|KIT:||Eduard 1/35 SdKfz 138 (t) Hetzer (early)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Includes P.E. fret, full interior and full engine|
By the time 1943 had rolled around, the Czech-produced PzKfw 38(t) tank was well and truly obsolete. While it was world class in the late 30s, the rapid pace of technology had passed it by. However, it would have been quite time consuming to convert the factories to other types so the basic chassis was used for a variety of other types of armored vehicle including self-propelled guns and the subject of this kit, the Hetzer tank destroyer.
The decision to built a non-turreted tank destroyer was a good one as these vehicles could be built rather rapidly and the vehicles themselves were quite capable, especially if properly armed. The Hetzer was armed with a 75mm Pak 39 anti-tank gun, offset to the right to provide room in the small chassis for the driver and loader. First prototype was built in early 1944 with the preproduction vehicles being tested by April of that year. By June 1944, the production lines were underway with the new jagdpanzer being delivered to field units. By the end of 1944, nearly 1600 had come off the production lines.
The worsening war and bombing raids slowed production in 1945 though an additional 1200 plus were produced until the factories ceased production at the end of the war in May. Post war, many of these were used by the Czech military as well as by the Swiss, who used them well into the 1950s.
If you have built an Eduard kit recently, you know that they are right up there with the big boys in terms of engineering and quality. This kit seems to be no exception. You get a huge box full of plastic packages, with all the sprues either one or two to a bag. Those that are doubled up as held apart by interlocking sprues so that there is no damage to any parts during shipment. I especially like the type of bags Eduard uses. They are not stapled or heat sealed, but use flaps with sticky on them. Makes them much easier to reseal the parts once you have done some 'plastic fondling'!
A close inspection of the parts shows that the molding is excellent with no flash or ejector pin marks to mar any of the parts. There are pin marks, but they are on the backs of parts and shouldn't be visible in the completed kit. What I did find were more sink areas than I'd have liked. These were on thicker plastic parts and include suspension parts. Several of the included figures had large sink areas in the back and front of the torso parts. These will be quite difficult if not impossible to properly repair.
What is the really great part of this kit is that it provides a full interior and highly detailed Praga AE engine. You also get very nicely done piece and section plastic tracks, an option of two different guns, a very nicely done photo etch fret, and four crew figures. There is also a very nice clear sprue (not shown) as well as a small piece of string to use as a tow cable. Another addition is a wheel mask (not shown) which is appreciated by those of us who are not good at doing road wheels!
The kit instructions are very well done. They are in full color and use Eduard's '3-D' drawings that so many have found quite useful. Some parts are not used and are Xd out on the parts diagram. Color information is provided using Gunze and generic names. There are a myriad of construction steps provided in what is essentially an instruction booklet. This assures no confusion about what goes where. I really liked that there were additional views of what some of the various assemblies looked like when complete. Hetzers were not covered with markings, most of them carrying little more than insignia and perhaps hull numbers. Markings for 3 or 4 different vehicles are provided in two different camouflage schemes. The decals are quite well done and come on two sheets. One is a 'standard' set of markings while the second is kit specific. According to the sheet, it seems as if this is the first of three different Hetzer kits from Eduard.
I don't know if this is Eduard's first foray into 1/35 armor or not, but it is an outstanding start to things. It is logical that the subject be Czech as I'm sure there are readily available reference vehicles for the Eduard designers to use in engineering this kit. I have to say that when I saw all the goodies I almost expected an aluminum barrel to be included, but perhaps that will be left for the inevitable Profipak version! Though somewhat marred by the sink areas in a number of the plastic bits, this is a truly outstanding kit and one that those of you who are into armor should really put on your 'to buy' list.
The kit instructions.
A big thank you to Eduard for providing the preview kit.
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