by: Mike High [ ]
On 9 September 1938, Henschel received authorization to continue their work on a new medium tank in conjunction with the Durchbruchwagen (DW) development. Work on VK3001(H), which was a further development of the DWII began. Two similar designs were produced; the lighter 32 ton VK3001(H) and the heavier 40 ton VK3601(H). It should be noted that the VK3001(H) was classified as a medium tank. Both vehicles resembled the Panzerkampfwagen IV in the design of their hulls, but the running gear was a new design that consisted of overlapping road wheels.
There were only four VK3001(H) prototypes produced; two in March and two in October 1941. Originally, it was intended to mount the VK3001(H) with a turret that was armed with the 75mm L/24 or 105mm L/28 gun. However, none of the prototypes were actually fitted with turrets. Additional development was cancelled in 1942 in favor of development of the VK4501(H) - the Tiger I. Six of the turrets that were designed for the VK3001(H) ended up being used in permanent fortifications in the Atlantic and West Wall.
As another note to the VK3001(H)'s history, two of the chassis were converted into the 12.8 cm Selbstfahrlafette L/61 (Panzerselbstfahrlafette V) or "Sturer Emil" prototypes.
The kit is packaged in Trumpeter's usual sturdy cardboard box. All of the styrene parts come packaged in plastic bags and the hull halves are further protected by a cardboard insert. The VK3001(H) consists of 230 parts on five sprues plus the upper and lower hull sections, vinyl ("rubber-band") tracks, and clear parts for the periscopes. The parts are molded in light grey styrene and are reasonably flash free - though there are seam lines that will need to be taken care of. Additionally, Trumpeter provides a 12-page, easy to understand/follow instruction booklet, a color painting guide, and a generic set of decals.
As mentioned, the instructions are easy to understand and follow, and the layout is quite clear.
The road wheels, return rollers, sprockets, and idlers all have fine detail; bolts, rivets, welds, and bolt keepers are nicely rendered. There are some seams that will be easy to clean up along with ejector knockout marks, but those will be hidden. The lower hull has nice detail for the suspension, and the road wheel arms are "keyed" so things should level out properly. Quite the "beefy" suspension. There is no lower hull interior included, so the builder will either want to "button it up" or fill the hatch(es) with figures. The rear panel, with the exhaust is well reproduced with the exhaust pipe molded hollow.
The "rubber-band" tracks leave a bit to be desired. My sample has quite a bit of flash on the edges and several "stubs" on the hollow guide teeth. Because the VK3001(H) was the predecessor to the Sturer Emil, aftermarket tracks should be readily available (Friulmodel, Modelkasten).
The upper hull has quite a bit of nicely rendered molded-on detail. The weld detail is sharp, but oddly enough, the engine panel hinges don't show any bolt detail (as show on the instruction sheet, page 7). This was a definite miss by Trumpeter, but should be easy to replicate with a fine drill bit and pin vise. The fender assembly has a nice rendition of the tread plate, and plenty of bolt detail. There are some large knockout marks on the underside that will need to be filled. The wiring for the headlights is also molded on. I dry fitted the upper hull to the fenders and to the lower hull; care will need to be taken in the alignment as the fit/alignment tolerances are very close.
The turret (proposed as it was) is the real treat in this kit and it takes up a full three pages of the assembly instructions. The weld details on the top and sides are nice, a full main gun (7.5 cm Kw.K L/24) is included along with a reasonably complete interior. This could conceivably lead to the turret hatches being left wide open.
The color painting and marking guide is quite simplified; it references three colors (tire black, field gray, and steel) and cross-references colors by Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol. The markings (decals) are not displayed on this guide nor on any of the box art, so it'll be up to the builder to decide whether or not to use them, or to reference a similar vehicle for placement.
Trumpeter brings us another unusual subject with the VK3001(H). The molding is nice and there is great detail present throughout, especially in the area of the suspension. The turret interior is a very nice addition. The short-comings are certainly in the vinyl tracks as noted. The instructions are clear, but the markings given (decals) and the marking guide don't show placements. The "pros" certainly outweigh the "cons" as the necessary fixes are easy enough. With that, this kit is still recommended for those that enjoy the curious German topics.
A Build Log will be started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.