by: Michael [ ]
The 10.5 cm leFH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pz.Kpfw.III/IV was a prototype self-propelled howitzer manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig in 1943. It was one of three prototype units developed to replace the leFH 18/2 Fgst auf PzKpfw II (sf). The vehicle had a crew of 5, and was 6.8 meters in length by 3.0 meters in width. The height was 2.9m and weighed in at 25 tons. It was powered by a Maybach HL90 gasoline engine generating a speed of 45 km/h and a range of 300 km. The armament consisted of one howitzer L/28 leFH 18/40/2 caliber 105mm cannon, which could be removed from the vehicle and deployed in the field as a standalone artillery piece. The vehicle was not selected, and only a single prototype was ever built.
Dragon Models has produced the first 1/35th scale version of this unique prototype vehicle in the Smart Kit Format, Kit #6710 and contains over 740 pieces.
In the usual Dragon Model’s box you will find:
19 sprues of styrene (Not all parts are used)
Slide molded lower chassis
1 clear sprue for optical parts
1 small fret of photo-etch
Left and right “Magic Track”
8-page instruction sheet
Everything was well packaged and undamaged.
The Dragon Models Limited website claims that the only common parts with currently-produced kits are the road wheels, “Magic Track” and some OVM items. All other parts are brand new. The gun can be assembled on the chassis, or as a towed howitzer if desired (the instruction sheet shows both methods).
The instruction sheet appears to be the standard Dragon printout with easy-to-follow steps and a minimal painting scheme. This would be due to the actual prototype never being placed into production. A small set of decals produced by Cartograf are included. You can use the minimal decals for the prototype, or the markings after it was captured by the Allies (a cool addition). They consist of dark green patches with some white shipping lettering on them, but the writing is unreadable. If the modeler wishes, there is nothing that would prohibit a wide latitude on painting and decaling the unit based on a hypothetical field unit.
A careful look at the parts revealed crisp molding and flash-free casting on all sprues. I won’t go into each of the different sprues, but will highlight those I feel deserve attention. The vehicle chassis was produced with the slide-mold method, and is nicely-detailed. It sat level and did not show any signs of being warped. Sprue E has both the left and right running boards, with a finely-detailed diamond plate texture. The howitzer floor plate on Sprue J also contained finely-detailed diamond plate texturing.
Side grills on Sprue E did not seem overly thick. The howitzer barrel on Sprue K is molded in one piece with two seam lines that should clean up easily with some care. The upper turret side panels are thin and do not distract from the overall appeal of the open top.
The open turret provides the modeler the opportunity to really showcase the highly-detailed gun and interior accessories. The front view ports located on the upper hull can be modeled in the open or closed position. The open position can be built with photo etch parts for finer detail, while track detail is greatly enhanced with the included “Magic Tracks.” The bulk of building time outside of the wheel assemblies and “Magic Track” will be inside the turret and gun assembly.
The cm leFH18/40/2 (sf) auf G.W. Pz.Kpfw.III/IV, being a prototype vehicle would make a unique addition to one’s collection of normal German AFVs. As mentioned above, the modeler could have great fun building this to represent a hypothetical field unit, or just add it to the collection of unique vehicles they already have. This kit should build up into a fine detailed model based just on the kit parts.
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