Following hot on the heals of the Sd.Kfz.138 Marder IIIM w/Stadtgas Initial (kit #6468) Cyberhobby/Dragon have now released this kit of the Sd.Kfz.138/1 Munitionswagen 38 M für s.I.G.33/2 which was the munitions supply vehicle for the Sd.Kfz.138/1 15cm s.I.G.33/2 Grille M.
As noted previously a number of each series vehicles were produced without the main armament as ammunition resupply vehicles on the same chassis with this kit specifically designed to accompany the Grille M.
The kit is based on the later Marder Ausf. M welded hull and includes a number of parts specific for the Grille M (some used and some not for this kit) which we have seen already announced by Cyberhobby/Dragon (kit #6429 Sd.Kfz.138/1 Geschützwagen 38 M für s.I.G.33/2). With that this review could be seen as a preview of the Grille M kit except for the s.I.G.33/2 gun itself.
The kit as you would expect uses quite a few parts from the Marder IIIM w/Stadtgas Initial (kit #6468) such as the lower hull and running gear along with a personal equipment sprue from the Gen2 figure sets (eg #6348) plus new sprues M and Q for this kit. These include the welded upper hull and superstructure panels as well as including the Grille M features of barrel travel lock and armoured front flap/cover for the superstructure plus the internal ammo racks/containers for the 15cm s.I.G.33 rounds.
There are quite a few duplicate parts from the Marder IIIM and other 38(t) kits as well as the new parts for this kit such as 2 lower front hull plates, 2 glacis plates, 3 rear engine firewalls, 2 mufflers, 2 barrel travel locks, 2 sets of fenders and 4 rear engine deck doors so you have to watch and make sure you are using the right part as indicated in the instructions.
The kit consists of about 630 parts in light grey plastic although many are indicated as not used with this kit, 16 in clear plastic (9 not used), two frets of etched parts, 3 lengths of pre-formed steel wire, a length of wire cable and a bag of individual track links plus of course the instruction sheet and a small decal sheet.
Standard of moulding is again excellent overall with very few if any pin marks with the detail very clean and crisp due to the many plastic ‘nodes’ on the parts that do require a bit of care when removing but worth the effort for the cleaner parts. There is also virtually no flash present with the track links which are cleanly moulded with just the usual small moulding seams to be cleaned from all the parts which is normal for any kit.
A notable feature is the quite thin superstructure sides free of any pin marks along with details on both sides for a good appearance but the rear hull plate was warped a little in different directions in my kit due to the thinness of the flat panels but this should pull back into line as you glue to the rear of the lower hull tub and superstructure sides, but is something you will have to take care with. The superstructure front plate was also warped along the bottom edge due to the thin plastic and this caused some fit issues and you will have to straighten this before it will fit properly but more on that later.
Dimensionally the kit matches the 1:35 Marder III M plans in the Panzer Tracts No.7-2 Panzerjaeger and other references perfectly in all respects with any discrepancies being well within accepted tolerances.
The kit includes the forward transmission and driver’s seat as well as the engine from the previous 38(t) kits but again you don’t get the etched steering levers from the 38(t) Ausf.G but just the plastic levers from the Aufkläerungspanzer 38(t) kit.
The lower hull tub has the floor and both sides moulded together as a conventional tub with well defined detail on the underside and both sides of the hull walls for the forward compartment and inner final drives and includes revised upper walls for the Marder M hull as well as cut-outs for the engine intakes.
Detail on the tub exterior is very good with rivet detail on the bottom and sides as well as the idler mountings included with separate final drive covers and return roller mountings.
The new separate front plate is in two parts to not compromise the detail on the upper and lower sections with the fit very good as is the separate tow hooks which have the correct profile but you should not attach this plate to the hull until the interior is done or there may be problems fitting the transmission/gearbox if you do attach the front plate now.
On the inside are two part final drive fittings and front brackets which fit snugly to the inner side walls with the transmission/gearbox having crisp details included for all the basic detail including the cooling ribs on the gearbox and textured drive shaft cover. The driver’s controls are in one piece and fairly basic but there are a couple of detailed etched sets available if you want to dress these up a bit?
There are still no driver’s foot pedals included and the three part seat is also very basic and there is also no driver’s instrument panel that should fit to the underside of the upper hull plate. As you can only see the interior through the transmission inspection hatch or the driver’s hatch if left open not a lot of the interior is visible in any case but if you’re going to include an interior providing all the main parts or none at all would seem the appropriate thing to do?
Once the transmission/gearbox is assembled this should be fitted inside the hull and you will have to flex out the front sidewalls slightly to insert the pins on the drive shafts (parts D46) into the final drive fittings (parts D55/56) and this is the reason for leaving the front plate separate as you won’t be able to flex the sidewalls to fit the transmission with the front plate in place.
