by: Randy L Harvey [ ]
The Pak 43 was the most effective mass-produced anti-tank gun fielded by the Germans in WWII. Designed by Krupp, it featured a long L/71 88mm barrel that was fitted to several self-propelled tank destroyers such as the Jagdpanther, Hornisse/Nashorn and Ferdinand/Elefant, and was also used as a towed anti-tank gun with several variants produced. The PaK 43/3 was a late war variant designed to be mounted on the Jagdpanther. The version mit Behelfslafette (lit. “with temporary gun platform”) was a simplified gun mount designed to reduce production costs. The combination of the Jadgpanther’s Pak 43/3 and the Behelfslafette created an effective anti-tank gun, which featured a 360 degree traverse. Due to it not being designed as an anti-aircraft gun, it also maintained a low profile. An interesting feature of the PaK 43/3 mit Behelfslafette was that it retained the Jagdpanther’s mantlet, as opposed to a gun shield, which created a unique appearance.
Dragon has released this as a 1/35 plastic Smart Kit as part of their '39 - '45 series and lets the gun be displayed in either the firing or travel position.
THE BOX AND PACKAGING
The kit comes in cardboard box with a lift-off lid. I personally prefer a lift-off lid as opposed to the type that opens on the end— this allows you to leave all of the sprues and loose parts in the bottom half of the box, and not have to worry about where they are or have them cluttering up your work area. The box has a sturdy bottom, but the cover is flimsy, which concerns me if you have the kit in your stash/collection: you might have to worry about it getting crushed. There is also the concern whether or not the kit will arrive in good condition if ordered through the mail.
The illustration on the lid is the typical Dragon box art, and can be deceiving, as it shows an artillery crew, ammunition, ammunition boxes and canisters, casings and sandbags; however the kit does not contain any of those items. The kit does come with the limber that is shown. All of the sixteen gray sprues and the one clear sprue are sealed in plastic bags. You also get a rectangular cardboard insert with 5 small zip-closure bags attached to it which contain the fret of photo-etched brass, the decals, the mantlet, the clear styrene sprue, and the chain and vinyl hose. The kit contains a total of 403 parts. There are 386 grey styrene parts, 4 clear styrene pieces, 11 pieces of photo-etched brass, 1 piece of vinyl hose 100mm in length, and 1 length of copper chain 30mm in length.
The kit comes with a six-page instruction sheet that includes twenty-two steps. It shows line drawings of all of the sprues and parts. I did find the instruction sheet can be hard to follow, the individual assembly steps are not necessarily in order on the pages in my opinion, and there are very few written instructions with the assembly steps describing how a certain part should fit, or if it needs to be installed before another is put in-place. This leads to dry fitting and sometimes the trial-and-error process. There are twelve assembly symbols shown, defined and used throughout the instruction sheet.
The decals that come with the kit are the water-slide type, and are printed by Cartograf in Italy. They are well done, and are nice and clear with crisp edges. The decals provide tire pressure markings in black lettering and gun battery letters in white for the Sd.Ah.202 limber. There are five tire pressure decals. There are three choices for the gun battery letters (A, B, or C), and there are three of each.
The painting and markings guide offers three manufacturer options for the PaK 43/3 mit Behelfslafette:
- GSI Creos Corp. – Aqueous Hobby Color.
- GSI Creos Corp. – Mr. Color.
- Model Master Color.
The three colors required to complete the kit are:
- Flat black
- Wood brown
- Dark yellow
Even though you are offered three choices for the finished kit, they are all dark yellow and are all identified as the following:
- Unidentified unit, Western Front 1945.
The detailing throughout the kit is nice. There are several smaller pieces which definitely add a lot of detail to the finished results. One area that stands out is the tires: each one comes in five sections. When the sections are assembled, they are designed to show a nice stand-out tread pattern. Dragon has done this before on their other 88mm kits.
There is what I would call a normal amount of flash and seam lines on the kit. It isn't excessive, however it is there nonetheless. There are several "pins" of excess plastic on a good majority of the parts as a result of the mold process. All of them need to be removed prior to assembly, so I would definitely say that there is a lot of clean-up required.
The kit comes with one fret of photo-etched brass detailing parts. The fret contains 11 pieces of clearly-numbered brass which are cleanly etched with no bent or missing pieces. One thing that I thought should be included, which isn’t, is a guide for using photo-etched brass for first time users.
Please keep in mind that this in an in-box review and that I have not removed any of the parts and dry fitted them to see how they fit.
Even though they are depicted on the box art this kit does not come with any figures. Dragon's kit number 6275 Flak Artillery Crew 1943-45 could work with this kit if you wish to show it with a crew. You end up with 77 left over parts which are not required for the construction. So you will definitely have parts for your spares bin, mostly from the 88mm Gun Flak 36/37 and the Jagdpanther G1 sprues.
This is another nice quality kit from Dragon. It is of a unique subject which adds to its appeal. The photo-etch and other accessories add to the already existing detail which should result in a very nice representation of the PaK 43/3 L/71 mit Behelfslafette when completed. It does have a few short-comings however these should not prevent the modeler from picking up this kit.