German 3.7cm Pak 35/36 auf Pz.Kpfw 35R(f)
For a brief history of this vehicle and a "First Look," refer back to my review: http://www.amps-armor.org/SiteReviews/ShowReview.aspx?id=14615
Hobby Boss presents modelers with a little known, but unique vehicle seen early in the war showing German ingenuity and resourcefulness in mounting artillery on a captured, in this case French tracked vehicle. While this particular vehicle was used primarily in security and anti-partisan duties, early war modelers will like this to display along with their other early war subjects. When I first got this kit for a "First Look" review, I had never built a Hobby Boss kit, though I have several in my stash of various subjects. What I found quite impressive was that such a small kit could contain many parts that are sharply molded with very good detail, even on the smallest of parts.
Following the instructions as a guide to building sequence, the engine and interior take up most of the construction steps. Hobby Boss provides quite an impressive engine though the shame of it is most will be covered up if the modeler decides to permanently glue the hull top and bottom together. There are quite a few very small parts to include spark plugs (yes) along with several photo-etched parts. Assembly was straightforward and no fit issues were encountered. Very nice detail on parts of all sizes. Unfortunately, Hobby Boss does not include any photo-etch formers or jigs for several key parts (engine and bogie units), so the modeler will need to devise their own former or wing it, like I did. Once the part was softened with a Zippo lighter for a few moments, it was relatively easy to bend into the correct shape called out for in the instructions. Once painted, it's a 'killer' engine.
Lower Rear Hull Assembly
Lower hull assembly consisted of gluing the hull bottom to both the left and right hull sides that includes some rudimentary molded on details. No fit issues or gaps here; just had to be careful all sides square up before the glue sets. Unfortunately, in my sample the holes on the hull sides that receive the bogie unit pins needed to be enlarged. It was a tight fit and pressing too hard put a bit of pressure on the hull sides, so opening them up a bit was the easiest option here. As a side note, I did encounter undersized holes for corresponding pins that needed enlarged on several other parts, so the old modelers' adage here, "dry fit twice and glue once" is good advice.
Hull Floor and Sides, Interior Parts Assembly Placement Assembly
While a comparison of the actual vehicle's interior to the Hobby Boss kit would probably identify items missing, what Hobby Boss provides in this little gem is quite impressive. If it weren't for the fragile parts, I would recommend this to beginner modelers who want to take on building an interior. Fitting of all the parts was a little snug, but good and the instructions are good.
Road Wheels, Drive Sprockets, Idler Wheels, Bogie Units Assembly
Drive sprockets and idler wheels look very nice with good level of detail. The cleanup was very minimal and the great news is the drive sprocket teeth actually fit in the tracks very well without any need to open up holes in the tracks or shave down any of the sprocket teeth.
The bogie units have very nice detail all around with very minimal cleanup and look impressive when complete. However, these were my main, though minor disappointment with this kit that caused me to slow down a bit. After several unsuccessful attempts at forming the PE part that fits above each road wheel, I surrendered. Each bogie unit required me to substitute (white) card stock for the inner wheel guards instead of using the supplied photo-etched guards (shown in front) that Hobby Boss supplies. Hobby Boss does not supply a bending jig for the photo-etched guards which would have helped greatly. Providing a plastic substitute could have resolved this issue. It took a bit more time to get the correct fit of the sheet plastic substitutes, but it saved some time on an area of the kit that's generally not getting a lot of looks.
Completed bogie units with sheet plastic inner road wheel covers. The guards turned out pretty well for a novice scratch builder and with a coat of paint and a bit of weathering, it could be hard to tell, even for a competition judge.
Placement of Drivers Seat, and smaller interior details
While the photo-etched details for the seat are good, once covered up most of the modeler's work is hidden. But with the very fine detail and careful painting, the modeler may have a hard time closing it all up. Hobby Boss does provide good instructions for parts placement, though there were a few steps where a better view of the final placement would have been better. Stressing again, the parts are very good and easily comparable to other top manufacturers, but a number of them are very fragile, so cleaning up as much as possible while still attached to the sprue is advisable. Looks like one of my seat mounts moved and will need readjusting.
Once painted and weathered a bit, Hobby Boss does provide quite an impressive interior for a small vehicle. Care needs to be taken as all the parts except the seat, are a tight fit and there's little room for error. Since this vehicle is turretless, a portion of the interior can be seen after the upper and lower hull are joined, but very little at that. If the modeler builds and paints the interior and then decides to close it up, take a pic of the interior before closing it up if you are happy to show fellow modelers your otherwise 'hidden' work.
The outer face of the Pak shield is nicely detailed and after painting, weathering and a bit of dry brushing will definitely get noticed. Detail on the various latches and hinges is top notch.
There are plenty of nicely rendered details on the Pak that will look great once painted and weathered. Many of the parts here are very delicate and small, so taking it slow not to break or lose any parts is advisable. Though this kit doesn't provide the Pak trails, if one is considering a kit bash and needing a Pak 35/36, this is one worth considering. Looks like I missed a sink hole in the sighting device that will need attention before the base coat.
Despite it being monotone Panzer Grey, there are still a number of details to paint that breaks up the single color such as the tracks, tools, headlight, road wheels and muffler. Color modulation would bring out more of the vehicle's excellent qualities, but for this review I added just a bare minimum of weathering, some chipping and very light coat of dust pigment as I wanted it to give the appearance of a vehicle in security detail away from the main action. While I left off the decals of the balkenkruz, adding them will also help to break up the monotone look.
Final Verdict: Some issues that were somewhat slightly disappointing, but not enough to pass on this kit was many of the holes that receive matching pins during assembly were undersized and had to be opened further. The abundance of small and very small parts make it a challenge to clean up, but modelers are used to that, so a good approach would be to clean up as much as possible while still on the sprue. The mud guards ( I think ?) that sits level with each of the drive sprockets has a small cut out presumably to allow the sprocket to pass through while blocking mud build up needed to be opened quite a bit to allow the drive sprockets to fit in that groove. If not, the sprocket will not seat correctly and look canted when adding the tracks. The good news is it will be hardly noticeable once the drive sprocket and tracks are mounted. The lack of providing a former/jig for the mud guards on the bogies was a little disappointing and my biggest gripe if you want to call it that, but not a show stopper. While these issues can be a bit frustrating as the build progresses, they are certainly not beyond the average modeler.
Despite the issues noted above, I must say, for such a small vehicle, I found this kit to be quite impressive as I mounted the Pak in the final step. Hobby Boss gives armor modelers a real treat with this kit and will be especially welcome by early war subject builders. This kit comes complete with a nice interior, exceptional engine and transmission, nicely detail Pak and good exterior fittings to include link and length tracks. With the number of small and delicate parts to contend with, I'm a bit hesitant to recommend this to beginners or those coming back to the hobby after a significant amount of time away as it may cause a bit of frustration. So, feed your carpet monster before you start this one as that certainly doesn't take away from this top notch kit from Hobby Boss.
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to MRC for this review kit.
Reviewed by Chuck Willis
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