Dragon 1/35 BefehlsJager 38 ausf M

KIT #: 6472
PRICE: $47.50 SRP
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Not exactly a brand new kit



Even in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht already felt the need for a more mobile and more powerful anti-tank solution than the existing towed anti-tank guns or tank destroyers like the Panzerjäger I. This need became urgent in late 1941, with the appearance of the new Soviet tanks like the T-34 and Kliment Voroshilov.

As an interim solution, it was decided to use both obsolete tanks like the Panzer II and captured vehicles like the Lorraine as the base for makeshift tank destroyers. The result was the Marder series, which were armed with either the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank guns or the Russian 76.2mm F-22 Model 1936 divisional field gun, of which large numbers had been captured.

While the Panzer 38(t) had largely become obsolete as a tank in early 1942, it was still an excellent platform for adaptation into a tank destroyer, among other roles. Since the Soviet 76.2 mm field gun was captured in large quantities, the decision was made to mate this gun to the Panzer 38(t).

To do so, the turret and upper superstructure of the Panzer 38 were removed and a new superstructure was bolted on to the chassis. The upper part, which housed the gun, was open at the top and back and only lightly armoured. Armour protection overall ranged from 10 to 50 mm. A major disadvantage of this variant was its high silhouette, which made it more vulnerable to enemy fire.

The now-called 7.62 cm PaK 36(r) was rechambered to be able to use standard German 75 mm ammunition, of which 30 rounds could be carried inside the vehicle. Apart from the main gun, there was a 7.92 mm machine gun mounted in the hull.

This tank destroyer was put into production as the Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7.62 cm PaK 36(r), Sd.Kfz. 139. A total of 363 of this Marder III variant were built from April 1942 to 1943.

Marder III Ausf.M, Sd.Kfz. 138

The last Marder III variant was based on the Panzer 38(t) Ausf. M (with Ausf. M standing for Mittelmotor (middle engine)), again armed with the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun. In this variant, the gun and fighting compartment were located at the rear. Unlike in the previous two Marder IIIs, this compartment was closed at the rear, though still open-topped. It could only carry 27 rounds of ammunition. The Ausf. M did not carry a machinegun in its hull, instead a MG 34 or MG 42 was carried by the crew.

The Ausf. M was the variant which was produced in the largest numbers, some 975 vehicles being manufactured in 1943 and early 1944. Its full name was the Panzerjäger 38(t) mit 7.5 cm PaK 40/3 Ausf.M, Sd.Kfz. 138.Those that were radio command vehicles were called Befelhsjäger, as is the subject of this kit.


This particular kit is little different from the previously reviewedPanzerjäger 38(t), though it does have additional pieces for the radio suite. Just to cover everything, courtesy of Dragon's PR crew:

- Injected armor plates have "Ultra Slim" thickness
- Fighting compartment w/interior detail
Newly tooled star antenna for Fu8SE30
Second radio system newly produced
MG mount on handrail is new tooling
- Delicately detailed lower mount for PaK40/3
- Periscopes made from clear parts
- Engine-deck cover can be assembled open or closed
- Gun travel lock reproduced w/crisp detail
- Workable breech
- Engine-compartment rear panel w/sharp detail
- Shell racks finely made
- Option of showing ammunition rounds in rack
- Fighting compartment roof comes w/different bolt detail
- Gun shield produced by 3-directional slide molds
- Gun shield and recoil guard for Pak40 gun that traverses and elevates
- External exhaust pipe w/photo-etched exhaust cover has great detail
- Lower-hull frontal armor w/crisp detail
- Handrail accurately produced
- Slide-molded one-piece chassis w/delicate details
- Bonus perforated storage box made from photo-etched parts or individual parts
- Includes driver's controls
- Engine exhibits delicate detail
- Two types of plastic ammunition, shell cases, ammo tubes (open and closed) and metal ammo cases w/decal markings
- Magic Tracks w/casting-number detail embossed on every link
- Transmission system w/excellent detail
- Road wheels and suspension w/crisp detail
- Idler wheels and sprocket wheels accurately tooled

All of that adds up to 780 parts, ensuring that you will have some quality modeling time building what very much looks like a superbly accurate vehicle. The kit does include markings for two vehicles, both in a three color camouflage. The mottled one is from 1./Pz.Jg.Abt 346 in Holland during 1944. This vehicle is shown on the box art. The other is from Pz.Jg.Abt 243 at Normandy in 1944.


So here we have another excellent Dragon kit of an interesting sub variant of a popular vehicle. One of these days they'll run out of subjects, but that won't come for a long time!



September 2009

My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours at your favorite shop or ask them to order it for you.

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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