Kit Review: Tristar 1/35 Scale Kit No. 030; German 7.5 cm Pak 40 Fgst. Pz. Kpfw. Marder III Ausf. H; 861 parts (608 in sand colored styrene,136 etched brass, 109 in creamy tan styrene, 8 clear styrene); retail price US$49.00
Advantages: another and totally different approach to this vehicle; massive amount of etched brass comes with the kit; very clever way to provide loaded ammo bins
Disadvantages: fiddly tracks, not kind to sloppy or "That's Close" modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans and "Czech Tank" fans
The more of the Tristar kits I see the more impressed I am with their engineering. This kit is surprisingly not a simple reuse of their excellent Pzkw. 38(t) molds with an AFV Club Pak 40 slapped on it as was originally indicated; the kit only uses two AFV Club sprues and only the running gear from the earlier kits intact. All other sprues are new and dedicated to this kit.
While it has lagged behind the DML kit of the same subject - and that being a "Smart Kit" with emphasis on minimizing extraneous or multimedia parts - this kit has taken a different approach to the subject, a popular German SP antitank conversion. As noted only two sprues - the cradle and associated components and the 7.5 cm ammunition selection for the Pak 40 - have come from AFV Club. The remainder of the fittings, to include the base, barrel and other associated components, are all new Tristar moldings.
While the components have all been redone, they do use the engineering and design work from the outstanding Ausf. E/F and Ausf. G Pzkw. 38(t) kits. The suspension is provided intact with the bogies and Tristar track sets.
This kit is different and Step 1 begins with the transmission, clutches and ribbon brakes. The air flow shutters in the firewall may also be positioned either open or closed. Step 2 is the belly and lower hull, which follows the gun tank kits. From here on Steps 3-4 are for the new vehicle and cover all of its internal bits as well as hull assembly. The road wheels and suspension follow in Step 5 and the fenders and details for the upper hull in Step 6. Step 7 is the upper hull and engine deck.
Step 8 covers the jack and tool boxes as well as the rear of the hull. Tristar finally fixed the problem with the optional track tension adjuster (E-34) or dust covers (E-33) and no longer has the modeler trying to fit both at once! Step 9 is the exhaust system and upper engine deck cover and fittings; unlike the etched "basket" in the DML kit this one provides a styrene one (B-25) but since it was tubular steel this is probably more accurate.
Step 10 covers the hull ammo racks. Tristar has provided commendably thinwalled tubes for the ammo racks, and if you wish to load them also provides projectiles only with tapered ends to load in the racks; I think back to the old Italeri kit that simply got around this by having no tubes and very thin 7.5 cm rounds in order to get them to fit! The gun base is also fitted in this step.
Step 11 is the gun barrel and cradle assembly (what the Russians call the "elevating mass" components) and combines the new Tristar bits with the AFV Club ones. Step 12 is the attachment of the gun to the hull and fitting of the gun shield. Step 13 covers the details for the inside of the casemate to include viewers and ready racks. Step 14 is the assembly of the casemate and Step 15 covers the tracks. These can be snapped together with care but are somewhat peevish and will still need to be cemented together once in place. The last assembly covers the AFV Club ammunition (which is extra for detailing) and the muzzle brake. Tristar provides two choices - open for use and with a canvas travel cover in place. The latter is a very nice touch and looks that with some Mr. Surfacer preparation and dry brushing it should look the part.
Note that Tristar kits are precision kits and do not react well to sloppy or thoughtless assembly. They are vulnerable to Murphy's Law of "if anything can go wrong it will go wrong" so they take more care than other manufacturers' kits. Also this one is etched brass heavy and there are no options to using the etched brass components provided with the kit. For example, the clutch and ribbon brake assembly requires 15 etched brass parts and 6 styrene ones.
The model comes with a total of 8 finishing choices and options: Pz.Jg.Abt 1, 1st SS LAH Division, Kharkov Winter 1942-43 (mottled);29th Pz.Gren. Division, Italy Summer 1944 (tricolor); Pz.Jg.Abt. 171, 17st Infantry Division (tricolor); Pz.Jg.Abt. 171, 17st Infantry Division Italy 1943 (streaks over Panzerbraun); Unknown unit, Northern USSR, Spring 1944 (streaks over Panzerbraun); 23rd Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1944 ("Paula" in overall Panzerbraun); Trainer #1214 (two-color camouflage); and 2nd Company, Pz.Jg.Abt. 39, 21st Panzer Division, Tunisia 1943 (two-color camouflage). A "targeted" decal sheet is provided.
Overall this is a nice kit and another approach to modeling the popular Marder III. '
Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.