by: Jan Etal [ ]
Represented in this kit are two standard World War II German anti-tank guns, the 7.5 cm PaK 40 and the 3.7 cm Pak 35/36. Both of these guns were developed by Rheinmetal. The PaK 35/36 was developed in 1936 and appeared in combat that year during the Spanish Civil War. By May 1940 it was considered outdated against several Allied tanks that were being introduced on the battlefield.
The 7.5 cm PaK 40 began development in 1939 but was not initially deployment until November 1941. By 1943 it formed the bulk of German anti-tank artillery and was the standard anti-tank gun until the war ended. With approximately 23,500 having been produced, these guns also found their way into the hands of other Europeans nations and continued in use after the war.
The Dragon 7.5 cm PaK 40 with Gun Crew and 3.7 cm PaK 35/36, kit 7374, is part of their 1/72 scale Figure Pro series.
The kit contains no less than 10 separate and varying sized sprues of typical Dragon grey styrene. Parts count on the sprues comes in at no less than 304 styrene and 1 photo etch. Decals are by Cartograph and represent kill rings for the gun barrels and stencil markings for the 7.5 cm shells. A one page, four sided instruction sheet with parts plan, two sets of build diagrams and one page of paint/decal instructions are also included. The build diagrams are standard Dragon exploded view drawings broken into 11 construction steps. The first four steps deal with assembling the PaK 35/36 while the remainder are for the PaK 40.
The gun crew assembly and painting instructions appear on the last page and are actual pictures of the assembled and unpainted figures. As is typical with many Dragon kits there will be extra parts that are not used, but in the case of the actual guns the unused parts (shaded in blue) total only four. That being said, as the builder is given several choices of optional parts the spares count of unused parts will certainly grow.
These guns have appeared in various forms in other Dragon kits (7314, 7351, 7369, 7371). In all these cases they are either mounted on half-tracks or being towed by them. Having had no first hand exposure to a Dragon Figure Pro kit before this review, I was unsure what to expect. After opening he box and quickly reviewing the contents my first impressions left me stunned and perhaps more than a little surprised. I have built other manufacturers 1/72 and 1/76 versions of these guns but was hardly prepared for the number of sprues and individual parts. With one exception, the PaK 40 wheels sprue (6 parts), the average parts count per sprue is around thirty and in two cases sixty-seven parts are present.
Dragon has the sprues logically packaged in plastic bags. Two sprues in one bag are the parts for the PaK 35/36 while three sprues relating to the PaK 40 are combined in another. The parts sprue for the figure bodies is packaged individually, as is the two sprues containing personal equipment such as bayonets, canteens, storage bags, ammunition pouches and the like. The final package contains two sprues of assorted weapons and helmets.
Generally all parts are moulded with intricate and in many cases miniscule detail. Indeed the level of detail appears to approach that of a larger scale and the casual observer may be hard pressed to determine the scale of the completed model from a picture. Ejector pin marks are minimal and in virtually all cases will be hidden after assembly. Flash is minimal and where it can be found is extremely light.
3.7cm PaK 25/36:
Comprising 19 parts on two sprues, the greatest challenge with this gun will be in handling all the tiny parts. The gun is moulded on its recoil slide but thanks to Dragon’s unique “Slide Moulding” the details are superb, even to the point of the gun bore being hollowed out. The manufacturer has provided optional hand wheels for traverse and elevation mechanisms. Moulded on these mechanisms is a solid disc hand wheel with a handle jutting out from the outer edge of the wheel. The instructions give the builder the option of cutting these off and replacing them with discs that have a prominent shaft jutting out of the centre of the disk.
Although remarkably thin for this scale the one piece gun shield will never approach a true scale thickness, but Dragon is to be commended for achieving what they have with this part. One final note about this piece is that the trail legs can be posed in either the towed or firing position configuration. In reality, the Dragon instructions more than slightly suggest that the trails not be glued and therefore the implication is that the trail orientation will remain flexible after assembly.
