Dragon 1/35 Sd.Kfz.164 Nashorn
Nashorn (German "rhinoceros"), initially known as the Hornisse (German "hornet"), was a World War II German tank destroyer. The Germans developed it as an interim solution in 1942 and armed it with the PaK 43 anti-tank gun. Though only lightly armored and having a high profile, it stayed in service until the end of the war.
After their first experiences with the newer Soviet tanks like the T-34 or the KV-1 tank during Operation Barbarossa, the Germans clearly recognized they needed a Panzerjäger capable of destroying these heavily armored tanks.
In February 1942, the
arms firm of
The Hornisse entered production in early 1943. During the first half of 1943, a new model of the Hornisse was introduced. This model altered the driver's front armor plate, along with other minor differences. In 1944, Hitler renamed this version “Nashorn”. Total production of the Hornisse/Nashorn was 494 vehicles, of which most were built in 1943. As a Panzerjäger, it was soon replaced by the newer German tank destroyers like the Jagdpanzer IV and the Jagdpanther. However, Nashorn production continued into 1945.
Six German Heavy Antitank Battalions were eventually equipped with the Nashorn. Each Battalion was equipped with 45 Nashorns.
Nashorn carried one of the most effective anti-tank guns deployed during the
carbide–cored, sub-caliber round
could penetrate 190 mm of steel armor at a 30° impact angle and at 1,000 meters.
The gun's performance enabled a Nashorn to engage enemy tanks while they were
still out of range.
The relatively compact fighting compartment limited shell storage to only 24 to 40 rounds. The Nashorn’s crew traveled in an open-top fighting compartment with all its weather-related disadvantages. They could protect themselves from the weather by using canvas covers to enclose the fighting compartment. The Nashorn did not have a machine gun mounted in the hull, so a single MG34 or MG42 was carried inside the fighting compartment for local defense.
Nashorns made their debut during the
of Kursk, where they performed
well. The ability to engage the enemy at long distances negated the
disadvantages of light armor and a high profile and revealed the weapon was
I have built a lot of Dragon 1/35 military vehicle kits lately, and I continue to be impressed by their level of detail. The Nashorn is no exception. With over 700 parts, this is another Dragon kit that isn’t for the faint-hearted. According to Cookie Sewell, well-known armor expert and kit reviewer, this is not a modified version of Dragon’s 2006 Premium version of the Nashorn; rather, it contains numerous reworked sprues from that kit as well as several more new ones and sprues from the revised Hummel. There are also common parts with Dragon Panzer IV kits. Needless to say, at the end of the assembly process, you will once again have a boatload of spare parts to put away for a rainy day.
The kit comes with Dragon’s “Magic Tracks,” which are tedious at best to assemble, but look good on the vehicle, assuming you can assemble them in a manner that fits properly on all the running gear. There are right and left tracks, distinguished by a dark and light gray plastic and contained in separate plastic bags. There are just enough photo etch (PE) parts to provide that added detail to set this kit apart.
Assembly of the gun alone requires 5 of the 17
instruction steps, and involves some 60 parts. The turned aluminum barrel is a
thing of beauty. A nice decal sheet provides markings for 6 vehicles, including
initial, early and initial-modified production vehicles.
Based on my Dragon kit experience, I actually studied the step-by-step assembly sequences in the Dragon instructions prior to beginning the kit. Per all Dragon kits of late, one must remain focused on the “version” or options you are including in your particular model, as the numerous parts can throw you if you don’t do this. I cannot emphasize this point enough to modelers who intend to build this kit: there are some rather COMPLEX assembly steps included as part of the overall construction process.
As with most armor kits, I finished the lower hull, the suspension and all the running gear first. I then moved to the rear hull and fighting compartment. I assembled the road wheels and bogies, but left them off at this stage to facilitate painting later in the build process.
Step 3 involves assembly of the top of front glacis plate, and here one is forced to decide on a version. I opted for the initial and modified early version, and there are separate steps to complete for that version. I continued in Steps 4, 5 and 6with assembly of the fenders, fighting compartment floor, and rear hull.
Steps 7 thru 11 involve the assembly of the gun, and it includes some 60 plastic parts and the turned aluminum barrel (incidentally, you also get parts to assemble two plastic barrels if one is so inclined). I really had to study Step 10, as several locations for parts are not readily apparent from the instruction illustrations. I recommend a lot of trial fitting before gluing parts in this step. A nice touch here is the inclusion of very small steel springs for the gunner’s seat (I took the lazy way out and used the seat with the molded-in plastic springs).
Moving on to Step 12, I assembled the sides of the fighting compartment, including several stowage boxes. Step 13 involves assembly of the ammo boxes, and one can display these open or closed. The open version involves numerous parts and will require separate painting of the exposed shells. I opted for building one box open and one closed. A note: the illustrations are reversed in the instructions, and parts F6 and F7 in the open box illustration are reversed. This was the only mistake I found in the instructions, which leads me to conclude that Dragon is hearing those of us who have pointed out instruction mistakes on their other kits, and is indeed working to minimize these occurrences. Once I finished these, I set them aside for later installation, as I knew I would be hand-painting the shells in the open box.
