15cm schwere Panzerhaubitze 18/1 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (Sf) (Sd.Kfz.165)
Hummel Late Production
While the full title is quite a mouthful, the Hummel (German for "Bumblebee") itself was no slouch. True self-propelled guns wouldn't be effectively produced until the middle of the war, but in April of 1942, a more modest representation would be produced. It would mate a hybrid Pz.Kpfw.III/IV chassis with a 15cm sFH18/1 howitzer. The design, a joint effort of Alkett (hull) and Rheinmetall-Borsig (gun), would be ready in late 1942. It was divided into a driving compartment, engine room ,and open-top fighting compartment. This latter bit necessitated an extension to the chassis to secure space for the gigantic gun. Armor was very light- being 30mm thick on the front and only 20mm on the sides and rear; all the more reason for this to be considered a long range weapon, and not one for close in fighting.
The sFH18/1 15cm gun offered a traverse of 13 degrees to the left and 15 degrees to the right, plus elevation from -3 to +42 degrees. It could propel its 43.5kg shells up to 13,325 meters at a rate of about four per minute. There was only room for 18 shells, so a gun-less ammunition carrier on the same chassis was devised. Panzer IV components like the Maybach HL 120TRM engine and six speed transmission were carried over, as was the suspension. The rear idler also came from the IV, whereas the drive sprocket was from the III. With a total production run of 705, it first entered service just in time for the Battle of Kursk. It was used subsequently throughout 1943, deployed in Panzer Divisions, Panzer Grenadier Divisions, and SS Panzer Divisions. It saw action in Normandy with the 2nd and 116th Panzer Divisions, as well as on the Eastern Front.
What's Inside the Box
While there are some similarities to their 2014 Nashorn kit, this is essentially a different kit representing a late production Hummel. Other than the lower hull and running gear, this is a completely redesigned kit. There are seven sprues in total in the kit, comprising 432 parts in dark yellow, with plenty of poly caps to make the running gear removable. The review kit also came with the Detail Up Parts Series metal barrel to replace the two piece plastic one in the kit. A small bag containing a steel rod for the lifting mechanism of the gun barrel and screws, a small screwdriver, and black string for the tow cables are included as well.
Sprue A (x2)- Road wheels, rear idler,sprocket, return rollers, and hubs
Sprue B-- fenders, upper hull, fighting compartment floor, gun shield, etc...
Sprue C- parts of gun and breech, ammo boxes, exhausts, MGs, tools
Sprue D (x2)- link and length tracks, exhaust covers, shells and boxes, more tools, fiddly bits...I welcome the new link and length tracks that Tamiya has been offering. Usually they have included the old style rubber band tracks for those so inclined, but since this is technically a new kit, there are no such tracks in the box.
Sprue Z-- Three new figures, shell boxes-- very easy to assemble and great facial expressions on these make replacing them with Hornet or other aftermarket heads not so necessary.
The instruction manual is typical Tamiya-- small descriptions that are easy to follow over the course of the 46 steps.
There is a manual of background information with color profiles of the two included schemes-- one from the Eastern Front from Summer 1944, and one from the Western Front, Summer of 1944.
Also included is a small two page Tech Tips sheet that would be useful for starting modelers...
Tamiya has done an extremely great job in another excellent new release. While it employs some parts from their Nashorn kit, it is really to be reviewed on its own merit. There are a fair number of ejector pin marks on the interior sides of the fighting compartment and tracks, but easy to remove or ignore, as they will be completely hidden once assembled in place. The detail inside and out is what you might expect from your typical Tamiya kit- excellent. I look forward to building this kit and adding it to my growing collection of these newly designed Tamiya kits.
Highly Recommended for any level of builder, pending Full Build.
Thanks goes out to Tamiya for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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