Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6321; Sd.Kfz. 165 Hummel Late Production - Smart Kit; 1,078 parts (701 in grey styrene, 288 =93Magic Track=94 links, 72 etched brass, 11 clear styrene, 2 brass tube, 1 turned aluminum barrel, 1 turned brass, 1 twisted steel wire, 1 vinyl tube); retail price US$45.95
Advantages: many new molds in this kit, changes are obvious from past kits
Disadvantages: massive number of parts to this kit, very small parts may be fiddly
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all German fans
They say that =93third time=92s the charm=94 and in the case of this kit i= t may be so; by my reckoning this is DML=92s third attempt at one of the most popular of German SP guns, and from even a cursory look at the kit the best of the bunch. But here DML has combined new molds with the proven parts from its Pzkw. IV series of =93Smart Kits=94 as well as the upper carriage assembly of their 15 cm sFH 18 towed gun to create what has to be the best looking of their Hummel kits so far.
DML=92s past efforts included Kit No. 6004, now over 15 years old and only a bit better than the first version of the Nashorn which was badly flawed; No. 6150, a redone early variant from 2001 which still did not hit the mark according to Hummel fans; No. 6204, another redo of the early model with the Nashorn-type hull from 2006; and now this kit. In its favor this is the first true late-model variant and as such can be done new.
The kit uses a new hull base with sponson floors in place and a new upper hull, with a nicely done set of positionable hatches and viewers. As with all Smart Kits most of the detail parts are provided from styrene with optional replacements in brass.
The suspension is straight from the Panzer IV =93Smart Kits=94 and as such is easier to assemble than the earlier Panzer IV kits. The =93Magic Tracks=94 are still with us, and the only thing to recall is left bag - left track, right bag - right track as you look at the header card. DML calls them =93dark grey right - light grey left=94 but too often the colors are not well differentiated.
The gun is complete from the 15 cm kit with the same turned aluminum barrel and about 6-7mm of rifling tooled into the muzzle of the barrel as well. Brass tube jackets fit over the plastic pistons for elevation (parts A41) to give a bit more oomph to those parts.
The upper hull is completely new. The much maligned louvers of the early kits are now =93slide molded=94 from styrene and separate parts (D29). The walls are also about half the thickness of normal parts (0.050" or 1.25mm seems to have been the default in the past; these are about 0.020" or 0.5mm with thinned edges) and look more like sheet steel parts than plastic.
This kit is the first one to spend more than two or three parts on the ammo lockers, and now provides a good selection of options. 14 rounds of 15 cm are included as well as the propellant charges and other accessories. The projectiles also include the upper parts of the racks to hold them in place as separate parts, which is a very nice touch and permits the modeler to select precisely how much ammo he wants to have been =93fired=94 by the gun. Decals are also provided for detailing the rounds before installing them in the racks.
Generic detail sets from DML abound and permit the modeler to add individual kit, weapons or the MG34 machine gun as he chooses.
Project supervisor was Hirohisa Takada, with technical support from Minoru Igarashi, H3 Design Office, and Dragon engineering; technical assistance provided by Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Decals and finishing directions are included for seven guns: Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor - black 155); 2nd SS Panzer Division =93Das Reich=94, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor stripes, black 112); Pz.Art.Rgt. 103, 4th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1944 (brown over sand, markings); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor patches); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front, 1944 (small brown patches on sand, crosses); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1945 (whitewash over sand, crosses); and Unidentified unit, Eastern Front1944 (whitewash patches over sand, crosses). A targeted sheet of Cartograf decals is included.
Overall this is the best of the Hummel kits so far and if you have not picked one up, or got the first one 15 years ago and were disappointed, this is worth the time and effort.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.