ARM: Review - Pz.Sfl. IV b 10.5 cm le.FH. 18/1 Sd.Kfz. 165/1 - Smart Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.
6475; Pz.Sfl. IVb, 10.5 cm le.FH. 18/1 Sd.Kfz. 165/1 Ausf. A - Smart
Kit; 904 parts (603 parts in grey styrene, 260 =93Magic Track=94 links, 26
etched brass, 14 clear styrene, 1 length of twisted steel wire);
estimated retail price US$50
Advantages: apparently correct size and scale to kit; nicely done
features and options built in
Disadvantages: tremendous amount of effort for relatively obscure
vehicle
Rating: Highly recommended
Recommendation: for German Panzer IV fans and artillery fans
The Germans appear to have done more experimentation with self-
propelled artillery weapons than any other nation in WWII, and a
number of their prototypes were produced in sufficient quantities to
perform what the Soviets called =93troop testing=94 under fire. This
relatively obscure vehicle, appearing like a =93sports=94 model of the
larger and better known =93Heuschreke=94 vehicle, was part of a series of
8 vehicle built by Krupp in November 1942. Albeit the prototypes were
underpowered, production models would have been more powerful and
mobile. Its one limitation was a turret which did not offer all-around
traverse. Alas, the military decided they were going to switch to
designs like the Heuschreke and abandoned it. But as they badly needed
SP guns, a proposal to mount the 105mm howitzer on redundant Pzkw. II
chassis was accepted, resulting in the Wespe.
One old addage is that if you are going to bring a dog to a dogfight,
ensure that you bring enough dog. Trumpeter recently released a kit of
this same vehicle in order to beat DML to the market, but
unfortunately mis-estimated the size of the vehicle based on its
wheels and as a result put out a kit which was badly underscale (a
matter of being about 20mm too short in length, or nearly three feet
in real life.) DML did catch that fact, and rough measurements on my
part of an unassembled kit show it to be very close to scale.
Considering most companies now cut molds based on shared sprues and
improved amortization of costs, this kit uses only a few of the
numerous Pzkw. IV family items from DML and instead requires no less
than eight new sprues and a new hull =96 53% of the parts in the box are
new.
Construction follows most of the other DML Pzkw. IV kits, with the
exception of replacement of Pzkw. IV components by Pz.Sfl. IV b parts
where necessary. The larger wheels need enlarged bogies (included) but
most of the remaining parts are from Pzkw. IV stocks. Most of the
details reflect its early 1942 design with smoke candles at the rear
of the hull and other such details.
The interior is more complete than some of recent vintage, as it
comes with numerous shot and propellant lockers and 16 separate
projectiles. The projectiles may be stored in racks or left out at the
builder=92s choice. Needless to say the interior is pretty full! However
there is no interior for the driver=92s compartment other than the view
blocks.
The hull is completely different from any Pzkw. IV variant and is
nicely detailed with the same approach taken with other =93smart kits.=94
While it undoubtedly owes its genesis to other DML kits, the 10.5 cm
howitzer is new and dedicated to this kit alone. It uses slide molding
technology to hollow mold the gun barrel with only a cap for the
muzzle brake. The turret interior is also relatively complete, with
radio sets, fire extinguishers, and kit from the generic equipment
sprues to fill it up. Note that while the turret is left =93loose=94 it
only had a limited traverse so be careful when displaying the model
(e.g. no =93over the back deck=94 positioning.)
Technical assistance on this project was provided by Thomas Anderson,
Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Two finishing options are provided, both for Panzerartillerieregiment
16, 16th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1943: gray finish, either gun
=93Schill=94 or gun =93Zeithen=94.
Overall this is an attractive little beast if nothing else and will
make a good companion piece to the much larger Heuschreke.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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