AMPS is all about armor modeling and the preservation of armor and mechanized heritage.

AFV Club Sd. Kfz. 164 Nashorn 8.8cm PaK43/1

Kit Number:
AF 35164
Thursday, September 9, 2010
AFV Club
Retail Price:
64.95 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire




A Brief History


Developed mainly as a counter to much better than anticipated Soviet armor, these vehicles mounted a potent 88mm gun, and were primarily designed and used as panzerjaeger, in their own battalions. First deployed in 1943 as the Hornisse, a total of 494 Hornisse / Nashorns were built by the end of WWII. The differences in the two vehicles is slight, with the later Nashorn {early 1944} having an improved gun travel lock, different muffler / tailpipes,  and other minor modifications. A name change for the vehicle, from Hornisse { Hornet} to Nashorn {Rhino} was apparently mandated by Adolph Hitler, who thought that "Rhino" sounded more imposing than "Hornet".

The vehicle was a success, and Nashorn Battalions were usually very effective, in the thick of the fighting throughout the duration of the war. For further information, I highly recommend you refer to the excellent Nuts&Bolts volume 14 which covers the Nashorn and it's history in great detail. 




What's in the box?



 Sprue A



Sprue B



Sprue C



Sprue D



Sprue E



Sprue F




Sprue G {x2}



Sprue H {x2}



Lower hull tub



Sprue J



Sprue K



Sprue L {x2}



Sprue M






Tracks - detail



Well done fret of photoetch



Sprue P {x2}




Aluminum main gun barrel




Misc parts, springs for gun travel lock


Man....these parts just go on and on...I'm telling you this boxed was packed.



Spare track links, two parts per link, workable



String tow cable, decal sheet, fine copper wire for travel lock cable release



Sprue TA {x2}



Ammo crates, tubes, spent casings {not hollow}, full rounds





Muzzle brakes



Nice sprue of weapons, Kar 98k's, MG 34 and MG 42



copy of the box art, 20 page instruction manual


Whew!! That's a lot of parts. There are quite a few parts that will not be used, so your spares box will be much richer once you're done building this kit.


Parts quality is extremely fine, with very tiny details cleanly molded throughout the kit. Almost no flash is evident, and there are virtually no pin marks to deal with. Mold seams are generally very small and easy to deal with. Some sprue attachment points seemed a bit large and "clunky" to me, but maybe it was due in part to the small size and delicacy of the parts.


Building the "Rhino"


Steps 1 - 3, sprockets, idlers, roadwheels assembly




The kit provides the builder with two sets of sprockets, from the earlier Panzer III ausf. E, and the sprockets as used on Panzer III ausf. H's. Most later Nashorns used the ausf, H sprockets, and the instructions call out for it as well, so that's what I used.  The sprockets have great bolt head detail on both inner and outer surfaces.



Fit of the rubber band type track around the sprocket was perfect.



Roadwheels have separate tires, making for easy painting and quick assembly line style construction. The tires have maker's data and name on them in TINY letters. I was shocked to see "Dunlop" on them. That led me to an afternoon of research on the 'net, where I discovered that oh yes indeed, Dunlop had a plant in central France {Vichy}, busily making tires for the German war machine.



Despite easy assembly, still a LOT of wheels and tires to clean up!


Step 4, bogies



16 parts per bogie, times 8 bogies equals a lot of parts. Fit was good, and taking care in glue application will get you workable suspension.Despite being "fiddly" to assemble {as in a third hand would be nice}, the bogies went together pretty well. 


Steps 5 - 8, lower hull construction, bogie mounting




The track pin knocker plates mounted at the rear of each side of the hull {above} aren't marked on the instruction sheet with a number, they are parts L5. The parts actually cover several mounting holes, make sure you align the part correctly. Other than very minor glitch, all parts in these steps went together quite well.



These steps also have you detail the lower hull rear plate, including the rear spare tire mounts, and mount the assembly to the hull tub. No issues encountered whatsoever.



Checking bogie / roadwheels alignment



Bogie mounting was positive, as was that of the upper return rollers.


Steps 9 and 10, Hull work continued




Engine deck and {two part} fans above, really nicely detailed. I filled some ejector pin marks on the fan plate, but need not have bothered, none of these parts are really visible once the model is complete. 



Glacis plate, hatches for radio operator and driver, driver's "hood". I had to drill out a tiny hole in the middle of the plate {above} to mount the pulley for the gun lock cable.



Note the very fine weld bead detail on the driver's hood!


Steps 11 and 12 mounting glacis plate to hull, engine deck, fighting compartment floor



The firewall between the driver's compartment and the engine compartment slid into place perfectly. The glacis plate {part B1}  which mounted over it ...not so much. It took a bit of sanding to fit properly along the hull edges and along the triangular plates at the front corners of the hull. It took a bit of work to minimize gaps.



In the photo above you can see the gun lock release cable conduit running across the top of the driver's hood. I skipped waaay ahead in the instructions to mount armor plate  part D3 which runs across the top of the engine deck. I did this to help me figure out where the conduit had to travel, as there were really no mounting points for it. More on this topic later.



