by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introductionAnother Dragon 'Smart' kit! The second to use their really nice 38(t) running gear. This time in the guise of a Marder IIIH, produced in 1942 -'43, and armed with a 7.5cm PaK40/3 L/46. When the Aufklarungspanzer 38(t) was released not so long ago, the sprue breakdown let it be known that we could expect a few more variants to be released quite soon, and I don't think this will disappoint many! (But there are always some!)
the kitBeautifully presented, in a larger box than the Aufklarungspanzer, each sprue individually bagged for protection, the usual Dragon card on top. What we get is a separate hull, same on as kit #6294, nine sprues of light grey styrene, and three small transaparent ones. We are also given a large photo etched fret, an aluminium barrel, a bag of those Magic Tracks again with the embossed casting numbers on, and a really special pre-formed wire basket for the rear of the vehicle in a small black vac-formed tray.
There's obviously going to be a few sprues that were from #6294, and so Sprue B is from that kit, but with different parts marked 'not for use'. Sprue B (the second one!) is from Dragon's superb PaK40 kit, which has seen good use in many kits now, and sprue A containing the running gear is also from #6294, although they have added a bit with new drive sprockets without lightening holes, so a choice is available, consult your references for the specific vehicle you intend to make as all the marking options provided by Dragon use the ones with the holes.
Sprue C is also from the PaK40, containing the ammunition for the PaK40, and we get eight unused rounds, three spent shells, packing tubes and cases. These are also nicely provided for on the decal sheet, with full markings provided. Sprue D, again from #6294, however, there is a brand new sprue, G that holds the upper structure of the vehicle, and as you'd expect, Dragon have outdone themselves in the moulding and level of detail provided. All the periscopes are provided as transparent parts, as is the driver’s visor, and interestingly, all the on vehicle tools are provided without moulded on clamps. In the previous smart kits the tools were provided with detailed moulded clamps, in this kit we're given PE clamps and no plastic alternative?
As far as feature goes, the kit certainly lacks nothing. As with #6294, the fenders are reproduced in the same way... I think. I'm starting to build it as I write this so I'll maybe amend this if it's different, but so far the bend is still achieved in the same way. Obviously a new shield is provided for the main gun, as well as a new mount, and the hull machine gun is provided as a pre-drilled example. It's the inside of the vehicle that I can't wait to get started on! The transmission hatch can be positioned open as a full transmission is provided, and the shell racks for the inside of the fighting compartment have to be seen!
The photo etch included, is as I mentioned earlier, the largest fret yet included in a 'Smart' kit, and that with the superb wire basket, and aluminium barrel, lead me to think that the 'Smart' kit label is beginning to 'merge' into Dragon's normal range, seeing as one of the selling points of the Smart' kit series was they would contain a minimum of PE. This one holds a new shield for the muffler, a toolbox for the fender, tool clamps as mentioned earlier, various straps for tying down equipment are provided, unfortunately not those for the shell racks though.
Four marking options are offered;
Pz.Jg.Abt.171. Infantry Division, Italy 1944
2nd Pz.Jg.Abt.39, 21 Panzer Division, Tunisia, 1943
23rd Panzer Division, Eastern Front, 1944
An unidentified unit in Italy, 1944.
conclusionI could have poured over reference books for six hours when writing this, in an attempt to find something, anything, wrong with it. Quite frankly though, I don't do that. I've better things to do... like build it. I've started this one and will be publishing regular updates on my progress, so keep an eye out! For now... enjoy the pictures of what's in the box, it's a great kit, and if there is anything wrong with it, then it's so small it makes no difference to me... I'll still build it, and enjoy it! Recommended!