The BP44 German armored train, introduced in 1944, improved the BP42 by replacing the front and rear pusher cars with Panzerjagerwagen anti-tank cars. Basically these were armored flat cars incorporating a low superstructure and a Pzkpfw IV turret mounted with a 7.5cm KwK L48 main gun. Trumpeter, who previously released the Panzerjagerwagen Vol. 1 (also Reviewed Here
on Armorama), has now introduced the second variant in Vol. 2 which will be covered in this review.
The kit is packaged in a sturdy, top opening cardboard box containing:
• 5 sprues in gray styrene consisting of 205 parts
• 1 lower body in gray styrene
• 1 upper body/superstructure in gray styrene
• 5 sections of rail-bed/base in gray styrene
• 1 small decal sheet
• 2 PE frets for the alternate turret schurzen marked as left and right
• 12 page stapled instruction booklet
• 2 sided instruction sheet for the rail-bed/base
• Full color plate for painting/finishing
A nice inclusion on Trumpeter's part is the rail-bed/base with their train series. The Panzerjagerwagen Vol. 2 is no exception and the 5-piece base is nearly 500mm long if used as a stand-alone. This may also be connected to base sections in their other kits by omitting section Road A, the end cap(s). Trumpeter also offers an extra base section sold as kit #00213 in case an extended length is required. The base sections, ties, and rails are separate, making painting and weathering easier. If used as a stand-alone base, one of the tie sections, L4, and one of the Road A sections will need to be shortened. The Road A section is scored underneath to facilitate cutting. The ballast on the base is well done as is the wood grain on the ties. The rails have an excessive amount of injection marks which will need to be taken care of and four joint seams on the base will need attention to achieve a smooth look. Instructions for the base are printed on a two-sided sheet and finishing is left up to the builder's taste.
The Panzerjagerwagen Vol. 2 shares many parts with Vol. 1. In addition to the rail-bed, sprues A, B, and C appear to be exactly the same as well as the turret, PE, and decals. This means that the noted flaws in Vol. 1 are also inherited in this second variant, the most notable being the dimensions of the turret and the ejector marks on the inside of the hatches. I have not checked the main gun fit into its respective sleeve but fear that there will be a noticeable gap as in Vol. 1 which will need to be filled. Also, since no clear parts are provided, vision ports and glass blocks are molded in gray styrene. Since a turret interior is included in the kit, these items will need to be addressed if you plan on having the interior viewable.
What is new in the kit are the lower and upper car bodies and sprue E, which replaces sprue D in Vol. 1. The car body is longer in Vol. 2, 19mm longer in fact according to Trumpeter's website. The sides are tapered from the top down in this version giving the car a sleeker appearance. The molding is well done showing no sign of warping or sink marks. The rear plate is no longer a separate piece and has been engineered into the lower half. Dry fitting the top and bottom showed a very good fit with only slight pressure needed to close any gaps. The superstructure has separate additional armor plates which, thankfully, have no ejector marks and need only minor clean-up. These attach via tab and slot and should present no problems. Some other differences in Vol. 2 include the shape of the plow blades, placement of the headlamps, and omission of the wooden storage box.
Both PE and styrene schurzen for the turret are included with the styrene being beveled to achieve a thinner appearance. Some clean-up on the styrene schurzen will be needed due to ejector marks and a few sink holes are also present and will need to be filled. The styrene mounting brackets are molded too thick and it's possible that only the PE brackets could be used if you opt not to go the full PE route.
Decals consist of simple balkenkreuze markings only, either black on white or white outline. If Reichsbahn markings are desired for the flat car, Archer transfers or similar will need to be used. The instruction booklet is well laid out, with clear, uncluttered 3-D line drawings in 15 steps, though step 12 is for the styrene schurzen only and steps 13 and 14 are for the PE schurzen. The full color finishing plate shows front/back, left/right and top views in a three tone snaky line camo pattern. Other color options for the Panzerjagerwagen could be a mono color of dark yellow or a winter whitewash but these are not depicted on the finishing guide.
Some may balk at what they feel is a high price for this kit, but considering the sheer size and uncommon subject matter, plus the added benefit of a display base, the cost is on par with similar models. What Trumpeter needs to do is improve their molding process, since flash and excessive/poorly placed ejector marks should be a thing of the past given modern technology, especially if you are using the same parts in more than one kit. They say the devil is in the details and it is the small flaws, many also carried over from their previous release, that make this a mediocre kit instead of an outstanding one. Hopefully there are more of the BP44 train series in Trumpeter's future; with a little more effort on their part the finished product could be exceptional.
A Build Log
has been started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.