by: Russ Amott [ ]
The Jagdpanzer 38(t), officially known as the Sd.kfz 138/2, was ordered by General Heinz Guderian to replace all tank destroyers, such as the Marder series, that had been designed as temporary solutions for a mobile tank destroyer, and also towed 7.5cm anti-tank guns. The new vehicle would be built on the Czech designed 38(t) chassis, armed with the 7.5cm PaK 39 L48 main gun with limited traverse and featured sloped armor and a very low profile. A remotely operated MG34 was mounted to the vehicle roof. It was generally well liked by German crews, fairly reliable and very concealable. Drawbacks were that it was very cramped inside, had limited ammunition and very thin armor. It was first fielded in July of 1944 and would eventually serve extensively on both fronts. Approximately 2800 were built. The name Hetzer is not official, and was used by German troops in the field, then adopted by post war publications.
Several manufacturers have released kits of the Jagdpanzer 38 in the past, with Academy joining the group in March of 2012. Their kit, based on a late production vehicle, is the subject of this review.
My knowledge of this vehicle is limited, with my information coming from online sources. As such, I will offer no expert analysis of the vehicle, but rather what I think of the kit.
The kit comes in Academy's new style of artwork, with an action painting showing the vehicle probably participating in the Ardennes offensive, surrounded by the new Academy graphic.
Inside the box the sprues are individually packaged for protection. The sprues are all well molded, with no damaged or deformed parts. I did not see any flash or sink marks.
"A" sprue, upper and lower hull sections
These feature the slotted or finger joint welds of the armor sections with nice texturing on the individual sections. The front track guard sections are molded in place. On the left hand side of the upper hull, there are two molded on bumps that are supposed to be the storage tubes for the rod antenna. The hull top has hinges molded in place for the two hatches, a feature of the late version. The plastic surface appears to have a slightly roughened surface not present on the remainder of the parts. The rear section over the engine compartment is a separate part. I checked the fit of the two sections and they matched up well. Tie downs are represented as a bump.
Main drive housing, idler housing, rear track guards, main gun assembly, on vehicle tools with clamps molded on, periscopes and sights and hull top MG34. My understanding is that the provided tool box, which is included as solid but has the perforations molded on the surface, should have been solid on the late vehicle, and with a flat top. You will have outsource to find clear replacements for the periscopes and also the tube light on the rear of the vehicle. The tools look fine. The jack is a multi- part assembly and includes separate clamps. There are three different barrels for the main gun, but only two are marked for use. The muzzles on the main guns and the MG34 are pre bored.
The two figures included in the kit are molded on this sprue as well. They look nice, and are as good as any others in plastic. One figure (commander?) fits in the main hatch and is leaning forward with some intensity. His partner, kneeling on the vehicle, is pointing. The brim of the second figure's field cap is a separate part.
“C” sprue, X2
Suspension parts, drive sprocket and tow cable ends. The suspension is fixed but is well detailed. The backs are hollow but not visible on the completed model. The tow cable ends are also hollowed out.
“E” sprue, X2
Road wheels, with 16 bolts on the rim. They are molded with the sprue attachment point on the edge so there is no seam to clean up. If you wanted to depict new wheels with the mold seam present, you will have to go outside the box. Detail is very good on the wheels. There are three types of idler wheel, with four, 6 and 8 lighting holes respectively. The center hubs are molded as part of the idler and again are well detailed with no flaws on my sample. There are no brackets for the tow cable to attach to.
Engine deck cover, muffler, hatches, main gun housing and mantlet and side skirts. The access plate for the engine is a separate part. The side skirts are a single piece but could be cut to separate sections depending on how the modeler wished to depict the kit.
“I” sprue, X2
These are the link and length tracks. They are well detailed and designed so that one long section covers the run along the bottom of the road wheels, short sections and individual links going around the drive sprocket and idler and two long sections, slightly curved, go along the top, joining over the return roller. There are some spare track links that mount on the rear plate and hull.
A small etch part is provided for the air intake as an external screen. A length of string is also included for the tow cable.
Painting masks are provided and are neatly cut. A detailed marking guide is provided in the instructions showing where each mask part should go. However, the masks themselves are not marked. There is no indication as the order in which they would go on, but the masks are provided for the brown and dark yellow sections, so I would guess dark yellow first, then brown, and then dark green. On the template, lightest is the dark yellow. The colors are not indicated on the template but on the painting guide included in the instructions. Decals, in the form of Balkenkreuz in black with white border, are provided. They are cleanly printed.
The instructions are provided in standard fold out form, with line drawings showing assembly, which is completed in 12 steps, with figure assembly shown in one step. The instructions are clear, with drop boxes showing sub- assemblies. I did not see any errors in printing when comparing part numbers. A painting guide is included on the box side and the front of the instructions. Color numbers are provided for GSI Creos aqueous hobby color and Mr. Color lines, Life color, Humbrol, Testors Model Master and Revell enamel and acrylics and Vallejo model color and model air. As mentioned above, the vehicle is finished in a tri color hard edge camo scheme of dark yellow, brown and dark green, with a hand applied ambush pattern of dots over the scheme. According to the website Achtung-Panzer, two factories produced the ambush scheme. The triangle scheme, with small triangles painted over the base camo pattern, used a template. The dot scheme used hand painted circles.
As it stands, the Academy Jagdpanzer 38 is a well made model kit. It is a few soft details but for the most part molding is quite good. Some have wondered why they would enter into an already crowded field by adding this kit. I think the reason is quite simple. Academy model kits are generally regarded as a good value, meaning they aren’t expensive, are easy to build and turn out quite well. An inexperienced modeler would be able to handle this build with little difficulty, aside from figuring out the painting masks. An advanced modeler can use this kit as a good base and add or improve upon detail as they wish.
In looking at the sprues, I note that “D”, “F” and “H” are not included in the alphabetical sequence. The hull tub looks like it is ready to receive some sort of floor or interior. I hope Academy follows up and fills in the missing sprues with more kit options.
I listed the MSRP as $38.99 but it can be found for much less online. I purchased my kit at Lucky Model during the Christmas sale for just under $25.00, shipping included. For that price, Academy’s Jagdpanzer 38 can’t be beat.