ARM: Review - 1/35 scale Marder III Ausf. M with Stadtgas

Kit Review: 1/35 scale Kit No. 05 (Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No. 6468); Sd.Kfz. 138 Marder III Ausf. M Initial Production w/Stadtgas - Smart Kit;

956 parts (568 in grey styrene, 240 =93Magic Track=94 links, 128 etched brass, 16 clear styrene, 3 pre-bent steel wire, 1 length twisted steel wire); price estimated at US$55

Advantages: complete upgrade to earlier Ausf. H kit; many new parts added directly for this kit

Disadvantages: limited distribution and =93odd duck=94 choice of variant

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all German and Praga tank fans

While it was probable that DML would produce an Ausf. M variant of their very nicely done Marder III Ausf. H it has appeared first here as a =93boutique=94 kit, but with the odd choice of a training variant configured to run off propane gas. Undoubtedly DML will release a =93straight=94 Ausf. M at some point in the future, but for the moment this kit has arrived first.

Based on three previous DML kits =96 the Marder III Ausf. H =93Smart Kit=94 (No. 6331), the Flakpanzer 38(t) =93Smart Kit=94 (No. 6469), and their 7.5 cm Pak 40 (No. 6130) this kit also adds a large number of new parts =96 113 styrene and 128 etched brass =96 plus 6 more parts for the gas cylinders. The result is a totally new end product but one that appears better crafted and integrated than some recent cyber- efforts.

Like the Ausf. H kit, it is nicely done, but unlike past =93Smart Kits=94

- designed so that etched brass is either kept to a minimum or not required =96 this kit has a good amount of brass with it and it must be used to construct the model. Some of the frames and grilles will require a good amount of =93origami=94 to shape so it is recommended that the modeler have a good bending jig like a Hold=92n=92Fold or Etch-Mate on hand.

This kit does include the engine and other interior parts from the DML TNHP series kits as well as many new bits. While the directions are typical DML and as obtuse as usual, they are better about indicating what is optional and what it should look like in either position, such as the engine access hatches. The suspension is similar to that of the Tristar kits with each bogie assembly consisting of nine parts. A =93doormat=94 type matting is provided for the floor of the fighting compartment. The rear plate comes with optional covers (D29) over the track tensioning mounts (D28) but in this case, unlike Tristar=92s first kits, it shows them as either/or rather than both at the same time.

The driveline and interior are mostly styrene parts, such as the transmission/clutch assembly, steering controls, driveshaft and shield. The ammo racks are all molded as groups of tubes and dummy half rounds are provided to simulate a loaded tube. There is one small radio and it mounts on the right side of the casemate. Each periscope in the fighting compartment is all stryene (clear prism component, grey mounts) and may be positioned as folded or erected.

As this is =93boutique=94 kit of a very low production/conversion rate vehicle only two finishing options are provided: the prototype from the BMM Factory and a training vehicle in service; while =93Fahrschule=94 decals are provided on the tiny Cartograf sheet, no provision is made to show where they go. I would assume based on past photos and other info they would be on metal or wood signs hung on the front and rear of the vehicle to warn people that =93newbies=94 were behind the controls!

Assistance on this kit is credited to Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.

Overall, this is a nicely done kit and given the overall popularity of these tank destroyers hopefully a wide-release version with a greater choice of markings will follow soon from DML.

Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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