Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:48 pm Post subject: DML #6321 Sd.Kfz. 165 Hummel Late Production
The experiences of the early war campaigns demonstrated to the German army the need to have self-propelled artillery capable of keeping up with advancing panzer divisions instead of relying on traditional towed artillery to provide support. Beginning in 1942, plans were drafted to develop an interim solution that would fill this need until a permanent solution (the Waffentrager program) could be employed. The result was an expedient design using existing Pzkpfw III and IV components to create a hybrid vehicle mounting the 15cm sFH18 known as the Hummel while its cousin the Hornisse/Nashorn used the same design but mounted the 8.8cm Pak 43/1 in an anti-tank platform. Hummel production began in February 1943 and continued until the end of the war with approximately 720 in total produced. Throughout the production run, design changes were implemented as the corresponding Pzkpfw III and IV components also changed and the design was improved based on combat experience. DML (Dragon) kit #6321 Sd.Kfz. 165 Hummel Late Production seeks to represent a vehicle with features seen beginning in late 1943 and beyond.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues packaged in clear bags with multiple sprues per bag, so care is needed when removing them to avoid damaging some of the more delicate parts. The standard “Dragon card” is also included which has the separate bags of Magic Tracks, PE frets, decals, clear parts sprue, tools sprue, vinyl hose, aluminum barrel, and the braided steel wire secured to it. The kit consists of over 890 parts with a large number of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 20 sprues of light gray styrene
• 1 sprue of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 turned aluminum barrel
• 2 brass cylinders
• 1 braided steel wire
• 1 pre-bent steel wire
• 1 length of vinyl hose
• 3 PE brass frets of 74 parts
• 2 bags each of handed Magic Tracks links
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
The kit bears the “Late Production” label that Dragon assigned as part of the usual “modeler’s convention” of trying to distinguish different variations in a vehicle’s production run via terms like “early”, “mid”, or “late”. In this particular kit the “Late” production label translates into features that apply to vehicles produced using components commonly found on Pzkpfw IV Ausf H and Pzkpfw III Ausf J as well as other key distinguishing features unique to the Hummel/Nashorn design.
Those key features include the full-hull wide single compartment for the driver and radio operator, separate exhaust pipes on either side of the hull, two spare road wheels mounted on the rear hull, a single Bosch headlight on the front left fender, and deletion of the foldable rear flaps on the fenders. DML’s kit captures all of these features accurately to recreate a “late” production Hummel.
Suspension and Tracks:
The kit suspension uses the now-common non-working simplified suspension of all the Pz IV Smart Kit family of kits. The road wheels provided have excellent rim and hub detail with lettering molded in and the correct style of pressed hubs appropriate for Pz IV Hs produced after September 1943. Unlike other Pz IV kits, only one type of steel return rollers is included even though two types were used interchangeably. Late style sprockets along with the tubular idler are provided to further distinguish these vehicles from their earlier production predecessors. The idler mount can be positioned to aid with determining track sag within reason, providing some flexibility with either the kit-supplied Magic tracks or AM sets.
The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are handed and molded in different shades of gray to distinguish one side from the other and feature solid guide horns and the chevron ice cleats on their faces. Each link has small ejector pin marks on either side of the guide horn that will need to be dealt with and individual links may also have small amounts of flash requiring clean-up depending. Hummels had a longer hull than was standard on Pz IVs so you will need more than 100 links per side and the instructions do not specify an exact count. 13 additional links are needed to create the necessary spare track run for the hull front so it is recommended that you do that last to ensure you have enough links for the tracks first.
Hull and Fenders:
The hull consists of a large single piece tub designed specifically for the Hummel with excellent molded detail on the exterior including hull bottom detail for various access hatches and ports. The exhausts are provided as multi-part assemblies with slide-molded hollow pipe ends for greater detail. The front driver’s compartment allows for the top, side, and front hatches and view ports to be posed in either the open or closed position. The front hatches include both PE and styrene interior detail for the armored glass block holders and the side ports include clear glass parts.
