IntroductionSd.Kfz. 139 Marder III
by SDV Model
of the Czech Republic. It is a 1/87 kit of that ersatz mobile tank killer, one of 11 SDV models based on the Skoda 38 design. It is kit 87128
History: Panzerjager Marder III 38(t)(Sd.Kfz 139)
During Barbarossa, German tankers encountered many Soviet tanks that they could shoot through, but soon discovered a big problem: T-34 and Kv-1. Those two tanks were more sophisticated and formidable than anything the Germans had. They were impervious to German tank guns yet could shoot up anything the Germans had at the time. As could the Russian 76.2mm F-22 Model 1936 divisional field gun. Fortunately for the Wehrmacht, 1,000s of 76.2mm F-22s were captured and the potent gun could be mounted on the obsolete though useful Czechoslovakia Panzer 38(t). Thus was born a family of powerfully armed fast and reliable self-propelled anti-tank guns.
Surprisingly the first Panzerjager 38(t) self-propelled guns, known as the Marder III 38(t) did not receive their baptism of fire on the Russian front. They first saw action with the Afrika Corps in the desert Libya and Egypt.*
What advantages the Marder III had with a rapid firing powerful anti-tank gun (the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r)), it sacrificed with thin armor and an open fighting compartment, and a high silhouette. Unless it could find something to hide behind, it could only get off a few shots then scurry away before counterfire could be brought to bear against its thin, incomplete armor. Still, it did give the Germans a mobile gun effective against all enemy tanks of the time.
SDV Model writes;
The Czech company SDV model® was established in Prague in 1989. It specializes in production of short-run plastic kits of military machinery, trucks and buses in 1:87 scale. Our family-type company operates its own tool shop and press machines. Many other kits that are being sold under other trademarks were actually made by us.
At the time of this review SDV
's catalogue offers 1/87 and 1/120 models in five main categories and three subcategories;
BasicLine 1:87 - 163 civilian buses, trucks, farm equipment and circus vehicles.
MilitaryLine 1:87 - 100 military German and Russian or Warsaw Pact vehicles AFVs and soft skins.
Helicopters 1:87 - two Mi-24 Hind gunships.
Objektů 1:87 - a field fortification
Velikost TT (1:120) - 51 railway rolling stock and military vehicles, and accessories.
Nákladní vagóny 1:87 - a flat car with a tracked vehicle load.
Doplňky 1:87 - 52 sets of decals, paints, and model accessories.
Poslední kusy 1:87 - VT-55A railway wreck recovery vehicle.
While 1/87 military may not be as widely known in the US and UK as other “Braille scales”, 1/87 has been huge since Roco began releasing their MiniTanks back in the early 1960s, especially in Continental Europe. 1/87 is popular for wargaming as well as stand-alone models. It is also popular for dioramas because of the expansive availability of model railroad buildings, figures and scenery; 1/87 is model railroading's HO scale, thus perhaps the most prolific scale in the world. Huge dioramas are possible.
Let's look at this Marder III.
This kit is of conventional injection-molded design, a series of sprue trees with one or more parts attached to them. I don't know when this model was first kitted although I believe it is one of SDV Models earlier efforts. SDV Models lists almost a dozen models based on the Skoda 38 design, including a few Pzr 38(t) models. In striving for authenticity and accuracy, SDV embraced the modular method of a a basic Skoda 38 model with specific parts for different versions. This Marder III has a unique upper hull DFP (Drivers Front Plate) to represent the Panzer 38(t) it was based upon, that part being on its own sprue and a very different color from the rest of the plastic. While this concept allows accuracy, it does add complexity to the assembly process.
Molding of this presumably early effort is average with some flash, some noticeable seam lines, some sinks, yet no assembled-visible ejector marks. Thickness of most pieces is over scale. Attachment gates between the parts and sprue runners are big, though. Four of the most noticeable sinks are on the hull side ends, although those will probably be hidden by the running gear. Fidelity of detail is mainly good although it varies. Mounting lugs on the drive sprockets looks rough. Yet the road wheels look very good. The 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) looks good although the mount has soft molding and shallow sink marks. Whether those will be visible ensconced in the small fighting compartment remains to be seen. Perhaps the worst parts are the pioneer tools and the tow cable - over scale, soft detail, lots of flash.
A clever design of the kit are the separate outer halves of each drive sprocket and idler, which allows ease of painting of the tracks, and better detail for overlapping the road wheels.
SDV's 1/87 Marder scales out accurately for the Sd.Kfz. 139 Marder III.
Now we'll look at the detail.