 Fighting compartment floor {above} with stowage box {above it in the photo} that mounts to the rear of the compartment. The floor is very nicely detailed with good non-skid surface, underfloor bin latches, and a pair of fuel tank filler caps. The caps had slight sink marks needing filling. The floor section fit perfectly into the hull.


Above- some of the detailing done in step 13, including the fighting compartment warm air duct to the right above the photoetched square plate.



Steps 14-15, Fenders


The fenders are two pieces per side, with outstanding detail, even on the underside! The instructions have the builder shave off some apparently unneeded protrusions of some sort, easy enough to do. I pre-painted and rusted the tailpipes prior to installing the the fenders. Following mounting the tailpipes, the fenders went on easily, no fit issues.




Step 16, assembly and mount of the gun travel lock.


This was a key piece to what made a Nashorn a Nashorn, and not a Hornisse. The Hornisse had a Hummel style gun travel lock, which meant that to put the gun in use, a crewman had to go out front and unlock the gun manually. Okay for an indirect fire weapon, REAL bad news for the same poor guy on a weapon used for direct fire. With the newer style gun travel lock with it's cable release, the crewmen could simply manipulate a lever from the relative safety of the fighting compartment to put the gun into action. 



Above, the photoetch bracket that the release lever mounts on, the lever components, and the conduit that the cable runs through.



Above, the gun travel lock release lever mounted


Steps 17 - 21, Constructing the ammo ready racks and radio gear


The building of these intricate sub-assemblies is both quite time consuming, and very tricky work due to the small size of some of the components. It's tough cleaning up a part that's so small it slips under your thumbnail when cleaning it up! The latching wingnuts mounted on the sides of these boxes are REALLY tiny.


Each ready box is made up of 31 parts, build two of them and that's 62. Of course, you could simply close the doors and not have to install the racks themselves....but where's the challenge in that?




The radio equipment {a UKW e Receiver and an Fu5 10 watt Transmitter} is beautifully detailed, with good definition on the various dials, knobs, etc..






Built up radio gear



Above - Built up and painted Ammo ready bin and radio gear, ready for mounting on the fighting compartment right side sponson. I painted the 88mm shells gray green to replicate late war lacquered steel shell casing, rather than shiny brass.


Step 21 directs the builder to mount the left side ammo ready rack to the left sidewall of the fighting compartment {which itself is not mounted to the chassis yet}. I opted not to mount the ammo racks / radio gear until I had a better idea of exact placement. Probably due to the scale thickness sidewalls of the fighting compartment {as in really thin}, there are no positive mount points for much of the gear mounted to the sidewalls. No pegs and holes here, no convenient notches or anything similar. Just an an arrow pointing to a place on the instruction sheet. You do need good references for equipment placement on many places with this kit.

Step 22, Tool box


Above - Tool box and tools. Originally I built the tool box opened up, so as to display all the well made tools inside. However, the lid, which opens down, fouled the the gun lock cable lever. I closed the box up, and mounted it. The tools are in the spares box.


Steps 23 - 24, fighting compartment left sidewall details




Above, several items mounted on the left wall of the fighting compartment including the MG mount, the scissors periscope, fire extinguisher and stowage box. The drawing showing the installation of the stowage box part C14 show it installed upside down. At least I think so, as the bin lid and latch should logically be on the top.


The sidewall pieces both had a very slight warp to them, so slight that it was no problem pulling them into line for mounting to the chassis and glueing them into place. The sidewalls themselves are IMHO impressive moldings, with nice scale thickness and great detail.



Above - the scissors periscope and mount. Very intricate, and if there's anything more likely to make you go blind than trying to clean mold seams from tiny, clear parts, I don't know what it is. Builds up nicely though.


Step 25, fighting compartment rear wall


This step installs the photoetch MP 40 racks and well molded MP 40's, rear access doors {which I added near the end of the build}.




 Above, racks and pretty clean MP 40's




 MP 40 racks installed



Step 27, fighting compartment right sidewall


There's a lot of gear stowed along the right side, ammo racks, radio gear, gas mask canisters, MG 34 rack, periscopes, strap steel equipment bins.....



The gas mask canisters were a bit deformed on one side {see top canister above} but I just placed that side up against the wall when mounting them. The PE mounting straps for the canisters are real works of art, really delicate.




Above - there's a fair amount of photoetch in this picture. The PE fret that came with the kit was of good quality. Fret attachment points were small and easy to cut through, the parts had nice bend guidelines on them, and the PE bent easily. 


Steps 28 - 30, finishing up the fighting compartment


Once all walls were in place, I airbrushed the fighting compartment Tamiya Dark Yellow. I then installed all previously built sub assemblies, referring to Nuts & Bolts Volume 14 quite a bit to help out with placement.  






I did have a bit of trouble with the smaller angled armor plates that go at the front corners of the compartment. There is a smaller plate to the rear that is held in place with spacers. It wasn't real obvious in the instructions drawing how to orient the spacers. I has a 50 - 50 chance of getting it right, I didn't. The assembly above is correct, following being pulled apart and re-assembled. The spacers need to point back and outboard of the vehicle to fit right. Get it wrong and the main gun and shield won't fit. I did have to use a bit of putty at the joints between these armor plates and the fenders.


