Trumpeter 1/35 Heuschrecke IVb 'Grasshopper' Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Heuschrecke IVb 'Grasshopper'
|Excellent exterior detailing
|No interior hull detailing
Krupp was an engineering firm in Germany that specializes in armored vehicles and support vehicles for the World War II German Wehrmacht. This company pioneered a concept for self-propelled artillery that is still used by armed forces around the world today.
In 1943, Krupp developed the Heushrecke (Grasshopper), which was a combination 105mm howitzer carried by a modified Panzer IV chassis. Unlike many other self-propelled guns however, the Grasshopper's main gun was mounted in a traversable turret allowing for flexible fire while on its chassis. Also unlike other guns, this turret could be removed and used on the ground or upon a prepared mount, leaving the prime mover free to fetch more ammunition.
Only a handful of these prototypes were developed and 'tested' under combat conditions. While the gun system was scheduled to enter production in 1945, the German production capabilities had been virtually wiped out by that time and the war would soon be over for Germany. A single Grasshopper prototype survived the war and is on display at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
Trumpeter continues to compete against DML in the world of German armor and combat vehicle prototypes. What puzzles most folks is why either of them would waste resources producing such esoteric subjects, let alone both of them racing to be the first to market with such kits. In the most recent competitions, Trumpeter was first to market with the workhorse of the German army, the Sd.Kfz.7 half-track while DML has yet to release theirs. This time around however, DML lead Trumpeter by a week or two in getting their 'Grasshopper' kits to market. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you...
So what do we have in this release? This kit is another installment on the Panzer IV chassis family of vehicles, and it still fascinates me that Trumpeter has released so many vehicle variants of the Panzer IV without having produced a single Panzer IV tank kit.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 17 parts trees plus the upper and lower hulls and gun shield provided separately. The kit also includes a set of vinyl tracks and a fret of photo-etched details to round out the kit.
As with any typical armored kit, construction begins with the lower hull and the suspension system. The detailing here is nice and yet not over-engineered so assembly is straightforward. As with many tracked kits these days, this one offers your choice of vinyl 'rubberband' tracks or individual track links. The track links make up eight of the 17 parts trees in this box.
Assembly of the upper hull is also fairly simple as there wasn't that much up there, but as you'd expect from a contemporary kit, none of the pioneering tools nor other details are pre-molded into the surface of the upper hull or fenders, which will make the job of painting and detailing a bit easier, depending on your techniques.
The star of the show is the subject of this kit - the 105mm howitzer that is mounted into the traversable shield/turret. Also nicely detailed is the rail system that lays flush with the hull top, but can be raised into a gantry that can lift and remove or restore the turret from the hull.
If I were you, I wouldn't display this model with the turret removed as this reveals the only complaint I have with this kit. Unlike other Panzer IV-based kits previously released, this one does not have any detailing inside the hull. You're on your own for ammo stowage for the 105, stowage for the gun crew, etc.
The kit provides generic numbers and German crosses to add tactical markings to replicate any one of the ten examples used on the eastern test range. Available photos of the subject mirror the included color profile in that these vehicles were German Gray with no markings. That might have been while still in Germany, so who's to say if your colors and markings might be inaccurate?
This is an interesting subject and will make for a nice addition to your armored division. AMS modelers will really have fun with all of the included details plus the potential of adding an aftermarket Maybach engine in the back to pose the engine cover doors open.
The good news here is that unlike some of the other prototypes previously released, at least one still exists and what's more, good photos are online here.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!