Marder Most Foul

by Rob Williams

First published in the August 2009 AMMS Brisbane newsletter

I have no doubt that many of our members, like, I believe, most serious modellers, have what are best referred to as "shelf queens". These are those models of which we grew tired half way through building, gave up on, bought a better kit, or whatever. I have several and recently, decided it was time to make some space on my workbench by completing one of them.

The kit in question is Dragon’s Marder II (#6262) and I had bought it some time ago, probably for the usual reason that it looked like a good idea at the time. I had finished it to the point that the hull upper superstructure and gun were assembled, and the interior completed and painted. Yeah, thinks me, this will be a cinch to complete quickly as a vehicle from the Italian campaign for the Quarterly Model Comp.

That was about the last good part of the process. First I had to sand the mould seam off the roadwheels. Please Mr Dragon, why can’t the seam be at the edge of the tyre instead of in the middle? Having finished tearing my hair about this, the wheels were duly assembled and painted. Then I came to the tracks, which are individual link. As the vehicle is based on a Panzer II, the tracks are not exactly large, and were a serious strain on my eyes assembling the 99 links per side.

Then came the interesting bit. I always make up such tracks as two sections on each side and join them either above or below the roadwheels. I also paint tracks before putting them on the vehicle. Take it from me, that no matter what the glue used, those tracks broke more times than I could count. I suspect that there will be a lot of dried mud on these to hide the mess.

Having put the tracks on, I could then join the two halves of the hull together. This only involved two full nights, six clamps, and about half a kilogram of putty before I had it looking right. OK, to give myself a break, I decided to paint and decal the shells. Please, Dragon, what have I done to offend you? Each shell has to be painted in four colours (case, drive band, projectile and fuse), and sports no less than three decals on each shell. These decals are so small that they can ride around on ONE DROP of water with room to spare! Suffice to say that it took one night to prime and undercoat the shells, one night to paint them, one night to apply Future, and one night to apply the decals themselves. At least two of the decals simply disappeared – I still don’t know where they went.

Now I returned to the assembly. There was a good deal of frustration involved here in that the only good reference pic I could find of an Italian campaign Marder II was of one in Sicily belonging to the Herman Goering Panzer Regiment. Yeah, OK, good. Of course, I had done everything such as lights, spare tracks, spare wheel, tools etc before closely examining the photo, hadn’t I?

A few little problems immediately became evident.

The vehicle in question had no tools mounted on the right hand side of the fighting compartment, only a drive sprocket ring. This meant that I had to fill the six locating holes and sand them off, which would not have been a problem if I hadn’t already painted the area concerned and applied the decal.

On the front of Dragon’s kit is a spare roadwheel. No, on this vehicle, there was just another sprocket ring, with three spare roadwheels on the side of the front hull.

Dragon’s kit has one Bosch headlight. The vehicle in question had two unshielded headlights and a Notek light.

After making two more wheels from scratch, I decided to take a break and visit Purple Bear. There, my luck changed when I was able to pick up for $20 an old (1971) Panzer II, which gave me the headlights, Notek light, spare roadwheels, and the hooks on the front of the hull, of which I had managed to lose one.

Now I decided to cover the muzzle brake, as per the photo, and masked off the barrel so that I could paint the canvas cover. Wrong – when I removed the masking tape, of course the paint came off the barrel too, didn’t it?

I have now actually managed to nearly finish this beast, but if nothing else, I has me made more determined NOT to have any more shelf queens. Will I be making another Marder II ?

You jest, I hope?