. Don’t forget to add the ends of the exhausts before you join the upper and lower halves of the hull – they insert from underneath. In retrospect, I should also have added some clear plastic to the interior of the driver’s vision slots – these are fairly large and obviously open on the finished model.

Then the hull got a coat of olive green and the exhausts were given some rough texture with Tamiya white putty and painted a rust colour – most photographs seem to show well rusted exhaust shields on M41s. I also added the decals to the hull at this stage.

Both hull and turret were given some light chipping before both were treated to a coat of clear varnish.

Then I added some shadows and general staining on both turret and hull with Abteilung Oils Dark Mud, which is actually a dark grey. I also applied a wash of dark brown oil to the canvas screen.

The Sprockets, roadwheels, return wheels and Idlers are all very cleanly moulded. I painted the tyres dark grey, a fairly easy task because there is a clear distinction in these parts, then these too were given a coat of varnish and a wash of Dark Mud.

The tracks were painted a fairly light gunmetal, the rubber blocks were painted dark grey and then a brown wash was applied to these, the running rear and lower hull.

Then it was on to final assembly. The only change I made was to replace the radio antenna with some thin plastic rod, though I kept the kit bases. With the addition of some streaks on the hull and turret using white oil paint, it was finished…   

After Action Report

I accept that this is not the most detailed or accurate 1/35 armour kit available, but, here’s the thing; I really enjoyed this build, far more than some other recent builds. Why? Well, it’s a simple and straightforward build for one thing. There is nothing challenging or complex here and very few tiny parts to be eaten by the carpet monster. Enjoyment is an under-rated factor in kit-building – after all, most of us do this for pleasure and relaxation and for me, this one really hit the spot.

Other than attempting to create a canvas screen round the mantlet and making a weld-bead on the turret, this is entirely out-of-the-box. I know, there are lots of other things I could have done including fabricating a tow cable, adding the strengthening struts on the side of the stowage boxes and other bits and pieces but you know what? I don’t care. I’m satisfied with the finished result and creating it provided me with several hours of pleasure. Add that to the fact that this is a very low-cost kit and you have something that is close to the definition of cheap and cheerful.

Despite its age, the parts in this kit are cleanly moulded, everything fits well and there is nothing complex or fiddly involved construction or painting. This is, in every sense, an old-school kit. You have to be prepared to either put in some time to make improvements or to simply accept this for what it is – a reasonable but not perfect representation of an M41. With those caveats, I heartily recommend this kit to anyone looking to while away a few pleasant evenings.

Now, all I need to find is a 1/35 Godzilla foot so I can build an appropriate diorama…

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Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

When I recently bought the Tamiya Panzer II, I was amazed to discover that it dates from all the way back to 1971. The Panzer II is number nine in the Military Miniatures series and this kit, the M41 Walker Bulldog, is number fifty-five. Seeing that, I assumed that this was from the mid-1970s, but a bit of research reveals that this kit actually first appeared in 1964! It was re-boxed as part of the MM series in 1975, but this kit is heading for sixty-years old.

This must be one of the earliest Tamiya 1/35 tanks – their very first, a Panther, was introduced in 1962. This was originally produced as a motorised kit and this shows in several places – there are several openings in the lower hull intended for switches and connections, the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets are attached using polycap retainers so they can revolve and the rubber bands style tracks are designed as much for operation as for looks.   

I really enjoy building early kits – I don’t really care for a box full of tiny parts or lots of PE and older kits tend to be simpler in terms of construction and much lower in cost. I am still very much at the stage of re-learning my kit-building and painting skills so older kits are ideal. However, on some, detail can be missing or simplified and kits produced on fifty-plus year-old moulds can be less than perfect. Is this kit still worth your attention?

History

In 1947 work began in the US on the design of a light tank to replace the M24 Chaffee which had seen limited use in the later stages of World War Two. The main problem with the Chaffee was its 75mm main gun. Light tanks were traditionally not expected to fight other tanks, being more concerned with reconnaissance and infantry support, but experience with the M24 and the earlier M5 Stuart suggested that it was sensible for any light tank to be able to defend itself against enemy armour.

