IntroductionThe Bison I or, going by its proper name, the 15 cm schwere Infanteriegeschutz 33 auf Fahrgestell Panzer I, was an attempt by the German Army to provide mobile artillery support to advancing infantry units. The design was a simple one, it effectively took the 15 cm sIG 33 gun in its entirety and installed it onto a cut-down Pzkpfw I chassis. The conversion was done by Alkett, Berlin beginning in March 1940 with 38 vehicles produced. For this project, I will be modeling gun B or “Bismarck” in service with s.IG.Kp. 703 during the French campaign May-June 1940. The project is a “kit-bashing” exercise involving the combination of the Alan Bison I kit #019 with the DML Pzkpfw I Ausf B DAK kit #6207. Additional replacement parts include Model Kasten’s Pz I-B SK-32 workable tracks, Model Point’s sIG 33 turned aluminum barrel, Eduard’s photo-etch Bison I Detail set #35813, Bison Decals to replace the inaccurate Alan decals, and Tiger Model Designs resin sIG 33 gun sight and resin wicker 15 cm ammunition cases from their sIG 33 ammunition set.
InteriorAs an open-topped vehicle, the first order of business dealt with the interior. The detail on the DML kit in relation to the hull, suspension, and engine deck are superior to that of the Alan parts but the DML kit doesn’t include any interior detail. Let the kit-bashing begin! Since the DML hull has a molded in place transmission access hatch, the forward parts of the interior wouldn’t be exposed so not much effort was invested there but everything from the driver’s seat back would be visible below the installed gun. The Alan interior parts needed to be integrated with the DML hull, requiring careful fitting and modifications to accomplish. The floor insert didn’t extend all the way back to the firewall, so it was necessary to add this using sheet styrene cut to size with rectangular cut-outs to fit over the suspension axle hubs in the interior. The DML suspension elements are designed to extend into the interior and the Alan axles were trimmed down to provide the required clearance. For things to go smoothly, all the interior elements had to match up with the firewall which matched up with the engine deck which had to match up with the rear hull and fenders. All of the sections were dry-fit first to check for a uniform alignment. The DML rear deck needed some triangular styrene extensions to get the deck to match up with the firewall, which I fashioned out of sheet styrene and trimmed to fit. Satisfied that everything lined up properly, the firewall was permanently attached to the floor extension along with the drive-shaft cover and the remaining interior details installed and detail painted including the radio wired up using some fine gauge solder wire and the Eduard faces. Capping things off, the engine deck was installed and the joint with the firewall sanded smooth where it mated up with the air intake. The standard engine deck hatches for the Pz I-B included in the kit were installed instead of the “tropen” hatches and a small amount of putty was needed at the rear join with the lower hull, but nothing major.
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