ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale s.IG 33 15 cm auf Pzkw. II

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6440; Bison II - 15 cm s.IG 33 (Sfl.) auf Pz.Kpfw. II - Smart Kit
(2011); 885 parts (571 in grey styrene, 224 “Magic Track” single links, 64 etched brass, 25 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum); pre- order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: nice, new injection kit of one of the more popular Pzkw. II conversions; plentiful new parts to meld two older kits into a new one
Disadvantages: single link tracks tedious to assemble
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German WWI and Africa fans
     The Germans were very quick to adapt obsolete tank chassis to new purposes as the carriages for self-propelled guns, but the early ones built on the Pzkw. I chassis were usually too fragile to carry much in the way of weaponry – or protection. It was only when the Pzkw. II was felt to be obsolete and taken out of tank production that a good light chassis became available for use as an antitank gun (Marder II series) or a self-propelled 10.5 cm (Wespe) or 15 cm artillery (Bison II) mount.
    While the Pzkw. I variant of this latter weapon was considered nominally successful, it was top-heavy and really too much for the slightly modified chassis. For the second model the Pzkw. II chassis was lengthened by one road wheel station and a purpose-built mount added for the s.IG 33 howitzer; while the howitzer kept its basic carriage the entire lower section was removed which basically meant it was no longer “convertible” back to its towed version.
    Like late 1950s US automobiles the new weapon was longer, lower and wider, and much more durable, entering production in December 1941. But only 12 of these weapons were produced before it was decided that the Pzkw. 38(t) chassis was even better suited and did not need as many modifications. Those guns produced were allocated to two heavy infantry gun companies with the Afrika Korps and served until the last gun was knocked out in December 1942.
    Of all of the Panzer II conversions this one, appearing sleek and purposeful, has always been much more popular with modelers than its tiny production run would otherwise dicate. Most of those attending the 2009 IPMS/USA Nationals in Columbus saw the magnificent 1/72 scale 15 cm by Harvey Low that even disassembled to show the interior. Now DML has taken the parts from their Panzer II F and B/C kits and their s.IG 33 kit and, adding nearly another 200 new mold parts, has created the 15 cm s.IG 33 auf Pz.Kpfw II to their stable.
    The kit is nicely done and many of the parts from the earlier kits, even though included on the sprues, are replaced by new mold parts. Modelers who have picked up the Panzer I and Panzer 38(t) conversions will notice some parts look familiar (such as the projectiles and fuse boxes) but have been “tweaked” for this kit.
    As usual the DML instructions are fussy and combine a lot of bits in each step. The suspension uses a wide variety of parts from the old and new trees so be careful in selecting the items needed for assembly. Also note in Step 5 the twin casemate sections (one for the driver) for the forward hull are linked together; that is not a section of sprue between the two parts.
    Most of the rest of the kit is pretty straightforward to assemble. Keep in mind that a large number of parts such as tools, MP40s, radios, fire extinguishers et al mount inside the sides of the casemate and should be attached before mounting the sides. The directions are not real clear but you have two options for the rear air intakes – either close them with two doors (parts P29) or cover them with brass grilles (MA1 and MA2) and leave the doors in the open position. There is no engine, but as there are “solid” radiator cores under the grilles (C17 and C18) ensure you paint them first.
    Since the trail of the s.IG 33 stick into the engine bay with gaps on either side and above it, this will be a tough model to get a good finish to the rear of the hull so be forewarned.
    Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    Seven finishing options are provided, mostly covering the two units: s.IG.Kp. (mot.S) 707, Afrika Korps, Libya 1942 (two different paint schemes, green over sand brown); s.IG.Kp. 708, Afrika Korps, Libya 1942 (three different paint schemes, green over sand brown); and two schemes of gray vehicles in Germany with either shipping stencils or generic white crosses. A targeted sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
    Overall this should be a very popular Panzer II conversion model.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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