6710, le.FH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pz.Kpfw.III/IV Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia construction kit. Contains 763 styrene parts (including three clear), one etched brass fret, two bags of magic tracks, one water-slide decal/markings scheme with a variation and eight pages of instructions in 27 steps.
For reasons that today would pass understanding, during the Second World War, Germany had difficulties in conceptualizing and producing a viable self-propelled 10.5cm light field howitzer. Having settled on an overly complex design that included a facility to completely dismount the main gun for use on the ground, two models actually saw prototype construction. One came from Krupp (the subject of an earlier DML kit) while the other, the subject of this release, came from Alkett. By December, 1944, the Alkett design was also consigned to the also-ran category, with only the prototype surviving to be captured by the Western Allies.
Combining parts from a number of kits, along with new parts for the vehicle as well as new parts for a 10.5cm l.FH18/40, Cyberhobby has just released the le.Pz.Haub. Alkett. Note that this is a normal release, not a white box limited edition.
These Magic Track individual links represent the so-called Einheitsketten (standardized track link) that were 40cm-wide, had smooth cleats and opened guide horns. They require no clean-up of mold sprue attachment pips and fit together using friction (but will not stay together with any handling). They will need to be glued together when their position has been determined. Each has two very subtle knock-out pin marks on their inner faces, which will need the modelers attention. The links are handed, so be sure to work from one bag at a time and check the instructions carefully in order to identify the proper links for each side.
The drive sprockets are the later type as fitted to the StuG.III, without the hub cap. The idler wheel is the welded tube type seen on the Pz.Kpfw.IV, but fitted with a hub cap from the idler wheel seen on the Pz.Kpfw.III. The road-wheels show the manufacturers logo. The return rollers are of the all-steel type. The idler wheels have a separate axle that can be slightly adjusted; this will aid in getting the proper sit of the track links; dont fix the idlers to their mounts until satisfied that all is correct with the tracks. The bogie units are multi-part assemblies and are fully-detailed through the use of clever parts break-down and slide-mold technology.
The slide-molded hull is detailed with various rivets and mounting flanges. The mounts for the return rollers and idler wheels are all separate, with two-part bump stops added. The belly plate has the mounts and covers for the suspension bogies molded in place as well as various access panels and drain plates, plus fine rivet detail. This is all made possible by the use of a slide mold. Uniquely, a spare pair of road-wheels was stowed on each side of the hull wall, along with part of the lifting apparatus used to remove the gun from the chassis. These are all provided.
Separate fuel filler lids are given for the port-side of the hull, while inner plates for the final drives, complete with tow hook eyes are fitted on either side. Separate final drive covers are them put in place. The rear plate features three-part tow eyes on each corner, of the type seen in that location on a Pz.Kpfw.III hull. In the center is a three-part trailer hitch typically seen on the Pz.Kpfw.IV, which can be used to haul the dismounted howitzer. Large C-shaped brackets are provided to enable multi-part stowage racks to be fitted, which in turn held the wheels for the dismounted howitzer. The bow plate has a spare track stowage rack. The glacis plate is new for this kit. It has excellent panel and rivet detail, and is fitted with separate lift hooks, armored covers for the brake air cooling vents and etched brass brackets of various types.
The front of the superstructure is composed of a separate drivers compartment roof with separate hatch lids. The front plate is separate and features a pair of separate drivers visors with internal detail to include etched brass hinges. The drivers hatch lids are also separate and there are separate view-port flaps on each side wall. Various parts make up the outer superstructure side panels on both sides. The plates are rendered using Razor Edge technology; this means that they are extremely thin, for excellent scale fidelity, while being devoid of any knock-out pin marks.
The engine deck module is a multi-part assembly with separate hatch lids, each of which has etched brass baffles on the inner surfaces. Separate grills are fitted to each side of the module. A pair of shovels along with mounting brackets for the guns trails is fitted on the rear face. Small detail parts include styrene lift hooks, grab handles and various fittings.
Track-Guards and OVM.
Typically, the track-guards are completely detailed on both surfaces and are devoid of ejector pin marks. The port-side track-guard mounts a four-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Bosch head-lamp, which includes power conduit. There is also a jack block, a pair of S-hooks with a separate mounting bracket, and, finally, an axe. On the starboard side sits a multi-part jack and its mounting brackets, as well as a pair of wire cutters. Separate mud-flaps complete the front end of the track-guards.
Fighting Compartment and Turret.
The fighting compartment has had much attention paid to it. Four parts make up the front and rear bulkheads, along with the turret race. The separate turret ring base is fitted with large support brackets and etched brass parts which are perforated; these would appear to be part of the ammunition stowage system. Beneath that, the large support brackets are connect to the circular turret floor plate.
