by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The Pz.Kpfw.II was a 'stop-gap' tank designed in Germany when it became apparent the the Pz.III and Pz.IV were delayed. The tank did go on to play an important part of the German Blitzkrieg, being the most numerous tank in the invasion of France. As the tank began to be removed from front line use, other uses of the chassis were developed, including mounting bigger anti-tank and howitzer guns. One attempt was mounting the 5cm PaK 38, which was designed in 1938 and was to replace the smaller 3.7cm. By this time the 7.5cm PaK 40 was available, and proved to be a better gun and were already being mounted on the Marder line, thus only a small number of the Pz.Kpfw.II's were converted to mount the 5cm. I was unable to find an actual number produced of this variant, as well as where they served.
16 Plastic Sprues (including lower chassis tub)
1 Clear Plastic Sprue
1 Photo-etched Fret
2 DS Track Lengths
1 Decal Sheet
This new 5cm PaK 38 auf Pz.Kpfw.II(Sf) kit from Dragon is part of the their "Exotic Beast" series, and is definitely an interesting subject. Opening the box you are presented with the familiar Dragon grey plastic sprues, and there is quite a few of them. Initiail inspection of the sprues shows some very familiar sprues from previously released Pz.II, Marder, and the 5cm sprues. While most of the older Pz.II and Marder sprues are well molded with good detail, the 5cm PaK 38 sprues are starting to show their age, with soft moldings and details. Your spares box will be delighted, as there are many parts from sprues that are not used.
The kit does include a newly tooled and molded sprue for the upper open top hull. Again the parts are well molded, showing good details. Even the molding of the side wall look well done with thinner then normal thickness to represent the crew area.
Also included in the kit is a sprue of clear plastic for view ports, a small fret of photo-etched parts, and Dragon DS track. There is also an interior included, including the driver section and transmission. While the kit does include a couple of ammunition boxes for stowage, but there are no ammunition rounds included.
A look at the instructions, shows what looks to be a very straight forward build. Assembly starts with the lower chassis, suspension parts, and wheels. This is followed by starting to add the interior floor, transmission, and other details in the lower section.
The upper hull deck which is newly tooled, with its details, are then added before moving onto the gun assembly. It is real unfortunate that Dragon has not updated the parts for the 5cm PaK 38. As mentioned, the kit includes the older molded parts from the original Dragon release. While the kit is not all that bad, you can see the age in it. The gun shields from the gun are used, and they are a little thick, some sanding or replacement with photo-etched would improve the look.
With the gun assembly complete, the instruction then moves to a lot of the new molded pieces. This includes the newly tooled stowage boxes on the rear and the fighting compartment sides. These newly molded parts look to be well done, with the fighting compartment sides molded a little thinner then normal for a more scale look.
The kit does include the Dragon DS track, off which I am not a big fan, but must say the track included does look pretty decent. The track is pretty fine, and there has been issues with DS track splitting in the past, so in my case this would easly be replaced with an aftermarket set.
The instructions include paint schemes for three vehicles, Dark Yellow, Dark Grey, and a winter scheme, all from Unidentified units. The included decal sheet is small with three Balkankreuz and a single, what looks to be, a tactical marking.
Unfortunately I was unable to locate a lot of detail for what seems to be a very low produced vehicle, but this Dragon offering seems to fit the bill. With the use of well done older parts and newer tooled parts, this kit should build into a good looking example of this vehicle. The only real let down would be the use of the older, and not upgraded, parts for the PaK 38, also I would have like to see some ammunition rounds included as part of the extra stowage. I would highly recommend this kit, it is a good kit of a World War 2 German oddity.