In an effort to increase the mobility of artillery, the German Army introduced the Sdkfz 138/1 design at the same time as its cousin, the Marder III H or Sdkfz 138, on the versatile Pz 38(t) chassis. The 138/1 mounted the 15.0cm sIG 33 infantry gun and is commonly referred to as the “Grille” H, although it was actually built on multiple Ausf in the 38(t) production run. Production ran from February 1943 to June 1943 aside from a final batch of 10 completed 4 months later in November.
This white-box kit by Cyber-Hobby
, #6270, is titled Geschützwagen 38 H für s.IG.33/1 Initial Production. This kit utilizes all the OEM sprues from the DML kit #6470 Smart Kit (previously reviewed Here on Armorama
) with some additional parts and modifications added to represent a vehicle photographed in front of the BMM factory in early 1943 with non-standard features, making it a candidate for the odd-ball/one-off boutique type of kit that Cyberhobby specializes in with their white-box releases.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with several of the sprues sealed together inside multiple plastic bags. The quality of the molding is the normal high DML standard and the kit contents consist of over 810 parts arranged as:
• 18 sprues of light gray styrene
• 2 sprues of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 turned aluminum barrel
• 1 pre-formed steel wire
• 1 PE fret of brass detail parts
• 1 bag of Magic Track individual links
• 1 Cartograf decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
Rather than rehash my previous review of the original DML kit #6470, this review will focus on the characteristics and changes that Cyber-Hobby has introduced to create this particular kit. The finishing guide labels this as a “Test Run” vehicle at the BMM factory in 1943, and that’s a much better description than what’s on the box top as an “Initial Production” variant, as the “Initial Production” is misleading at best. While modelers tend to want easy labels such as “initial”, “early”, “mid”, “late”, etc. to try to pigeonhole vehicles during their production runs, that doesn’t really work in this case since there’s no hard evidence to support that this layout actually entered production beyond the one vehicle photographed.
The uniqueness of the vehicle in question is due to the fact that it has a non-standard configuration and layout in the fighting compartment as well as some other small distinguishing characteristics that set it apart from what would be considered the “standard” layout of a Grille H. To address those characteristics, the only change in the sprues provided is the small extension off the “F” sprue that is shown in the parts diagram as attached to the larger sprue, but is actually fully separate in the bags. This sub-sprue consists of 12 parts, 8 of which are different and specific to this “test run” vehicle. These 8 parts provide two new storage boxes as parts F75, a slotted hinged elevation cover instead of the solid plate cover for the main gun as part F78, a different type of travel lock release handle in part F79, a different type of rain shield for the radio gear as part F83, and two small parts F76 that are attached to some of the ammo charge boxes on one side of the interior.
Everything else that is needed to create this vehicle was already included in the standard kit #6470 and all the other parts in this kit are exactly the same as those in #6470 with the same features such as a full engine, turned aluminum barrel, and clear parts for the gun sights and visors included as added details. This means that the errors in those parts are also still present in the form of an inaccurate driver’s seat mount and missing bottom cushion, Grille M style gun mount equilibrators that are at the wrong angles for the H mount, the missing fighting compartment floor raised tread plate and storage lockers are still missing, and the large six round ammunition bin PE mounting frame still has the wrong dimensions and incorrect placement indicated in the instructions.
Some things have been removed as well, for example gone is the small PE fret that included a PE rain shield for the radio equipment and the two small triangular extensions for the rear bulkhead. The bulkhead no longer has the two small bracing arms for the sidewalls of the superstructure and has been redesigned as a new part. Since the radio equipment is relocated in the new arrangement for this vehicle, a new styrene part is provided for the rain shield but no equivalent PE option is provided this time around.
Still included is the pre-bent steel wire which has been provided with a different shape designed to represent the wiring for the front Notek light mounted now directly on the fender instead of on the front brace support as in the previous kit. This raises an accuracy question however as the photos of this vehicle that are in MBI’s Marder III & Grille
don’t show a Notek light fitted at all to the fender at the time it’s outside the BMM factory.
While the new parts count is low, what this kit does include is the instructions and diagrams necessary to reconfigure the parts supplied to create this particular vehicle since it had a radically different interior fighting compartment layout from the “standard” Grille H arrangement. Much of the gear gets repositioned in relation to the superstructure front plate and side plates, and all the diagrams and parts placement match up with the overhead interior photos for the vehicle in question and represent an accurate non-standard layout for this particular vehicle. Various molded on locator marks on the sides need to be removed due to this reshuffling and are clearly marked in the instructions. All of the interior parts are the same aside from the F sprue parts right down to their parts numbers. The choice is still there to show the ammunition racks empty or stocked with rounds but without enough PE straps to show all the bins empty, so a choice has to be made on how many you want to show empty if any.
The instructions also indicate to construct the exhaust with the pipe at the correct 90 degree angle and no longer indicate that you have your choice of idler and sprocket types even though both types are still on the sprues. This vehicle also had a different fender gear layout and the diagrams are provided to rearrange the necessary tools, spare track links, and jack block to their new homes to represent this specific vehicle configuration.
In addition to the new layout diagrams, some of the instruction steps have also been redesigned or rearranged in an attempt to lessen the confusion in the earlier kit instructions. Some errors/options have been corrected or updated, but not all of the errors/pitfalls from the original instructions have been addressed unfortunately. For example, the instructions still indicate that a choice of idler tension covers is possible when only the armored type, parts D29, should be used for this vehicle and the step on the assembly for the road wheel bogies still shows the leaf springs attaching to the base mount when they actually need the peg on the hull to have something to mount to, a step that has left many a modeler scratching their head in wonderment as to just how they are supposed to accomplish what is indicated. There is also still the error incorrectly showing the shovel turned sidewise and the blade facing the hull which isn’t possible once the fighting compartment is fitted. The shovel blade actually needs to sit flat on the fender for both it and the pickaxe to fit properly in the space available.
While some redesign did take place as mentioned, the instruction booklet still works out to 25 steps just as in #6470 and follows the standard black-and-white exploded diagram layout. Quite a few parts, as mentioned, are carried over from the #6470 kit which in turn borrowed them from several previous Smart Kits and are marked as “not for use” so care is needed during assembly to avoid using the wrong parts.
Since this is designed to be a one-off/test run vehicle, the markings provided are very simple and constitute various sized balkenkreuze only. The decal sheet still doesn’t provide something for the gun table slate blackboard which would have been a nice added touch for inclusion, but that wasn’t addressed. Ironically, the painting and finishing guide doesn’t call for any of these to be applied which is in keeping with the photos which show an unmarked vehicle in a plain Dunkelgelb
(Dark Yellow) scheme outside the BMM factory.
Bearing in mind that this is a white-box, limited edition one-run-only kit from Cyber-Hobby and is designed with the esoteric subject builder/collector in mind, there’s still not a whole lot different in this kit vs. the #6470 Smart Kit of the standard Grille H in the final analysis. Since white box kits tend to command a premium because of their very nature and the fact that this kit has a grand total of only 8 new parts, it will likely have a much more limited appeal than other Cyber-Hobby releases, and many will probably find it hard to justify the expense unless they just have to have this particular kit or build this one specific vehicle for their collection. The fact that there are still some major errors/omissions from the earlier kit still present would give me pause in recommending this kit to anyone other than the most serious/die-hard collector out there, especially when price is added to the equation for consideration.
• Marder III & Grille
by Vladimir Francev and Charles Kliment, MBI, ISBN 80-902238-5-0
• Panzers 35(t) and 38(t) and Their Variants
by Walter Spielberger, Schiffer, ISBN 978-0-7463-3089-6