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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bolt Action - German 'Stummel' Hetzer conversion

By Jakob Lotz

So a little while back I got my hands on a Rubicon Models Hetzer kit with the plan of doing a review. However since Bryan has already done a fantastic review on the kit (if you haven’t done so already I highly encourage you to have a look at it here) I felt like I wanted to do something different with this one. A wee search of the old internets later I had come across the seemingly extremely rare Aufklarungspanzer 38(t), Vollkettenaufklarer 38(t) or Jagdpanzer 38(t) mit 7,5 cm KwK-37 L/23.

The nomenclature seems to be rather confused as I’ve seen instances of each of these designations being used in various places around the net. Whatever its actual name was, what I have been able to conclude from my amateurish investigation into the vehicle is that it basically was an open topped Hetzer armed with the low velocity 75 mm Stummel gun. Having thus decided what I wanted to do with the kit I opened the very nice packaging and got right into it.

First off it has to be said that the Rubicon Models Hetzer kit is fantastically detailed and very well laid out on the sprue. The instructions are very good and the options available are pretty amazing. Few, if any, other kits out there will let you decide if you want to assemble an early war, mid war, late war or flamethrower variant of the vehicle in question. And the attention to detail and the quality of the different parts is some of the best I’ve come across in this hobby. I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to the quality of this kit.

Now enough about that! Having a rummage through my leftover bin I found a 7.5 cm KwK gun from another kit (I do believe Rubicon has a KwK in the works and I have no doubt it will be just as good as this Hetzer kit) I also grabbed a few sheets of plasticard and a crew member for the gun. I then made a second crew member from some other parts I had laying around.

Now first of all I had to make a few changes to the upper hull. This meant fixing up the front glacis plate as well as cutting out the roof and cutting down the sides slightly to create the open topped configuration of the vehicle. The kit is designed to let you simply pick your chosen gun mantlet and slot and glue it into place, however since the vehicle I was intending to build had its gun mounted above the front glacis plate I had to do something about the “hole” where the gun mantlet was supposed to go on the original jagdpanzer 38(t). At first I figured a piece of plasticard cut to shape and slotted into place would do the trick. To my great dismay I found out that it wasn’t quite so easy since the two pieces didn’t align well enough leaving a visible gap.

Now before addressing the problem with the front glacis plate, I decided to build the upper “superstructure” meant to give the gun crew some additional protection when loading and firing the gun.

Then I went back to fixing the issues with the front glacis plate. After trying to correct the problem with green stuff and once again not getting an acceptable result I decided to take a new approach.

Said and done I simply cut out an entirely new front glacis plate from a very thin sheet of plasticard (I believe it was just a millimeter thick. Pretty much just the thinnest you can find). Having already glued on some parts to the original glacis plate I then cut some holes in my new glacis plate to accommodate the already glued on parts. I also added the tools and other assorted pieces that came with the kit.

Finally I painted the vehicle and the crew. Now I glued one of the crew members into place a little prematurely (as can be seen on some of the pictures) causing me some minor troubles when I began painting, as such I’d recommend priming and painting the crew and vehicle separately before gluing it all together. It might otherwise become unnecessarily difficult to get to some places when painting the different components.

In closing all I can say is that this kit was an absolute joy to work with! It’s a stellar kit in itself but it also lends itself very well to conversions. Especially those of the open topped variation since it’s a “hollow” plastic hull unlike, for example, a resin kit which will just be one solid hull piece. The plastic is also very easy to work with and the excellent instructions made the assembly of the regular parts of the kit a breeze. If you're looking to add a Hetzer or a variant of it to your force, then you should definitely have a look at this kit!

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