The fender layout includes the Bosch headlight complete with wiring conduit detail and clear styrene insert and includes PE or styrene options for the jack mounts. The jack block comes with the mount frame molded in place with the option of removing it and using PE parts instead. The shovel is provided with the option of using a part with molded-on clamps or a “clean” part and PE clamps. The fenders have excellent tread pattern detail on both the upper and lower surfaces and the rear tubular convoy light is provided as a clear part.
The kit also includes braided steel wire and styrene ends to construct a single tow cable with a called out length of 240mm however that’s the total length of the wire provided and not the length you should actually use. Typical tow cables in-scale measured 150mm including the styrene ends and you should test fit before committing to avoid ending up with a too-short cable. The ranging poles are molded together as a single piece so that may present a slight challenge in terms of painting and detailing.
Gun and Fighting Compartment:
The 15cm sFH18 comes straight out of the stand-alone DML kit of the field artillery piece and includes a turned aluminum barrel complete with rifling in the muzzle. Pre-formed brass cylinders are provided for the equilibrator housings and are designed to remain movable with the gun in terms of posing for elevation. The gunner’s sight is provided in clear styrene and the breech block can be posed open or closed. The breech itself is a multi-part assembly as is the recoil cylinder and both are highly detailed. A PE table is provided for the gun ranging calculations as an additional detail touch. The option is also provided to pose the gun travel lock in either the travel or combat mode
The fighting compartment is also highly detailed and assembles in a modular fashion with different panels for the sides, rear, and the curved front splinter shields. Personal weapons are provided both as Kar98 rifles and MP40s in different mounts along with an MG34 and ammunition boxes to populate the interior. DML includes a personal gear sprue to create the gas mask containers and that also provides the opportunity to add some helmets and water bottles as additional crew stowage if you prefer. A 120mm length of vinyl hose is also provided to replicate the cooling exchange hose used to recharge the engine reservoirs and installs on the top left side of the compartment.
The large bin for the powder charges gives you the option to display it open or closed and has 15 slots, 10 of which are molded open and 5 with the charges already in place. For the open slots, separate parts are provided to also stock them as you desire, leaving plenty of options for a little personalization in this area. The 15cm ammunition lockers can also be posed open or closed and the kit includes 14 separate rounds to allow you to fully stock the lockers. The decal sheet includes stencil markings appropriate for standard high explosive (Gr19) rounds, smoke (Gr19Nb), or steel-cased fragmentation high explosive (Gr19Stg) rounds, allowing a mix-and-match approach as desired. The ammo holders include a combination of PE and styrene parts to create them for added detail.
Instructions and Finishing Guide:
The kit instructions follow the standard DML mode of fold-out black and white exploded diagrams and sub-diagrams and consists of 20 steps for full assembly. The decal markings are printed by Cartograf and are clear and in-register. The Painting and Markings guide provides for the following 7 possibilities for different vehicles:
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 three tone scheme
• 2 PzDiv “Das Reich”, Eastern Front 1944 three tone scheme
• PzArtRgt 103, 4 PzDiv, Eastern Front 1944 brown camo over dark yellow
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 three tone scheme
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 brown camo over dark yellow
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1945 whitewash over dark yellow
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 whitewash over dark yellow
It’s worth noting due to the large number of “unidentified” units that the Hummel was generally attached to panzer divisions but were relatively simply marked as a rule. In other words don’t let the “unidentified” status deter you too much if you like a particular scheme or arrangement.
DML continues to build and expand on their Pz IV Smart Kit line of vehicles and the Hummel Late Production takes DML’s excellent sFH18 kit and marries it with available Pz IV parts and all-new tooled parts specific to the Hummel to create a winner. The kit is highly detailed inside and out and will not disappoint the fan of German self-propelled guns. Highly recommended.