Griffon Model has recently emerged on the scene as a provider for several after-market photo-etch and replacement aluminum and brass barrel items for various kits. One of their recent releases, the photo-etched and turned brass upgrade set # LB35011 is aimed specifically at the DML family of Pz 38(t) kits. The upgrade set deals specifically with the ZB vz.37 7.92mm MG barrels for the 1 or 2 MGs mounted on the different Pz 38(t) vehicles.
The items come packaged in a plastic sleeve with a stapled cardboard tab at the top to keep the sleeve closed. Inside the sleeve is a cardboard insert to which the small PE fret and the MG barrel are taped with clear scotch tape and a folded instruction sheet. The PE fret features 4 parts for the gun sight portion of the barrel, only 2 of which are needed leaving the other 2 as spares for any accidents or damage.
The instructions for achieving the upgrade are very simple and straight-forward given the nature of the replacement. The main part of the upgrade, the barrel, is made from turned brass and has the correct stepped-down diameter on the cooling fins once the barrel leaves the cradle, unlike the DML kit part, as well as a hollowed out muzzle. The barrel measures out at 15mm in length and is an exact match for the length of the barrel on the DML kit part it's meant to replace.
The barrel has a very small nub/pin on its base and while we normally think of there being a longer pin that requires drilling to mate up the barrel to the kit part, this barrel isn't designed to be used in that fashion. As indicated in the instructions, the barrel is meant to be glued directly to the exterior of the ball mount. Test fits to the DML ball mount shows that the base is a perfect match for the mount but the diameter of the base is too large to allow it to be slid through the opening in the rear of the ball as the kit part is originally designed to do, so don't be tempted to go this route. If you would like to still use the interior details of the DML part, it's simply a matter of removing the barrel from the kit part and gluing the remainder to the interior face of the ball mount.
The PE gun sight is constructed by gluing 2 PE parts together to get the correct thickness and then glued directly to the MG barrel. While the instructions indicate the sight should be attached first, it's probably a good idea to secure the barrel to the ball mount and then install to insure a good vertical alignment. The set does not include a separate cradle as other similar available upgrade sets do because of the fact the DML parts design has the barrel and cradle separate, making it unnecessary to include a separate cradle. This also has an impact on the price of the item since it doesn't include additional resin or pre-formed brass parts. Since this upgrade is designed specifically for the DML kits, using it on other manufacturer's kits, such as Tristar, would require some very careful surgery to accomplish and would enter the realm of kit-bashing with the corresponding skills recommended to attempt. At right you can see a comparison of the DML part, the Griffon replacement barrel, and the Tristar part which includes the cradle molded to the MG barrel as a single piece.
The upgrade set achieves its main objective simply and effectively, replacing the inaccurate DML kit part with a correctly stepped-down diameter on the cooling fins and upgrading the detail on the gun sight through the added PE parts. I purchased my sample from DragonUSA Online at $7.95 so upgrading the 1 or 2 MGs depending on the vehicle in question can be done relatively inexpensively and the cost is comparable to that of similar items offered by other manufacturers.
Highs: Provides upgraded accuracy for the DML family of kits, replacing the inaccurate cooling fin design of the standard kit parts easily and effectively.Lows: Specific design for DML family of 38(t) kits limits potential use to other kits without major surgery.Verdict: A relatively inexpensive upgrade option readily available that will enhance any of the DML family of 38(t) kits.
About Bill Plunk (wbill76) FROM: TEXAS, UNITED STATES
Like many, I started out in the hobby as a kid building airplanes to hang from my bedroom cieling. I took a long break from the hobby, returning in 2001 with an interest in armor inspired mostly by online gaming. WW2 armor, 1/35 scale, is my preferred genre with a special taste for the stranger vehi...