The intention was to create a tank that was sufficiently light to be air-transportable, faster than the M24, reasonably well-armoured and capable of mounting the powerful M32 76mm main gun. The sheer size of the breech block on the M32 meant that that the new tank was much larger and heavier than the M24. Although the M41 had similar armour thickness to the M24, the finished tank was five tons heavier, which made air-transport generally impracticable.

Suspension was provided by torsion bars with five road wheels on each side, the sprocket at the rear and idler at the front. The Continental AOS 895-3 6-cylinder gasoline engine gave good top speed at 45mph but range was limited to one hundred miles and the interior of the tank was cramped and noisy. The main gun was supplemented by a co-axial .30 cal Browning Machine-gun and a .50 cal Browning machine-gun mounted on a pintle close to the commander’s cupola.  

Production of the M41 began in 1952 at Cadillac’s Cleveland Tank Plant. This tank was initially identified as the Little Bulldog, but it was re-named the Walker Bulldog following the death of US General Walton Walker in a jeep accident in Korea on 1950. The M41 arrived too late to see combat in the Korean War, though some were shipped to US forces in Korea for evaluation. The original M41A1 was upgraded to become the A2 and then A3, but these changes were mainly to the engine and fuel injection systems and externally, all three variants are identical.

An M41 of the AVRN in Saigon, 1968

The M41 first saw combat in 1961 during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA obtained five M41s and supplied these to Cuban exiles opposed to the regime of Fidel Castro. The M41s destroyed a number of Cuban T-34/85s before all were captured. The M41 was also used by US forces in Vietnam, but none saw combat against North-Vietnamese tanks. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (AVRN) was supplied with large numbers of M41s by the US and this became the main tank used by that army. In Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, M41s of the AVRN saw combat against North-Vietnamese T-54 and PT-76 tanks. Seven T-54s and sixteen PT-76s were destroyed by M41s during this action.

M41s of the Bundeswehr’s 3rd Panzer Division, 1957

The M41 was also used by several NATO countries and over one hundred M41s were supplied to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), the new Japanese Army created in 1954. The M41 saw combat with the JGSDF, but only against Godzilla; spoiler alert – the powerful 76mm main gun proved surprisingly ineffective in the anti-giant stompy monster role.

Production of the M41 ended in the 1950s and in early 1969 the M41 began to be replaced by the M551 Sheridan in US Army service.

What’s in the Box?

This box contains four sprues and the upper and lower hull sections, all moulded in dark green plastic. Items such as the roadwheels are nicely moulded but with prominent seams on the tyres. There are also two black, rubber-band style tracks, soft plastic polycap retainers for the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets, a set of decals and instructions.

There are a total of 125 parts here, but one whole sprue contains only parts and accessories for the three figures provided. The commander figure is just about useable, but the two infantrymen are not – both are wearing World War Two style uniforms and are therefore not appropriate for use with the post-war M41.

The upper hull is reasonably detailed and the moulding is very crisp indeed considering how old this kit is.

The torsion rod arms and other parts are all moulded integral with the lower hull, not something you would expect to see on a current 1/35 kit. There are also several holes in the lower hull that are there to accommodate switches and other items on the motorised version.

The polycap collars are used to mount the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets. The tracks have good detail on the outer surface but no detail at all on the inner surface other than the track horns. This is presumably a legacy from this kit’s motorised origins.

There are two things that are notably missing here; there is no tow cable, and these were fitted to all US tanks of this period, and the canvas blast-shroud over the mantlet is not included. The instructions go into a fair amount of detail on how to make a blast-shroud out of one of the plastic bags in which the kit parts are packed, but I suspect that there are better ways of doing this.

The instructions are generally clear with good, three-dimensional views of all steps of construction. The text is somewhat clumsy in terms of English usage, but there is nothing here that should cause any major problems. The instructions also provide a fairly detailed history of the M41 and here there is a strong clue to this kit’s age; the M41 is described as a current US tank and it is noted that it may be replaced by the M551 Sheridan at some point in the future – that actually happened in 1969.