In Step 14, I assembled the gun travel lock that goes inside the fighting compartment, and then glued it to its locaters on the vehicle. I also assembled the rear doors and glued them to the fighting compartment rear wall. The final assembly items in this step include gluing the fighting compartment side and rear walls to the vehicle’s chassis. Step 15 includes more assembly of items that are mounted in or to the fighting compartment. Step 16 completes the front of the compartment and also involves the attachment of some nice PE mounting hangars for extra road wheels.
I then moved to Step 17 and assembled the front gun travel lock. I chose to display it in the stowed position (i.e., flush against the glacis plate). I glued the gun shield together, mounted it to the gun, and then placed the gun into its locator hole on the chassis. I did not glue this as I wanted the gun to traverse.
Having put off the assembly of the individual link tracks for as long as I could, I finally decided to “man up” and get this out of the way. I must say that these tracks went together easier than other individual link tracks, and when I used Super Glue to attach them to the vehicle, I was pleasantly surprised at the realistic track sag I was able to attain with them. As always, pre-planning is a must for assembling these tracks, and one gets zero advice on this process from the instructions, so either read up on assembling these or use your own experience. For me, I have found that not gluing the boogies and road wheels on makes the assembly process easier, in that one can use regular plastic tube cement to glue a length of links together, and then form them over the boogie wheels, leaving them to dry in that manner. The same is true for creating the proper angle of the tracks as they leave the rear or forward road wheels to go up and around either the idler wheels or the drive sprockets.
There are right and left tracks included in the kit, identified by being in separate plastic bags, and with the left side links being molded in a darker gray plastic. While this was not my most painful individual track link assembly experience, I must say I personally prefer Dragon’s newer DS flexible tracks, as they require much less time to assemble and mount.
COLORS & MARKINGS
Once everything was assembled, I headed to my basement paint booth. I again chose the now boring (to me) camo scheme of red brown and dark green camo splotches/lines over a dark yellow base – illustrated in the instructions as an initial-early production vehicle in action on the Eastern Front in 1943. As per my usual (as of late) practice for this color scheme, I used Tamiya acrylics thinned 50-50 with lacquer thinner. At this stage, I used white glue to mount the boogie and road wheels to the chassis, as I wanted to be able to remove them later to brush paint the rubber on the wheels.
I used the color modulation approach that requires three main levels of color - light, medium, and dark – to provide gradation in the vehicle’s color. I first applied an overall coat of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown lightened with a few drops of XF-60 Dark Yellow with my trusty Paasche H airbrush. Once this dried, I airbrushed a coat of XF-60, making sure to limit the amount of this paint on the darker, lower areas. I then added XF-55 Deck Tan to XF-60 to further lighten the color, and tried to again limit the spray to the upper areas of the model. The contrasts between the dark and lighter areas were now starting to become noticeable. Once the base coat dried, I switched to my Iwata HP-CS Eclipse airbrush to carefully paint the thin brown and green camo stripes on the vehicle’s sides, upper hull, and gun. The 0.35mm tip on this brush is ideal for painting small details, but one has to be very careful about the proper paint to thinner ratios to avoid drying in the nozzle. I used a very light air pressure setting to add small stripes of dark green and brown to the vehicle’s exterior. I can only say this takes practice, so don’t be disappointed if at first you mess up a line or two with a sudden spurt of wet paint mixture that leaves an obvious solvent “hole” in the painted area. Just let it dry, come back over it with the base coat, and try again. After a while, one gets the hang of it.
I then coated the entire model with Rustoleum’s clear gloss out of a rattle can (Wal-Mart is a good, relatively cheap source for this, but be careful and go lightly with the first few coats to avoid cracking and crinkling, as this stuff is lacquer-based and is quite “hot” as paints go). Once this coat dried, I applied both dark brown and black washes to the entire vehicle, including the tracks (which I had sprayed with Testors Steel). I keep a Q-tip handy to quickly wipe away any excess wash that gets on the model (this is much easier than waiting until it dries!).
I then applied the kit decals with Solvaset and let them dry. At this stage, I was ready to restore the model’s matte finish, so I shot the entire model with Testors Dullcote.
The final step in painting the model was to brush paint the tools on the fenders and the machine guns inside the fighting compartment. Since I had already mounted them to the turret, I also opted to hand-paint the spare track links. I then highlighted prominent edges on the model with a silver artist’s pencil to simulate worn metal, and dry brushed a rust colored acrylic paint over some selected exterior surfaces.
The final touch was to superglue the kit-supplied steel antenna – another nice touch - to the antenna base on the fender.
Here’s another great Dragon kit. While the assembly process is tedious, given the amount of parts and the somewhat complicated assembly instructions, it is well worth it the time and effort because it turns into a great looking model when finished. I highly recommend this kit to those with some armor vehicle assembly experience.
1. “Nashorn,” Wikipedia, 2010.
2. “Panzerjager Hornisse / Nashorn Sd. Kfz. 164,” Achtung Panzer, 2010.Blair Stewart
3. Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com via your editor, for the review kit. Get yours at your local shop or on-line retailer
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