Tamiya follows their recent Renault UE (kit #35284) quite quickly with this new kit of the Jagdpanzer 38t Hetzer Mittiere Produktion with the kit actually representing more an early-mid configuration as it has the early road wheels with 32 rim bolts instead of the later 16 as well as the early idler and drive sprocket styles. There is the early driver’s visor with two segments with the engine deck having the mid configuration without the two small rear inspection hatches.
The Hetzer has been the subject of several kits over the years with one question asked when this kit was announced was “do we need another Hetzer” and with that in mind I will make some comparisons with the applicable Dragon and Eduard Hetzer kits throughout the review to better answer the question.
The Tamiya kit consists of 215 parts in the usual light beige plastic, a set of vinyl tracks (you also get link and length plastic), a few poly caps plus the decal and instruction sheets. Also included is a full colour decal and painting guide with four view illustrations of the 4 schemes provided to help considerably with this.
Kit quality is typical Tamiya with clean crisp mouldings and just some minor pin marks to contend with in a few places such as inside the top hatches but overall there is little cleanup other than the usual fine moulding seams on the parts.
Dimensionally the kit measures up very well with the available 1:35 plans in the books listed below in all areas except the barrel length which is covered below and the other kits from Dragon and Eduard also are dimensionally okay with only very minor discrepancies in some areas that are minor at best.
The lower hull tub is in one piece with a separate rear hull plate and has panel detail on the bottom with all other details and suspension added as separate parts.
When fitting the suspension bogie mountings take note that they are different front and rear but there are different mounting lugs on the hull sides so there shouldn’t be a problem. The final drive housings at the front are made up of three parts each and are more detailed than those on both the Dragon and Eduard kits with bolt head detail on the inside as well as on the outside of the housings.
The rear ldler mounting has a separate rear face and again the details are more refined than the mountings on the other kits and the axle is a separate part that can be positioned to get the track tension correct, if using the link and length track is would be best not to glue the axle in place until you fit the track to ensure the proper fit.
The bogie unit breakdown is similar to the other kits as the real things are fairly simple assemblies but again the details are more refined on the Tamiya parts and the leaf springs have the correct profile but are incorrect on both the Dragon and Eduard springs.
The actual springs have a curved profile starting from the central support as depicted on the Tamiya springs but the Dragon and Eduard springs have a flat section before starting the downward curve and there are also not enough leaf springs on the Dragon and Eduard parts with the Tamiya springs representing the real thing much better. This part of the springs is quite visible between the road wheels and this spring profile is quite noticeable on the finished kit.
Fitting of the two “floating” axles on each bogie is again similar on all kits but Tamiya give you a long “jig” that ensures all four axle stubs are lined up correctly which will take any guesswork out of this making getting the sit correct a breeze.
The drive sprockets have the two sprocket discs and a separate outer hub cap with excellent detail on the inside of the discs which is much better than on the other kits with the Eduard sprockets not having any inside detail as all. As with most Tamiya kits there is the poly cap trapped between the two sprocket halves to make fitting to the axle easier with the Tamiya sprocket clearly having better defined details than those on the other kits.
This also extends to the road wheels with the Tamiya wheels having the correctly spaced outer row of 32 rim bolts included on both the outside and the inside of the road wheels with both the Dragon and Eduard wheels not having any inside detail at all and the outer bolts on the Eduard wheels are also positioned incorrectly. This again makes the new Tamiya wheels superior in detail to the other kits and adds to the quality feel of the kit.
At the back the idlers are in two halves with excellent hub detail on the Tamiya idlers with the Dragon idlers having four prominent pin marks on the outer face to deal with and the Eduard idlers have the outer rim lip far too thick. All three idlers do not have the ribs around the inner wheel hub which is present on these early style idlers and you can add these with thin plastic card if you wish?
The single return roller has a separate mounting post and return roller and glues easily into place without any fuss. Apart from the drive sprockets all other wheels are designed to be glued in place but note the idler overlaps the last road wheel so take care when attaching these.
The rear hull plate fits very well to the rear hull and added to this is the separate large round engine inspection hatch and the two large bolts heads on the plate are separate parts that fit from behind the plate for good definition.
Other details included the coiled tow cable in plastic and the spare track sections with separate attachment brackets.
As mentioned you have a choice of full length vinyl track or plastic link and length track that has the subtle sag included in the top run sections and individual links for around the drive sprockets and idlers wheels.
Detail on the vinyl track is very good for this medium and the track ends will glue together using normal plastic cement while the plastic link and length track is designed to be simply glued together and also have nice details on the links.
The large upper hull is a single moulding with cut-outs for the gun mounting and rear engine deck which is basically the same layout as the other Hetzer kits with the Tamiya hull having nicely defined weld seams and roof top bolt detail with the front driver’s visor being a separate part as is the Notek light mounting bracket.
The Eduard hull also has respectable weld seams but the Dragon welds are way overdone and too large on the front hull joins.
The engine deck has the traditional T section with separate right and left side engine access hatches as well as the upper right crew hatch half as separate part. The rear facing pericope is also a separate part for added definition and the fit of the engine deck doors is very good and they will actually hold together without glue such is the good fit. The fit of the engine deck to the hull is equally as good and no trimming was needed in fitting the deck.
