Krupp/Ardelt Weffentraeger 88mm PAK-43 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||January 2012||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||Krupp/Ardelt Weffentraeger 88mm PAK-43||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||1587||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch, Metal Barrel|
|Pros||First styrene kit of this subject in this scale; very nice detailing throughout||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$51.95|
As the Russians continued to push the Wehrmacht back out of Russian territory, the German engineers looked for quick solutions to get heavy guns out into the field to blunt the advance of the T-34 and KV-1 tanks. Once such requirement was given to Krupp and Ardelt to adapt the heavy 88mm PAK-43 gun to mount on available chasses to minimize development time. In this case, the chassis being evaluated was the venerable and reliable Panzer 38(t). In the closing days of the war, two prototypes were understood to be completed and these were pressed into service as part of the last-ditch defense of Berlin.
Trumpeter has released another paper project, though this one at least made it into combat trials by the end of the war. This kit looks like a simple kit but don't let appearances fool you. It will be a staightforward build, but there is detail in here.
Molded in tan styrene, the kit is presented on nine parts trees plus a separate lower hull, two bags of track link parts, two frets of photo-etched parts, one turned aluminum barrel, and one brass tube. According to the specs, there are over 1000 parts in here including the 230 track links.
As with most tank projects, this one starts off on the lower hull and the first thing you'll see is the driver's station complete with controls. The Panzer 38t hull has been around before and Trumpeter does a nice job with this. With the suspension and road wheels in place on the lower hull, it is time to look at the tracks.
You might think that building up the individual track links will be time consuming but Trumpeter has provided an assembly jig to get both track runs together. A second jig is provided to replicate the sag on the upper stretch of track so you can glue this portion into shape before installation.
One thing that puzzles me is that Trumpeter provides the mid-section bulkhead that divides the driver and engine compartments from the gun mount located on the rear half of the chassis, but there is no firewall separating the driver and engine compartments. While there is nice detail in the driver's compartment, I would imagine that having that firewall might be a useful detail but at least this is easily remedied.
With the lower hull completed, it is time to focus on the gun and ammo stowage. In truly Trumpeter fashion, the kit provides several ammo boxes that you load with 88mm rounds, and each round has a photo-etched rear with primer cap detail. The problem is that if you follow the instructions for each type of stowage container, you'll take your detailed rounds close up the boxes and use the photo-etched hasps to keep them closed. I'm thinking you'll want to leave one or more of these open and the nice part is that you can do just that with the details provided.
Next up is the gun platform and its armored gun shield. The inside of the gun shield houses the pioneering tools and personal weapons stowage. With the gun platform and shield installed on the mount, you'll also add the gun lock on the front of the hull.
Last but certainly not least is the PAK-43. The weapon is also highly detailed with operator controls and can be elevated on its mount. The breech mechanism, sights, handwheels, recoil system, etc., are all nicely replicated. The kit provides you a choice of using the plastic barrel or the turned aluminum barrel along with the brass tube and styrene muzzle brake.
A small set of markings are provided with generic German crosses.
This is an impressive kit and it has the advantage of being based on existing components (PAK-43, Panzer 38(t) chassis, etc.) to achieve the level of detail not found on other 'more exotic' weapons prototypes. While only two of these guns were evidently completed by war's end, you can at least use this in a nice diorama or vignette as part of the final defense of Berlin.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!