The PzH 2000 155mm self propelled howitzer was developed by Krauss Maffei - Wegmann and Co GmbH for the German Army. In 1986, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany agreed to terminate the trilateral cooperation on the PzH 155-1 (SP 70) program, and German industry was asked to submit bid proposals for PzH 155 mm. Wegmann received a contract in March 1996 for production of 185 units (out of an eventual total of 594) with deliveries between 1998 and 2002 for use in the "crisis reaction forces" (KRK) as well as for first deployment in the Main Forces. Besides the German Army, units were also delivered to Italy, The Netherlands and Greece.
Rheinmetall designed the 155 mm 52-calibre gun, which is chromium-lined for its entire 8 metre length and includes a muzzle brake on the end. The gun uses a new modular charge system with six charges (five identical), which can be combined to provide the optimal total charge for the range to the target. Primer is loaded separately via a conveyor belt, and the entire loading, laying and clearing is completely automated. The maximum range of the gun is 30 km with the standard L15A2 round, about 35 km with base bleed rounds, and at least 40 km with assisted projectiles. In April 2006 a PzH 2000 shot assisted shells over a distance of 56 km, with a probable maximum range of over 60 km.
The subject of this review is the Revell
1/72 scale Panzerhaubitze 2000, kit number 03121.
After opening the box you are presented with four moderately sized sprues moulded in dark green styrene. The sprues contain 66 numbered parts, but in several circumstances the number will reference multiple parts. Due to these multiple similarly numbered parts the count of parts will exceed 150.
Also included is a 12 page instruction guide with assembly instructions and a painting guide for two vehicles. The assembly instructions are in the form of exploded view drawings with arrows directing parts placement. Assembly comprises 32 steps with parts count during steps varying from just 2 to 14.
The finishing guide of the instructions shows two illustrations of vehicles in typical green, black and brown camouflage. Water slide decals are provided for two different German Army units and are nicely detailed and in register.
The moulding of the kit parts appeared flash free with no evident sink holes or excessive mould seams. Detail on many parts is quite impressive and, where necessary, delicately done. In some cases the details on parts are so fine that care will need to be taken when painting them so as not to obscure it. An example of this is the fine and delicate moulded mesh of some of the engine grills. Another nice touch is that Revell has moulded on the anti-skid panels on the hull, although at this scale no texturing is evident on them.
The first step in construction shows gluing the two suspension detail pieces to the hull tub. The tub itself is three sided with left, right and front vertical pieces. It is here that I met with an obvious problem. If one follows the instructions and glues the side pieces (parts #2 and #3) to the hull tub, you are going to have some definite problems when it comes time to attach the tracks.
The tracks are of the link and length type and the hull tub has a definite overhang or fender that will be over the upper tracks. This situation will also add difficulties in attaching the return rollers as the overhang will get in the way. I would suggest that the builder assemble the complete suspension (bogies, treads, return rollers, idler, sprocket) onto the side pieces before gluing them to the hull tub. Further, it should also be noted that the track pieces are side specific. Right and left track runs require different combinations of track links to fit properly due to the way the bogie axles are positioned. This track type is not a favorite of mine as even an experienced builder may find some difficulty in getting all the links and pieces to mesh and look well.
Steps 2 through 4 represent the assembly of the multi part road wheels, idlers and sprockets. This process should be straight forward with the only issue being making sure that the teeth on both halves of the sprocket align properly.
Steps 5 through 7 constitute the remaining assembly of the suspension. Taking my earlier warning into account, the builder will need to study the instructions and determine a more logical order in which to assemble these lower pieces. It might also be prudent to paint these lower pieces prior to continuing on with the assembly as access to certain areas will be quite limited after completion.
In steps 9 through 12 we see the attachment of the hull body sides to the hull top, this assembly glued to the hull bottom and the hull rear plate attached. During this process various additional detail pieces are attached to the hull sides and front.