At the back is the distinctive 38(t) angled engine intakes which are opened up between the grills but there is no intake mesh provided as there is with the Eduard kit but any existing etched set for the 38(t)/Hetzer would fit. There will no doubt be etched sets released specifically for this kit by the usual suspects to add what is really essential 38(t)/Hetzer detail.
The only interior details included are the side facing periscope and the Commander’s binocular sights fitted to the left side hatch and the gunner’s sight which is fixed in place and has the top guard as a separate part.
Also added under the upper hull are the sponson overhang fillers with simulated grill mesh at the back and the rear fender sections that have nice rib details on the top but are plain on the undersides with additional rear support brackets attached to the rear hull plate.
Before proceeding you have to attach the upper and lower hulls and the fit here is very good as you would expect and you can then add the rear mounted exhaust which is made up of the muffler in two halves with the long pipe from the engine included with one half and a separate outlet pipe that is trapped between the two muffler halves as you glue them together.
Photos show this early style muffler as being just the solid muffler without any heat shield mesh which was added to later mufflers and the muffler assembly fits neatly to the rear hull plate.
On the hull top are the separate crew hatches and these have internal detail but also a couple of shallow pin marks on each hatch that may require care in removing to not damage the surrounding detail.
You are provided with a separate mid style large gun mounting collar and outer gun mantlet that has very subtle cast texturing but you may want to rough this up a little with Mr Surfacer for a better appearance and while the three holes are included in the mantlet these could be drilled out more for a better appearance.
The gun tube is provided as a single moulding hollowed out at the muzzle and just a minor mould seam to be sanded off with the Dragon kit providing a two piece plastic or one piece metal barrel and the Eduard kit a two piece plastic barrel with full interior breech details.
The Tamiya barrel is between 2-3mm too long when compared to the various plans in the books below but these also show there is actually a difference in barrel length between the various plans to start with to complicate matters. The Dragon and Eduard kit barrels are also the same 2-3mm too long while the Dragon metal barrel is 3-4mm too long depending on which plan you refer too.
These plan and barrel discrepancies don’t make it clear which is actually correct but show all barrels are at least 2mm too long if taking the minimum measurements but it’s easy to remedy on the Tamiya kit by shortening the end section that fits into the mantlet by 2mm for the appropriate length.
There is no actual inner gun breech detail in the Dragon or Tamiya kits as you get with the Eduard kit but just a gun mounting assembly that uses 3 poly caps to allow for the minimal traverse and elevation of the actual gun and this works well.
Assembling the gun mounting is very straightforward as is fitting this to the gun collar which can be attached through the cut-out in the front plate at any time during construction.
The final items for the kit include a 5 part jack with separate fine plastic mounting brackets for the right rear fender with the wooden jack block on the front right fender and the small storage box on the left fender. The roof mounted remote MG34 mounting has a nicely moulded MG34 with separate ammo drum and three part mounting that fits into the base with the two “wing” shields and this assembly attaches to the roof using a poly cap trapped inside the roof allowing easy removal as well as it can be easily be positioned at any angle.
Added to the engine deck is the spare track with separate attachment brackets and you also get the small side skirts fitted to the Hetzer, these include the mounting brackets and has the edges bevelled on the inside to give a thinner look.
There is also a full crew figure that is very nicely moulded with excellent uniform details for a “stock” plastic figure and gives the impression of not just being a quick add in for the kit but has had some time spent on the details. The figure has two separate arms and separate head wearing a field cap and can be positioned in the Commander’s hatch or posed standing next to the vehicle in a diorama setting.
The sheet is again typical Tamiya with nicely printed vehicle makings and unit insignia with the carrier film a little on the thick side but should work okay with decal setting solution.
The four vehicles included on the sheet are illustrated with a full colour decal and painting guide that has 4 view illustrations of the vehicle to make painting the cam schemes and adding the decals that much easier.
This is another workman like kit from Tamiya with excellent engineering and well defined details although without any extras such as interior but if all you want is the base vehicle then this kit is clearly the better detailed externally than either the Dragon or Eduard kits referred to here, especially with the suspension and running gear.
The choice of tracks should cater for most tastes and as mentioned the kit crew figure is very well done and this basically answers the opening question in the affirmative as this is clearly the best basic Hetzer kit now available.
There are already many aftermarket update sets designed for other Hetzer kits such as mantlets and metal barrels as well as etched engine grills and fenders that would fit this kit but as mentioned there will be specific update sets released for this kit to dress it up a little more for those wanting to go the extra bit.
Highly recommended 8/10
See the review on Track Link by Paul Owen for another opinion on this new Tamiya kit.
Out of Print but with excellent
details and 1:35 plans
Jagdpanzer 38(t) 'Hetzer'
Osprey Modelling 10
|Ground Power Magazine
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd
|Ground Power Magazine
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd
|Jagdpanzer 38(t) 'Hetzer'
Wydawnictwo Militaria 45
Osprey New Vanguard 38