Thursday, February 4, 2010
Project: 1/48 Jagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer"
As the war began to turn against Germany in 1943, a number of new weapon systems were developed by the Germans. One of these was the Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, a lightweight assault gun/tank destroyer on the proven and reliable Panzer (38(t) chassis (in fact, a pre-war Czech design). It mounted the 75mm L/48 PaK 39 cannon in a limited traverse mounting, supplemented with a remote-control MG-34 machine gun. Although lightly armored for the standards of the day (50mm sloped), it was a rugged, successful design that survived post-war in Swiss service as the G-13.
Tamiya released the Hetzer kit early on, and still remains one of the better kits in the range. While still saddled with the cast metal lower hull, the detail is overall good, and at the time was the only Hetzer you could buy from Tamiya (later they would release a 1/35 scale version). Like most Tamiya 1/48 scale kits, it also has very well rendered "link-n-length) tracks in hard plastic. For some models, this is unneccessary (particularly US tanks which use "live" tracks), but on vehicles such as the ones used by the Germans, there should be a lot of sag, and that is well molded in this kit.
Although this is labeled as a "mid-production" variant, there are already after-market vendors offering conversions to later or earlier variants.
While the Germans manufactured a lot of equipment of questionable efficiency, the Hetzer is not one of them, and remained an effective vehicle throughout the war.