Dragon 1/35 SdKfz 138/1 Geshutzwagen 38M fur s.IG.33/2
KIT #: 6429
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart Kit


The SdKfz 138/I is better known to most armor enthusiasts as the Grille. These vehicles were based on the Panzer 38(t) Ausf. M, which had its engine in the middle. As with the earlier version, the turret was removed and replaced with a new superstructure and armored compartment. Unlike the Ausf. H variant of the Bison, this was located at the rear of the vehicle, as well as somewhat smaller and higher. This version also carried the 15 cm schweres Infanteriegeschütz 33 (S.IG.33).

From April to June 1943 and then from October 1943 to September 1944 a total of 282 vehicles were produced, as well a 120 ammunition carriers, which replaced the main gun with ammunition racks. These could be converted back to normal configuration in the field, by mounting the 15 cm gun onto the vehicle. The Grille Ausf M was the last vehicle built on the Ausf M chassis as the 10 that had been allocated to the Flakpanzer 38(t) chassis were used to build Grille's instead.


This is another of Dragon's great Smart Kits. With over 500 parts, there will be no lack of detail. As in all their new kits, the molds have been updated and new features added. In this case those are:

- Brand new mounted version of s.IG.33 gun
- s.IG.33 gun carriage accurately represented the real one
- Recoil system rendered w/realistic bolt detail
- Aluminum gun barrel w/rifling finely reproduced

Fighting Compartment:
- "Ultra Slim" Injection-molded armor plates
- Fighting compartment with full interior detail is new
- Nut and bolt armor plate detail rendered realistically
- Newly tooled upper hull and driver's hatch w/authentic detail
- Newly tooled engine compartment rear panel is sharply detailed
- New-tooled firing data board and tool storage w/defined detail
- Weather tarp supports reproduced is new
- Handrail accurately reproduced; two options of handrail
- 98k rifle rack represented by photo-etched parts
- New rain guard for radio set made from photo-etched part
- Delicate detail on fu5-Gerate 10W.S.h transmitter & UkwEh receiver
- Newly tooled rear armor plate can be assembled open/closed
- Newly tooled cartridge storage w/crisp detail
- Option of showing racks w/ or w/o ammunition rounds
- Bonus perforated storage box made from photo-etched parts

Lower Hull, Suspension and Wheels:
- Newly tooled lower hull frontal armor w/spare track rack in crisp detail
- Newly tooled slide-molded one-piece chassis w/delicate detail
- Transmission system with excellent detail
- Road wheels and suspension w/crisp detail
- Sprocket and idler wheels accurately tooled
- Engine exhibits delicate detail thanks to separate parts

- Magic Tracks w/casting-number detail etched on every link
- New Cartograf decal

As you can see, a considerable number of improvements that will make this one of the more detailed kits you'll see. It is also nice that it has a fully detailed engine, transmission and driver's compartment. There are a lot of sprues in the box, but not all parts are used as you can see from the diagram.

Dragon's instructions are up to their usual level of quality with 19 superbly illustrated construction steps. Paint information is with Gunze and Model Master paints. Three markings options are provided.  The box art vehicle is from 1.Pz.Div in Belgium during 1944. Another with a softer camo scheme is from the same division in France during that time. The third option is an overall Panzer Yellow vehicle from an unidentified unit on the eastern front.

All will agree that the Smart Kits are an excellent value for the money and provide hours of modeling enjoyment. While complex, they are not difficult to build and anyone with some experience with photoetch should have little trouble with the kit.



October 2008

My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review sample. Get yours today at your favorite shop or on-line store.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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