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Dragon 1/35 scale Heuschrecke IVb "Grasshopper"

Kit: No. 6439
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-698-0322,
Price: $42.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 760 parts (54 photoetched-metal), decals
Pros: First kit in this scale; well-detailed
Cons: No driver or commander station; instruction errors; too many extra parts
Issue Published: May 2008
Leave it to the Germans to make a transforming self-propelled weapon. The Heuschrecke IVb "Grasshopper" was an engineering study on the feasibility of lifting the gun turret from its tracked carriage to use it as a field piece on the ground - a wasted effort, as a 105mm gun and turret proved too unwieldy to be useful as field artillery.

On the other hand, for armor modelers, Dragon's efforts are not for naught. The model features a photoetched-metal fret, detailed chassis, removable gun mount/turret, posable hatches, and a lifting derrick. Basic markings are included.

The chassis assembly presented no problems. However, there are no instructions for painting the ammo or the shell cases for the ammo locker; this is left up to your research. Also, nothing is mentioned for the assembly of the "Magic Tracks." I used 98 track pieces per side.

It was disappointing that neither a driver station nor a radio operator station was included. I painted this empty area black to hide it. In Step 7, the instructions call out Part B20, but it doesn't look like the illustration. I substituted a piece of styrene rod.

You have the choice of a 75mm or 105mm breech. With no documentation to support a 75mm breech, I chose the 105mm, painted the gun assembly, then installed it in the turret. The gun shield, Part H34, was too tight to fit over the barrel. I sanded the inside of the opening to let the barrel pass through.

Building the frame for the gun carriage, the photoetched-metal supports didn't fit in their molded slots. The derrick seemed fragile, so I chose to assemble it in the lowered position.

The model was painted overall Tamiya dark yellow (No. 60) with tires painted Floquil weathered black. Studying photographs from Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles, by David Doyle (Krause Publications), I used no weathering or markings. One of the subject vehicles appears to have dark road wheels - maybe panzer gray, or red primer if you're looking for something more colorful.

For Panzer IV fans, this model will make a nice addition to their collection. It took me 34 hours to build it.

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