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leFH18

DML 1/35 leFH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pzkw.III/IV Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Images by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2012 Manufacturer DML
Subject leFH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pzkw.III/IV Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6710 Primary Media 1,054 parts (706 in grey styrene, 288 “Magic Track” single links, 57 etched brass, 3 clear styrene)
Pros Probably the only kit of this vehicle to be produced in styrene; very well detailed and complete Cons Expensive kit for a one-off prototype
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look

leFH18
leFH18
leFH18
leFH18
leFH18
leFH18

In most cases, for every vehicle which sees the light of day in production there are at least two competing prototypes in the running for a job. One wins and goes into production; quite often, this does not denote the best choice but the politically viable one.

This particular vehicle, Leichte PzH18/40/2 auf GW III/IV (sf), was the Rheinmetall-Borsig entry in the competition for the “Heuschreke 10" light self-propelled howitzer competition. The better known version, the 10.5 cm leFH18/1 L/28 auf Waffentraeger GW Ivb from Krupp, was its competition. Neither one was accepted for service.

Both vehicles featured a rotating turret with a 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer that could be dismounted for use in a fixed emplacement, leaving the carrier to function as an ammo transporter. But whereas the Krupp vehicle had a complete turret which dismounted onto a partially mobile framework, the Rheinmetall entry used the lightened 10.5 cm howitzer on a Pak 40 carriage which could be reinstalled on its wheeled carriage for separate use. Both vehicles carried racks for ammunition inside their structures.

However, by the time the vehicles were developed in 1943, things were turning for the Germans and it was no longer felt that the concept was viable.

While a number of kits of the Krupp “Heuschreke” have appeared over the years in 1/30 and 1/35 scale, this is the first kit of the “competitor” variant from Rheinmetall in injection molded styrene. DML has combined parts from its Panzer III/IV series kits and its 10.5 cm and 15 cm howitzer kits with a massive number of newly created parts (over 340) to create this model.

Other than the running gear, very little of the chassis comes from previous DML offerings.  The hull is totally new and while the original was based on the GW III/IV chassis used for the late model Nashorn and Hummel the chassis pan has been completely modified for this kit. There are a number of new bits added to the running gear as well. It also appears DML either made a mistake or corrected one as there is a separate stern plate for the kit (blue G31) to mount the towing shackle and wheel storage mounts.

The engine deck is unique and shares no parts with previous kits. While a generic German jack is included (K sprue) it appears a more detailed one (G sprue) is used instead.

There is an open forward bulkhead inside the hull, but no interior detail in the driver’s/radio operator’s compartment. Most of the details - extensive ammo racks, as the vehicle was designed to carry 80 rounds of ammunition - go into the turret and its base. Propellant canisters are part of the racks, but the kit does come with six separate projectiles for the gun.

While the leFH 18 can be assembled as a complete weapon, the kit directions show it with the trails and wheels stowed (Step 26) and the howitzer in place in the turret. A folding travel lock at the rear of the turret basket is provided as well. The organic gun shield is fitted but two armored shields (J25 and J26) mount on it once installed in the turret. There is also a conversion base (parts L) for fitting the lower carriage minus the wheels and trails to the turret.

Technical consultants were Tony Greenland, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.

There is only one finishing option with two alternatives for the kit: either sand overall or sand with an olive green patch and German stenciling (unreadable) on it. Both are listed as 1945, apparently dated from its capture by US troops (as shown on the box art by Ron Volstad).

Overall this is a nice but expensive kit of a one-off armored vehicle, but I know several modelers who have longed for it so it may find a good home.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 37x2 Pzkw. IV Generic drivers, idlers and return rollers
  • A 81x2 Pzkw. IV Generic road wheels and bogies
  • A 37x2 GW III/IV drivers and return rollers
  • A 55 Pak 40 - lower carriage and trails
  • D 10x2 sIG 33 - wheels and detail parts
  • E 62 leFH 18/40/2 - upper hull details, engine deck
  • F 5 leFH 18/40/2 - stern plate and brackets
  • F 60 leFH 18/40/2 - hull fittings, firewall, turret race, brackets
  • G 12 German Generic - jack
  • H 26 leFH 18/40/2 - turret shell and ammo racks
  • J 31 leFH 18/40/2 - turret interior and ammo racks
  • K 63 leFH 18/40/2 - howitzer, ammunition
  • K 9 German Generic - headlight and OVM
  • K 6 German Generic - OVM
  • K 7 German Generic - jack
  • K 3 Clear styrene
  • L 39 leFH 18/40/2 - wheel mounts, OVM
  • L 144 “Magic Track” links - left
  • R 144 “Magic Track” links - right
  • X 1 Modified GW III/IV chassis pan
  • MA 57 Etched brass

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