has released yet another version of its Marder series of self-propelled anti-tank guns, this latest offering is the ďEarlyĒ version and offers some new tooling from previous releases. The Marder series began in 1941 to mount anti-tank guns on a variety of chassis to make them more mobile and to be able to deal with the Soviet KV and T-34 tanks being encountered for the first time in Russia. The Marder II series mounted the 75mm PaK 40/2 L/46 anti-tank gun on obsolete Panzer II chassis. These vehicles carried a 3-man crew, in a compartment that was open to the top and rear, offering minimal protection.
A total of 651 of these vehicles built, and they saw action on all German Fronts until the end of the War. Just under of them 600 were purpose built from new, while the rest were converted from used vehicles.
The kit, entitled Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjager II Fur PaK40/2 "Marder II Early Production" is the latest in Dragonís
'39-'45 Series of this vehicle, and is derived from the 2006 kit number 6262 and 2013 kit number 6423 with new parts. The kit is molded in Dragons
typical grey styrene and includes:
- 5 large sprues containing the upper hull components
- 2 small sprues containing the suspension, running gear, periscopes and grab handles
- 2 sprues of small arms and personal equipment
- 1 sprue containing the Pak 40 shield
- 2 small sprues of tools (one with clamps and one without)
- 1 small sprue of headlights and siren
- Lower hull tub
- 1 small fret of photoetch
- 1 small decal sheet
- 2 small bags of Magic Track 'handed' track links
The instructions are the usual line drawing type, and are obviously a derivative of the earlier kits as well, with many of the same illustrations being used, just artistically rearranged. Weíll see if the usual Dragon
errors pop up during construction.
Compared to the original 6262 kit I have for comparison, it is obvious that Dragon
has re-used most of the sprues from that kit, with a new sprue for the upper hull, ammunition storage and fighting compartment sides, plus small sprues with early model suspension stops and Notek driving light and siren. Lots of pieces for the spares box! The box says over 650 parts, but 95 are not used plus almost the entire small arms/personal equipment sprues.
Notable exclusions from the kit compared to the 6262 kit are no clear periscope sprue, no PE fret for all the tool clamps, no ammunition and crates, and most frustratingly, no turned barrel for the gun. This is a clear step backward from the original kit, but at least Dragon
has kept the Magic Tracks and not substituted DS tracks.
Construction begins as usual with the construction of the running gear and its installation onto the hull, which is supplied as a tub with separate front and rear panels. Three versions of the rear idler wheel are supplied, so a reference check is in order to make sure you pick the right one. Both of the marking options show E6 being used. Everything is well molded, with the casting appearing to be a little bit better according to my Mk.I eyeball. The leaf springs are well molded with a minimum of a seam to be cleaned off, but are still inaccurate in that only 5 leaves project past the last bracket when there should be seven. It does appear that Dragon
has corrected the number of drive sprocket teeth to 26 (from 25 on the 6262 kit, Iím not sure about the 6423 kit).
provides two options for the drive sprocket, differing only in the rivet detail between the bolts around the rim. The parts without the rivet detail would seem to be correct for the marking options provided.
The front and rear of the hull are also attached at this stage, pretty much identical to the earlier kit, just no PE for the Notek convoy light although the PE exhaust screen remains. The only real difference in the lower hull and suspension are the new suspension bump stops.
The tracks finish off the lower hull, one set is a darker shade of grey to help differentiate between the right and left sides, but the instructions do not say which is which, so you have to check the tracks (with a magnifying glass!) to determine which are left and right based on the track pin nut. If you are a perfectionist, the links will need some minor clean up.
The next step involves the driverís compartment. Identical to the earlier release, it is still a very well detailed part with a driverís seat, controls and the excellent transmission housing. Details are crisp and the mouldings are flash-free. Be careful with the upper hull, the instructions still reference the old A23 part number in 3 illustrations and only reference the new upper hull part H1 in one illustration. The inside is again very well-appointed being a carryover from the earlier kits, with the main difference being the deletion of the radio for this early version (you still get the entire radio set for your spares!).
Construction continues with detail such as the engine firewall and dash being fixed to the underside of the upper hull. Again, some fantastic detail is represented, and the photo etched brackets for the MG34 are retained. The instructions show the engine access hatches can be positioned opened or closed, but no engine is provided and the ammunition lockers will sit on top of them anyway, so they really canít be left openÖ. Once the upper hull and fighting compartment sides are added, the ammunition storage is assembled and installed. The storage boxes include interior racks, so you can leave them open, but unless you have spare Pak 40 shells, they will be completely empty.
As mentioned, the tools supplied with the kit come in two versions, with, and without moulded on clamps, but the PE clamps are no longer supplied. If you have spares you can use them, although the moulded on clamps are quite good.
The drivers hatch can be posed open, and has good internal detail with no pin ejector marks, a good way to show off that driverís position and transmission. The drivers armoured visor can also be posed open or closed, and the Notek driving light and siren are added to the driverís side front fender
The PaK 40 sprue is the same as previous, essentially a complete kit on its own less the wheels and trail. As mentioned, there is no aluminium barrel supplied in the kit anymore, so you have to make do with the old 1-piece plastic barrel. It's better than a 2 piece, but still some mold seams and the sprue attachment point to clean up. Couldnít they at least have supplied a 1-piece slide-moulded barrel? There are still 3 types of muzzle brake offered, but only one is shown on the marking sheet, so a reference check is recommended. The instructions for the assembly of the gun itself are still in error when indicating assembly of the slide. The two parts B38 should not be cemented to part number B31, instead they slide through this as the gun slides along. The shield for the gun is supplied with bevelled edges to achieve a scale thickness and looks quite good.
The kit provides 2 options for decals/paint:
auf Fgst PzKpfw II, Sicily, 1943
Minimal changes from previous releases, Dragon
is milking their molds for all they are worth , with three different Marder II variants, but still a great kit but a bit lacking compared to earlier releases. Highly recommended for fans of German SP AT guns.