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Tamiya 1/35 scale Wespe

Kit: No. 35200
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $39
Comments: Injection molded, 197 parts, decals.

THE WESPE was designed to be the prime artillery punch for Germany's panzer divisions. Mounting the powerful leFH18M 10.5cm howitzer on a lengthened Panzer II chassis, more than 600 Wespes served from 1943 until the end of the war.

Molded in flash-free tan plastic, Tamiya's Wespe has excellent detail. The main superstructure parts feature beveled edges to reproduce scale thickness, and the bogie wheels have back plates, eliminating that hollow look.

The highlight of this model is the beautifully reproduced howitzer -- a kit within a kit. The breech block of the gun even has tiny machining numbers! Two crew members included in the kit are in winter dress and look suitably cold.

Building an open-topped armored fighting vehicle requires more planning than the usual armor kit. I decided early on to build and paint the gun, chassis, and upper hull as separate assemblies. To keep the howitzer separate, I cut a slot in the lower pedestal mount to allow the gun to slide into position after the hull and chassis were joined.

All of the superstructure parts have ejector-pin marks on the inner surfaces. Some are covered by internal equipment, but you'll have to fill and sand a few. The leaf springs have noticeable seams which need to be cleaned up, too.

The vinyl tracks are delicately molded and look convincing when painted and highlighted. They ride a bit high but could be glued to the return rollers or shortened by a link to improve appearance. The tracks in the latest Tamiya kits can be glued with plastic cement.

I painted my model with Polly Scale dark yellow, olive green, and red brown. Decals are included for three vehicles and went on without problems.

My Wespe took 23 hours to build, with about eight hours going to painting the interior and complex camouflage pattern.

The kit compares well with my reference -- Armour Series No. 4: Sturmartillerie: Self-Propelled Guns and Flak Tanks by Spielberger and Feist. It even has several photos of the battery D vehicle I built from the kit.

A model of the Wespe has been a long time coming, and Tamiya's is well worth the wait. German armor modelers will have fun with this one.

Jim Zeske
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