by: Karel K. [ ]
The Sd.Kfz. 138/1 Ausf. M Grille (Cricket) was a self-propelled heavy infantry gun based on the Pz.Kpfw 38(t) chassis. It was armed with a 15cm Schweres Infanteriegeschuetz 33 (sIG 33) gun. The crew consisted of four men. These self-propelled guns were issued to heavy infantry gun units of Panzergrenadier and Panzer Divisions. During their production, from 1943-1944, 282 (unconfirmed number) Grille M’s were built. The official designation for this vehicle is 15cm Schweres Infanteriegeschuetz 33/1 auf Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Ausf. K/M. This kit has been made in cooperation of two Russian companies, Alan and Maquette.
The box contains seven sprues moulded in light grey plastic, the instructions and a small sheet of decals. All of the box contents were packed in a very thin plastic bag. Four of the sprues are for the tracks and wheels, with the other three for the body parts. The body parts are more or less moulded with nice details, but some of the parts have minor flash and sink holes.
The track and wheel sprues have massive amounts of flash and large sink holes. After inspecting the sprues , I came to the conclusion that the body part moulds are from Alan, and the track and wheel sprues are from Maquette, hence the different quality in the kit parts.
Suspension, Tracks and Wheels:
Each suspension bogie consists of two separate swing arms and the leaf spring part. The leaf springs only have details on the outer side with a deep sink hole on the inner side. Also, there is flash on all of the leaf springs. The swing arms have a shallow sink hole on their inner side as well.
The kit includes 200 individual track links. Every single link has flash and a pin mark in the middle, and they are also missing the cast numbers on the edges.
The road wheels are softly moulded with average bolt details that are a bit over-sized, with a fair amount of clean-up needed on them. There are two different sets of drive sprockets in this kit. One is the solid type and the other is the perforated type. The details on them are soft. The return rollers and idler wheels have excessive amounts of flash on them.
It’s this reviewers opinion that most of the running gear parts are poorly cast and should be replaced with parts from aftermarket sets.
The fighting compartment floor has a nice tread pattern. Some of the parts have mould lines, for example all the ammo shells have central mould lines. Overall the moulding quality is pretty good with these parts, with only a small amount of clean-up needed.
The hull parts are moulded nicely with good details. There are two very shallow sink holes on the front plate. The rivet details are a bit soft, but still adequate. The air intake has a minor amount of flash between the ribs. There are no visible knock out marks on the parts. All the tools have moulded-on clamps. Most of the smaller details have mould lines that shouldn’t be too hard to remove. The fenders have heavy pin marks on their undersides.
The gun parts aren’t moulded as good as the hull and fighting compartment are. There are sink holes, some minor flash and mould lines on the majority of the parts. The gun barrel and cradle have sink holes and there is no rifling inside the gun barrel. The gun shield has heavy pin marks on the inside, which will need attention.
Instructions and Markings:
The instructions are printed in black and white on a single A3 paper sheet folded in half. The front page has a brief history of the Grille M in English and Russian. It also has the two paint schemes and markings guidelines for you to follow when finishing the model. No colour codes for paint brands are provided with this kit, only colour tones in some of the steps in the instructions. The instructions are not easy to follow since they seem to be hand drawn and are very cluttered in some of the construction steps.
Two different decal markings are provided with this kit, which are decently printed but they are a bit thick.
The two marking options are:
•2. Company Heavy Battalion 2. Ski Jager Division, Eastern Front, 1944.
•Eastern Front, winter 1944.
In conclusion, this kit from Alan/Maquette is not up to today’s standards. It has massive amounts of flash, deep sink holes and knockout marks on most of the parts. The running gear details are almost useless, and honestly, I cannot recommend anyone to use the tracks provided with this kit. I can only recommend this kit to hardcore modelers who are up for a challenge.