Building the DML Pak 38 5 cm A/T gun
This is the first mainstream polystyrene kit of a PaK 38 and I'd been looking forward to it eagerly (a second version mounting the French 75mm barrel on the same carriage is coming fairly soon from Dragon). The gun has 55 parts in Dragon's usual grey plastic on a single sprue, and two more carry a total of five Fallschirmjaegers wearing quilted winter parkas and trousers. Although they're nicely posed in "in action" positions this does restrict their use to winter scenes. Interestingly, one corner of the gun sprue is removed and 3 numbers are missing from the parts list - just enough for the dolly wheel which was used when manhandling the gun and perhaps an indication that this will be in the second version of the kit.
Gun construction starts with the axle and wheels, but I suggest that you leave the wheels off until after painting as the gunshields restrict access for painting their tyres. The pressed steel wheels are not the pattern shown by my photos of preserved guns, and nor are the tyres, but this doesn't mean their wrong as variations must have occurred during production. However, there are a nember of sinkholes and ejector pinmarks which need attention here and in other parts of the asembly.
Next come the trails, nicely done to pivot correctly. No problems here but comparison with real guns shows a number of simplifications which make me hope for an aftermarket brass set. The carriage then gets assembled as two halves which are joined around the axle - you can't build it and fit it later. The joint of its halves leaves something to be desired, but luckily it's almost entirely hidden so unless you're a stickler for detail there's no need for filler here. Drgaon has you add the gunshield struts at this point, and since their locations are hard to reach later this is the only way to go - but take great care not to knock them off again.
The recoil slide and brecch have a joint which most definitely needs filler, but with this attended to they look good and the breech block can be open or closed. They fit onto the recoil slide well. The gun barrel is one-piece, no joint to worry about, but there's no keying for either the barrel/slide or muzzle brake/barrel joints to you need to be careful to get the muzzle brake straight to the barrel and its openings horizontal. The gunsight mount and carriage balance spring have pes which form the trunnions, so more care is needed to avoid cementing the barrel solid at the wrong elevation for your chosen pose.
Fianl assembly adds the upper and lower gun shields. The upper shields are good, and do give the spaced armour appearance very well. Unfortunately I found a lack of precision in their locating pins and those for the lower shields, which made it quite a fiddle to get them into place properly. The thickness of the plastic has something to do with this, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to pose the gun traversed on its carriage - mine was built in the towed position so "straight ahead" was fine. Do note that the wheels should not touch the shields - their axle stubs are a little short but long enough to move them out 1mm each side to where they should be.
Dragon has, however, made a booboo with this one - the sighting telescope shown on the Ron Volstad box painting isn't in the box! Fortunately you do have its stowage box on the gunshiled to give you its dimensions, and a simple length of plastic rod will add it to the gun easily enough, but how on earth did they miss this essential part? The crew figures look quite good but I didn't build them for the towed position so can't comment on how they go together.
Overall this is quite a good kit which fills the last important gap in German anti-tank gun kits. On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd give it only an 8 for accuracy thanks to that sighting telescope and a 6 for ease of assembly thank to the ill-fitting shields. It's definitely not up to the quality of ICM's BS-3 anti-tank gun, more like a 1990 production than a 2000 one. The figure sprues carry the Dragon logo but the gun sprue doesn't which makes me wonder if it was engineered for them by someone else.
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