SDV molded most of the detail on the major parts. From the ground up, there is no track detail except for stubs for the outside links. The road wheels and interior of the sprockets and idlers are very good. However, the holes in the outer drive sprockets are molded closed and should be drilled out; half of the teeth of the outer sprockets are not molded because they are meant to appear to be inside the track.
The hull parts have rivet and other detail, plus suspension molded on. Two fenders are individual parts and appreciably thin. The rest of the hull is assembled with the lower and upper front glacis and the DFP. These have surface details molded in such as the driver visor and machine gun mantlet. As noted above, those parts allow more a more accurate Marder. Realism is also enhanced with separate tow hooks and Notek lamp.
The 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) is two parts for the gun and recoil buffer/recuperator, three parts for the mount, and a single piece that is the embrasure shield. That assembly fits into the upper hull/fighting compartment, which is assembled with 10 parts, including the rear hull plate. Again, most detail is cast on including the ready rounds for the gun.
For 1/87 the cast-on detail is what I expected. I did not expect the complex hull assembly, and I appreciate the effort made to produce a more accurate model.
Instructions and decals
Two sheets of paper featuring both line and halftone art illustrate assembly. They also includes a useful although crude hand drawn parts list and a very good four-view of the Marder III. Text is in Czech and German. Some of the parts placement is vague. And aside from the 3 panels showing sub-component assembly, there is no guidance as to what order to join the parts. That is obvious in most cases yet the hull assembly could be clarified.
A small decal sheet is provided with a single Marder III option - for DAK. The decals are sharply printed without too much carrier film outside of the printing.
I assume that there is a basic painting guidance but I can't discern it.
As I write this review, I have already begun assembly. I spent about an hour aligning and gluing the bottom plate, two lower hull sides and the front and rear plates together. SDV made the parts thin and even have angled/beveled edges to assist with fit, but without positive tabs or pins to help position the pieces. The bottom piece does have a vertical bulkhead that helps, yet aligning the sides is by eyeball. It appears that SDV - in pursuit of authenticity - made the nose, glacis, and driver's plate to attach like the prototype. It was still tricky to align those parts and hold them with CA. Finally, the one-piece left and right running gear were mounted to the hull. When the pieces were stable and positively held with a clamp, I welded them with liquid cement. Precise alignment is critical in this scale, as a fraction of a millimeter can noticeably displace a part.
Two parts are very difficult to attach - the fenders. The front sides have a small plate intended to be glued to the hull. For whatever reason, it was very difficult to mount them without the rest of the fended jutting out from the hull at an angle; forcing the fenders against the hull sides made the fender cant inward against the tracks, and displaced the front part.
Except for the DFP, the upper hull is a one-piece part extending from the DFP to the rear hull. Upon it is set the fighting compartment superstructure, another single part.
The purpose of this chassis was to carry the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r). It is assembled with the gun (the breach, partial slide, gun tube and muzzle break) glued to the recoil buffer, then sandwiched into the gun mount. The mount is a left and right part set into a base. Thin pins set into narrow slots in the base and it takes some tinkering to get it all aligned before the final glue is applied.
Finally, seats for the gunner and loader are attached, as it that crescent basket set on the rear hull of the Marder III. It is molded with realistic open bars, although they are thick and several are full of flash. Two antennas are included but they are very thick. The pioneer tools and tow cable complete the assembly.
Overall, fit is pretty good although in this scale, a slight misalignment can cause great problems. Thus, the lack of mounting pins or tabs are sorely missed. Several parts need some sanding or trimming, and flash on the inside of the road wheels need to be carved away to allow the running gear to be properly attached to the hull.
SDV Models' Marder III builds into a good 1/87 model. It is not a "shake the box" kit yet can be built with basic skills and tools: hobby knife, file, glue. While I am spoiled by modern kits, I do not mind kits that need a little effort and this model is certainly not a problem to build, nor is it disappointing. Some pieces need care to align and fit together, yet isn't that a complaint about some of the latest kits from some of the major manufacturers in the hobby? As an enthusiast of both 1/87 and Skoda tanks, I am delighted that SDV makes these models.
SDV put a great deal of effort into their Panzer 38(t) kits with specific parts for various versions; detail is good with several separate pieces that could have been cast on. Molding is fair to good although some parts need to be clean up. The radio aerials and tow cables are not very good yet can be easily fashioned and replaced by the modeler.
Modelers of 1/87 can build a good looking model of an important Wehrmacht self-propelled anti-tank gun out of the box with basic modeling skills. One need to just be careful studying the plans and dry-fitting.
Please remember to tell SDV and vendors that you saw this Marder III here - on
* www.Tank-Hunter.com. Surviving German WW2 Tanks. The Marder III 38(t).