Early in WWII, German units relied on towed howitzers like the 10.5cm le.FH.18. Various proposals were made for a self-propelled version, with Krupp offering one based on a modified Panzer IV chassis. Named the Pz.Sfl.IVb or Sd.Kfz.165/1, its open-topped turret contained a 10.5cm le.FH.18 howitzer that was capable of only a 70 degree traverse by hand. A test series of eight vehicles was produced in November 1942 and they were combat tested in Russia. However, production was eventually cancelled because the administration decided they wanted carriages with all-round traverse. In the event, the le.FH.18 was successfully mounted on a Panzer II chassis in the well-known Wespe variant. Dragon has produced a fine new 1/35 scale kit of this rare and novel self-propelled howitzer. Just as the original prototypes were especially constructed, so Dragon’s scaled-down kit has a preponderance of brand new toolings. Of special note is the correctly shaped turret. This was based on detailed research so as to reproduce it with the correct proportions and dimensional accuracy. Though the lower hull and running gear look similar to that of a Panzer IV, they are in fact heavily modified. For instance, the Pz.Sfl.IVb has six enlarged road wheels each side. This kit fully represents the nuances of this unusual artillery piece, and no effort was spared on creating this kit. Dragon has given you Twelve large sprues of grey styrene, six smaller ones, a bag of handed track links, and a separate lower hull and turret. Not much to say about moulding quality as you can imagine, except that it’s up to Dragon’s usual excellent standard.This kit went together without any trouble,and the major sections went together quite nicely. The details were up to Dragon’s high standards and were very crisp.The “Magic Links”,went together very nicely with limited clean up. There’s a fully detailed breech, which of course you would expect, plus highly detailed charge and ammunition racks. Full radio gear, this time with speaker which will come in handy, two types of periscope including Rabbits ears, and there’s even a frame for a canvas turret cover which you can fit or stow on the fender.

Along with the fairly well appointed turret interior of course, the fighting compartment is fairly full as well, and although the final drive hatches can be modelled opened, there is nothing supplied to fit in the driver’s compartment in the way of controls, transmission etc., so if you want them open you’ll have to source an aftermarket interior. I had great fun constructing the interior and painting the loading compartment. I used Testors Model Master enamel paints,using Mig washes and pigments for the weathering. Overall this was the first open top that I have done for a long time.Dragon’s new kit will be money well worth spent,providing hours of enjoyment.

 

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