7.5cm PaK 40:
The three sprues that comprise the parts for this gun contain a total of 65 individual parts. The kit’s sole PE part is used in construction of this gun and represents a sliding armor that is sandwiched between the two gun shield pieces. Of the parts on these sprues, three are not used but other parts may find their way into your spares box as Dragon has provided a choice of options for certain details.
The most prominent option will be to select from three gun barrels. The barrels main differences are that each sports either an early, mid or late production muzzle brake. However, nowhere in the instructions are you informed as to which is which. From observation, care will need to be taken with two of the barrels as the muzzle brakes have an oval cross section where the wider part needs to be orientated horizontally after assembly.
The next options will be to choose between two recoil slide end caps (H6 or H7), two different trail end handles (J2 or J25) and two recoil guards (H3 or H4). Again the instructions fail to mention anything about these options. The last option will be for the modeler to choose whether to build the gun with cast or spoked wheels. As with its smaller cousin the instructions imply that the trails can be functional after building.
Finally as an example of how minute the moulding details are one has only to look at part J11. This part is a bar that locks the two trails while in the traveling configuration. On each end of this part is a bolt that attaches to a flange on each trail. While the left (looking down the barrel from the breech) bolt is in a fully depressed configuration the right bolt is moulded to show it in a raised position. Unfortunately it is also with this part that we see a minor omission in the instructions. In viewing several pictures of this gun from various sources it shows that this part is folded against the left trail when in firing configuration. In the instructions the part is only shown glued perpendicular to the trail. A word of caution is warranted here.
One must take care and study the instructions as there are two ‘J’ sprues for the PaK40. There are overlapping numbers namely J1, J2 and J3 so confusion is possible. As with any build the modeler would be well advised to do their own research about the subject before starting construction.
The gun crew consists of five figures in various poses. Each figure is assembled in six parts, torso, legs, arms and head. Having once built early 1/35 scale figures it’s as if Dragon has scaled down their larger offerings to this scale. The detail on these figures is at least equal to if not superior to the best 1/72 scale figures. When assembled you end up with one figure with binoculars that one might presume is the gun commander, two figures holding ammunition and one kneeling and one standing gun members. On this sprue are also present four complete 7.5 cm rounds.
Two accessory sprues contain a vast selection of personal equipment. Canteens, bayonets, entrenching tools, gas mask containers, various pouches, satchels and even what appears to either rolled up blankets or ponchos. Two sizes of pistol holsters, various ammunition pouches and binoculars are also present.
The final two sprues are Identical and contain eight regular infantry helmets as well as eight paratrooper helmets. Also present are the following:
• 6 x Kar 98K rifles
• 6 x Gewehr 41/43 semi automatic rifles
• 2 x MG34
• 2 x MG42
• 2 x MP38/40 SMG
• 2 x MP44 assault rifles
• 2 x MP 3008 (German Sten gun)
• 2 x Folded Bipods
• 2 x Deployed Bipods
The Gun Crew and its plethora of extra weapons and equipment could in itself be a separate kit. To the modeler that prefers this scale all these extra pieces of equipment will seem like treasure trove. All the left over pieces can be used to add detail to their existing or future builds.
Painting and markings are minimal at best. The painting guide offers the suggestion of painting either piece Panzer Grey or a sand colour. The ready rounds are to have a silver projectile and brass coloured case. Decals are provided in the form of kill rings for each gun, as well as stenciling for the 7.5 cm shell heads and cases.
As far as my research shows this kit appears to have accurate details and offers the builder remarkable value for the money. It’s almost like getting three or more kits in one. The level of detail is stunning and the left over parts could almost be considered a detail set in themselves. The provision of several optional parts for the guns is commendable, but the instructions give no indication of their proper grouping or use.
I would definitely not recommend this kit to a novice Braille Scale builder. The sheer number of tiny parts will require a steady hand and appropriate tools. Also, be forewarned that in many cases you will find the sprue attachment points (gates) positively huge compared to their respective parts.