ARM: Review - Italeri 1/35 Scale PaK 97/38 AT Gun with Servants

Kit Review: Italeri 1/35 scale Kit No. 6460; PAK 97/38 AT Gun with
Servants; 111 parts in dark grey styrene; price US$16.00
Advantages: compact kit of an offbeat weapon
Disadvantages: somewhat crude, "mix and match" combination of parts to
produce a new kit
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: to all German fans
There are times that exigencies create strange bedfellows, and the
tale of the PaK 97/38 is one such story. When the Germans went up
against the Soviets in mid 1941 they found to their horror their
normal antitank guns - the 3.7 cm PaK 36 and new 5 cm PaK 38 - had
little effect on the heavy armor of the big KV and T-34 tanks. Their
interim solution was to simply get a bigger gun - in this case
strapping 700 obsolete France 75mm Canon Modelle de 1897 barrels onto
the carriages of the new PaK 38 gun. They did take precautions, such
as adding a muzzle brake and reinforcing bands, but the guns, while
moderately successful, were clumsy and not popular, and were relegated
to rear area security and the Channel defenses as quickly as possible.
(It was much later in the war that "hollow charge" - e.g. HEAT
ammunition - was developed; this could have made the gun a success
from the start, but that is the way of the world.)
Italeri has now released a kit of this weapon that basically uses
three sources to produce a single kit: their nice PaK 38 carriage of a
few years back, a new barrel and ammunition, and what appears to be
the crew from their PaK 40 of about 30 years ago.
The gun barrel appears to be hurried into production, but on the
other hand so was the original. Alas, instead of using the pressed
steel wheels from the PaK 38 kit this one provides relatively mediocre
late-war "spoke" wheels which look a bit out of place with the pressed
steel castoring wheel fitting provided. A new cradle for the 75mm
barrel also comes with the conversion, as do eight full rounds and
eight casings. The latter are unfortunately not "slide" molded like
their Asian competitors and as such will need to be drilled out for
realism.
The gun shields do make an effort toward scale thickness, and the
main shield is "spaced" to provide a realistic look. The lower shield
may be fixed in firing or travel positions, but no instructions cover
stowage of the castoring wheel in movement order.
The figures appear to be for late-war SS troops in camouflage smocks,
which is sort of unfortunate as most of the action these guns saw was
either early in the war in Russia or on D-Day against the Allies. As
they appear to be the 30 year old moldings of the PaK 40 crew - which
was great when it came out and better than the Tamiya one at the time
- they now appear a bit crude and tired in comparison with modern
figures. The positions are not bad and with some work and good
painting can be turned into a good companion set for this gun.
Box artwork is very good but the box painting directions, as with
many recent Italeri efforts, is awful. Use the frontside, NOT the
back, for painting hints.
Overall this is a good, not a great, kit, but it is reasonably priced
and a good value for the money, and with a bit of work will yield a
nice model.
Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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