Step 13 and the two following steps require a number of detail pieces to be attached to the hull rear plate. These items involve parts representing towing/lifting points, rear fender/mud flap and stowage.
Steps 16 through 21 starts with the attachment of the side skirts. During these steps all manner of detail pieces are added to the hull side, top and front. From tow cable and spare track links to headlights and headlight brush guards are attached.
Step 22 starts with the assembly of the turret and gun. For the most part I foresee no major issue that normal care should not take care of. However, I did notice a couple of potential issues that might affect the less experienced builder. The locating pins on the smoke dischargers are far smaller than the mounting holes that they are meant to fit into. The other point is with the instructions for the right front turret storage rack. The rack is made up of four pieces. Part #47 is the back which attaches to the turret front and should be no problem. Part #48 is the bottom or floor of the rack and should also be fine. It is parts #50 and #51 that are transposed in the instructions. The placement of these parts should be reversed with part #50 being placed on the side nearest the barrel.
Another potential problem with the succeeding steps will probably be the gun and mantlet. The gun is provided as two halves and may require some work to eliminate the joint seams after gluing. The mantlet is also made up of two halves. There is a half circle lug at the base of the gun tube that will insert into a similarly shaped hole in the completed mantlet. The lug appears somewhat short and may not assist much in creating a fit tight enough to maintain proper alignment during gluing.
The final steps of assembly are attaching the gun travel lock and antenna to the turret. The travel lock has no definite mounting mechanism and the instructions show that its centre point should be positioned 16 mm from the hull edge. No antenna are provided with the kit but the instructions show a three step method for stretching sprue over a candle and then removing a 17 mm piece to act as an antenna.
While writing this review I was intrigued and started to build parts of this kit. Like other Revell kits that I have built, the plastic is rather hard and somewhat brittle. This can result in problems (breakage) when separating smaller and thinner parts, such as headlight brush guards, from the sprue. The turret all but flew together and required no more than average skill.
The suspension components, primarily the road wheels and idler, are all pretty standard and most will require an average amount of clean up after removal from the sprue. The sprocket pieces however are held to the sprue by no less than eight short and thin gates. The gates attach to the top of the sprocket teeth and will require some care in cutting. As I mentioned earlier, the suspension side pieces are best built up while still separated from the hull. The two return rollers for each side are quite small and would be extremely difficult to attach otherwise.
The attachment of the tracks was to be an act or art of patience. From previous experience I knew that the fit would be better if I filed the connecting ends while still on the sprue. I started with the right side and found the instructions as to the number and sizes of runs to be correct and they fit fairly well. The only variation from the kit instructions occurred on the left side. While the instructions direct you to use five single links around the idler, I found that four would work better with the next track segment part #63. Also, where part #63 was shown to fit flush with the bottom run of track I found that two single links were required around the last road wheel to complete the entire track run.
The rest of the build pretty much followed the instructions with only minor variances. There are a few small parts such as what I believe are the hull rear door hinges (part #21 and #22) that were a bit tricky to position. Their size and contour caused some difficulties in holding them in the tweezers. The tow cable, part #34, is extremely delicate and detailed but was broken in my kit. Besides being attached to the sprue in five places, it also had five little extra bits of plastic that needed to be removed. Due to its delicate nature this process, and the ensuing cleanup of the part, was anything but easy.
The final stages of the build were attaching mostly small detail pieces such as the front tow hooks, spare track and the MG3. The only issue here was that the pin on the machine gun was so small as to be nonexistent when compared to the hole that it is meant to fit into. The last parts I added were the side skirts and the fit for them was very good.
Braille scale is not exactly brimming with a profusion of artillery subjects, so this is a welcome addition to that area. All in all this was a fairly pleasant kit to build and shows quality and detail improvements over previous earlier Revell kits. While not an excessively difficult kit, I’d recommend that the novice or first time builder sharpen their basic skills before attempting this one. Except for the few very minor issues that were noted, there is no reason for me not to recommend this kit.
Jan finishes off this kit in his Build Blog