ARM: Review - DML 1/35 Scale Sd.Kfz. 131 Marder II

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.
6262; Sd.Kfz. 131 Panzerjaeger II fur Pak 40/2 "Marder II"; 772
parts (461 in grey styrene, 210 "Magic Track" links, 96 etched
brass, 3 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum, 1 preformed etched brass);
price estimated at US $38
Advantages: nice, new ground-up version of this popular German SP gun;
very complete interior and also open racks in the fighting compartment
Disadvantages: daunting number of parts for a relatively small vehicle!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German armor fans
The reviewer is sometimes placed at a disadvantage when, for whatever
reason, the manufacturer goes out on a limb and picks a very obscure or
insignificant vehicle which is not covered outside of very limited
distribution publications. Other than determining the quality of the
items inside the box, there are limits to what he can and cannot say
about it, and any review of the kit that is not couched in those terms
soon runs afoul of the "experten" who only wish to sharpshoot the
review for their own gratification. Such was a recent review I did
about a totally useless vehicle - the "Flakpanzer I" - which
brought the faithful frothing to their feet.
Kinder souls did point me to web-based documentation which both proved
of the vehicle's existence and its lack of utility, but by then the
rabid SGF faction was already demanding blood. I now know that 24 were
built, not two, and that they were used, and that the clumsy halftrack
conversion in the background was an Sd.Kfz. 7/6 armored prime mover for
8.8 cm guns. I also now know that the Flakpanzer I was close to
useless, losing two of its number within 30 seconds of entering combat
as a ground weapons system and that it was unlikely to have ever shot
down an Il-2.
I have never at any time in my life claimed to be an expert on
ANYTHING, and certainly not obscure low-production rate German armored
vehicles. (I also don't expect too many "experten" to tell me the
difference between a Soviet T-43 Model 1 and a T-43 Model 2 either, but
that would be needless digression.) Happily, this new kit from DML -
released at the recent Dragon Expo DX '06 -is anything but obscure,
and a pleasant diversion (for me as a reviewer at least) from strings
of Tiger IIs and Sd.Kfz. 251 halftracks!
The Pzkw. II was a superior vehicle to the Pzkw. I, but when
introduced into combat was found to be only marginally better that that
vehicle as a combat system. This was something of a shame, for it was a
fairly reliable chassis and quite handy. As a result, the Germans
turned to using it for a chassis for self-propelled guns, and it
excelled in two of those variants - the Marder II SP 7.5 cm antitank
gun and the Wespe SP 10.5 cm howitzer.
The Marder II (Marder is the German name for the pine marten, which is
a weasel on steroids - five feet long from nose to tip of tail!)
began as a conversion of the Pzkw. II Ausf. D
(and also Ausf. E and ex-flamethrower) chassis to carry the Soviet
76.2mm Model 1936 divisional gun as rebuilt to become the 7.62 cm Pak
36(r). But these were awkward designs and even with the powerful
Russian gun left much to be desired. So, in May 1942 a new,
purpose-built design was created that provided a more integrated combat
vehicle now carrying a German 7.5 cm Pak 40/2, essentially the towed
gun less its lower carriage. This weapon, now designated as the 7.5 cm
Pak 40/2 auf Fahrgestelle Pzkw. II (Sf) or Sd.Kfz. 131, entered
production in June 1942 and remained there until July 1943 when
production terminated in favor of the even more useful 10.5 cm Wespe SP
howitzer. 576 Marder II guns were produced new and another 75 converted
from Pzkw. II chassis. While new guns were on the late-model Ausf. F
chassis, the conversions used Ausf. c, A, B, C or F tank chassis.
The Marder II has always been a very nice little vehicle that did not
overtax its chassis, adding only about 800 kilograms to it in reference
to the Ausf. F tank. Tamiya came out with a version of this vehicle 30
years ago (kit 35060) but while they released a new kit of the Wespe
(35200) they instead released TWO versions of the Marder III on the
Pzkw. 38(t) chassis (35248 and 35255). Thus only the old kit has been
available until now.
Dragon is somewhat coy with this kit, as all sprues for the Marder II
are labeled as such, but all of the running gear ones (D, E, F and G)
are left unlabeled, hinting at future releases such as a family of
Pzkw. II vehicles and most likely a Wespe and perhaps an SP 15 cm sIG
33. The kit provides a wide range of accessories and options, and that
tends to support the probability of other kit releases.
What you get in the box is the B, C and D sprues from the Pak 40 kit
(no carriage needed) as well as a slew of new ones. Sprue A covers the
upper hull and fenders, B the interior and racks, C the interior of the
engine and driver's compartments and other elements of the hull, and
the aforementioned D to G the running gear less tracks. Tracks are
provided as "Magic Track" with again, as with the Pzkw. IV kits,
"left" and "right" tracks based on their pin and connector
positions. (I WISH DML would tell you which is which, as using a
jewelers' loupe to sort them out is tedious!) Two standard "J"
tool sprues are included as well as standard German weapons sprue WB
(two MP-40, one MP-44 and one Gewehr 43) as well as the MG-34 part of
the WC sprue.
The Pak 40 comes with the standard kit with three choices of muzzle
brakes and two choices of recoil mechanism covers, optional position
breech, and also two ammo cases, 10 tubed rounds, three cases and eight
open rounds. Decals are provided for stenciling all of them.
The hull provides a large number of options - two different styles
of driving wheels, three different idler wheels (separate rim and
body), three-piece suspension units and springs, shocks, bump stops,
and a five-part muffler with etched brass wrapper. Tool tie-downs
consist of etched brass assemblies for the very fastidious.
There is no engine, but the engine and driver's compartment comes
with the basics for the driver - seat, levers, and pedals - as well
as the complete engine transmission, clutch and brake/final drive
assembly. There is no engine but separate access flaps are provided for
those who pick up the inevitable after-market one.
The casemate section provides what I take to be spaced armor arrays on
each side of the fighting compartment, not a bad innovation for 1942
(and common in all main battle tanks today). All of the brackets and
mounts are present and the complete FuG spr d set is included on a tall
rack. Periscopes with clear styrene bodies are also provided as well as
all of the tools and parts one would expect to find in the vehicle. I
have seen one snipe on line that it is missing the fuel filler cap, but
that is something I have no knowledge of and could not locate on a bet!
Seven different finishing schemes are provided as follows:
Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor); Unidentified unit,
Eastern Front 1943 (tricolor); Unidentified unit, Russia 1943 (two
color); 10th Panzer Division, Tunisia 1943 (two color); Unidentified
unit, Eastern Front 1943 (whitewash over grey); Pz.Jg.Abt. 49, Eastern
Front 1944 (tricolor); and Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944
(tricolor). (If I was among the unwary I would have to venture that
while I don't know who "Unidentified" is boy is it a big unit!)
The decal sheet is "targeted" to these seven.
Overall, this is a good choice and a great job of bringing a popular
vehicle back out and at a modern level of technological standards.
Hopefully some Panzer II tanks will follow!
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
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It's easy, they are molded in two slightly different colors of grey and bagged spearately. Just figure out which side on bag goes to and you're set.
Reply to
Ron Smith
You've got better eyes than I do on this one. Still, think it would be easier to "idiot-proof" them for all of us!
Reply to
No doubt it could be easier but now you have a good reference point for what there is. I didn't notice it myself until I went to assemble the PzIV E tracks and then opened a few other kits with the same type of tracks, then I went "Doh!".
Reply to
Ron Smith

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