Three sets of decals are provided, one for a US Army tank of an unidentified unit and two for tanks of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).  

Would You Want One?

Look, this is a kit that’s heading for sixty years old, so don’t expect current levels of detail or accuracy! That said, this is available very cheap, it certainly doesn’t look terrible in the box and it is a good way to practise those painting and weathering skills.

Be aware that you are going to have to fabricate at least the canvas blast shield on the mantlet – this is characteristic of virtually all M41s and the finished kit is going to look very odd without it. Some detail is also simplified or missing entirely – the bracing struts on the outside of the hull storage bins, for example, are missing and the radio antenna are too short and too fat. The good news is that the missing detail is fairly simple to add and the overall size and proportions of the main parts look right. The M41 was used by armies around the world, so with alternative decals and paint this kit could be built to represent a tank in another service.

There are relatively few other 1/35 scale M41s out there; the only one that I am aware of is the AFV Club M41A3 released in 2002. This is a very nicely detailed kit that includes a turned aluminium barrel, though you will still have to fabricate your own canvas blast screen. However, the AFV Club M41 is quite hard to find and it is three or more times the price of the Tamiya version. Is it three times as good? For me, the answer is; probably not.

What you get here is a kit that was state-of-the-art in the 1960s. It may not be in that league now, but it is still actually a pretty decent kit for not much money. I like kits that are simple to build and I’m willing to sacrifice a little detail for that, but you may feel differently. For me, I’m looking forward to building this one more than, for example, the more complex HobbyBoss T-37A I built recently. Old school can still be cool.    

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HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) Build Review

The main issue for me in this build is the tracks. These are individual links (more than eighty on each side) and assembling these will be a challenge and means a slightly different approach to construction. Normally, I would paint the hull and things like roadwheels, suspension units and sprockets separately and before assembly. Here, I need all the running gear assembled and in place on the lower hull before I can begin to build the tracks.

I begin by building all four suspension bogies. These are not complicated, but fit is a little imprecise and it takes some careful alignment to get all the roadwheels lined up. Then I attached all four bogies to the lower hull and here I found the fit to be poor. There is a square lug on each bogie that locates in a hole in the lower hull. However, it took some careful propping while the glue set to get everything to line up.

The sprockets, idlers and return roller all fit well. Here is the complete suspension attached to the lower hull.

Then, it’s time to start building the tracks. The individual links are tiny – here are eleven on a 2p coin. I want to glue the complete track length on each side as two separate pieces that can then be removed for painting.

Each link must be carefully cut off the sprue and then sanded – not easy when they are so small. Engagement between the links is not particularly positive – the leading edges of each links engage with tiny slots on the adjacent link. However, a little too much enthusiasm when sanding can make the leading edges uneven which makes the tracks curve. You need to do this 174 times, so it’s not a quick process. At least there are plenty of spare links if the carpet monster gets a few.

I started with the straight run at the bottom and gradually added links up to the sprocket and idler, being careful to glue the links to each other but not to the sprocket and idler. I used AK quick-drying liquid cement which worked well. I was feeling quite good about this until I spotted that the tracks were upside down! After a few expletives, I found that it wasn’t too difficult to remove the tracks and turn them round.

Next, I started working on the upper run and here I wanted to add sag between the return rollers. To do this I used a little tape to create a curve on a piece of plastic card and assembled each of the three parts of the upper run using this as a template. These were then joined to form a single upper run. I did not join this to the lower run so that the tracks could be removed for painting. Here is the finished track on one side.

Building the tracks took way longer than I expected and it certainly isn’t perfect but, if I’m honest, it turned out better than I expected. It is certainly much more time-consuming than using rubber-band type tracks or even track-and-link sections, but, from the side at least, I think it looks better too.

