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28Jun/180

Bolt Action Sd.Kfz. 139 Marder III

Continuing the Panzer 38(t) themed review week, with the Marder III Ausf. H tank destroyer based on the Panzer 38(t) chassis.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Based upon the chassis of the Sd.Kfz. 140 Panzer 38(t), a tank destroyer called Marder III was brought into service. The whole Marder series were makeshift tank destroyers, an interim solution, to put captured or obsolete vehicles in to use, by arming them at first with captured field guns and later with German PaK anti-tank guns. The Marder I was built upon the French Lorraine tank and the Marder II on the surplus of rapidly becoming obsolete Panzer II tanks. Marder is German for marten. The Marder III was built in three variants, as Sd.Kfz. 139, Sd.Kfz. 138 Ausf. H and Ausf. M.

The box art shown above stating the Sd.Kfz. 139 designation was replaced by Warlord Games and now reads Marder III Ausf. H. Unfortunately from my research, this is a mistake as the Ausf. H has a different upper construction, closer to the Ausf. M, so the variant that can be build from this kit is the Sd.Kfz. 139 and not the later Sd.Kfz 138 Ausf. H. For comparison see the Italeri Marder III Ausf. H, a source on World War Photos, the pictures in this Wikipedia article and the info on the Sd.Kfz. 139 on tank encyclopedia.

The Sd.Kfz. 139 tank destroyers used captured Soviet 76.2 mm field guns first, that were later rechambered to be able to use German 7.5-centimeter PaK 40 ammunition. Later Sd.Kfz. 138 Marder Ausf. H directly received the 7.5 cm Pak 40 German anti-tank gun. The official name was Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7,62 cm PaK 36 and later 7.5 cm PaK 40/3 auf Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Ausf. H. Of the first variant just more than 340 units were built, of the Ausf. H another 275 units. Later in 1943 further 175 units were converted using Panzer 38(t) tanks that were obsolete at that point. Of the "final" Ausf. M (seen further below in the scale comparison) more than 900 units were built, making it the most built variant of the Marder. Therefore it is a bit surprising that this variant received the plastic kit, but it was easier to put into reality, as it only needed an additional sprue to make it happen. Beside the tank hunter variant Marder, there was a self-propelled gun called Grille (cricket), that was built upon the Panzer 38(t) chassis as well.

The Marder III saw action on all European fronts and even North Africa, with the Sd.Kfz. 139 mostly on Eastern Front. Towards the end of the war around 350 Ausf. M were still in service, but the tank was mostly replaced in favour of the Panzerjäger 38(t) Hetzer. The Marders were used by the tank destroyer detachments of the Panzer divisions of both Heer and Waffen SS, and even some Luftwaffe units.

Warlord Games offers the Marder as a hard plastic in 28mm / 1:56 scale. It shares the main sprue with the Panzer 38(t) and the plastic is produced by Warlord themselves. The price tag on this kit is 20 GBP.

The kit consists of two hard plastic sprues, a multipage instruction leaflet with a bit of background in it, a decal sheet, stat cards and damage tokens. The decal sheet for the Marder III is the same as for the Hetzer, and covers Hungarian insignia as well, but these are just for the Hetzer. The assembly instruction unfortunately covers on step W the same mistake as the Panzer 38(t) does on step L. Do not glue the hooks on the inner holes, those are for the spare tracks, please use the outer holes.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III
Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The cast is very well done and the Marder III shares the main sprue with the Panzer 38(t), and all the parts to make it into a Marder III are included in the second sprue. This kit is produced in the UK, from the looks of it by the same facilities that produces the Plastic Soldier Company kits. The space within the sprue is put to good use and I really like the idea of using the benefits of plastic and cover several variants of a tank, by using a basic sprue and adding the variants with an additional sprue.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The first few steps are basically identical with the Panzer 38(t), assembly starts with the tracks. Good detail on the tracks themselves, clear instruction and rapidly assembled.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The tracks are added to the lower hull, which receives a couple of grams of lead, to weigh the whole plastic kit down. This gives the tank a more valent feel and makes it more stable on slops and such on the battlefield.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

As the hull has a different construction on top for the Marder compared to the Panzer 38(t), this is where the assembly goes into two different directions. Now all of the parts around the driver's compartment are added.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The upper platform is moveable, so you turn the gun a bit to the left and right.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Further armour plates are added to the sides and create a half open frame around the gun and its crew. As you can see the mount for the gun is turnable around 30° to each side.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III
Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The gun itself is the 7.62 cm captured Russian field gun, rechambered and fitted to be used with the more powerful German Pak40 cartridge. Be sure to just assemble the barrel without gluing it, so you can elevate the gun, if you want to.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The gun shield is the next part to be added and completes the final silhouette of the Sd.Kfz. 139 Marder III.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Now the support bar between the side gun shields is put in place and gives the construction more stability. The inner bars are somewhat unclear where they go and as the parts are twisted / contorted in their form. A bit tricky to follow the instructions on that step, but still not as tricky as some "real" model kits.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Further details for the inner cabin and the bench, used as a temporary ammunition compartment.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

And more parts for the hull, the barrel mount, along with the exhaust, tools and hooks.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The Marder is nearly complete. Only a few tools and optional parts remaining. As you can see the upper part can be moved.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Now the tools, lights and spare tracks are added and beside the crew, the Marder is complete.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

The kit covers a crew of three, completely in plastic. I only blu-tac them, as it would be rather difficult to paint the vehicle with the miniatures in place.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

And here's the Marder with mounted crew.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

As for the comparison, a side by side with the Panzer 38(t), you can see the superstructure for the tank destroyer and in the third picture the comparison with the later Jagdpanzer 38(t), another tank destroyer on the 38(t) chassis, but with a widened hull.

Bolt Action - Panzer 38(t) Bolt Action - Panzer 38(t) Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

A comparison with the other Marder III, the Sd.Kfz. 138 Ausf. M, as mentioned above. Based on the Panzer 38(t) as well, but with the different superstructure and the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun, very similar to the Grille SPG. In the last picture, the Marder III stands next to the Hummel SPG, which is based on the Panzer IV chassis.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

And of course, the pictures of the tank before the back drop.

Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III Bolt Action - SdKfz 139 Marder III

Conclusion
As with the Panzer 38(t), it was fun to build the Marder. It has a good crisp cast along with the proper fit. A few of the bits around the fighting compartment were a bit tricky to place, but that was from the assembly point of view the only drawback of this kit. I am a bit irritated by the error on the designation of the kit, as Warlord Games are quite the history buffs. The price of 20 GBP is adequate.

The assembly leaflet covers a couple of different camouflages, showing the several theatres of war, the Marder saw action in. With this being the earlier version, it makes most sense to use this variant of the Marder with Eastern Front or Africa campaign. There were some captured Marder in use by the Red Army, even though supplies and reinforcement were scarce in North Africa, I found no info on Marder being used by the British. As the Marder series was a makeshift and interim solution series of tank destroyers, there were no further production or license builds of them after the war, unlike the Hetzer or similar vehicles.

As the Marder series was pretty close to being a professional field conversion, there are no real conversion opportunities based on this kit, beside maybe some canvas covers for the fighting compartment. If you're looking for some inspiration, the Czech company Black Dog has a 1:48 conversion kit (that is too big, but gives you an idea, what you could do with a bit of green stuff) for the Marder III.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

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