The Marder series of self-propelled guns was begun in 1941, as a way of making the PaK 4 more mobile. The Marder II series mounted the 75mm PaK 40/2 L/46 anti-tank gun on the obsolete Panzer II chassis. The vehicle carried a 3-man crew, who were not well protected since in common with other vehicles in the Marder series, the crew compartment was open to the top and rear, so offering minimal protection.
There was a total of 651 of these vehicles built, which saw action on all German Fronts until the end of the War, Just under 600 being built from new, the rest being converted from used vehicles.
The kit, entitled Sd.Kfz.131 Panzerjager II Fur PaK40/2 "Marder II" is released as one in the '39-'45 Series of vehicles, and comes supplied with the ubiquitous Dragon 'card', and 6 main sprues of light grey styrene. In addition there is a medium sized sprue containing ammunition and crates from the earlier PaK 40 kit release, and 6 small sprues containing such parts as tools, headlights and PaK 40 shield. Two small bags contain 'handed' track links, a small transparent sprue with 3 periscopes, 2 decal sheets, 3 small photo etched frets and a separate pre-formed shovel bracket. Er........... and a hull o course! The instructions are the usual line drawing type, and appear as usual, quite complicated, but easy enough to follow as long as you're careful.
Construction begins as you would expect, with the construction of the running gear and it's installation onto the hull, which is supplied as a tub, missing the separate front and rear panels. The rear idler wheel comes supplied in 3 versions, so be careful to consult your references if you're unsure as to which version should be used. For all the versions shown in the marking options it should be E6, which I believe is the later version, but again...... check those references! The leaf spring suspension looks really well moulded with the absolute minimum of a seam to be cleaned off.
With regards to the drive sprocket, again, dragon provide 2 options to choose from this time, the differences being rivet detail between the bolts around the rim. The parts without the rivet detail would seem to be correct for the marking options provided.
The rear wall is also attached at this stage and displays some fine detail in the pipework and exhaust for which dragon supply a commendably thin photo etched muffler guard. There is also a photo etched cover for the rear Notek convoy light supplied. Interestingly, the pipework is supplied as brass in the Cyber Hobby update set for this kit, which s due to be released early next month. More on this later.
Construction continues with the driver and fighting compartment. Here's somewhere the kit really stands out! The inside is really well-appointed, as you would expect with a kit of an open topped vehicle of course, and it cries out for you to add all those small things that would be found in a real fighting vehicle. The driver's seat is of course supplied, along with a set of basic controls. The floor has really finely engraved etched detail, and the transmission, for a styrene kit, is a work of art.... exceptionally finely moulded.
Construction continues with detail such as the engine firewall and dash being fixed to the underside of the upper hull. Again, some fantastic detail is represented, such as the photo etched brackets for the MG42. Construction continues with the installation of the tracks, which are supplied as individual 'handed' links in two small poly bags, although you'll need a microscope to tell the difference between the two! The links are really well moulded, although dependant on how 'extreme' your modelling is, you might want to remove the tiny 'pip' on each link and also the slight seam that is hardly evident.
Al the tools supplied with the kit come in two versions, with, and without moulded on clamps. The photo etched clamps supplied are similar to Aber ones, in that they look really good when finished, and you need 3 hands to assemble them, they also 'work', although quite why anybody would need working tool clamps on a model is questionable.
The radio gear supplied in this kit is certainly the best injected one I've ever seen, coming with fine detail even on the housing, I'm already looking forward to adding all the appropriate wires! There is even a stowed coolant exchange hose for the sidewall....excellent!
All hatches can be posed open, and are supplied with internal detail and no pin ejector marks, although of course, there is no engine supplied, so for the engine hatches we'll have to wait for the aftermarket to catch up. Although of course, these cannot be posed open anyway with the ammunition lockers in place on top of them. The drivers armoured visor can also be posed open or closed, and the Bosch headlight is a new offering from Dragon, and is quite simply, the best injected one I have ever seen...... it comes supplied on it's own mini-sprue, and has the correct rear supporting arm as a separate piece, something I've never seen before on a moulded one.
The ammunition lockers are superb too, although don't expect there to be enough rounds to fill up all the spaces! These can be left open to display the ready rounds, it's a shame however that Dragon never supplied the etched end caps found in other kits, which would make them look so much more effective!
The PaK 40 of course, is the one supplied in the kit of the same, minus the cradle, hence the appearance of two 'B' sprues in this kit, indicated on the instructions. There is of course, an aluminium barrel supplied in the kit, but this has to be fitted with an injected muzzle brake, of which there are 3 types offered. The first option of part #B56 would seem to be the correct one to use for the versions offered, but again it's a case of checking your references for the specific vehicle you're modelling. The instructions for the assembly of the gun itself still, as in the original kit, still mislead when indicating assembly of the slide. Part number's B38 are NOT cemented to part number B31, instead they slide through this as the gun slides along. They should NOT be visible on the finished gun!
The shield for the gun is supplied with bevelled edges to represent thinner edges, it looks nice enough, but no doubt etched versions will be available soon enough, although note that the Cyber Hobby soon-to-be-released update set does not include a replacement, and from references I've seen it seems to sit too high, the top edge being level with the top of the fighting compartment walls, when in fact it should be quite a bit higher than them. Edit:
It seems that the shield should sit higher only on the converted Marder II's, but not on manufactured ones, my thanks to Dave Johannsen!
The kit decals offer 11 different options, all of which look quite different.
Unidentified Unit, Eastern front 1944
Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943
Unidentified Unit, Russia 1943
10th Panzer Division, Tunisia 1943
Unidentified Unit, Eastern front 1943
Pz.J.Abt 49, Eastern Front 1944
Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944
Unidentified Unit, France 1944
Panzer Korps Grossdeutschland, East Prussia 1944-45
1st Panzer Division, Hungary 1945
Unidentified Unit, Hungary 1945
You might also like to consult Neil Stokes review on ML Here
Another great kit from Dragon, that although not classed as a 'Super-kit' release, never the less contains some great detail that cries out to be built and super-detailed! Highly recommended.