by: Henk Meerdink [ ]
The Hummel was first proposed in July 1942. Development commenced and a prototype was presented in October 1942 and production started soon after to supply 100 Hummels for the Summer offensive in Russia. The Hummel saw it first major action in the battle of Kursk.
The Hummel uses the Pzr III/IV hybrid chassis, with a lenghted hull, the suspension and roadwheels of the Pzr IV and the sprockets and other running gear of the Pzr III. To make room for the gun and crew in the back the engine was moved to the middle, and the Driver and co-driver sat in the front in a separate compartment.
What's in the box?
The kit comes in a standard cardboard box, and inside you'll find sprues in Dragons familiar grey plastic, two metal wire 'spare wheel brackets', a small fret of PE, the DS one-piece tracks and a small sheet of decals by Cartograf.
The instructions are typical Dragon, a virtual exploded view of the vehicle, with lines and arrows to point roughly where the parts should go. There are a few major errors in the instructions, notably concerned with the construction of the upper hull parts.
So, what have we got then?
I'm reviewing the contents and building the kit, to see how well the kit goes together. I will comment along the way on items of note.
First impressions are good. All parts are well packed and secured in plastic wraps or on cardboard. First inspection of the sprues reveals finely molded parts without flash, and only a few, very faint mould seams. Nice touches to mention are the wheels, which have been cleverly broken up, and the hollowed out exhaust pipes. The hull underside is fully detailed, only marred by two holes.
I'm not a 1:72 scale expert, but the overall surface detail looks good to me, rivets where they should be and some nice mudgaurd texture, but a dissapointment are the barrel lock hinges on the glacis. They are far to big,with no detail and would be a first candidate to be replaced with some PE.
Although overall fit is excellent, the drivers and co-drivers vision hatches don't fit that well, and a gap is left around them.
Before I start a quick word on the instructions... they are incomplete and potentially confusing, and if followed can result in a model with missing parts. The parts list wrongly marks the crew compartment floor (B4) as 'not used' and the instructions forget to tell you where and when to install the main hull parts. Never was 'read first, glue later' more true. I would expect better from Dragon.
Let the games commence
Building the kit is very straight forward and follows a classic sequence of running gear, gun assembely, lower hull, upperhull and accessories.
Step One and Two
Straight forward construction of wheels and suspension. The suspension are one part items, and the wheels are in two parts. No problems, just take care when adding the suspension units making sure they point the right way. A nice feature are the wheels, with their insets which makes painting the tyres a doddle.
This shows where the driver and co-driver's hatches go, and indicates that they can be open or closed. This is where Dragon starts to assume that you know the position of the opened hatches, as no example is given. This is also where you will encounter the only bad fitting parts of the kit, as the forward vision hatches are smaller than the appertures they have to fit. I suppose you could glue them in the opened position, but as no interior detail is provided I decided against that.
Step Four and Five
Assembly of the gun, and again the instructions are not very clear if you have not built a similar item before. The gun can be constructed movable for those who like that, and it will give you an opportunity to pose the gun elevated or stowed for manouvres. The instructions don't make it clear that part G8 must be glued to part G17 and part G16 to form a 'bridge' over the barrel. Also parts G7 (Pneumatic Cylinders) should slide over their respective parts on Parts G16 and G17. This is not very clear, and not clarified in a picture of the finished assembly.
Adding the various ammo storage racks and a few little details in the crew compartment. This is where magic has trully been done, as according to the instructions the hull is now complete.. The front glacis (E20), the engine deck/gun deck (E18) and the crew area floor (B4, remember? The one which the instructions said we don't need?) are all shown in place in the picture, but there has been no instruction as to where or how to fit them. The instructions show indentations or cut outs in the sponson to place part E14, but these are not present on my kit. Positioning parts E14, E10 (x2) and E9 becomes a bit of a guess, which is not good as all four parts fit close with, and if positioned wrong may affect the fit of, the hull sides.
Plenty of dryfitting is the order of the day here. When positioned correctly it all fits well though. On the rear hull you can do two things with the spare wheels. Either use the metal wire brackets, which need tiny holes to be drilled in the wall and glueing with Cyanoacrylate (superglue) or just glue the spare wheels to the hull. It depends on how much detail you want, or indeed if you want to leave one spare wheel off to show an empty rack.
In this step the hull sides are added, and again the instructions are very sparse. I would suggest to start at the right front panel (E17), glue this in place and leave to dry. This part has a positive fit to the hull and will help allign the side wall. When E17 has dried, attach A1 using E17 to correctly line up the wall. Do the same on the left side, with E16 and A2 respectivly. After this has dried glue B9 in place, after deceiding if you want to open or close the rear doors.
Again the placement of the side wall supports (parts B5,B6,E2 and E3) is vague, and are best added after the hull sides are in place.
These are the final steps, adding the gun to the superstructure and adding the lights and jack to the mudguards. Parts E12 can be replaced with the optional PE items (MA1) if you desire, and these are optional parts in themselfs. They are air inlet covers, which where introduced with the late version, but not always fitted. I have only one photo of a Hummel fitted with these, and it's stable mate is not. So the choice is your's.
The gun has now aquired a gun shield, which makes fitting it with the hull sides tricky and a tight fit, but if you 'push' the gun assembly forward from the crew compartment it will slip into postition.
The tracks have also appeared, again with no instructions and although easy enough if you have previous experience building tanks I think that those building their first kit will be scratching their head.
The final stage is painting and decals, for which the instructions give six options. One of these depicts an actual vehicle of an actual Division, whilst the other five are all 'Unidentified' units on the eastern front. The Decals are by Cartograf, as is now custom with Dragon, and are in good register and look thin enough to work well, even in this scale.
This is a nice kit, well detailed with just one or two minor issues. It builds into a good looking Hummel, and although the lack of figures makes an action vignette difficult, it will make a fine model to display. The instructions on the other hand really let the kit down. Unclear drawings are annoying, but something you can live with. Simply missing steps is confusing and can be a big let down for the less experienced modeler.
But as the end result is a nice little model of a Hummel, I will happily recommend this kit to all of you who like their models small and beautiful.
Thanks to Dragon for supplying this review sample