There are really two vehicles you’ve got to have in your WW2 German collection: the StuG III and the Marder. Both were used by absolutely everybody on every front and throughout the war. I made a StuG ages ago, but until now didn’t actually have any type of Marder.
The Marder III
More of a family of vehicles than a single design, the Marder came about due to the relative difficulty of getting anti-tank guns into position quickly to meet breakthroughs of fast-moving enemy armour. The original Marder I was a conceived as a way of moving Pak-40 75mm guns around on captured French Lorraine 37L chassis. The Marder II swapped that for the Panzer II chassis when those started to be no longer fit for front-line use. During Operation Barbarossa the Germans had also captured large numbers of Soviet F-22 76.2mm guns, which they bored out to accept the much more powerful Pak-40 cartridge, and many of the Marder IIs and this model of Marder III mounted that ex-Red Army gun.
I say “this model of the Marder III” because there were three distinct versions of the Marder III, this model being the first of the series. Despite all being quite different, the common thread here is that they were based on the chassis of the old Panzer 38T. The Czech factory kept producing these throughout the war, as well as the Marder there were also recce and AA vehicles, and the design was used as the basis for the late-war Jagdpanzer 38T (“Hetzer”).
This kit is the early SdKfz 139 Marder III. This mounted an ex-Soviet gun in the middle of the vehicle, fairly high up. The next version was the SdKfz 138 (Marder III Ausf H) which swapped to a German Pak-40 in a slightly lower-profile mount, before the final version SdKfz 138 (Marder III Ausf M) which managed to place an even lower profile fighting compartment well to the rear by moving the engine from the rear to the middle.
So this one could really be seen as the first crack at lashing an AT gun to a Panzer 38T chassis, and considerable fiddling around was done in subsequent versions. Nevertheless a respectable 1736 vehicles were produced, of which 344 of this model were built during 1942 and saw action mostly on the Eastern Front and in North Africa.
The Warlord model
I had an interesting experience building this model. I had this and a Soviet T-34/85 tank on the workbench together. The simple Soviet machine was done really quickly, it was simple shapes and big parts that assembled easily. The German machine was made of about a million little strangely-shaped panels and components, which all had to be assembled painstakingly, and took a lot more care and effort. Perhaps that’s an unfair comparison, as an open-topped vehicle is always going to have lots of fiddly interior detail, but even the hulls were like night and day. The Marder’s structure had to be build up from a couple of dozen components, the T-34 was just upper and lower hull, plus tracks. Job done. I know they’re just plastic kits, but they do reflect some of the complexity of the real machines’ geometry.
So the kit does have quite few small parts; you’re going to need your tweezers or pliers for getting it assembled. I have to give a shout out to Dennis from Chaosbunker for his excellent review of the kit where he tipped me off to a mistake in the instructions. He’s absolutely right, watch out for step W in the instructions. If you do it the way it shows you’ll end up with the front tow hooks in the wrong place, which will mean you won’t be able to fit the spare track piece on the front.
Anyway, I think the end result is a very smart little kit, and this one has a massive advantage over most of the SPAT/SPG kits out there: it has crew. I hate seeing open-topped SP guns on table with no crew. You wouldn’t field a towed gun without crew, I think fielding an SP one without them is the same. That’s not the fault of wargamers who put them on the table, it’s because most manufacturers don’t include crew with the models they sell. A notable exception would be the Perrys, who do include crew figures for the Blitzkrieg Marder IIs they sell but only in tropical uniforms. The only other manufacturer that I know of that include crew with their Marders are Die Waffenkammer, and if they’re anything like the miniatures with their half tracks and softskins they’re a bit dodgy. I know some people love their stuff, but my experience with them hasn’t been good.
So good job Warlord for producing a Marder kit that looks like it’s actually fighting, and not sitting parked somewhere.
As I alluded to above, you get a lot of bits to assemble what is quite a small vehicle. But the instructions are (small mistake notwithstanding) good and nothing should give you too much trouble.
This model of Marder served mostly in the mid-war period, but I’ve gone for the safer bet of a dunkelgelb/camo scheme instead of the earlier grey. I did add a little bit of extra stowage and obviously the foliage; that’s made from sea foam sprigs, if you’d like to know more about that check out my old post about making foliage camo for vehicles.