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Sd.Kfz.138/1 Geschuetzwagen 38H fuer s.IG. 33/2

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.138/1 Geschuetzwagen 38H fuer s.IG. 33/2 - Smart Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.138/1 Geschuetzwagen 38H fuer s.IG. 33/2 - Smart Kit Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6470 Primary Media 904 parts (517 in grey syrene, 240 “Magic Track” links, 150 etched brass, 1 turned aluminum gun barrel, 1 prebent steel wire)
Pros Early version of the so-called “Bison” a popular choice, nice alternative to the M variant Cons Some complaints about fenders still linger
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45.95

First Look

The Germans were in a constant need to get self-propelled artillery which could support their forces in Russia, and as such began to convert many of their obsolete or outclassed tank chassis to carry support weapons. With a truly mediocre effort using the Pzkw. I chassis and an similarly overtaxed effort on the Pzkw. II chassis, they eventually found a happy medium for their sIG 33 15 cm howitzer by mounting it on the Pzkw. 38(t) chassis. 90 chassis were rebuilt and fitted out as SP howitzers, and with the success of this concept they later moved on to the Ausf. M with an improved fighting compartment layout.

Following up on their Ausf. M variant (Kit No. 6429) and the cyber-hobby ammunition carrier variant (cyber-hobby kit No. 21, DML kit No. 6471) DML has now released a new kit of the Ausf. H variant built on a rebuilt and repaired Pzkw. 38(t) chassis. Some 15 years ago DML’s first affiliate Kirin released a kit of this model (also available in the “Imperial” series) but it was based on the old Italeri Pzkw. 38(t) kit with hollow wheel backs and all of the problems with that 30 year old kit. This one is based on all of the new DML “Smart Kit” 38(t) Praga series models and uses “mix and match” with two new sprues and two new etched brass frets to complete the kit. (Note that thus far the only item they have not released in this series is the short-run version which put this howitzer on a Hetzer chassis, but I figure sooner or later will do that one too.)

Again this is a complete “Smart Kit” but one which uses parts from the Ausf. M kit (the sIG 33 and the ammunition) and parts from the Pzkw. 38(t) Ausf. G kit with 87 new styrene parts. These include the entire upper hull, new mounting braces for the sIG 33 mount with two footing options inside the hull, and a new set of canvas supports for the casemate (no canvas parts are included, however).

As with the Ausf. M it uses “Smart Kit” technology where the emphasis is on detail but they have also added more brass to including the entire engine grille assembly. There are still a few optional parts such as a one-piece shifter control for the transmission or one made from a total of 12 etched brass parts and two handles from the single styrene parts. Only a few of the frames and grilles will require a good amount of bending.

As with the Ausf. M the howitzer comes with a turned aluminum barrel and rifling in its first section. For some reason (either other variants or a towed version being forthcoming) there are TWO sprues of cradle and breech parts for the s.IG. 33/2 15 cm howitzer, so be careful on choosing the right parts. Most of the ones are again on the “C” sprue. (I noted that a Pzkw. I variant is coming behind this kit, so perhaps that will answer the mystery of the two cradle sections!)

The new casemate consists of six main parts (front, sides, and three piece rear door section) with details provided and DML’s new “Razor Edge” thinned parts to simulate steel plate vice styrene plastic. The rear doors may be posed open or closed, and with some work the engine bay hatches may also be posed open or closed. Fenders are the original straight ones to which some modelers have vehemently objected.

This kit also includes the engine and other interior parts from the DML TNHP series kits. The driveline and interior are mostly styrene parts, such as the transmission/clutch assembly, steering controls, driveshaft and shield. The ammo racks are all single molded items, but the projectiles are molded with the rack to get a “scale” thickness to the rack and as such cannot be separated. Twenty full and six empty racks are provided along with two single projectiles as well as the propellant lockers for the sides of the casemate.

The kit also includes the generic German kit sprue with helmets, canteens, mess kits, gas mask canisters, etc. A two section radio (transmitter/receiver) mount on the right side of the casemate. Each periscope in the fighting compartment is all styrene (clear prism component, grey mounts) and may be positioned as folded or erected.

Assistance on this kit is credited to Thomas Anderson, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.

Finishing directions and targeted Cartograph decals are provided for three different vehicles: 1st SS Panzer Division LAH, Kursk 1943 (green spiderweb over sand with black crosses); 6/Recce.Btl. (Aufklaerungsabteilung?) 1st SS Panzer Division LAH, Eastern Front 1943 (sand with green patches and black crosses); and 9./Pz.Gren.Regt 2, 2nd Panzer Division, Normandy 1944 (Gun “D”, cross-hatch green and brown pattern over sand with black crosses and division markings).

Overall, this is the “bookend” kit to the Ausf. M and should be a popular subject.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 70 Pzkw. 38(t) wheels and suspension
  • B 24 s.IG. 33 cradle and breech
  • B 70 Pzkw. 38(t) Ausf. G fenders and hull components
  • C 24 s.IG. 33 cradle and breech
  • D 58 Pzkw. 38(t) interior and transmission components
  • E 1 Pzkw. 38(t) Hull
  • F 77 Gw 38 H upper hull and upper hull interior parts
  • F 10 Gw 38 H front hull and canvas support rods
  • J 10 clear styrene vision blocks
  • K 3 Clear styrene sights
  • K 18 Pzkw. 38(t) OVM
  • L 4 German whip antenna
  • N 5 cleaning rods and accessories
  • R 32x2 15 cm projectiles and stowage brackets
  • U 6 15 cm stowage brackets
  • V 10 German radio and racks
  • Y 240 Magic Track
  • MA 147 etched brass
  • MB 3 etched brass
  • MC 1 Turned aluminum barrel
  • MC 1 prebent steel wire
  • GA 64 German generic kit
  • RA 9 German generic radios
  • RB 8 German generic radios