1/35 Nashorn 8.8cm Pak43/1 auf Geshtzwagen III/IV (Sd.Kfz.164). Tamiya kit.

In action somewhere on the eastern front during the winter of 1944.

This was a great kit by Tamiya and one I had my eye on ever since it was released a few years back. It has lots of possibilities for a diorama and I chose a winter scene to match the winter white camouflage depicted on the box art.

Starting work on the hull which had lots of fine rivet detail.

The Nashorn (‘Rhinoceros’) is equipped with 8.8cm Pak 43, a gun based on the successful anti-aircraft weapon and an awesome weapon it is too! For the chassis, it was decided to use the Panzer III/IV as time was short and a vehicle was needed urgently to counter the overpowering Soviet T-34 tank.

In October 1942, Hitler ordered the production of 100 examples by May 1943, in time to join the summer offensive at Kursk. In total, 439 Nashorns were built, ending in March 1945.

I painted the wheels and bottom of the hull before proceeding with the tracks. I left off the drive sprocket until attaching the tracks, which came as lengths of single piece rubber.
The gun mechanism was quite complicated with lots of fine details. I managed to break one half of a traversing wheel shown here by the gunner’s seat but was able to repair it with a scratch build!
I quickly airbrushed the usual deep yellow/red-brown/green camouflage knowing that most would be hidden by the winter whitewash. The unpainted tracks are visible behind the model.
The Nashorn had a five man crew. The driver would have sat in front of the gun compartment. The figures really make the model come alive and are wonderfully animated. The winter white battle fatigues were reversible with a standard coloured pattern on the inside. The gunner is looking through his gun sight while the commander observes with binoculars. Note the periscope behind the gunner. I painted the shells with a mixture of gold and brass. The discarded spent shells needed the tops hollowing out but easy enough with a pin vise.
Weathering the model was a lot of fun using various powders, pigments, washes and even oils. The external figures and dog came from the Tamiya briefing set. The German shepherd is a nice touch. Dogs were used for scouting and warning of the enemy at the front, just as they are today in the Ukraine conflict in the Donbass! Note the slight sag on the tracks to make them look more realistic. Achieved with a touch of the indispensable superglue!
Note the soldier carrying a Panzerfaust, a type of early RPG, which dates the scene late in the war.
Mmm Meine Uhr funktioniert nicht mehr-billiger Sowjetschrott! ‘Mty watch has stopped-cheap Soviet rubbish’!
‘Those fascists are in for a shock!’ A Soviet soldier is creeping up to lob a grenade. Actually he is a Soviet mountain soldier from the Zvezda set but the only one I could find in a suitable pose!
Beautiful box art. As with most Tamiya kits, you get a beautifully engineered, flaw free fitting, quality plastic model.

According to Tamiya:

‘The Nashorn quickly proved its value in live combat, causing havoc among Russian tanks in its maiden deployment, as part of the 560th which provided cover for the flanks of the 4th Panzer Army in the 1943 German assault on Kursk. It is also said that in action with the 525th in the Battle of Monte Cassino, January 1944, a Nashorn destroyed an M4 Sherman from a range of 2,800 metres’ (!).

From December 1943 to March 1944, Commander of the 1st Platoon of the 1st Company, Lt. Albert Ernst, destroyed some 65 enemy tanks in the Vitebesk area of Belarus for which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross.

Overall, the Nashorn was a very effective weapon and if it had been introduced into mass production earlier in the war it might have had a decisive effect.

German Tank Destroyer Marder III M “Normandy Front”. Tamiya 1/35 scale.

Somewhere in the Normandy bocage summer 1944
Those leaves could be a nuisance!
Hiding in the hedgerows from Allied aircraft

This is another great kit from Tamiya and includes 5 figures, although one of whom, the driver in the front, is just half a torso! I like these self-propelled guns because you get all the interior detail as well so you get more bangs for your bucks!

The magical Tamiya box art. Marder means ‘Marten’.

The Germans employed a huge variety of assault and anti-tank destroyers during the Second World War and they were not averse to sourcing foreign made hardware. In this case, the Marder III was a tank destroyer based on the Czechoslovak Panzer 38 (t) chassis with an open top fighting compartment and employing a converted Soviet 7.62 cm Pak 36(r). The reliance on captured guns was considered unsatisfactory and s the Marder III H appeared which used the domestically produced 7.5 cm Pak 4.

At last a dedicated self-propelled gun (SPG) was deemed necessary and produced by BMM and Alkett. This was named the Marder III M. This had a very different layout to the previous Marders. The engine in the middle allowed for more space in the rear fighting compartment which had 10 mm thickness armour plate but still left the crew rather exposed.

Marder III Ms were used on both Eastern and Western fronts mainly in a defensive role.

