Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.
6439; Heuschreke IVb "Grasshopper" 10.5 cm le.F.H. 18/6 (Sf.) auf
Geschuetzwagen III/IV; 957 parts (677 in grey styrene, 216 "Magic
Track" links, 53 etched brass, 11 clear styrene); price estimated at US
Advantages: first new kit of this vehicle to reach the market; good
mixture of extant and new moldings; very complete kit providing
numerous options for construction and display
Disadvantages: towing bar apparently missing from the kit; many
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for German armor and artillery fans
F I R S T L O O K
There are occasionally concepts that probably seemed good at the time
they were conceived but in execution leave a lot to be desired. The
concept of semi-self-propelled artillery - mounts that carried a
complete field gun or howitzer with carriage and the ability to mount
and dismount the gun at will - were tried in WWI and found wanting.
The consensus opinion then was permanently mounted guns had more
advantages overall and made better sense.
For some reason - I have never figured out exactly why - the Germans
returned to this concept in WWII with several different prototypes,
most of which were dubbed "Heuschreke" or "Grasshopper" followed by a
suffix to indicate which was which. One of them which used the
successful Gw III/IV composite Pzkw. III/Pzkw. IV derived hull from
the Hummel and Hornisse/Nashorn self-propelled weapons was the
Heuschreke 10, which mounted the sturdy 10.5 cm liechte Feldhaubitze
18 in a dismountable arrangement. Prototypes of two different
concepts, one by Krupp and one by Rheinmetall-Borsig, were built in
The latter used a complete le FH 18/40 (10.5 cm howitzer on the 7.5
cm PaK 40 carriage) and simply removed the trails and wheels to mount
it in a fixed casemate. The Krupp version used a purpose-built mount
with the le FH 18/1 mounted in a StuH mounting in a fully rotating
open-topped turret. The difference was that the entire turret could be
removed by built-in crane rails on the sides of the hull and moved to
an easily assembled square platform; the turret then had wheels
attached to its sides and a towing lunette to the muzzle of the gun.
The gun could be emplaced as a fixed ground mount or fired from the
Three prototypes were built and tested. Apparently somebody finally
realized that this was a waste of the chassis and the concept of fixed
artillery on the Eastern front was not too clever, for the Soviets
were very good at counterbattery artillery fire and if the gun could
not displace it would soon be "suppressed." The Germans then returned
to more conventional designs for self-propelled weapons.
Over 30 years ago one of the Japanese companies - I want to say
Bandai - had a kit of this unique vehicle in 1/30 scale but it was not
very good, even though the entire kit "worked" and the gun could be
shown as the turret, being removed, and emplaced on its mounting. Now
both DML and Trumpeter are releasing new kits of this beastie, with
the DML kit apparently being the first to market (the Trumpeter one is
forecast for late November/early December.) This appears to be a
repeat of the "dueling" Dicker Max kits, so time will tell which is
the more popular.
Be that as it may, DML has done a nice job of using some of its newer
kits with a number of new sprues combined with generic German
components and elements from their Pzkw. IV 'Smart Kits," the StuG III
"Smart Kits," and the premium versions of the Hummel and Nashorn. This
is smart to some degree on their part - once molds are cut the sprues
cost only pennies to manufacture - but on the other hand it leaves the
modeler with a large number of leftover or spare parts from each kit;
this one looks to have at least 200 leftover grey and clear parts when
the model is completed.
DML starts out with a newly molded specific hull for the Heuschreke
with "slide molded" details. The suspension comes from a combination
of the IV "Smart Kits" and the Hummel sprues, and as noted in the
reviews of the "Smart Kits" has fixed tires on each road wheel. The
interior provides lockers and access for the ammunition and batteries,
and all of them have optional covers over them. Tracks are the 40 cm
version of the "Magic Track" single-link track and as noted they are
handed - left hand side of the header card is Left and right hand side
is Right, which makes it easier to sort out when preparing for
The hull has specific parts with the unique lower hull rear with dual
exhausts and the upper rear plate with winch mounts. DML cites "early"
and "late" production NOTEK tail lights, but as only three prototypes
were built this is probably more like a retrofitted part later in its
test life. While optional position hatches are provided, there is no
interior in the driver's/radio operator's compartment.
The ground mount is quite busy, with each of the four beams requiring
at least six inserts to be added to it including the ground stake
mounts. Nicely detailed "spoke" wheels and mounts go at the rear of
the hull for the wheel stowage.
The frame rails for the offloading crane are very involved as DML has
designed them to operate. If you loved Aurora kits with the "caps"
that had to be cemented over every wheel set, then you should be able
to enjoy putting this assembly together! Note that the beams for the
ground mount either have to mount on the hull or on the ground, so
this feature seems odd to have as a "working" one.
The turret uses the gun mount from the StuG III and the breech
details but the rest is new, with a new barrel and muzzle brake for
this version of the leFH 18. The turret flaps come with separate
hinges and may be posed closed or open. A foul-weather canvas frame is
provided but no canvas, which is not a bad thing as tarpaulins are
difficult to do right in injected molded plastic.
The gun may be assembled in the turret or in the ground mount, and
the wheels may be placed on their racks at the rear of the hull or
mounted to the sides of the turret. Surprisingly, the one element
missing from the kit is the towing lunette which clamps onto the gun
barrel. This makes putting the turret on its beam mount with wheels
somewhat silly, as it will not sit correctly nor can it be emplaced
with the wheels on it. I am surprised DML left this feature out of the
As these were only prototypes one finish -basic sand with generic
crosses - is provided along with a small sheet of Cartograf decals.
Research for this kit was provided by Thomas Anderson, Tom Cockle and
Overall it is nice to see a new kit of this popular if oddball German
vehicle, and time will tell which kit is more popular with modelers.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
14 years ago