The Marder III Ausf. M was the last variant of the Sd. Kfz. 138/139 series of Marder vehicles produced on the panzer 38(t) chassis. Production started in 1943, with the German army desperate to produce anti-tank vehicles to combat the ever increasing numbers of Allied armored vehicles they faced. Communication was key to battlefield success, and command vehicles, or Befehlsjager
, were built to coordinate the actions of anti-tank units in combat.
The subject of Dragon Models
kit 6472 is the Befehlsjager 38 Ausf. M, the command variant of the Marder III Ausf. M. The model is very similar to Dragon kit 6464, which was reviewed Here on Armorama
, but has the addition of parts unique to the late production models, as well as the extra radio equipment. Box art, by Chang Heum, depicts a vehicle in action in Holland, 1944.
The kit consists of just over 700 parts, including 16 clear styrene, plus one bag of magic tracks, one large photoetch fret with 142 parts, one small fret with two parts, one length of twisted wire, and decals for two vehicles. The parts count may seem high, and they hardly fit in the box, but by my count, there were 253 parts marked not for use, and another 20 or so that end up being optional. Sorting the sprues is like sifting through alphabet soup, as there are two B sprues, two C sprues, two N sprues, a G and a GA, plus RA, RB and RC, W and WC and a small g!
The A sprue, marked 38(t) AusF G, is the kit suspension, with two types of drive sprockets, one with lightening holes on the outer rim and one solid, two types of idlers, one with keyhole and one with round lightening holes, and two types of spring suspension, with one type having a center oval cutout. The holes on the inner rim of the drive sprocket are more round than what it appears in photos. Bolt and rib detail is present on both sides of each part, and the return rollers have the "Continentau" name on them.
The first B labeled PaK 40, is the updated sprue from the newer kits. It includes a slide molded barrel and three different types of muzzle brake.
The other B sprue, marked 38(t) AusF. G, is mostly not for use, with only a few fender fittings indicated, with the perforated storage box of which there is an optional one done in photoetch.
Sprue C is marked Marder III M Late and has most of the upper superstructure. The side armor shields are molded thin and again details are present on both surfaces.
The other sprue C contains 7.5cm rounds, storage tubes and two metal boxes, and is a nice accessory detail.
Sprue D, marked 38(t) AusF. G, has the engine and transmission, which are nicely detailed.
Sprue E, Marder III AusF. M, has the remainder of the fighting compartment. It includes the full ammo storage, so if the modeler wishes to build a standard late model Ausf. M, you may do so.
Sprue G, Flakpanzer Gepard, has the fenders and hatch covers.
Sprue g is the star antenna. This was the only part I found that had any significant flash, but was otherwise well rendered.
Sprue GA, German gear, appears to be the Gen2 accessory set, with water bottles and separate cups, helmets with detail, and other gear. The only parts marked for use are the gas mask cannisters, which have separate tops and bottoms, but any of the other parts can be used to enhance the kit as helmets were often seen hanging off the sides, and the crew members must have needed to eat and drink.
Sprue J, clear parts. Only one part used for the tail lamp.
Sprue K, tools without clamps, and jack.
Sprue L, antenna and mount.
Sprue N, antenna with different mount.
Sprue N, part of radiator and tools, again no clamps.
Sprue P, radiator and belts.
Sprue Q, Bison M. Welded driver's hood, front plate and small fittings.
Sprues RA, RB (x2) and RC, radios, speaker and brackets.
Sprue W, clear parts periscopes.
Sprue WC contains the MG 42, with excellent detail.
Part X, hull tub. This part exhibits very fine rivet detail, which should not be present, as late vehicles had a welded hull tub. There is also very fine bolt detail on the inside of the tub. I attempted to photograph the details on the inner surface of the drive housings, as the top four screws are molded with the slot in the screw head, nearly impossible to see but present. The hull tub is the only significant issue in my kit as when it arrived the ends on the housings were bent. I will contact Dragoncare, and I am certain there will be no problem getting a replacement.
Part Y is the Magic track bag, with non handed track links finely molded. There is a little flash present on some of the links.
Metal parts include the tow cable in twisted wire, part Z, and two metal etch sheets. Much of the photo etch such as the radio rack, tool clamps, etc., is the only option for the kit part, so a good etch tool (which I just purchased,) is highly recommended.
Decals are for the vehicle depicted on the box art, from 1./ Pz.Jg.Abt 346, attached to the 346th infantry division in Holland, 1944, and Pz.Jg.Abt 243, Normandy 1944. Markings for both vehicles appear to be more general to the units indicated than to the specific vehicle depicted. The decals offer numbers in red that do allow the modeler to modify the vehicle depicted to some degree, so one could take the same approach and imitate the pattern of a particular unit, applying the appropriate numbers for the command vehicle.
Bonus with this kit is the inclusion of the nearly complete interior, which means that all the hatches can be positioned open. The ammo tubes can be shown empty or loaded, and the radio suite is very detailed, although the etch racks will be a challenge to assemble. Kit details are very fine, with the only ejector pin marks I could see being on the inner surface of the gun shield. As mentioned above, the kit can be built as a standard Marder III AusF. M instead of the Befehlsjager variant. The additional ammo and the generic German equipment offer some extra stowage options. With good reference photos the engine can be detailed with fuel lines and wiring.
Issues with the kit appear to be mainly with the driver's compartment, from which the instrument panel, foot pedals and some levers are missing, and whether the fenders should be straight or kinked. For the former issue, aftermarket or scratch building are the only options available. For the latter, the kit fenders could be carefully modified or substituted again by aftermarket parts. The travel lock base also appears to sit wrong. There may be other issues but I am not familiar enough with the finer parts of the actual vehicle to know. There is no wiring guide for the radio set up, which no one to my knowledge offers.
The kit instructions are very busy, and should be studied carefully before assembly. Optional parts are clearly indicated, and most of the assemblies are shown in side boxes as sub assemblies first. Test fitting is very important, especially as the build goes on, as the full lower hull tub may need some careful help to match up with the upper hull parts. The completed gun assembly can pivot and rotate, but appears a little fiddly and fragile, it may be best to fix it in position.
The only other model of the late Marder III M is the Cyberhobby variant with stadtgas
. As such, this kit offers a lot of much desired versatility. These kits are physically small, about half the size of a Panther or Tiger kit, but pack a lot of detail. The Marder III AusF. M was present on all fronts, right up to the end of the war, and can be used in most any diorama setting.
I obtained my review sample online on sale for about $45.00 US, including shipping, which is about what the recommended retail price of the kit is. It is labeled a Smart Kit, but with the extent of the photoetch and lack of optional styrene, it will be more challenging than the standard Smart Kit offering.
Weighing kit detailing and the included extras against the lack of detail in the driver's compartment and the upcoming photoetch test, the very busy but suprisingly coherent instructions, the very fine detail of the MG42 and the kit details, I consider this kit above average, at about 87%.