by: James Bella [ ]
introductionGriffon Model has quickly established themselves as a quality aftermarket provider of PE sets and replacement barrels. Recently they have been offering ‘premium’ sets, concentrating heavily on DML’s latest releases, especially with the 38(t) family of vehicles. This set is designed for the Sd.Kfz.138/1 Geschützwagen 38 M für sIG.33/2 “Grille”, DML kit #6429.
kit contentsThe contents come well packaged in a sturdy flip-top box with foam padding on the bottom. The photo-etch frets are packaged two per bag, with another bag containing the miscellaneous supplies.
Included in this set are the following:
•12 Photo-Etch frets
•ABS rod in three diameters
•Copper wire and tube in five diameters
•Clear film with dash gauge markings
•One small decal sheet
The kit instructions consist of 11 pages of the exploded view type and are very well laid out. Parts that are to be replaced or modified from the DML kit are marked by kit number and are easily identified. Since the ‘premium’ designation is actually a collection of separately available sets, four in this case, the instructions follow suit. Careful study of the instructions as a whole is highly recommended. The only area I see lacking in the instructions is at what length to cut the copper wire and ABS rod. It may be necessary to use the original kit parts as patterns or cutting to fit, hard to tell without actual construction. All in all, the instructions are easy to follow and should pose no problems.
reviewThe PE frets come in various thicknesses, with etched bending lines where needed. The connection points to the frets are thin and easy to remove. The general layout of the parts, along with clearly marked call-out numbers, makes locating each part a simple process. All the finely etched details are beautifully rendered and appear to be correct. The thicker frets seem to be layered, such as plywood is, though applying heat to anneal or solder has no ill effects.
As stated earlier, this premium kit is a collection of four separate sets. To give a quick overview, I’ll break these down into the individual sets available.
L35025 Full Detail Set
The largest of the four sets, this one contains seven PE frets along with the copper wire, ABS rods and the plastic film sheet. Seven pages of instructions guide you through the many different areas, with recommendation boxes pointing to the other sets included in the premium edition. This is the more general set, including parts for the interior, exterior and casemate. As far as the interior, this will take care of some of the areas that the DML kit omitted, such as the foot pedals and dashboard, and enhance or replace others like the steering levers (ala Tristar) and seats. The clear film is used for the visors and gauge faces, a very nice touch.
On the exterior, a fender set is included, easing the way to get the proper bend called for on this chassis, and simulating damage easier and more realistic. A complete gun travel lock using PE, ABS, copper wire and tube should render a finely detailed and correct component.
The tarp and camo loops on the DML kit are molded on, with the option of using PE. The Griffon set provides copper wire for these loops, along with a small bending jig, to provide a more realistic look. A shovel head, tool clamps, and many other small details are also included, adding nice touches to the exterior.
The engine hatches and rear deck, both with working hinges, are included. Hinges are also provided for the driver’s hatch, but oddly enough the transmission access hatch was completely ignored. There appear to be extra hinges included on the fret, so possibly something can be done here. Even though DML includes the perforated storage box in both styrene and PE, another is provided in this set, with the perforations of a smaller diameter.
For the fighting compartment, a finely engineered and detailed radio rack, along with miscellaneous storage boxes complete with working hinges, start to pull everything together. Enhancements to the main gun make this a fairly complete set in itself.
L35A027 15cm Projectile Containers
Comprising of a single fret and two pages of instructions, this set handles the fifteen shell containers. A fair amount of curved bending will be needed here, with the join in the front of the containers most likely to pose the greatest difficulty. Soldering and then filing/sanding smooth will probably produce the most desirable end product. Four un-cradled shells are included in the Dragon kit, so most of the containers will be displayed empty unless substitutes can be found or surgery done to the one-piece styrene parts. Separate straps can be fastened around the shell, or shown in a relaxed position.
The remaining parts in this kit are the various mounting brackets that are fastened to the casemate walls.
L35A028 Cartridge Storage Bins
Two PE frets and a single sheet of instructions take care of the sixteen storage bins that are mounted all around the fighting compartment. The doors can be positioned opened or closed, though with non-working hinges a decision will need to be made. The interior of the bins are well detailed, which can be omitted if the doors are posed in the closed position. The various mounting brackets are also included.
Four separate shell cartridges are included, made up of three pieces each. The body will need to be formed into a cylindrical shape, which will most likely test the patience of the very best. A simple solution would be to find a brass or styrene dowel of the correct diameter, cut to length, and add the two end caps.
L35A029 Cartridge Cases
The cartridge cases consist of two PE frets, a small sheet of decals and a single sheet of instructions. These are not included in the DML kit and will be used in a diorama or an ‘in action’ setting. These are used to transport the cartridges to be placed in the storage bins and can be used for all variants of the 15cm sIG 33.
Enough is included to assemble four cases and eight cartridges. Each case is constructed using 28 separate pieces in scale thickness. The lids can be displayed opened or closed, though using non-working hinges once again. Various markings are included in the form of decals, so check references for the proper ones to use, if possible.
The eight cartridges are identical to the ones included with the storage bins, and the same construction method applies to these.
conclusionGriffon Model has once again come up with a well engineered and fairly complete set. The thought that went into producing this set is evident, with many areas of the Dragon kit being upgraded. The construction is simplified by using some well thought out and innovative ideas. The instructions are easy to follow, being clear and concise. The only areas that I can see for improvement would be to include an ABS rod for the cartridge bodies, and including the upgrades for the transmission hatch.