leFH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pz.Kpfw. III/IV

Published: July 31st, 2012     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: Tom Moon - IPMS# 43192
Scale: 1/35
Company: Dragon Models
Price: $69.95
Product / Stock #: 6710
Product provided by: Dragon Models USA

This is a multimedia kit comprised of 15 sprues, magic tracks, one photo etched fret, decals, and the set of instructions that need to be reviewed very carefully before gluing any parts together. You can build the howitzer as either installed in the vehicle or in the towed format. The vehicle looks very plain without the gun mounted, so that is how I built the model.

Most Dragon models today are a collection of old sprues and new sprues added to create a new kit variant. In this case, Dragon has not done so; only the road wheels, suspension and a couple of pioneer tools are from prior kits, and everything else is new molding.

  • Step 1. This step is the assembly of the idler wheel, drive sprockets, road wheels, and return wheels. There are no problems here other than the removal of the mold line which is noticeable on the road wheels.
  • Steps 2 and 3. This step is the chassis build and running gear. There are 4 mold stubs on the top of the chassis tub that need to be removed. If you don't remove these stubs, the fenders will not fit. The instructions call for 8 suspension arm stops, 4 to a side; however, there are 10, 5 to a side shown in the drawing. 5 per side is correct. There are a couple of different items shown in this step that are not on normal tanks, and part F47 is glued to the side. I have no idea of what this is. The spare road wheels are attached to the lower chassis between the road wheels and return rollers.
  • Step 4. This step adds the spare tracks to the bow. I left these off till after the painting is done.
  • Step 5. This step is the detailing of the rear plate. Here thing really become a little different. You will begin to add the mounting brackets for the gun wheels and trails.
  • Step 6. This step builds up the front chassis plate and the front upper hull. You can use some of the photo-etch to replicate the vision plates in an open position. However, the interior is quite bare and that would show.
  • Step 7. This step adds the right fender additional items. The headlight bracket is mislabeled. It should be E31, not A31.
  • Step 8. This step builds up the left fender and the jack.
  • Step 9. This step builds up the rear deck. Be careful of the direction of the louvers on parts E3 and E23. Part E28 is a plate that attaches to the louver. The instructions show it attaching to the hull. The reference photos show the plate attaching to both. I had to add a piece of sheet plastic to get the plate to attach to both. Here you will also attach the two braces that will eventually hold the two gun trails.
  • Step 10. This step attaches the fenders, front deck, rear deck and the interior platform for the turret. Here is where the biggest problem with the kit is found. If you install the turret holding plates F21 and F22 as shown, you will not find out until step 26 when you install the turret that these two plates are several mm too high. The turret will sit above the upper hull about 1/8th of an inch. I had to saw the two plates out, lower the mounting points, and reinstall. I suggest that you leave parts F21 and F22 off the model until you have finished steps 11 thru 13 so you can use it as a guide to determine how much lower plates F21 and F22 need to be.
  • Step 11. This step starts the turret walls and some of the internal cabinets and ammunition holders. There are several subassemblies and I will start with side wall H16 and H17. The instructions tell you to add PE parts MA2, and MA3 to each side wall. I suggest that you delay this till the end of step 12. There are two cabinets to assemble and then attach to the sidewall. It is not really apparent, but they do not attach flush with the sidewall. They are actually attached to turret base H20 and then pushed back to touch the sidewall. I suggest that you not mount these two cabinets until after you have attached the side walls to the turret base H20. Also in this step there are two braces J13 and J14 that are shown attached in the instructions, but are not called out in the instructions.
  • Steps 12 and 13. These steps complete the turret assembly. At this time I would add the PE braces MA2 and MA3 along with the two cabinets. By doing these items in this step will allow you to align the parts accurately with the sidewalls and the turret base.
  • Steps 14, 15, 16 and 17. This step begins the build of the gun. This step is straightforward with no glitches.
  • Step 18. This step builds up the left gun carriage and the optics. I suggest that you wait to attach the braces K1, K46, and K48 until you are ready to attach the gun shield. This will allow you to get proper alignment.
  • Step19. This step builds up the right gun carriage. I suggest that you wait to attach the braces K1, K45, and K47 until you are ready to attach the gun shield. This will allow you to get proper alignment.
  • Step 20. This step finishes the gun, carriage, and outer shield. Make sure you wait to attach the muzzle brake K12 until after you have attached the gun shield to the carriage. I also suggest that you wait to attach the outer shield until after you a have painted the gun, shield, and tools. This will allow you to paint the additional items on the gun shield without the outer shield being in the way. The outer gun shield is very difficult to attach to the regular gun shield. It has several PE parts that are to be used to attach to the regular gun shield. After installation, you will need to go back and touch up your paint job.
  • Step 21. This step starts the build of the travel carriage. The instructions show that you do have a choice on the axles as to showing in the travel mode, neutral mode, or firing mode. Since I will have the gun mounted in the vehicle, I chose the neutral mode. If you decide to show the gun mounted on its own wheels, you will need to decide which mode to display it in.
  • Step 22. This step continues the build of the travel carriage. I found out that if you install part A5 (I have no idea of its name) in this step, you will not be able to install parts L4 and L5 in step 24.
  • Step 23. This step attaches the gun to the travel carriage. I delayed this till the very end of the build.
  • Step 24. This step finishes the build of the travel carriage and the vehicle mounting base for the gun. At this time, you need to install parts L4, L5, and L10. It appears that the call outs for these should be reversed. The call outs for parts L25 and L26 also appear to be reversed. And parts L7 and L8 are shown on the model, but not called out. After you get these parts installed, go back and add part A5.
  • Step 25. This step builds the two trails for the gun carriage. There were no problems encountered here.
  • Step 26.This is the final step to mount the turret to the chassis. This is left unglued so you can pose the turret. You will also add the trails and gun wheels to the back of the vehicle if you are displaying the model this way. It will take some fiddling to get the trails to sit right and get the locking arms F37 and F38 into position. I have left all this material off so I could paint and weather the rear without these items being in the way. This step also adds some PE parts MA6 and MA9, items E44, L33 barrel cleaner, and L37 some sort of tool. I suggest that you add these parts in step 10 so they will be included in the basic paint work.

