by: Rick Cooper [ ]
Originally published on:
Sometime back in 1944 or early 1945 someone in the German government made the decision to use some spare 10.5 cm leFH 18 guns and mount them on the hybrid Pz. III/IV chassis that the big Hummel 15 cm self-propelled gun used. The Hummel with limited ammo storage used a dedicated tender to keep it supplied with shells and perhaps it is these tenders that were used to mount the smaller gun. If true it would have provided a little extra punch for units fighting desperate rear-guard actions; if it is true.
That appears to be the rub with Dragon Models recent release of what they are calling the Sd. Kfz. 165 Hummel-Wespe kit, #6535, in 1/35 scale. No one really knows if any of this is true or if it is just a concept that never left a drawing board. There doesn’t appear to be any hard evidence to support the idea, however, it sure seems feasible and there isn’t any evidence to refute it, so maybe the truth is out there!
13 light gray sprues of varying sizes
1 clear sprue
1 hull tub
1 photo-etch sheet
1 120 mm length of soft plastic hose
1 set of DS tracks
1 small pre-formed wire
1 small set of decals for three different marking options
1 set of instructions
A quick look in the box provides that always satisfying Dragon Models first look; a box stuffed full of plastic and an instruction sheet with lots of blue shading for the spare parts bin. The kit comes packed in a sturdy Dragon Models box with a nice illustration of the vehicle in the field on the top and bottom of the box with the advertising flyer printed on it. A brief peek reveals very clean moldings without any glaring issues. Lots of slide molded parts as evidenced by the number of smaller little nodules here and there.
With this kit being a hybrid of sorts and with Dragon Models penchant for using off the shelf moldings it makes sense that there is not much in the kit that is really new, mostly a conglomeration from a few earlier kits. The kit makes extensive use of the Hummel #6321 that Dragon Models released a few years ago. They use the gun from the G.W. LeFH 18/40/2 Pz. III/IV kit #6710. As the vehicle was built on the Pz. IV suspension they also make use of the very nice Pz. IV family of Smart kits.
The instructions are the standard Dragon Models fold out with 8 panels. As with many Dragon Models kits you will find some small errors here and there, I have tried to point out a few that I found here in the review, they may be others that I am not aware off. If you find one please add it into the comments at the bottom of the review.
The suspension on the model comes from the superb Panzer IV family that Dragon Models has developed over the years. The bogies build up from four separate pieces while the road wheels feature separately molded armored hubs and show off some very delicate welding as well as the raised manufacturer’s markings on the rubber portion of the tire. The drive sprockets are well detailed and are keyed to ensure proper alignment.
All of this attaches to a very well done hull. The bump stops for the suspension are all separate pieces as well. The key feature of the hull is the plethora of rivet detail along with the access, drain, and inspection covers and panels. All of this is indicative of the effort that Dragon Models has put into getting this right.
The tracks are the now standard DS plastic style. The vehicle rides on 40 cm lightweight tracks that are very well detailed. The tracks show hollowed out what I call key support arms (not really sure what this piece of the track is called), the small piece that the track pin first runs through that connects to the next link on the run. The only drawback, and I am being overly picky here, is that the track guide horns do not have the prominent ‘dent’ molded in them. I guess this is where I insert the plea that Dragon Models begin to give modelers a choice between the DS tracks and the Magictracks by including both; it would be a nice gesture that would satisfy just about everyone but alas Dragon Models has not yet taken that step. Maybe in the future they will at least offer them as an upgrade option.
Outside of the big gun itself this is the most prominent part of the vehicle. As such Dragon Models has done a credible job of filling all that space. The armored side walls are well done and are very thin, much closer to scale than previous efforts. Dragon Models provides the locker for the powder charges as well as the ammo locker. You can leave the ammo locker in the open position to show off the nice detail inside and even fill it with 10.5 cm ammo but whoops, the lockers are for the 150cm ammo not the 10.5 that the new gun provides. Maybe they used the same lockers for both sizes of ammo but I am guessing not. Between me and you I would just close them up and then no one is the wiser.
The kit also provides complete interior bracing for the walls, fire extinguisher, crew weapons, and other various fittings including a length of flexible hose for the cooling transfer system. Be aware the hose fits into bracket F32 and uses F25 as the stopper but only F32 is called out in the instructions. The instructions call out for F32 to be installed in step 14, you don’t see anything more until the final step, #21, when it gives a partial view of the interior of the fighting compartment with the assembly all complete. You will want to add this as it looks like a nice piece of detail that would be a shame to omit just because of the instructions falling a bit short. The prominent louvers on the sides of the fighting compartment are well done with separate, open, pieces with a photo-etch outside cover that looks really nice. The floor of the compartment and the gun platform also are very nice with great detail, nice tread plate molding, rivet, and bolt detail throughout.
The gun shield for the 10.5cm is a new molding as are the flat angled armor plates the shield fits into. These pieces are molded in the very thin ‘Razor Edge’ process that Dragon Models now employs for many large thin parts like open-top fighting compartments.
The gun is the excellent 10.5 cm gun from the earlier prototype vehicle the G.W. LeFH 18/40/2 Pz. III/IV from kit #6710. This is the same basic gun sans carriage that Dragon Models kitted out as a stand-alone gun with crew this past year (#6795). It is a very well done affair, the gun barrel is a one piece molding that should look nice with just a bit of seam cleanup. The muzzle brake is an additional three piece set up that should really enhance the look of the finished gun. The gun breech looks like a minor work of art with 9 parts making up the whole assembly. The gun sight also looks nice but be careful as it can be a bit tricky. You have no less than 4 sprues labeled as ‘K’; the gun, pioneer tools, and the clear parts (come on Dragon Models, try some new letters!)The instructions call out for k2 and E11 as the same part, it is only E11 not k2. You do need k2, the periscope portion of the sight, and it does attach to E11 but, well, I hope you get the picture, it is a bit tricky. There are a few new parts with this kit included in the sighting assembly, what I am guessing is an adjustment or deflection knob, the aforementioned E11, and the direct sight telescope. The braces that attach the gun shield to the gun are also new moldings for this kit. When it is all done you should have a well detailed, accurate gun that should satisfy most every modeler.
The fighting compartment covers up most of the fenders on this vehicle but what is supplied has a good look to them, well detailed, nice tread plate both on top as well as underneath. The rivet and bolt detail is delicate and well done. The tools that are attached are all well up to par as well, the 6 piece jack, the Bosch headlamp with conduit wiring, and the jack block and antenna pot. The mud flaps and hinge pins that connect them are also well done.
No real surprise that with no known hard evidence of the vehicles existence that all the markings are for the ubiquitous ‘unidentified unit’. All are listed as Germany, 1945. As such the only actual markings provided are a set of small Balkenkreuz. The finishing options really boil down to three different paint schemes for the vehicle; only one of which even has the colors called out, the other two are up to you, simply different shades of blue on the instruction sheet. The rest is up to you!
This looks like it would build up into a more than decent kit. It has a lot going for it, really nice looking detail everywhere you look, a very well done main gun, decently busy fighting compartment, and a great looking suspension. It has long been popular to create these ‘Frankentank’ type creations, here Dragon Models has jumped ahead and done it themselves. What I am sure many modelers would have wished is that Dragon Models had just kitted out a new production Wespe.