UM 1/72 SP 10.5cm StuH 44/2 auf Jagdpanzer 38(t)
|$9.95 from http://www.scale-model-kits.com
|Scott Van Aken
|This may well be a 'whiffer' or at least a one-off
The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was intended to be more cost-effective than the much more ambitious Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger designs of the same period. Using a proven chassis, it avoided the mechanical problems of the larger armoured vehicles.
It was better armored than the earlier PanzerjägerMarder and Nashorn with a sloped armour front plate of 60 mm sloped back at 60 degrees from the vertical (equivalent in protection to about120 mm), carried a reasonably powerful gun, was mechanically reliable and small and easily concealed. It was also cheap to build. Its main failings were the cramped working condition of the crew, the very limited gun traverse, and poor visibility from the commander's station.
The Jagdpanzer 38(t) succeeded the Marder III (based on the same chassis) in production from April 1944; about 2584 were built until the end of the war. The older Marder III Panzerjager series retained the same vertically-sided chassis as Panzer 38(t). In the hetzer, the lower hull sides slope slightly to increase the available interior space and enable a fully-enclosed fighting compartment. Because of the fully enclosed armor, it was 5 tons heavier than the Marder III. To compensate for the increased weight, track width was increased from 293 mm to 350 mm.
Plans were made to produce other variants, including an assault gun version of the Hetzer carrying a 105 mm main cannon (the subject of this kit), and an anti-aircraft variant mounted with a flak turret. The war ended before these proposed models were put into production, though it may well be that prototypes were produced.
UM has been producing 1/72 armor kits for quite some time and have amassed a respectable catalogue of subjects. One of them is the Jagdpanzer 38(t) and so it is reasonable that they'd offer as many options as they can. Thus this rather rare vehicle with the 105mm howitzer in place of the standard gun.
The kit is molded in a light grey plastic with nicely done detailing and the parts are free from the usual molding glitches (flash, sink areas, short shots). The kit sprues are for all the different variants so there are pieces that will not be used. A small two part sprue with the 105mm barrel is the only bit not in the other versions. This is a curbside, to use auto modeler's-speak, so has no interior nor engine detailing. Thankfully, there are not a ton of additional bits and pieces to add to the hull. Just enough to make things look busy. There is a small photo etch fret, as is the norm with UM kits, and it is for the side skirts, fender ends and some grille bits, amongst the things most noticeable. It almost looks like it is copper, but I'm sure it is brass. The kit has plastic tracks that are in singles and long runs. The single sections for around the sprocketand idler, for example, and the longer runs for the straight sections. There are two identical sprues that are just for these parts.
Instructions are well done with Humbrol color information and nicely drawn illustrations. No markings suggestions are given, though the box art vehicle is in overall panzer tan. A small decal sheet that appears to be generic Germany vehicle is provided so that you can mark this one how you wish. I particularly like that the instruction sheet has a front and rear quarter view in addition to standard three views of the completed vehicle to help in ensuring that you get all the parts in the correct place.
Small scale modelers should really consider this one for their collection. The Hetzer is a neat vehicle anyway, and this howitzer-armed version just adds to the interest.
My thanks to http://www.scale-model-kits.com for the preview kit. Visit them and see what else is available.
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