The instructions show to fit the engine bulkhead inside the hull before the engine but if you do this it is a little difficult to fit the engine to the two floor mounting pins and it’s better the fit the engine first and then the firewall.
The kit has the full Praga TNHPS/II 6 cylinder petrol engine from the 38(t) Ausf.G kit with the rear radiator and associated fuel tanks to provide all the basic structures for a full engine compartment.
The engine block is in two halves with separate top rocker cover and a separate front bell housing with detailed fly wheel inside which is completely hidden after assembly but shows nice attention to detail. The detail on these parts is adequate but also a little plain on some when compared to photos such as the rocker cover but should be okay when looking through the open engine hatches.
Added to the engine are numerous accessories such as the alternator, carburettor and exhaust manifolds with the fit of the parts quite good overall and thankfully Dragon have fixed most of the instruction bloopers for the engine, but one still remains.
The location of the large exhaust manifold (part D16) is incorrect and it should be mounted above the lower intake manifold (part D23), not below as indicated.
Some of the smaller items are a little vague in their location and careful study of the instructions and pictures of the assembled engine will help to get things in the right place. The large air cleaning sort of “hangs” out in mid air but thankfully the locating of the parts is quite precise and so long as you make sure it is sitting at the right angle as the glue dries there shouldn’t be any problems.
You can of course finish off the engine by adding the wiring and plumbing from fine wire or sprue.
At the back is the large radiator with four parts, two for the radiator itself giving you nice mesh detail on one side only, the large fan coaming and a fairly basic later style fan moulded and not the usual fan on the 38(t) Praga engine. But this is not a big issue as the fan is all but hidden after assembly on this model even with the top engine hatches open.
There is a separate exhaust pipe that joins to the external exhaust pipe as well as the side mounted fuel tanks and again you can add the fuel lines and wiring to finish off. You should also fit the fuel tanks, especially the right side tank before adding the engine as you will not be able to fit this after the engine is in place.
After adding the fully painted fuel tanks and engine/radiator assemblies to the lower hull you can then fit the forward bulkhead/firewall which fit neatly over the engine flywheel with the exhaust pipe meeting the hull wall, don’t fit this into the hole in the sidewall as this must be left open to fit the long external exhaust pipe later in the assembly sequences.
The rear bulkhead/firewall also fits neatly into the hull tub and this has a separate round engine inspection hatch and right side intake detail which is visible as this bulkhead forms the front of the rear fighting compartment.
Each suspension bogie is made up of the hull mounting, two separate swing arms and the leaf spring unit and has a face plug that allows the arms to move but the springs are glued in place so there is only downward movement possible for the wheels after assembly. The fine mould lines on the springs are easy to remove with the bogie units fitting together as you attach to the hull side as the spring locating pin is on the hull side and also used to locate the bogie mounting plate. Also the bolt head detail on the bottom of the bogie mounting plate has been enhanced to better represent the actual bolt head sizes as they were for the Ausf.G kit.
The wheels are the correct size and have the correct number of rim bolts (32) on both sides of the wheels with the hub bolts nicely defined and these simply glue to the axle stubs on the swing arms. These wheels have also had the detail between the rim and rubber tyre enhanced for a finer appearance adding a little more detail to the wheels as they were for the Flakpanzer 38(t) kit.
There are again two sets of drive sprockets provided; the sprockets with the 8 lightening holes around the outer rim and solid sprockets without any lightening holes but with nicely done inner hub rib detail included.
These are the same sprockets from the Marder IIIM w/Stadtgas kit meaning the lightening holes in the sprockets are still oversized and it looks as if these incorrect sprockets will now be included in all subsequent 38(t) kits from Cyberhobby/Dragon which is a pity.
Included are two sets of idler wheels, one with round lightening holes and the other with the teardrop shaped holes. The instructions just show the option but no indication which is more appropriate so checking references would be best to determine the parts best used but images indicate the round holes is most common on the later Marder IIIMs.
The idler axle allows a little movement of the idler position so it’s best not to glue this in place until fitting the tracts for a better fit.
The return rollers have nice hub detail as well as the “continentau” embossing on the side wall but it’s a little oversized if you want to get real picky but will look good when painted and weathered to highlight the embossing, and it’s easy to convert the ‘u’ to an ‘l’ if you want to do this.
These are provided as individually moulded “magic tracks” which have nice detail including minute casting numbers on the edge of each link with no cleanup required.
The tracks are designed to be glued together and are not workable and you will have to incorporate the track sag as you glue the lengths together. By gluing a length together and letting the glue “go off” you can them add it to the suspension and add the curve around the drive sprockets and idlers as well as the track sag easier.
The assembled track runs look very good but if you prefer workable track links which take care of the track sag themselves then those from WWII Productions would be a simple alternative.
Note: the tracks and sprockets shown are from the 38(t) Ausf.G kit but the tracks are the same for this kit.
