by: Jim Starkweather [ ]
In another rail-based release, Trumpeter once again provides something new an interesting with it's Panzerjager-Triebwagen 51. Three such anti-tank equipped rail-cars were found at a German factory at the end of WWII (numbers 51, 52 & 53). With two Panzer IV-H type 75mm L/48 guns. Finished in the closing days of the war, it's unlikely these cars ever saw any combat, but for the 'what-if' modelers they certainly will provide for some interesting dioramas and builds.
The box and packaging for the kit is very impressive on opening. Trumpter really seems to be taking a que from their competitors and giving modelers a 'wow' factor on first peaks under the box-lid. Your eye is immediately drawn to the massive pieces of plastic making up the main car shell. For 1/35 scale these are surely some of the largest pieces of single piece molded plastic parts ever made. I was a bit taken aback though when it seemed there were some serious fit issues between the upper and lower halves. That is until I realized that they had put the pieces on backwards in the kit assembly process. Oops. After realigning the shell in it's proper position I noted only some small gaps requiring potential filling on this sample kit. Most of these were around one end of the kit and may only need some filing down of the car hook area (the bolted vertical plates). Clocking in at some 737 pieces, this kit is no light-weight, but its size shouldn't stop even a moderately skilled modeler from taking it on.
The kit includes various doors which assumably could be left in an open position (as shown on the box cover), however there is no interior for the kit and doubtful little reference material for this subject to build one. However being that there is no real reference material, there won't be any way to critique scratch-built imagineering on your part.
The turrets do however include full interior gun workings and detail. They include full floors, seating and all the hardware you would expect to see in a Panzer IV turret. There are two P/E frets for each turret. You can choose to make the Schurzen (turret skirts) out of plastic or photo-etch. The main guns are a two piece plastic. Obviously for the hard-core builder updating these to L/48 aftermarket metal barrels will be an option.
If the idea of building such a large rail kit is daunting, I should probably mention that this monster only has eight (8) actual rail wheels. Which is a lot less work to build than even one Panzer IV. And with this kit you obviously get twice the firepower. The road-wheels are cleverly tucked away under the car and mostly out-of-sight.
The base looks to be an extended version of the ones Trumpeter has been using for its other rail kits. There are some seemingly challenging seems lines where the outer base meets each piece, but with a bit of sanding and filling I suppose this won't be too much of an issue. The rails and ties are separate from the actual base, so if you opted to build your own base that would be easy to do. The railroad ties have a nice wood-grain detail to them as well.
Painting and Markings
There is limited reference on this kit and I think Trumpter decided to go with the factual details at hand rather than take a more liberal stance on how this anti-tank car would have been deployed in combat. Certainly it would not likely be using a dark yellow color (which from what I know is what the factory usually spat out before final camo/paint was applied). However if you want to outfit the Panzerjager-Triebwagen as it was found in the factory yard, the included color (nice!) guide is probably the way to go. More than likely if it had been sent into service it would have sported a full camo pattern used during the time. One can almost imagine it in a 1944/45 winter white-wash for example.
This kit actually looks like it would be fun to build. Yes it's a mostly a 'what-if' kind of thing, but who knows. Maybe one or two did actually get loose into the arena of combat and are now lying at the bottom of some river or got cut up into scrap-metal after the war. Even if you just want to build the actual historical find and show an impressed allied officer looking it over would be great. This is yet another example of Nazi hubris. Here they were facing terrible odds, being overwhelmed by T-34's on the East and Shermans on the West, and they again assumed it was just a matter of beating the enemy through technology and superior engineering.