Steps 31 and 32 upper hull detailing


These steps detail the upper hull, pretty routine with the exception of the gun travel lock, which has springs at each base, and the release cable itself which is about as thick as a human hair {copper wire}. The wire actually threads through two pulleys, one on the glacis plate, one on the lock's crossbar. I had to open up both pulleys a bit with a #80 drill bit, despite the wires extremely small diameter.



Above - the travel lock and cable {photo taken after main gun installed}


Because I was building a specific vehicle based on the kit decals, I had to make a simple modification at this point. Vehicles in the 519th Panzerjaeger Battalion seem to have just about all had an "extra" spare roadwheel set stowed on the fender next to the driver's hood. This includes the actual Nashorn "Tiger", which I opted to build. I shaved off the molded on jack mount, relocated it further forward on the fender and mounted the jack there {as seen in unit photos in N&B 14}. I then made a .020 brass wire mount for the roadwheel set  and mounted it also according to photos which show the additional spare wheelset.




The rest of upper hull detailing was routine. Strangely, the jack block had mounting pins...but there were no corresponding holes in the fender. I also added a little wood grain texture to it with a razor saw.


Steps 33 - 37, building the 88mm gun and mounts




The muzzle brake is well detailed, and keys onto the barrel. The instruction for this assembly are pretty well laid out, but are pretty busy in spots, so be careful and ensure all parts are in correct alignment before cementing in place. There are several two part cylinders to be assembled on the gun, and a little Mr. Dissolved Putty came in handy to help eliminate seams..



Above - parts to the gun mount, and breach block



The gun is quite impressive, and looks very complex. It was actually not tough at all to build despite the many inter-connecting parts. All parts fit well, no problems were found.


I'd have to say about the only sub assembly on the gun that I found a little troublesome was the gunner's sight, 5 parts, 4 of them clear. Did I mention that I find it tough to clean up tiny, clear parts? But again, the parts went together just fine, and look good.



Above you see the gun shield mounted to the gun. This WAS tough to get right. The upper shield / gun mounts { T shaped pieces above} are really tricky to line up properly. Dry fit, dry fit, dry fit before putting glue to model. Getting the upper T shaped brackets and the lower two wide supports all in place at the same time was an exercise in patience to say the least. But once correctly placed, they look great.



Above - The dreaded 88 built up, primed, and ready to be placed into the Nashorn


Placing the gun with it's shield into the rather close confines of the fighting compartment "business end" was tricky to say the least. There's a lot of delicate stuff in there, and also on the gun. You have to angle the gun into the available space and sort of work it around until the shield tucks in behind those armored "corners".  Once the base pin is above it's mounting hole you're set. Just push down to seat the assembly and try not to be pushing down on anything fragile!


At this point I put the tracks on { they fit very well for rubber band tracks} and added the front fender parts, and it was off to the paint shop!


Painting and Finishing the "Rhino"


As the purpose of the review is to hopefully inform reader's of what they can expect if they spend hard earned coin on this kit and build it, I will breeze through this info pretty quickly.


I built this model to replicate "Tiger", a Nashorn of the 519 Heavy Panzerjaeger Battalion in Russia, in the winter of 1944. "Tiger" wore a solid whitewash camo job, as did others photographed from the same unit.


I pre-shaded the model with Tamiya Flat Black, along edges and joints between armor plates. After that I airbrushed good ol' Tamiya Dark Yellow, Futured the areas where decals were to go, and applied the decals once the Future was dry. I thought the decal carrier film was a bit thick, by the way. I used lots of setting solution on them.


Once the decals were applied and nestled into the paint as best as I could get them, I airbrushed Tamiya Flat White onto the model, in a rather random pattern, looking for slightly splotchy, uneven coverage. The fighting compartment interior got some washes with Burnt Umber Windsor and Newton oils w/ Turpenoid to pop some of the detail. I don't consider this model anywhere near finished, there's much more detailing and weathering to be done, but for the intent of this review, that's all she wrote.











AFV Club has really pushed the boundaries of plastic molding with this kit, IMHO. Scale thickness armor plate in plastic? Wow! There is no such thing as a perfect kit, and this kit is no exception to the rule, but it's pretty close. I can't wait to see what else AFV Club has up their sleeve. 


Pros - great detail on parts, scale thickness on armor plate, very few issues with mold seams or ejector pin marks. Great fit for the most part. Very nice, useable fret of photoetch, metal gun barrel. Plenty of spare parts and extras.


Cons - Instructions had some minor mistakes, but nothing serious. Some diagrams could have been easier to follow though. Rubber band tracks {although to be fair, some folks prefer them}

I personally liked building this kit, it was challenging. I could easily have spent 3 months on it, rather than roughly 5 weeks. While not absolutely required, good references really helped me along with this build.

Highly Recommended

Thanks to AFV Club for the review sample

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland


Primary Reference Used


Nuts & Bolts Volume 14, Greenland and Terlisten, courtesy of Heiner F. Duske