German 38(H) Artillery Observation Vehicle
Trumpeter Kit No. 00355

1/35th Scale

Review by Terry Ashley

I must confess I know very little if anything of this vehicle and neither it seems do many others as it does not get a mention in the Panzer Tracts No.11-1 ‘Full and Half-Tracked Armored Reconnaissance Vehicles’ or No.11-2 ‘Armored Observation Vehicles’ by Thomas L Jentz and Hilary L Doyle, nor in two volumes from Schiffer dealing with Unusual Panzers and Armored Observation Vehicles or in the just published ‘Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles’ By David Doyle but it is included in the German language Motorbuch Verlag Book 12 "Beute-Kraftfahrzeuge und-Panzer der deutschen Wehermacht" by Walter J. Spielberger (Thanks to Christophe Jacquemont for the info) so it may be obscure but makes for an interesting kit.

That aside we will just have a look as what is in the kit as it is the fifth in the 39(H) series from Trumpeter and is basically a very simple kit with just 148 parts in the usual light beige plastic, a set of vinyl tracks and small decal sheet.

The lower hull tub and one sprue (A) is from the previous kits with all the suspension parts with a new sprue (J) and single piece upper hull for this new kit parts.

Lower Hull / Suspension:
The lower hull tub has the front and rear panels included and at the front is the large HOTCHKISS name casting which is very prominent on these vehicles while on the inside is floor details and a rear bulkhead to help keep everything square. The final drive housings and idler wheel mounts are separate parts as are the two return rollers per side plus simple attachments points for the suspension bogies.

The interior from the previous kits is still included and can be added but very little of this will be seen through the upper hull opening after assembly but it will help to fill the open spaces.

The six suspension bogie units are made up of eight parts each with quite good details but the upper springs are a little fine and some may wish to replace with thicker wire for a better appearance? The drive sprockets include the characteristic dome shape but unfortunately the central bolt heads and drive teeth are undersized but may not be that noticeable on the finished kit?

There are two idler wheels provided, one with ribs and the other smooth and the instructions indicate to use the ribbed wheels on the kit but I’ve seen photos with both types so you have choice here.

Construction of the bogies was a little tricky as there is no actual locating point for the top mounted springs and these were simply glued to the rear bogie plate at the appropriate place level with the moulded on attachment bolts on the outside of the bogie plates.
The wheels are designed to rotate when trapped between the front and rear bogie plates but there are only a couple of small attachment points for the two bogie plates and the top brackets (part A15) have to be positioned over the two bogie plates at the same time as positioning the wheels which was all very tricky and I ended up gluing the wheels in place which made for a much more robust assembly and as the drive sprocket and idler wheels are only designed to be glued in place gluing the wheels is not an issue. What is an issue is the fitting of the bogie units to the hull, the locating pin on the hull fits into the corresponding hole on the back of the bogie bracket (part A15) which also has a small L bracket to fit under the bottom of the hull for support, unfortunately the hole on part A15 didn’t line up precisely with the pin on the hull and required some trimming of the bracket (part A15) to get the bogies to sit correctly on the hull, this isn’t a real hassle as after trimming the bracket they then fitted okay and at the same height.

Upper Hull:
The main sloped sided upper hull is in one large moulded with opening in the top and a separate rear panel but there is some minor flash to be removed around the lower edges and the fit of the rear panel is not the best and will require some minor filling. I am also assuming there would be prominent weld seams on all the upper hull panel joins as is the case with most other German armour but there are none present and the surface details such as hinge and panel line details is adequate but not startling.

A new small front glacis in provided which doesn’t have the opening for the driver’s compartment as on the other vehicles while there is a moulded on driver’s door with separate top fairing on the front of the upper hull.

The details added to the upper hull are all quite basic in detail such as the shields around the crew opening but they do have bevelled edges for a slightly better appearance while the tools, binocular sight and interior seats are adequate at best but the NOTEK light will need replacing as it is rather crude.

The engine bay doors are moulded with the upper hull but there are separate door grab handles for better detail definition and you have a choice of folded or extended stock for the MG34 which is from the previous kits.


Two figures are provided which have quite good uniform details and one is designed to be posed in the vehicle with the other standing nearby and both should look okay with careful painting.

The tracks are full length vinyl and have quite well defined details on both sides and should look okay on the finished kit, the instructions show to fit these before attaching the upper and lower hull parts as there is not a lot of room under the fenders is fitted later.

The small decal sheet has just eight balkenkreuz, four in black and while and four in white outline but no other unit info which indicates Trumpeter don’t know a lot about these vehicles either?


A fairly basic kit both in details and number of parts as befits a simple vehicle with just the lower hull/suspension and fully enclosed sloped upper hull and will make a simple addition to a small diorama with the 39(H) 10.5cm leFH18(Sf) auf Geschutzwagen (kit #00353).

Recommended for those who want something completely different.

The Sprues:

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Beute-Kraftfahrzeuge und -Panzer der deutschen Wehermacht
Walter J. Spielberger
Motorbuch Verlag Book 12
ISBN: 3613012553

Thanks to the Australian Trumpeter distrubutors J.B Wholesalers for the review kit.

Page created 26 March 2005
Updated 27 March 2005

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