Marder III Ausf. M Normandy Front
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
B a c k g r o u n d
The Marder III M was the last of the Marder III family and was based on the Geschützwagen 38(t) Ausf. M, a purpose-designed vehicle for self-propelled gun use, again armed with the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun.
This model was a significant improvement over previous models, with its lower silhouette, sloped armour and much more functional fighting compartment.
In this variant, the engine was moved from the rear to the middle between driver and the rest of the crew. Because there was no engine in the rear, the gun and the crew did not have to sit on top of the engine deck as in previous models. The fighting compartment could be lowered down to the bottom floor level where the engine used to be, which decreased crew exposure and visibility.
Unlike the previous two Marder IIIs, the fighting compartment was closed at the rear, protecting the crew up to their midsection. It stayed open-topped.
The Marder III Ausf. M could carry only 27 rounds of ammunition. The machine gun port at the front was eliminated in the Ausf. M in favour of an MG 34 or MG 42 carried by the crew. In the previous two models, the Commander served as a gunner. However, in the Ausf. M, the radio man moved to the rear, with the Commander and gunner, to serve as a loader. Combat effectiveness increased because the vehicle commander was freed from manning the gun.
The full name of the Ausf. M was Panzerjäger 38(t) mit 7.5 cm PaK 40/3 Ausf. M, Sd.Kfz. 138 . It was the variant that was produced in the largest numbers, with 942 vehicles built in two series from May 1943 to May 1944.*
F i r s t L o o k
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale Marder III Ausf. M was released in 2002 to great acclaim. A number of the running gear parts were sourced from their 2001 Marder III release (Kit No. 35248).
Tamiya has now upgraded their Marder III Ausf. M to include link-and-length tracks plus four additional figures.
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale Marder III Ausf. M now comprises 264 parts in dark yellow plastic, one photo-etched fret, four polythene caps and markings for two vehicles on the Normandy front.
17 years has done little to dim the light of this great little kit. The moulding is all you would expect from Tamiya and the addition of the two new sprues is a genuine improvement.
The hull is broken down as a flat pack with separate lower, side, front and rear sections.
The fighting compartment is well details with gun breech, ammo containers and other interior details being well represented. The gun may traverse and elevate when the model is complete thanks to the use of polythene caps.
The link-and-length tracks are in Tamiya’s usual recent style, with long runs for the bottom and the top – the top run sagging realistically between return rollers – and a combination of short sections and individual links to wrap around the drive sprockets and idler wheels.
Track detail is crisp inside and out. I have no reason to expect that these will not be fast and easy to assemble too, based on my recent experiences with Tamiya link-and-length tracks.
The four additional figures make up the balance of the crew. One slightly stiff standing figure was included in the original release, but these four new guys feature the more natural poses and better detail of Tamiya’s more recent crew figure efforts.
They will look great with nothing more than careful painting.
A small, thin and very flexible photo-etched fret supplies the perforated heat shield for the exhaust.
C o n c l u s i o n
I somehow missed out on building this kit when it was first released. It is a fantastic example of Tamiya’s ability to produce a well-detailed kit that is also fast and easy to build.
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale Marder III M sits right in that sweet spot, and the 17 year old sprues stand up well to scrutiny in 2019.
The addition of the link and length tracks and four additional figures makes this great little kit even better.
I don’t think I will wait another 17 years to build this one!
*Historical summary courtesy of Wikipedia.
Thanks to Tamiya Japan for the sample
Tamiya kits are distributed in the UK by The Hobby Company Limited for the sample.
Text and Images by Brett Green