The 7.5 cm gun showing the fine detail.
A nice touch was the inclusion of this photo-etch grille for the rear cylindrical exhaust. It had to be first bent around a sprue to get the shape right and then tied tight using some fine wire also supplied with the kit. Those Japs think of everything! A little bit tricky and if you don’t get it right it’s liable to spring across your carpet!
Fighting compartment not too heavily weathered as I think gunners would have tried to keep their fighting space relatively clean and clutter free.
One of the crew looking a bit ghoulish. I am not the world’s greatest figure painter!
Note the shells and the canvas cover masts. The two pieces sticking up above the rear hatch platform were part of a mechanism to stop the breech when it came back.
I went to town with the ‘branches’ but these vehicles were often heavily disguised (see photo below)
It’s that man again! The French farmer with the rake appeared in my Tiger tank diorama and now he is trying for another cameo role here.
Fresh out of the BMM factory
A good photo of the breech. To the left of the racks for the 75 mm rounds is the radio which is detailed in the kit although I left off the wiring
In a small Russian town summer, 1944. Note how the wheels and tracks are bogged in mud and the canvas cover over the fighting compartment
Camouflaged with branches, Poland, summer 1944

German Assault Tank IV Brummbär Late Production. Tamiya 1/35

216th Assault Tank Battalion, Eastern Front. Late 1944-early 1945
Kit packaging

Another superlative kit from Tamiya. An infantry support tank based on the Panzer Mk. IV chassis with 15 cm gun, the Brummbärs (‘growling bear’) were assigned to their own dedicated assault tank battalions and used at Kursk, Anzio and Normandy. They were also used to help crush the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944. Brummbär was the name given by Allied intelligence and not by the Germans themselves. Soviet documents of the time refer to it as ‘The Bear’ while German soldiers simply nicknamed it the ‘StuPa’, a contraction of ‘Sturmpanzer’ the official designation of the assault tank.

The movable gun has slight traverse linked with a sight on top of fighting compartment (just visible), plus elevation and depression.
One of the side Schürzen or side protective skirts has been removed to show the running gear detail. The Zimmerit came as a dedicated coating sticker sheet acquired separately.
Lying in wait for its prey
The DIY damaged wall was a bit of a rush job! These assault guns were designed for close infantry support especially in towns and built up areas. It shows how it might have been used in ambush. The Fuhrer looks on approvingly!
Rear of vehicle showing spare road wheels. Behind the Commander’s hatch is the mount for a machine gun. To the right of the hatch is the movable gun sight. I am glad Tamiya is adding more figures to their latest releases. I think they bring the models to life and add more realism.
Typical of Tamiya’s attention to details is the inclusion of a glossy leaflet which includes some photos of a real restored Brummbär showing the zimmerit coating.

Hummel German late production 15cm self-propelled gun

Box art

In January 1942, Hitler ordered the development of a multi-purpose infantry support weapon that could also operate against tanks. The Hummel (bumblebee) emerged as an interim solution for this project. It is a hybrid design based on a Pz.Kpfw.III/IV chassis fitted with the huge 15cm sFH18/1 howitzer. It comprised three sections, from front to rear, driving compartment, engine room and finally open fighting compartment at rear.

It was intended as a long-range fire support weapon and given this role, there is scant information about their performance.

However, the Hummels continued to be used throughout the war on both western and eastern fronts which testifies to their value to German combat units.

Replacement metal barrel for the kit plastic one. It enhances the final result no end. There is no seam to worry about and it even has rifling detail. Amazing!
Note the aiming stakes at rear of vehicle. Time consuming to mask and paint but add a touch of colour and realism.
The breech was amazingly detailed and even has tiny metal screws to raise and lower the gun. Note range finding chart on left of mechanism. Also the red fire extinguisher.
Note the MG34 on the side of fighting compartment

Tiger 1 Late version Tamiya 1 35

This kit by Tamiya I wanted to incorporate into a diorama. These days, I like my models to depict some sort of story as it makes the hobby more interesting. It comes with 4 Waffen-SS tank crew figures and so that was a good basis. One of them is holding a cup which I made from tiny plastic tubing! The commander is a Panzer Ace.

Box art

It is supposed to be somewhere in Normandy behind the front in 1944. The crew are having a breather before resuming the battle to repel the Allied invasion, while some French villagers look on. At the time of the invasion there were just 3 Tigers stationed in Normandy!

The Tiger is such a symbol of German military prowess that there is really no need for me to discuss it here suffice to say it suffered from several serious deficiencies:

  • Too heavy for its engine and transmission, it was lumbering and relatively slow.
  • Suffered frequent mechanical breakdowns.
  • Poor fuel economy and limited range.
  • The running gear was overly complicated, making maintenance in the field  virtually impossible.
  •  Turret traverse was too slow, even when the hydraulic system was in use.
  • The lack of stabilisation equipment meant its main armament of 8.8cm Kwk36 rifled cannon could not fire very accurately except when stationary.

That said, its protection was unrivalled, and its legendary main armament was without doubt the most lethal at the time.

I used a special tool from Tamiya for applying the ‘Zimmerit’ anti-magnetic mine paste to the hull and turret of the tank which is made from Tamiya putty. The model was first airbrushed hull red brown which was the factory undercoat colour. Then it was airbrushed in the standard dark yellow /red brown/ green camouflage pattern. I was quite pleased with the Zimmerit finish as it was my first attempt.

The Tiger is essentially a square box in shape and has no sloping amour, apart from the short glacis plate at front. This was a serious deficiency in the design but made up for by the massive thickness of the vertical plating.
Track construction
Zimmerit applicator. There are several sizes in the pack.
The tree is home made from wire and foam
The Citroen Traction, also a Tamiya kit
Figures by Masterbox
Reference used
Great study of a devastated late Tiger in Normandy from above book.