|GRIFFON: Update set: Flakpanzer 38(t) Gepard|
An exhaustive update set in PE and resin from Griffon...
Update set: Flakpanzer 38(t) Gepard
Manufacturer: Griffon Model
Material: Photoetched brass, aluminium & resin
Serial Number: BPL35002
Price: (Approx.) £36 (LuckyModel.com & Free Shipping)
Dragon released their Smart Series kit of the Flakpanzer 38(t) Gepard last year, kit #6469. The kit was almost universally praised, and included such things as 'Magic Tracks', and extensive photoetched parts including spent shell baskets for the main gun etc. As with almost all injection-moulded kits however, the limitations of the process meant that there were things that could be improved upon. Hence the release of this update set from Griffon.
This is a major update set! It's one of those sets that you would think would be supplied in a box rather than as it is, in a series of plastic bags stapled to a cardboard header. Griffon do supply some of their sets in boxes, and the decision to package this one in bags must have been close. Inside the series of five plastic bags we are given thirteen frets of photoetch, along with an assortment of styrene rod and brass wire in varying diameters, three resin parts, an acetate insert, and a beautifully machined aluminium barrel along with a turned brass flash suppressor for its end!
In the last bag you'll find the instructions for the set which run to nine sides of A4. There actually made up of two separate sets of instructions, one running to seven sides and the other to two sides. This reflects the fact that the update set itself is made from combining separate update sets.
A nice thing about this set, is that in the main Griffon have managed to avoid replicating what PE is included in the original kit. No small feat this either, since the PE included in the kit was quite extensive.
So what do we get….and is it any good? Well, firstly we're given new hatches for above the engine compartment to replace the kit ones. Although beautifully made, the kit ones are actually quite good too, and really only need replacing if you intend to display them open…which of course, is a distinct possibility with this kit since a full engine is included. Of course these Griffon ones do included fully working hinges, which is a vast improvement over the kit items, and the same holds true for the upper, hinged armour panels to the fighting compartment. The kit ones, again, are good, and even produced to a near scale-thickness, but replacing them with photoetched items that have little working hinges would raise the finished kit from a good model to a show-stopping model…depending on your skill set of course!
Moving on, we're given six new ammunition boxes for the pedestal mount in the fighting compartment, and having used these on a Flakpanzer I built earlier I have to say, that although they are extremely fiddly little blighters to build correctly, the do look really superb once constructed, and are a drop fit into the kit. You even get magazines to fold up and put inside.
Next up it's a machined aluminium barrel to replace the 2cm Flak 38 barrel, which is supplied in styrene in the kit, although it is slide-moulded. This one from Griffon also comes with a superb machined brass flash suppressor. This just requires you to cut the kit item off the breech and drill a small hole to take the locating pin on the new barrel.
Moving to the inside of the drivers compartment we find a serious number of upgrades, from foot pedals, major enhancements for the drivers seat, and a full set of replacement controls, including dash. The trouble is...very little of this can actually be seen when the model is complete...even with all the necessary hatches opened up fully. On the outside of the drivers compartment, i.e. around the front of the vehicle we're given things that will be much more visible, such as replacement fenders, that need to be 'embossed' with the point of a ballpoint pen, new hinges for all the hatches, and two curious inserts for the drivers hatch. I say curious because they don't really look much like what was actually fitted. The drivers hatch on this vehicle was split into two semi-circles, and each was padded with a leather covering. These parts supplied by Griffon are obviously made from PE and fall a little flat unfortunately. They also have incorrect detail engraved on them which doesn't resemble the actual locking mechanism. In addition to the fenders plus their support brackets, we're also offered replacement catches for boxes, and various small brackets and fixtures for the outside of the vehicle.
Moving back inside there is a new battery case, somewhat similar to the PE one supplied by Dragon, but at least it means one for the spares box! There's also a new radio rack, which is a vast improvement over the kit item, yet although this is actually fitted into the open-topped fighting compartment, it's nearly hidden and is quite difficult to see, which is a shame since it's so beautifully engineered! Various brackets to support the electrical boxes et on the inside of the fighting compartment are also supplied.
On the outside again, all the tool clamps are replaced, again providing more for the spares box since these are provided as PE in the kit by Dragon, as is the toolbox.
Most of the rest of this exhaustive set concentrates on improving the Flak 38 itself. For example, we are given a completely new gunners seat should one wish to model the gun as a late version. Along with numerous small details to be fitted to the gun itself, and its mount....and I do mean numerous! Take a good look at pictures 24 & 25 to see what I mean. Although Dragon moulded the main shield for the gun commendably thin, you can't beat photoetch for depicting a scale thickness, so we're offered full replacements for the entire shield, together with the various hinges holding the panels that make this shield up, which of course present us with various options for modelling.
I must admit that when building the Dragon kit I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get the PE supplied for making the spent shell basket into shape. They just didn't seem to want to work, and I wasn't happy with the final result, to the extent that I thought about leaving it off. Griffon obviously thought so too, since they supply a new set here, and they are a slightly different shape to the ones supplied in the kit, and therefore will probably be a little easier to get into shape.
Finally we're offered improvements to the drive sprockets included in the kit in the form of toothed cogs to replace the outer ring on the kit supplied ones. I'm not sure that these would actually look any better scale-wise to the kit ones, but as noted on the instructions, if your references show drive sprockets without the outer ring of lightening holes, and you wish to model this, then here's a good solution to the problem. If you don't need solid drive sprockets though, I'd suggest sticking with the kit items.
Also included in the kit are three resin parts, elevation and tracking wheels for the gun, plus a part representing the gearing mechanism for the elevation...at least I think it is!
It's a large set and it's going to be a lot of work to install correctly. Also it will take a long time. On the other hand it will look simply amazing if you manage it! Not at all cheap...but then producing an absolute show-stopper never is...and think of the fun and satisfaction you'll get using it! Highly recommended!
My thanks to Griffon Model for the review sample.