Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.6279; Eastern Front Tank Hunters Gen2; 285 parts (261 in grey styrene, 25 etched brass); price about US $14.98
Advantages: nice, clean antitank gunners can be used singly in other groups; Panzerschrek a nice little model unto itself; two extra heads very useful; can be used in any theater
Disadvantages: single gunners in different styles of uniforms hard to use together
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German "Close Combat" fans
There were two classes of German soldiers unlikely to see a POW "cage" during WWII: snipers, who General Omar Bradley implicitly stated he saw no reason to capture; and antitank gunners using close combat weapons. Quite often, and as recounted in numerous Allied after-action reports and memoirs, a German lying in wait would pop an M4 tank or other armored vehicle with a Panzerfaust rocket-propelled grenade, and then, having destroyed the tank and probably killed one or more of the crewmembers, would then throw the empty launcher away and surrender to the next vehicle in line. The normal procedure was then to have the bow gunner cut him in half.
The Soviets were no less kind to them, and if the unfortunate gunner missed, the Soviet response was usually to mash the poor soul with the tracks of the tank.
DML has now produced a kit of four dedicated antitank gunners, two with Panzerfaust launchers and one Panzerschrek team with one gunner and one loader. Each figure follows the now standard DML "Gen2" standard of at least 17 parts per figure (torso halves, leg halves, boots, hands, arms, head and face, collar, and four coat skirt sections) as well as some additional bits to "mix and match."
The most interesting thing here is that the Panzerschrek gunner comes with two heads and two sets of hands. One is normal and shows him either in "training" mode with no protective gear and the other shows the Panzerschrek gunner ready for action. Due to the fact that the Germans either did not have dynamic enough propellants or fast burn times, the rocket motor did not follow modern procedures and burn out before it ever left the tube; instead, it burned for some distance after leaving the muzzle, which could fry the eyebrows and other bits off the face of the unfortunate operator. As a result, the operator wore a gas mask and mittens to protect his exposed parts when firing. This is accurately represented by the figure.
The Panzerschrek itself is a gem, coming with a "Slide Molded" open bore and many nice details; the weapon consists of five parts and also comes with an ammo crate and four rounds, plus an etched brass sling. While the directions show the "pigtails" for attaching the firing assembly to the launcher's electrical circuit (firing is by a piezoelectric device initiated by squeezing the trigger, much like a hand-powered flashlight) they do not seem to be in the kit, but some fuse wire should suffice.
The other two are the very nice Panzerfaust 60 (I think) launchers with choice of carry or launch positions for their firing stud and sight assemblies, as well as a crate for the launchers. Rifles are provided for each man so they can be shown with the weapon or with their rifles.
The details are the now boiler-plate GA and GB sprues with all of the normal German kit and equipment on them. Etched brass or styrene belt buckles and shoulder straps are included as well.
A small decal sheet is included for the two crates and the antitank weapons. No helmet decals are provided. As usual for the Gen2 sets, artwork is provided from Ron Volstad.
Overall this is a nice set and the advantage is one of the figures or the Panzerschrek team may be used to spark up a diorama with other figures.