During WWII, German workshops and armament engineers gained a well deserved reputation of using whatever materials were available to them in the way of munitions and vehicles. These various bits and bobs were often cobbled together in some sort of workable configuration, some successfully and others not so much. Some of these hybrids were used extensively and effectively, such as the sIG 33 self propelled gun in all its evolutionary states, while others never really developed much beyond what is commonly referred to as the ‘paper panzer’ stage.
, who produces a variety of some especially esoteric kits for Dragon, has jumped back into the world of rare and prototype vehicles with another one-of type vehicle, a Panzerjager I B mit 7.5cm Stuk 40 L/48. In other words, a diminutive panzer I chassis that has been overburdened with a 7.5cm tank gun from a Stug III or IV track. I would have dearly loved to have seen this thing fire; it appears so top heavy that it looks as if the whole thing would simply have gone, in the words of James Joyce, “arse over tip”.
Nonetheless, while it appears that only one of these puffed up little fellows ever saw the light of day; Cyber-Hobby has done a job worthy of those earlier German field workshops in putting this kit together for our little community of modelers.
A whole bunch of parts, trust me on this one, I could not find an official count but the Magic Tracks alone would account for over 200. I would estimate at something north of five or six hundred parts all told. Here is what you will see when you open the sturdy box;
• 14 sprues of the standard Dragon/Cyber Hobby plastic
• 1 light gray plastic hull with the side fenders already attached
• 2 clear sprues with vision blocks, ports, and gun sight
• 2 photo-etch pieces with fender edges, muffler guards, grill screens, etc.
• 1 metal gun barrel
• 1 bag of Magic Tracks
• 1 bag of 20 brass wheel rings
• 1 decal sheet
• Instructions sheet and painting guide
Outside of one newly molded sprue the entire kit is made utilizing sprues from previously released kits, really no big deal when you consider that is how the actual vehicle was created as well. The upper and lower hull, along with the interior floor, the suspension, idlers, and drive sprockets, all come from the Panzerjaeger I (#6230) kit. All of these parts are superbly molded, the screw heads on the front hull are just plain incredible. The split idler is a marvel of modern molding, with the most subtle cast texture I have ever seen.
The rear hull support, mudflaps, and tools all come from the Panzer I B kit (#6186) and again are all very well done with one exception. I know it is just my own pet peeve here, but why is it possible for mold makers to incorporate all of the slide-molding and CAD technology, yet we still have jack blocks that have wood grain detail only on the top of the part? This kit keeps that tradition alive and well, easy enough to remedy but it seems almost an anachronism when compared to the rest of this kit.
The wheels and transmission/gear box parts all come from the earlier Panzer I A with interior (#6356
) kit. Again, no complaints here as these are all beautifully rendered. The wheels are a tasty treat with almost sublime detail and the addition of the brass ring pieces brings them to an even higher level of detail.
The tracks for this are the very well rendered Magic Tracks. The tracks are non-handed and yes, they are tiny, but hey, so is the vehicle. I personally would have preferred the DS style, but I know some people really like the extra degree of detail afforded by the indy links. Definitely a step up from the earlier Panzer I link-to-link efforts that were so delicate that it seems like half of them broke coming off the sprue.
In keeping with the overall theme of this cobbled together kit and vehicle the gun and mount comes from the StuG III G kit. These parts all are very well detailed and should build up into a solid representation of the StuK 40 gun. I especially like the clear gunsight, these are a clear improvement over their older, solid, brethren.
The only new parts to this kit are the pieces for the improvised gun shield and the steel beams that support the gun mount. Cyber-Hobby advertises the shield as Ultra Slim and I would have to concur, it is pretty sharp, almost as thin as brass. The other new parts are for the gun travel lock/support and a few more replacement parts to modify the slightly different upper portions of the gun casemate. You are required to cut away a strip from the top of the hull casemate of approximately 2 mm in depth and 2 cm in length in order to properly fit the new parts. While they include no template to aid you in cutting I think it can be accomplished fairly easily if you take your time and are careful; wish I would remember the old adage about measure twice, cut once, a few more times, it would have saved me a few headaches.
The gun is a metal affair with the muzzle brake parts in plastic. The hull tub is well rendered, fenders already in place, nice diamond plate texture and the side strips of the fenders to be added from brass pieces in the now standard format for Dragon Panzer I’s.
The instructions are done in the normal Dragon exploded view style. There are a few discrepancies but if you are familiar with Dragons style and have a few kits under your belt it should pose no real problem. The only issues I could find was the parts schematic which shows you using a number of different parts but never showing where they are located. The excellent radios from the StuG III are shown as being used but never given a call out in the instructions, likewise the floor for the StuG is also shown as a part that is to be used but come on now, we all know better, right?
The only marking options are from the only vehicle ever photographed in Berlin, 1945. Can’t imagine more than one or two of this vehicle would have been produced in any case. The painting scheme lists two options, actually both the same the difference being that one shows a primered-only gun and the other shows it to be painted in the two-tone camouflage along with the rest of the vehicle.
I wish that Dragon would have molded the upper casemate in such a way that it did not require the modeler to cut away a portion in order to correctly build the kit, or at least provided a paper template to help. The only other issue is ammo storage, for an open topped vehicle it seems an important consideration, and Dragon has provided no real options for any. There is, of course, the possibility that considering the nature of the vehicle that no storage was provided for. One of the nice things about a late war AFV of this type is that it is hard to go wrong with much as a lot of what the modeler does will be an educated guess anyway.
In the end this kit seems to have been created in much the same way that my household handles leftovers; a little of this, a wee bit of that, a sprinkle of salt, and you have something that turns out to be pretty tasty. This pocket-sized panzer is a tasty treat as well, beautifully molded assemblies, gorgeous detail, and a plethora of leftover pieces for the parts bin. While some folks get a bit annoyed at the concept of model producers kitting out every prototype vehicle ever fielded by the Wehrmacht, others feel that the more obscure the better. Personally, I’m hoping that someday someone unearths a photo of a panzer with a trebuchet mounted on top, now that will be some model!