There is a new long one piece glacis plate for this kit but the glacis for the earlier Marder IIIM is still included so make sure you use the correct part Q11 as indicated in the instructions. This has excellent rivet head detail with cut-outs for the separate welded driver’s hood and the engine inspection hatch which is a very snug fit to the glacis although the fit of the driver’s hood is a little loose so make sure it is lined up correctly before gluing.
Just a quick note on the assemble sequences as they show to add all the inner side panel details before fitting the panels to the hull for easier access and it does make things easier and the good fit of the side panels to the hull shouldn’t present any problems. You may wish to add the side panels before the internal details depending on your preferences due to fitting the slightly warped hull plates but this is a personal preference and no reflection on the kit assembly instructions.
On the front of the glacis is the two part Notek light which has etched parts for the mounting and light aperture and you can add this now to later to avoid any damage during the rest of the assembly.
The new welded driver’s hood is nicely done with a single row of rivets along the lower right edge as there should be. There is no interior detail on the hatches and the real things have fairly substantial padding which you may want to add if leaving the hatches open?
The front visor port is also a separate part if you wanted to show open and the right side hull visor is also a separate part for better defined detail with the fit of the glacis to the hull tub being very good again not requiring any trimming to fit.
The barrel travel lock is made up of 5 parts and mounted behind the driver’s hood but there is an issue with this similar to those on the Marder IIIM and Marder IIIH travel locks in there should be a larger space between the bottom of the lock and the mounting plate (part Q31) but sits almost flush with the plate bolts.
Added to the engine compartment are the four separate doors and the forward two can be shown open or closed as you wish and these also fit very snugly together to form the top plate over the engine bay but note also the rear doors have the lower gun shields fitted to them as well as small grab handles in plastic. A nice detail touch is the grab handles moulded on the forward two doors are hollow unlike the solid blobs we often see for grab handles and this adds good definition to the doors.
If you are going to have the engine doors closed you could use strips of plastic card underneath to join the doors together as this will make fitting them to the hull easier and also help with fitting the superstructure front plate as we will see below, but that is up to the individual to decide?
The two large superstructure side panels are superbly moulded with just the top row of rivets and bare lower sections applicable to the welded hull version and these again have nice detail on both sides without any hint of pin marks anywhere to contend with. They are also moulded a uniformly thickness or should that be thinness as the panels are commendably thin to avoid the bevelled edges seen on some previous kits and makes for excellent detail.
The right side panel also has the large engine louvers included which are again cleanly moulded and added to the sidewalls are the forward top and lower panels as well as etched intake screens for the underside of the engine intake overhangs which are the squared off welded type and all these parts fit together perfectly without the need for any trimming.
One minor thing to watch is the etched intake screens have their numbers transposed in the instructions and you should fit these on the opposite sides from that indicated, but it’s not a big deal as they are hard to see on the final model anyway.
The fit to the full side is also very good making for quick and easy assembly but watch as there is a little movement fore and aft and you should ensure they are aligned correctly and test fitting the rear hull panel in the process will ensure correct alignment.
The new superstructure front plate is that for the Grille M and has a separate central hinged panel to cover the gun opening, this is again as it is with the Grille M and not just a plate added to blank off the opening on the Munitionswagen. The plate has a large hinge spring on the inside which is provided in plastic with adequate spiral detail considering it will be hard to see after assembly with the plate designed to spring upwards to cover the front plate opening as the Grille M gun is elevated.
The fit of the front plate is compromised by the warping present on my part which sees the lower edges slightly curved and the outer plate angles splayed more than they should, this is evident when first fitting the plate to the superstructure sidewalls as they simply do not fit. (see images)
You would need to straighten the lower edges and the outer panels can be pulled back into line when fitting the front plate but it did take a little manoeuvring to get the plate to line up correctly and this distracts from adding the other details as you would really have to address this issue first. Because of all this I found it easier to glue the engine access hatches firmly in place as mentioned above to give a firm footing for fitting the front plate.
With the engine doors and lower armour strips (parts M1/M20, M2/M21) glued into position you can then glue the lower edges of the front plate to the doors while also aligning the outer edges to the superstructure sidewalls (one side at a time) and this did pull everything back into alignment as if there nothing had happened. There is a little extra work involved here and you should also be careful if you fit the additional equipment to the inside of the front plate before adding the plate to the superstructure that the panels have been straightened as pulling them back into alignment may be harder with the extra parts attached in not so. I fitted the plate without the extra gear so can’t say for sure if this would have an effect?
At the back is the large one piece rear hull plate with the upper hinged panel separate and while this is free of any pin marks with nicely defined rivet detail there is a little warping to deal with due to the thin flat moulding similar to the front plate. There is also a port cover missing from the lower rear plate next to the right tow hook bracket that will have to be added from plastic card.
