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Flakpanzer 38(t) Sd.Kfz.140 auf (Sf) Ausf.L 'Gepard'

DML 1/35 Flakpanzer 38(t) Sd.Kfz.140 auf (Sf) Ausf.L 'Gepard' Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review December 2007 Manufacturer DML
Subject Flakpanzer 38(t) Sd.Kfz.140 auf (Sf) Ausf.L 'Gepard' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6469 Primary Media 1,121 parts (727 in grey styrene, 240 "Magic Link" tracks, 145 etched brass, 8 clear styrene, 2 preformed etched brass, 1 length of twisted steel wire)
Pros Nicely done kit of this popular vehicle with great emphasis on the details in the open casemate mounting Cons May be more complex than competing kit; a lot more etched brass creeping back into "Smart Kits"; dumb choice of fake name
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45

First Look

DML again continues to "do battle" with Tristar kits by offering a "Smart Kit" version of the Flakpanzer 38(t) version of the Praga based tank chassis.

Based on its Ausf. G kit, the DML version once again a "Smart Kit", but more and more etched brass is starting to creep back into these kits. It is not clear if DML feels that it is the best way to represent specific parts or if it is in response to the "Boo Birds" that have loudly complained about the lack of etched brass in the "Smart Kits."

Unlike the previous Pzkw. 38(t) Ausf. G and Marder III "Smart Kits", this version opts to change out a good number of the parts (248 new specific kit parts, plus the complete sprues from the Flak 38 2 cm kit) Most of the interior parts (e.g. transmission, drive line, control compartment details, etc.) already came with the Marder III kit and the engine was added in the G kit.

The kit provides the correct drive wheels with the excellent suspension as well as different springs for the bogie assemblies. Assembly follows the earlier kit and is pretty straightforward. However, the back plate (part B40) is one piece so the access cover cannot be shown open or removed, as in performing maintenance on the engine.

As this vehicle uses totally different fenders due to the overhang of the casemate at the rear, they now avoid the "ding" over the fenders of earlier kits.

Tracks are the DML "Magic Track" links, which are identical so do not have to be "handed" as with other kits. These even have casting data molded into them, but in my case it took a 10x jeweler's loupe to confirm it!

The interior is pretty much complete as near as can be seen, but the warning needs to be given that due to the small hatches it thankfully comes with new hatches over the engine compartment. Since the compartment is now amidships, this made it easier for DML to provide a better access to the compartment for viewing. This time they also note the "open" and "close" options for you, which is an improvement on the Ausf. G kit.

The casemate is "packed with vitamins" and a very, VERY busy place. Close scrutiny of the directions is needed here due to the many parts found there and the various options for opening or closing ports, panels or moving the gun in its position.

DML has made an effort to provide all of the necessary bits needed, and a different set of road wheels is also included with this kit.

The kit offers six different finishing options backed up with a colorful set of Cartograf decals. They include: 21st Panzer Division, Normandy 1944 (two color "splinter" pattern); Unidentified Unit, 1944 (three-color pattern); 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjungend, France 1944 (overall dark sand); 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjungend, France 1944 (three-color pattern); 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjungend, France 1944 (overall sand with whitewash); and 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjungend, France 1944 (sand with mottle).

Overall this is a nicely done if very busy kit, and again it will come down to the preference of the builder as to whether he wants this kit or its competitor. The only real problem I have with this one is the choice to call it a "Gepard" (Cheetah). Somebody in marketing apparently decided since the current SPAAG is the "Gepard" then this one may have been too, which is a 2 + 2 = 5 decision.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 70 Pzkw. 38(t) wheels and suspension
  • A 89 Flak 38 - upper carriage
  • B 70 Pzkw. 38(t) Ausf. G fenders and hull components
  • B 45 Flak 38 - Sonderanhaenger 51
  • C 8 Flak 38 – elevation fittings
  • D 58 Pzkw. 38(t) interior and transmission components
  • G 55 Flakpanzer 38(t) details and front hull section
  • H 43x2 Pzkw. 38(t) front glacis details and stowage bins
  • J 8 Flak 38 gun and fittings
  • K 18 Pzkw. 38(t) OVM
  • L 2 Radio antenna
  • M 72 Flakpanzer 38(t) upper works and casemate sections
  • N 5 cleaning rods and accessories
  • N 2 Radio antenna
  • P 17 Engine and accessories
  • R 14 Flak 38 alternative parts
  • S 8 clear styrene parts
  • W 5x2 Pzkw. 38(t) wheels and tow cable heads
  • X 1 Flakpanzer 38(t) hull
  • Y 240 Magic Track
  • MA 103 etched brass
  • MB 40 etched brass