Then, the tracks were removed and the upper hull was added along with the hatches, vents and other parts and PE parts. Fit here was generally very good and I didn’t need to use any filler. I left off the tools and exhaust which I will paint separately and the buoyancy tanks which I will add after the tracks are painted and assembled. One thing I did notice was that the hinged splash guard on the upper front of the glacis plate isn’t mentioned in the assembly instructions – it’s not there on one step and appears in the next, but fortunately it isn’t difficult to see where it belongs.

Next, the turret was assembled. Fit was good but a little filler was needed at the front edge of the hatch.

Then, everything got a coat of Vallejo spray olive drab, the tyres were painted on the roadwheels, idlers and return wheels and a little light chipping was added.

Then, the white cross was painted on the turret and everything got a coat of clear varnish.

The assembled track lengths were painted with dark gunmetal and lighter highlights on the internal horns and treads.

The tracks were added to the hull with a dark brown acrylic wash to represent mud and rust and Abteilung Oils Dark Mud was used to add highlights and streaks.

Then the buoyancy tanks were added. Finally, the tools and exhaust were added to the hull and the decals and machine-gun added to the turret. And that’s pretty much it finished!

After Action Report

Apart from the tracks, this was a fairly simple build. Fit is reasonable, though not great in places – getting the suspension bogies to line-up wasn’t easy, for example. There are no really tiny parts and the instructions are easy to follow.  

I found building the tracks to be a bit of a pain. No matter how careful I was, I still ended up with some links that just don’t line up properly with those adjacent – this is particularly noticeable looking from the front or rear. Engagement between the links is not great and it is just too easy to sand off a fraction too much when cleaning up the individual links – this, I think, is what leads to some not being straight. Viewed from the side, the sag is satisfactory and the tracks look all-right. I don’t think I would be inclined to tackle another kit of a tank this small using individual links like this though on a kit of a larger tank or where the engagement between links was more positive and didn’t rely on sanding for alignment, it might be OK.

Overall, detail is good and, looking at photographs, this appears to be an accurate representation of the T-37A. The detail is perfectly adequate and the PE parts are a nice touch.

If you have the patience and persistence to deal with the tracks, this can build into a perfectly reasonable kit of a little-known light tank. If you can find it, as I did, at a reduced price, I would highly recommend it.

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HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) In-Box Review and History

HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

I am into uncharted territory here with a review of a tank I had never heard of from a kit manufacturer I have never come across before. This was an impulse buy from a local stockist who was offering this at a silly price. I like light tanks and when I saw that this kit includes PE parts (something I haven’t tried before) I decided to give it a go.

This kit was originally released by HobbyBoss in 2013 and this is a re-box with new parts released in 2014. One of the first things I wanted to know is; who is HobbyBoss? All I have been able to discover is that this is a Chinese company that has some sort of relationship with Trumpeter – the two companies list the same address and both are owned by Yatai Electric Appliances Co., Ltd. Some sites claim that Trumpeter make kits under license for Hobby Boss but I have not been able to confirm that.  

The company website lists an extensive list of 1/35 armour which includes a number of interesting inter-war designs including the Soviet BT-2 and the Vickers Medium Tank Mk II. I rather like that and it makes a nice change from the usual Tigers, Panthers and Shermans. HobbyBoss also produce armour in other scales and a range of ship and aircraft kits.

History

Back in the 1930s, the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to investigate the use of large-scale air-mobile units – the first Russian Airborne Brigade was formed in December 1932. Like all airborne forces, Russian airborne troops lacked armour and the T-37A was born out of a combination of a requirement for a light tank capable of being air-dropped and for an amphibious tank capable of not just fording rivers but also crossing larger bodies of water and impassable swampy terrain.

In the UK, Vickers-Carden-Loyd had produced an experimental amphibious light tank in 1930. This used the running gear from the Mk. VI tankette produced by the same company and flotation was achieved by adding two large buoyancy tanks above the tracks. The British Army was not interested in an amphibious tank and Carden-Loyd looked for foreign buyers for this radical design. In February 1932, eight Carden-Loyd A4E11 Amphibious Tanks were sold to Russia and these provided the basis for what would become the T-37A. However, though it was based on the British design, the T-37A was a completely new tank.