The last item to attach is the turret-mounted gun lock. This subassembly shows, but did not call out the main item L12 and mislabeled the crank as L16 instead of L6. There are no clear instructions as to how to attach the gun to the travel lock, and the travel lock to the turret floor. I found a photo in the Panzer Tracts 10-1 that shows the elevating screw facing the front of the tank.

This step also adds the Magic Tracks. Here is my method of building this type of track:

  1. I use a track jig that is adjustable. I place it on the work surface and put a strip of yellow Tamiya tape down with the sticky side up. If you don't have a jig, you can use a ruler. Just tape it down and use it as a guide to keep the tracks straight.
  2. Then I "assemble" the track using the jig and tape to hold all the parts in place.
  3. I prepared the tracks one side at a time by adding a dab of Tamiya thin glue at each joint and letting this set for about 3 to 5 minutes. This will allow the glue to set enough to hold the tracks together but still be flexible enough to put sag into the tracks.
  4. Drape them around the drive sprocket and idler wheel (both of which are not yet glued in), gently manipulate the tracks to get the proper sag.
  5. Let them dry.
  6. Remove the tracks. Paint and weather them off the vehicle.
  7. Mount the tracks to the model, along with the drive sprocket and idler wheels.
  8. When you are happy with how the tracks look on the model, glue the drive sprocket and idler wheel into their permanent position. Make sure that the tracks are correctly aligned, as one of the biggest mistake armor modelers make is to have tracks that are toed in or out caused by the improper alignment of drive sprockets and/or idler wheels.
  • Step 27. This is the optional step to build the gun as a regular gun not mounted in the vehicle. I did not try this as I mounted the gun in the vehicle.

Accuracy

The drawings found in the references listed below show the kit to be basically accurate. Since I'm not a rivet counter, I don't go beyond that. I model for fun.

Molding

I found the molding to be clean, with no sink marks and few ejector pin marks. The mold seams were easily removed and I saw no flash. Dragon makes extensive use of the pin nodes to keep ejector pin marks on the parts to a minimum. However, you will need to handle the removal and clean up of the parts with care.

Instructions

As with all Dragon's instructions, read them carefully and plan what you want to do ahead of construction. Check the fit over and over and over again to make sure that all items fit together. See the noted items in the build log.

Painting and decals

The color call outs are for Testors Model Master enamel and Gunze paints. I continue to see a weakness in the painting instructions from all kit makers. Instructions for the small parts like the pioneer tools and travel lights are never listed or shown. Here you have to guess or mimic what someone else has done. The decals are by Cartograf and are up to their usual high standards. This vehicle was a prototype and never saw action. It was captured by the Allies at the end of the war. The olive drab decal is supposed to depict the shipping instructions as applied by the Allies.

Conclusion

This is a well engineered and molded model. If you make sure that the instructions are correct, the model goes together very well. It is a good mix of styrene and photo-etch. I can recommend this kit to all WWII modelers, especially those who like unusual vehicles.

References for this variant are included in the following books:

  • Panzer IV & Its Variants; Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
  • Artillerie Selbstfahrlafetten; Panzer Tracts 10, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
  • Artillerie Selbstfahrlafettenfrom Pz.Sfl.IVb to Hummel-Wespe; Panzer Tracts 10-1, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
  • Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.

Thanks to Dragon for the review sample and IPMS/USA for the review space.

  • Left front
    Left front
  • Left rear
    Left rear
  • Right rear
    Right rear
  • Right front
    Right front
  • Turret interior 1
    Turret interior 1
  • Turret interior 2
    Turret interior 2

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