Throughout WW2 the Germans constantly sought ways to create mobile anti-tank platforms and the “Marder” series of vehicles are one of the most well known classes of these types of vehicles, most of which were armed with the 7.5cm Pak 40. Usually grouped as either Marder I, II, or III, the history isn’t so neat and tidy in terms of when they entered service since the Marder II was actually first on the scene. To complicate things further, the Marder I family was built on captured French vehicles, the most common being the Lorraine Schlepper. 24 however were also built on captured H39 chassis by the famous Major Becker and saw service with the 21st Panzer Division in Normandy. It is this vehicle that is represented in this kit by Bronco.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with each sprue individually sealed in its own clear bag. The kit consists of over 456 parts arranged in the following:
• 6 sprues of light gray styrene
• 2 sprues of black styrene for the tracks
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 sprue of light green styrene for the MG34
• 1 turned aluminum barrel
• 1 PE fret of 52 parts
• 6 coil springs for the suspension
• 1 length of chain
• 2 nylon mesh sections of “chicken wire”
• Cartograf Decal Sheet
• Instruction booklet
Much of this kit is new versus the previous H38/39 kits released by Bronco, the only shared parts are those dealing with the lower hull, interior, and suspension. Those have already been covered by Frank Glackin’s H38/39 Review
here on Armorama so I won’t repeat that section. What is curious to note is that the Instructions do not mark any parts as being “Not for Use” although clearly there are some parts that will not be used. Three different nose sections are provided for the lower hull but only one, C15, is appropriate for this kit for example and there are also full length fenders provided on sprue C that will not be used.
The fighting compartment is made up of separate panels for the right and left sides as well as the rear access doors. The panels are molded so that there aren’t any ejector marks on either the interior or exterior surfaces and the side panels in particular are molded quite thin. While it appears there are two large ejector marks on each side panel at the front, these are actually designed as mount holes for panel inserts and should not be filled. Many of the attachment points though are quite large, so care will be needed when removing and trimming these. Some flash is present on the rear door parts and the hinge detail for the doors is lacking in detail on both the interior and exterior. The exterior of the panels have excellent weld detail that replicates the crude field-welded seams appropriate to these vehicles.
Quite a bit of the driver’s area and interior should still remain visible once the superstructure is fitted, although it’s difficult to tell just how much until everything is built. The sides of the superstructure are equipped with a variety of gear, with the right side receiving a couple of cylindrical cases, a scissors scope, a radio, an MG34 mount, drum ammunition bins, and Pak 40 ammunition bins. PE parts are provided to supplement the styrene parts for the MG mount and the drum ammunition bins are multi-part affairs that install directly to the panel with nice detail on the drums themselves. There is a series of 6 holes on the right side that will not be used and should be filled although the instructions do not point this out. The detail on the radio is a bit disappointing in the level of detail presented and the Pak 40 ammunition tubes are molded in place in their bin, so some shortcuts were taken in this area for simplicity sake over detail. On the plus side, the MG34 itself is very nicely detailed and is molded with a hollow muzzle.
The left side of the compartment is dominated by a fuel tank and the transmitter/receiver combination as well as a large MG34 ammunition can and 2 more cylindrical cases. There are no ejector marks or left-over mount holes to deal with here although a small modification is required to the top of the fuel tank.
The mount for the Pak 40 and the Pak 40 itself are multi-part affairs. Many of the smaller pieces have large attachment points and some were already slightly damaged in my sample, so care is a must here when dealing with these. The cradle consists of two halves, so the resulting seam on the recoil sled will need to be dealt with. The gun breech is also a multi-part assembly, so careful sanding and/or use of putty may be required to get a seamless look. The breech does integrate directly with the turned aluminum barrel, so no surgery will be necessary to use it. The kit doesn’t include a styrene option, so you have no choice in that regard. The Pak 40 muzzle brake is also a multi-part assembly and includes nice inner detail as a result, depicting the correct later style of brake appropriate for the Normandy time period. The brake attaches directly to the aluminum barrel and the barrel has a long post to help support this and insure a good fit. The interior of the splinter shield is the only area on the kit that has ejector marks that will need to be dealt with since they will be visible on the finished item. If care is taken during assembly, the gun should remain elevatable but the weight of the aluminum barrel may necessitate fixing it in the desired position.
The fenders are integrated in with the superstructure panels with only the front and rear portions as separate parts. The instructions indicate that fitting the front parts is optional so check your references. A very simple driver’s hatch is provided, presumably because the driver entered through the fighting compartment and not the hatch itself. The exhaust for the rear is in two halves, requiring some work to prevent and/or eliminate a seam. The pioneer tools provided, particularly the wire cutters, are soft on detail and the shovels in particular could benefit from PE enhancements.
The kit instructions are laid out in an 8.5”x11” booklet on glossy paper and comprises 11 different steps across 13 pages. The instructions do note on Step 4 that the PE parts numbered 4, 5, 6, and 7 are optional only. These parts deal with assembling tool clamps but the instructions do not include any sort of guide on how to do that so you’re on your own in that department. The vast majority of the PE parts provided are for the small tarp loops on the fighting compartment exterior and latches are also provided for some of the gear in the fighting compartment interior. Bronco made the decision to package the PE fret in the same zip-lock bag as the aluminum barrel so my sample ended up with a very large crease as a result. The provided nylon mesh replicating the “chicken wire” often seen in reference photos as a support for foliage camouflage in Normandy is nicely rendered and attaches directly to the superstructure front on either side of the gun.
The decal sheet is a “dual purpose” sheet for both this kit and the kit mounting the 10.5cm leFh 18 and contains range boards that aren’t for use on this kit. The finishing guide provides 2 schemes for the 21st Panzer Division in Normandy and the markings are simple balkenkreuze on the superstructure sides and a small division marking for the hull front.
Rounding things out, a small sprue of ammunition for the Pak 40 is also provided. The sprue contains two armor piercing rounds as well as 2 spent casings with hollowed out ends. Parts are also provided to construct two ammunition tubes, although the instructions don't provide any guidance, the process is fairly straightforward to figure out.
While the kit takes some short-cuts with some of the details such as the radios, overall it has a high level of detail particularly for the interior and the gun layout. Given the price of the kit at an MSRP of $59.98, I found those shortcuts a little harder to tolerate than I might otherwise. The subject falls into the more esoteric realm since only 24 were built and, for the Marder family enthusiast, it fills a welcome niche. Recommended. A Build Log
is available via the Forums to evaluate the kit parts fit and overall assembly. A Feature
has been added to round out this project.
***** Edit *****
In the course of the build-up a dimensional error regarding the aluminum barrel has been discovered. After comparing to the 1/35 scale plans in Nuts & Bolts #18, the Bronco barrel is 5mm too long overall and has the “step” in the barrel where the recoil sled attaches too far out in the barrel as a result. The rest of the gun mount including the recoil sled itself are the correct dimensions but the extra length of the barrel means that the gun breech has to be positioned too far back on the recoil tray as a result when the gun is fully assembled and installed. The only way to resolve this is to replace the barrel entirely with an after-market one that has the correct dimensions. This is a significant error in the kit in regards to what should’ve been considered a plus with the aluminum barrel and has resulted in the overall score evaluation being lowered to 75% from the initial 85% rating and the kit recommended only with reservations as a result, especially given the price.