A Carden-Loyd A4E11 Amphibious Tank

The lower hull was rounded front and rear to provide better performance in water, a power-take-off from the GAZ-AA engine drove a small two-bladed propeller and water steering was achieved using a large rudder. The two buoyancy tanks above the tracks were filled with cork or balsa wood. A revolving turret housed a single DT model 1929 machine gun. The T-37A housed a crew of just two men and in order to keep its weight down, armour was very light, barely capable of deflecting even heavy machine-gun rounds.

A column of T-37As

By the end of 1936, over 1,200 T-37As had been produced, making this the most popular amphibious tank in the world at that time. Experiments were carried out with air-dropping the T-37A from the large TB-3 bomber. No parachute was used – instead the T-37A was dropped into lakes or large rivers. These experiments were only moderately successful, several of the tanks sank, and the T-37A was never used operationally in this way. However, the ability of this tank to cross rivers, lakes and marshy ground made it an attractive proposition to the Red Army as a reconnaissance vehicle.

An early T-37 demonstrates its amphibious ability

T-37As were used in the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939 and in the Winter War against Finland. The Finnish Army captured more than thirty T-37As and used these for several years. When the German Army invaded Russia in 1941, the T-37A was quickly found to be a liability in action against German armour and most were relegated to auxiliary defence units in rear area. However, the T-37A continued in use with the Red Army up to late 1944 and a number survived the war in operational condition. A memorial parade in Moscow in 2011 featured three T-37As.  

What’s in the Box?

This box contains nine sprues moulded in dark green plastic plus the lower hull and seven sprues containing the track links moulded in light brown plastic. This kit models the later type T-37A with a flat glacis plate.

Detail is generally very sharp, there is no flash and no obvious sink-marks. A nice touch is that delicate parts are protected on the sprues by being wrapped in protective paper. It is also good to see that the tools and other small parts are all moulded separately.

The driver’s hatch can only be shown in the closed position and there is no detail inside the driver’s position.

There are four identical sprues, each containing all the parts to make one complete suspension bogie. Detail on the suspension looks reasonable.

Two identical sprues contain the sprockets, idlers and associated parts.

The turret hatch can be modelled open or closed and the kit includes a full model of the turret machine gun, though no other internal detail. The odd shape of the lower hull is nicely captured, even if it does look a little like an elderly pram. 

The individual track links are on seven identical sprues moulded in light brown plastic. A total of 196 links are provided. 

The small PE fret contains a screen for the rear engine cover, attachments for the exhaust and some other small bits and pieces.

The decal sheet is simple but adequate.

The instructions look straightforward and clear.

And there are full-colour views of three different sets of decals and colour schemes.

Would You Want One?

Looking in the box did not reveal any major disappointments. The level of detail looks good and the quality of moulding seems consistently sharp. Things like the roadwheels and suspension bogie parts are small, but then this was a tiny tank so that’s not surprising. The fret of PE parts is small and doesn’t look too daunting. As I have never tried PE parts before, this looks like quite a gentle introduction.

The tracks I’m not so sure about. I like the track-and-link approach and I feel that it provides a better result than rubber-band type tracks. However, the idea of building both sets of tracks one link at a time seems more than a little challenging, particularly when the individual links are so small – these are no bigger than, for example, the links for the Revell 1/72 Tiger I built recently. If I had realised that these tracks had to be assembled entirely from individual links, I might not have been so quick to buy this.

However, if you have a hankering to build a T-37A in 1/35, there really aren’t many options. A Ukrainian company called LF Models used to make a T-37A in this scale, but I have never seen one offered for sale by any stockist here in Spain. The same thing applies to the 1/35 T-37A produced by Russian company Micro Scale Design.

So, overall, this looks a perfectly reasonable kit of an unusual tank, if you are willing to take on the task of building the tracks. And it does seem to be cheap – I paid less for this kit that I would have for a premium 1/72 kit. Read the build review to see how I got on.  

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