To fit the rear plate I first glued the lower section including the tow shackle brackets (parts G40) to the lower hull tub to ensure correct alignment and this will then show the full extent of the warping but don’t get too excited at this stage. (see images)
The thinness of the plate helps to align the warping by first bending the panel back in line and attaching to the two hull tub mounting posts and then hold the outer sections against the side panels and glue in place. This worked well and only left some very small gaps around the mid plate join and lower hull that can be filled as you add the weld seams along the joins that are missing from the parts. The top sill was still slightly ‘wavy’ which can be aligned as you fix the rear plate folding hatch in place.
So what looks at first like a disaster works out quite well if you take your time to ensure you align each section on the plate as you go and as mentioned the thin plastic of the plate helps with the process. Also the amount of warping may well vary from kit to kit due to other circumstances so this may well not be an issue with other kits but I can only comment on the kit I have.
Also if you choose not to bother with the interior parts you should still add the forward engine bulkhead (part D47) as this ensures the hull sides are perfectly aligned for easier fitting of the glacis and engine deck doors.
Once the rear panel has been attached there is the rear two part exhaust muffler and long single pipe that runs from the side engine louvers to the exhaust and this slips into the side louvers to fit into the hole in the hull side which it does okay and may take a little manoeuvring to get in place but nothing dramatic.
There is also provided an etched heat shield for the muffler and this has to be bent to a curve to fit around the muffler and annealing the part by running through a candle flame until red hot and let cool naturally will make bending the curve much easier.
Also added to the rear plate are the tow hook and wire rope brackets with the wire rope from the metal cable included which makes getting a natural coil quite easy as well as having cleaner detail definition.
As with the previous 38(t) kits we have the perennial fender kink missing, looking at any photo of the Marder M, either the factory pilot models or serving production models will show a distinct fender kink but again the kit fenders are straight apart from a small kink at the rear to fit under the superstructure overhang. The locating ridge along the hill side is also straight but and it seems the straight fenders will remain in all 38(t) kits produced by Cyberhobby/Dragon so there is little point going on about it.
The fenders themselves are very nicely done with the strengthening ridges raised on the top and indented on the undersides without any locating holes for the pioneer tools and 3 part jack which are provided separate along with etched tool clips.
Included in the instructions are overhead plan views of the fenders showing the location of the tools as well as the distinctive 38(t) perforated storage box in plastic or etched brass to allow you to fit these in the right places due to the absence of the locating holes and this does make for a cleaner appearance overall.
There are separate fender attachment brackets that fit to the hull side to add a little more definition but they are a little on the thick side and would be best replaced with etched items, the middle supports (parts G31/G32) are a little short and don’t quite reach the edge of the fender.
As mentioned above the assemble sequences show to add all the inner side panel details before fitting the panels to the hull for easier access and you can do this or add the inner details after assembling the superstructure due to the warping issues mentioned above, it’s up to you really.
The lower floor with nice tread plate pattern is first added (this can be slipped into place after the rear plate is attached if need be) with the rest of the interior being nicely fitted out with the large multi-part radio rack, gas mask case with etched brackets, 3 x 15cm ammo containers with the rounds moulded in place and some additional equipment boxes on the left wall.
The right wall has more 15cm ammo containers with the rounds moulded in place and there are also some empty containers provided if you want some variety as well as an MP40 rack and MG ammo boxes.
Also included is the large ammo box carried at the front in place of the main gun in the Munnitionwagen and this is made up of multiple etched parts to give a good appearance as is another smaller box added to the floor for a quite busy appearance overall.
The small decal sheet only has three balkenkreuz and no other unit insignia or markings with the painting guide showing only two unidentified vehicles and this lack of information on markings or units is something that could be improved especially with all the research we hear goes into these kits.
These are the usual exploded view drawings but are very busy in places and can be confusing unless you study them very closely before any assembly but apart from a few miss-numbered parts there weren’t any real problems if the usual care is taken.
This is another overall well done kit of the later welded hull Marder III Ausf.M chassis with but there are a few issues to contend with along the way. The kit is cleanly moulded with good fit of the parts generally apart from the warping on some of the thinner parts as mentioned above which is worse than it looks but does require a little more assembly time to get the result which distracts from the main game.
The interior is quite extensive but fairly basic in detail overall as with other Cyberhobby/Dragon 38(t) kits (see comparison here) but if you are building the model buttoned up you can leave out the interior and save a bit on assembly time leaving just the nicely done exterior and fighting compartment.
Some of the issues you may want to address are the weld seams around the lower rear hull, the missing port on the rear plate and the spacing of the barrel travel lock but there is little you can do about the oversized drive sprocket holes other than replace the sprockets. Hopefully these issues can be addressed before the Grille M kit is released to save mentioning them all over again.
Highly recommended 8/10
See the Pz.38(t) subjects page for additional reviews of 38(t) kits and accessories.