The multi-part turret consists of two large parts which each contain the side wall and segents of the front and rear walls. Separate rear hatch lids can be fitted opened or closed and there are separate parts for the front end and the turrets base. Internally, there are large, multi-part stowage lockers on each side of the rear, as well as smaller stowage boxes; the larger lockers can be shown opened or closed. On each side are fitted large, multi-part ammunition racks, with what appears to be some stowed propellant cases molded in place. Separate hinges, latches, plates and gussets finish the area. Six 10.5cm projectiles are given, but their location is not shown, nor are they shown being used in the instructions. They are on the new sprue for the l.FH18/40 and so are probably designed for use as diorama accessories in the dismounted firing mode.
Gun and Mount.
The 10.5cm l.FH18/40 is based on a new set of parts, the carriage and trails of a standard 7.5cm PaK40, and wheels from the 15cm s.IG33, all as issued previously by DML. The slide-molded styrene gun tube is fitted with a nine-part breech block, which can be shown opened or closed. The over-sized flared muzzle brake is made up of three more parts. The recoil cylinder up top is separate as is its support yoke. The six part recoil sled is based on a slide-molded two-part core, which eliminates any seam running down the center, through the rivet pattern. The next items are the trunnions and elevation gear quadrant. The left side of the cradle has a recoil guard, five-part gun-sight (including clear parts); this assembly includes the direct and indirect sights. A multi-part assembly represents the traverse and elevation hand-wheels, as well as their linkages. The right side has another traverse hand-wheel and linkages, as well as a multi-part elevation piston. A multi-part base with some other detail parts completes this part of the gun.
The main splinter shield peculiar to this version of the l.FH18 is well-molded, thin and devoid of ejector pin marks. Internally it is fitted with various equipment stowage tubes and several struts which attach it to the gun and cradle. Externally, there is more in the way of stowage tubes, as well as a pick-axe. A pair of tiny hooks completes this part of the assembly. The shield is also fitted with wings on either side that fill-in the area between the splinter shield and the turret side walls. These are quite thinly-rendered and are embellished with multi-part etched brass hinges and mounting brackets, as well as more styrene mounting struts.
The axle units as seen on the PaK40 are next to be fitted. This assembly consists of some dozens of parts that make up hand-brakes, brake master cylinders, axles, brake hubs, and torsion bars. The wheel height can be adjusted. All of this is then mounted on to a 15-part assembly that connects the complete dismountable gun to the turret base. The last item unique to this AFV is what appears to be a screw jack, used to raise the gun out of the turret for fitting to the field carriage. It also appears to act as a travel lock for the gun cradle. It is composed of five parts.
The carriage can be configured in travel or firing mode depending on how parts are placed. In most cases this simply means moving a part on its appropriate hinge (trails, towing lunette and cradle lock) but the multi-part lower shield section must be fixed in either the raised (travel mode) or lowered (firing mode) position. It is not clear what is done with the lower shield sections when the howitzer is mounted inside the turret, but in that mode they cannot be fitted. The wheels are all-styrene slide-molded affairs, first seen on DMLs 15cm s.IG33 kit. They represent the cast star-pattern and because they are slide-molded, the tread detail is molded in place. However, the tire treads do not precisely match photos, which show that the center portion is noticeably wider than the two outer portions. The trails are fairly well-done, but they lack the prominent weld seam which ran along their entire length, as well as some finer details.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
There are no sink marks or knock-out pin marks visible except where noted, and they are easily dealt with; mold seams are discrete and easily cleaned. Since I am passing this kit along to another modeler, I have not conducted a fit check of any of the new parts. However, past experience with the PaK40 carriage and the Pz.Kpfw.IV suspension system leads me to say that at least in those areas, there should be no surprises.
The main components match well with Mr. Doyles scale profile in the cited Panzer Tracts book. I have mentioned a few items that are not as accurate as they should be, above. Very few photos are available to me regarding this vehicle, so I cannot comment any further on accuracy issues.
The instruction sheet consists of line drawings. The instructions are comparatively dense and can be confusing if care is not exercised. Colors are, as usual, coded to match Gunze and Testors paints.
Decals and Markings Information.
The water-slide decals are from Cartograf and are crisp, with well-saturated colors; carrier film is thin and cropped close to their edges. A total of two vehicles can be marked, although there was only one of these machines built. The markings show it before and after capture by the Allies, with the latter consisting of dark green patches of paint festooned with white shipping data; the type-face is not legible.
Not a Paper Panzer, this AFV was actually built in prototype form and apparently still survives in the UK. It looks the part and is well-molded. It has loads of extra parts for the spares bin and includes a new-tool 10.5cm l.FH18/40, which I am quite sure will be released solo at some future date. Fans of all things German will want this one (especially those that like unusual prototypes), while fans of SP artillery in general may also like this kit for its oddness.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included the following books:
1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
2. Artillerie Selbstfahrlafetten; Panzer Tracts No.10, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Panzer IV & its Variants; Spielberger Series Vol. IV, Schiffer, by W.J. Spielberger.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to Cyberhobby. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
Cyberhobby kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.cyber-hobby.com.
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