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Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjaeger II fur Pak 40/2 'Marder II'

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjaeger II fur Pak 40/2 'Marder II' Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjaeger II fur Pak 40/2 'Marder II' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6262 Primary Media 772 parts (461 in grey styrene, 210 "Magic Track" links, 96 etched brass, 3 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum, 1 preformed etched brass)
Pros Nice, new ground-up version of this popular German SP gun; very complete interior and also open racks in the fighting compartment Cons Daunting number of parts for a relatively small vehicle!
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $38

First Look

The reviewer is sometimes placed at a disadvantage when, for whatever reason, the manufacturer goes out on a limb and picks a very obscure or insignificant vehicle which is not covered outside of very limited distribution publications. Other than determining the quality of the items inside the box, there are limits to what he can and cannot say about it, and any review of the kit that is not couched in those terms soon runs afoul of the "experten" who only wish to sharpshoot the review for their own gratification. Such was a recent review I did about a totally useless vehicle – the "Flakpanzer I" – which brought the faithful frothing to their feet.

Kinder souls did point me to web-based documentation which both proved of the vehicle's existence and its lack of utility, but by then the rabid SGF faction was already demanding blood. I now know that 24 were built, not two, and that they were used, and that the clumsy halftrack conversion in the background was an Sd.Kfz.7/6 armored prime mover for 8.8 cm guns. I also now know that the Flakpanzer I was close to useless, losing two of its number within 30 seconds of entering combat as a ground weapons system and that it was unlikely to have ever shot down an Il-2.

I have never at any time in my life claimed to be an expert on ANYTHING, and certainly not obscure low-production rate German armored vehicles. (I also don't expect too many "experten" to tell me the difference between a Soviet T-43 Model 1 and a T-43 Model 2 either, but that would be needless digression.) Happily, this new kit from DML – released at the recent Dragon Expo DX ‘06 –is anything but obscure, and a pleasant diversion (for me as a reviewer at least) from strings of Tiger IIs and Sd.Kfz.251 halftracks!

The PzKpfw.II was a superior vehicle to the PzKpfw.I, but when introduced into combat was found to be only marginally better that that vehicle as a combat system. This was something of a shame, for it was a fairly reliable chassis and quite handy. As a result, the Germans turned to using it for a chassis for self-propelled guns, and it excelled in two of those variants – the Marder II SP 7.5 cm antitank gun and the Wespe SP 10.5 cm howitzer.

The Marder II (Marder is the German name for the pine marten, which is a weasel on steroids – five feet long from nose to tip of tail!) began as a conversion of the PzKpfw.II Ausf.D (and also Ausf.E and ex-flamethrower) chassis to carry the Soviet 76.2mm Model 1936 divisional gun as rebuilt to become the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r). But these were awkward designs and even with the powerful Russian gun left much to be desired. So, in May 1942 a new, purpose-built design was created that provided a more integrated combat vehicle now carrying a German 7.5 cm Pak 40/2, essentially the towed gun less its lower carriage. This weapon, now designated as the 7.5 cm Pak 40/2 auf Fahrgestelle PzKpfw.II (Sf) or Sd.Kfz.131, entered production in June 1942 and remained there until July 1943 when production terminated in favor of the even more useful 10.5 cm Wespe SP howitzer. 576 Marder II guns were produced new and another 75 converted from PzKpfw.II chassis. While new guns were on the late-model Ausf.F chassis, the conversions used Ausf.c, A, B, C or F tank chassis.

The Marder II has always been a very nice little vehicle that did not overtax its chassis, adding only about 800 kilograms to it in reference to the Ausf. F tank. Tamiya came out with a version of this vehicle 30 years ago (kit 35060) but while they released a new kit of the Wespe (35200) they instead released TWO versions of the Marder III on the PzKpfw. 38(t) chassis (35248 and 35255). Thus only the old kit has been available until now.

Dragon is somewhat coy with this kit, as all sprues for the Marder II are labeled as such, but all of the running gear ones (D, E, F and G) are left unlabeled, hinting at future releases such as a family of PzKpfw.II vehicles and most likely a Wespe and perhaps an SP 15 cm sIG 33. The kit provides a wide range of accessories and options, and that tends to support the probability of other kit releases.

What you get in the box is the B, C and D sprues from the Pak 40 kit (no carriage needed) as well as a slew of new ones. Sprue A covers the upper hull and fenders, B the interior and racks, C the interior of the engine and driver's compartments and other elements of the hull, and the aforementioned D to G the running gear less tracks. Tracks are provided as "Magic Track" with again, as with the PzKpfw.IV kits, "left" and "right" tracks based on their pin and connector positions. (I WISH DML would tell you which is which, as using a jewelers' loupe to sort them out is tedious!) Two standard "J" tool sprues are included as well as standard German weapons sprue WB (two MP-40, one MP-44 and one Gewehr 43) as well as the MG-34 part of the WC sprue.

The Pak 40 comes with the standard kit with three choices of muzzle brakes and two choices of recoil mechanism covers, optional position breech, and also two ammo cases, 10 tubed rounds, three cases and eight open rounds. Decals are provided for stenciling all of them.

The hull provides a large number of options – two different styles of driving wheels, three different idler wheels (separate rim and body), three-piece suspension units and springs, shocks, bump stops, and a five-part muffler with etched brass wrapper. Tool tie-downs consist of etched brass assemblies for the very fastidious.

There is no engine, but the engine and driver's compartment comes with the basics for the driver – seat, levers, and pedals – as well as the complete engine transmission, clutch and brake/final drive assembly. There is no engine but separate access flaps are provided for those who pick up the inevitable after-market one.

The casemate section provides what I take to be spaced armor arrays on each side of the fighting compartment, not a bad innovation for 1942 (and common in all main battle tanks today). All of the brackets and mounts are present and the complete FuG spr d set is included on a tall rack. Periscopes with clear styrene bodies are also provided as well as all of the tools and parts one would expect to find in the vehicle. I have seen one snipe on line that it is missing the fuel filler cap, but that is something I have no knowledge of and could not locate on a bet!

Seven different finishing schemes are provided as follows: Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1943 (tricolor); Unidentified unit, Russia 1943 (two color); 10th Panzer Division, Tunisia 1943 (two color); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1943 (whitewash over grey); Pz.Jg.Abt. 49, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor); and Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor). (If I was among the unwary I would have to venture that while I don't know who "Unidentified" is boy is it a big unit!) The decal sheet is "targeted" to these seven.

Overall, this is a good choice and a great job of bringing a popular vehicle back out and at a modern level of technological standards. Hopefully some Panzer II tanks will follow!

Thanks to DML for the review sample.