88mm FlaK 36 auf Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H
Towards the closing days of WW2 Germany was desperate for any type of functioning fighting vehicles they could get. This led to the mounting different weapons on any available chassis that they had. One of the weirder vehicles was created by mounting the infamous 88mm Flak 36 on a Panzer IV chassis. There is very little information available on this vehicle but it does appear to have at least made it to the prototype phase. The chassis was not modified with stabilizers, so there is some speculation that the 88mm’s traverse was limited to just a few degrees off front center, similar to the Ferdinand. Also the Panzer IV was not designed to handle the recoil of the 88mm so the recoil may have shattered the suspension when fired.
Dragon recently released this oddity in kit form, however, it appears that the kit may actually be just a re-boxing of an older Cyber Hobby white box kit that has become a bit of collector’s item.
Looking through the instructions, one of the first things that you notice is the huge amount of extra parts included in this kit. Both for this release and the original Cyber Hobby kit, Dragon used the same two base kits with a few extra parts to combine the two. This leads to the traditional Dragon boxing filled with a ton of parts for the spares box. As I mentioned previously, this kit seems to be a reboxing of an older Cyber Hobby kit (# 6667), as the Cad drawings on the back of both boxes are nearly identical except for the new Dragon kit having some changes and options removed. In the original kit there was more photo etch (for the engine screens and covers), Magic Tracks and turned aluminum barrel and shells. The Dragon kit does not have much in the way of photo etch, the Magic Tracks were replaced with DS resin and a lot of the detail parts including the shells and metal barrels are not included.
Moving on to the build of the kit, both of these base kits have been built and reviewed extensively so I will mostly concentrate the full build and the addition of the new parts. As usual for Dragon the parts are molded in a nice, hard light grey plastic. However, the moldings for both of these kits are starting to show their age a little around the edges. The overall detail is still fantastic but there are a lot of mold lines, especially on the road wheels and return rollers. This requires a fair amount of work to clean up each road wheel. In order to convert the Panzer IV chassis into a carrier for the 88mm, Dragon included a new parts tree or two with topside armor plate that has been modified to provide a rectangular cutout for the gun mount. The fit of these parts to each other is very good but I had a lot of fit issues attaching the base plate, N2, to the hull. There are no attachment points inside the hull, so I had a few gaps and filling them was difficult due to the part flexing during sanding. I would recommend trimming down the middle hull rib as shown in the instructions, then add a few shims as attachment points. I also had some minor fit issues while attaching the fenders to the hull.
Moving on to the 88mm, although the 88mm is an older kit, it is a highly detailed and impressive kit. For the most part it goes together very well, especially for the large number of parts. The only issue that I had was with the fit of the D30 parts, I sandwiched the parts around B19 and B27 while working on Step 13. Unfortunately, the D30s did not fit well around those two parts and I ended up with two large gaps that were difficult to fill and sand because of their location. I would recommend assembling the D30s and allowing them to set before sliding them on to B19 and B27. The only other issue I have with the 88mm is that they did not include the metal barrel, as the kit was a reboxing of a kit with a metal barrel and it is a smart kit I was sort of expecting it. But the two options for the plastic barrels are very well detailed and look great once assembled. One of the final parts of assembly is building the travel lock, this is a complicated structure built out of 7 different pieces of photo etch. While it looks cool in the drawings I found it very difficult to assemble and decided to leave it off as the vehicle was a low production/what if vehicle, so it may not have had the travel lock installed.
Finally there are the tracks and the painting. This kit includes a nice pair of DS resin tracks, this is my first time working with DS resin tracks and for rubber one piece tracks they are very impressive. The detail is great and they can be glued using normal modeling glue making them much easier to use. I do see the benefits of using the DS resin tracks but I think I would have slightly preferred using Magic Tracks. I feel they are much easier to paint; paint binds the DS resin tracks far better the any other rubber tracks that I have used but still has a tendency to flake off during handling. It is also very difficult to set the proper track sag without buying additional tools.
Lastly there is the painting and decaling, you are given four interesting options, 3 of which are most likely what if markings. This vehicle was produced quickly and in desperation so I feel that it is unlikely that they would have had full camo or unit markings applied. I chose to paint the kit the last option which is a factory red oxide primer with a dunkelgelb 88mm.
Overall this is a great kit. It builds up quickly and for the most part fits really well. The new parts and road wheels do require some extra work but it’s nothing someone who has experience filling and sanding can’t handle. It is definitely a very unique looking vehicle when finished and I am glad that Dragon decided to rerelease it. I really enjoyed working on this kit and I recommend it for anyone that likes WW2 German armor or slightly weird paper panzer type vehicles. My thanks to Dragon Models USA and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.