Articles

Dragon - 7.5cm PaK 40 w/Gun Crew + 3.7cm PaK 35/36 (DRA 7374) _________(EXT)


 

Manufacturer Dragon
Scale 1/72
Set Code DRA 7374
Year 2010
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items 1 PaK35/36, 1 PaK40, 4 PaK40 Projectiles, Gear, Weapons
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review   

Characteristic for Dragon Pro Figure series are the inclusion of a vehicle appreciated by the manufacturer as a bonus offered to modellers and the presentation in the subtitle where the action replicated by the troopers took place. The last thing is easy bearing in mind all poses of the series are based on reference images shot during WWII in the referred areas. With “7.5cm PAK40 w/Gun Crew + 3.7cm PAK 35/36” the customs have been broken, the kit neither taking in any vehicle nor featuring a subtitle with the location where the crew fought. In fact, those aspects do not count at all here, the company maintaining good traditions such as stances reproduced after authentic photos, scale-down versions of 1/35 figures with almost the same details, and a bonus, this time a PAK35/36, perhaps the best choice within a set aiming at anti-tank crewmen. Both guns have been previously made available by Dragon, either mounted or towed by various vehicles, but it is a premiere to gather them in the same box and supplying the related crew, too.

The main cannon forwarded, the famous PAK40, was a 7.5 cm gun developed by Rheinmetall in 1939 as a scaled up version of the 5 cm PaK38. Manufactured in over 23,000 pieces, PaK40 had been in service since 1941 till the end of war and saw action on every front as the standard anti-tank cannon, being able to penetrate all enemy armoured vehicles from a safe distance. Furthermore, almost 6,000 variants of that gun were mounted in different vehicles such as Panzer IV F to J, Panzer V (Panther), Sd.Kfz 251/22, Sd.Kfz 234/4 etc. PaK40 weighted 1,425 kilograms and its allocated primer mover wasRaupenschlepper Ost although the cannon could be towed by a large number of vehicles, including a specially assigned Sd.Kfz 251/4, such assemble being reassembled by Dragon in the 1/72 kit “SdKfz. 251/1 Ausf D & 7.5 cm PaK 40”. Regulations provided for a PaK40 to be operated by an eight member team, the chief of section being responsible for seeing that all duties are properly performed, all commands executed and all safety precautions observed, the gunner set the announced deflection and laid for direction, no. 1 loaded and fired the gun, no. 2, 3, 4, and 5 handled the ammunition while no. 6 drove the prime mover. According to KStN, the chief of section was armed with MP38/40, the gunner and no. 1, 2, 3, and 4 had pistols while no.5 and no.6 received Kar98K.  

Perhaps PAK40 is one the most reproduced cannons in Braille Scale, individual or together with crew. ESCI, Italeri, and HaT kits deliver the weapon together with crewmen while Odemars and Roden put forward only the guns. In addition, specially dedicated 1/72 crewmen for PaK40 are available inside Preiser's "German PaK 40 crew" while from Airfix's "Opel Blitz and Pak40" can be extracted the figures which are true 1/72, dissimilar with the cannon and truck that are in 1/76 scale.  

The bonus, PAK35/36, firing 3.7 cm projectiles, was manufactured in over 15,000 pieces by Rheinmetall and represented the standard anti-tank cannon in the Early War period. Very soon, in front of French, British, and Russian armour, it became clear it was an obsolete weapon and even gained the nicknamed "door knocker" due to its results.  Still, PaK35/36 remained in service till the end of war and its capacity for penetrating enemy armour was enhanced in 1943 thanks to Stielgranate41, a hollow shaped charge warhead rocket loaded in the muzzle. Its weight of 460 kilograms in travelling mode permitted the weapon to be towed by almost all motor vehicles, even by motorcycles, as well as horse-drawn. Likewise, the cannon could be transported into action by its crewmen, a special harness being designed in that purpose. In addition, many WWII German standard and field-converted vehicles received PaK35/36 as main weapon. In terms of its crew, regulations enforced for PaK35/36 a six member team, the chief of section being responsible for seeing that all duties are properly performed, all commands executed and all safety precautions observed, the gunner laid the gun, no. 1 loaded and fired the gun, no. 2 and 3 handled the ammunition, and no. 4 drove the prime mover. As personal weapons, in conformity with regulations, the chief of section was armed with MP38/40, the gunner and no. 1, were endowed with pistols while no. 3 and no.4 had Kar98K.

Even if it had a pretty limited utility, PaK35/36 appears in lots of filmed and photographed materials. It is also encountered in many offers issued by various 1/72 scale manufacturers. Esci/Italeri, HaT, MAC Distributions, and Zvezda having within their catalogues more or less accurate and detailed cannons accompanied by crewmen while ACE and ICM propose the same gun in kits without figures.Certainly, there is not a coincidence Dragon grants as bonus a PaK35/36 bearing in mind most of the figure stances here displayed have deep roots in reference images of such a gun and its crew.  

The Dragon PAKs kit arrives on the market in the typical Pro Figure box, with an artwork composed by two images, one the same as for the 1/35 kit and revealing the PAK40 operated by a crew of five in very close stances with those available inside while a little below is posted the PAK35/36 without personnel and painted in the Early War gray colour. Of course, on the reverse and sides of the box more data are submitted, introducing the guns and their strong points as well as the assembled version of the soldiers and the related sprues. The kit comprises the following sprues: one for figures, two identical with separate weapons and other two with gear as well as three for PAK40 and two for PAK35/36 pieces. In addition, a photo-etch component and a decal sheet by Cartograf are supplied. A comprehensive painting and assemble guide for guns and figures is also included and with few minor issues, typical for Dragon, it still offers clearly enough instructions. The decal sheet allows modellers to transform these guns and the crew in experienced ones by adding the famous rings on barrels, attesting the victories scored against enemy armour. Besides, accuracy can be increased by using the minuscule decals for the 7.5 cm shell heads representing the data chart featured on the real rounds. Anyway, those decals are not mandatory, often WWII German projectiles missing that information, but surely it is a nice touch the manufacturer thought at such thing, the decals looking great on these superbly shaped and in scale projectiles, truly matching the caliber of the gun.  

Soldiers of WWII German anti-tank battalions or companies endowed with PaK guns used the same Waffenfarbe as the parent branch in which they activated, for instance grass green for PanzerGrenadier, white for infantry etc. By painting the Waffenfarbe in red, the artist of the artwork voted for an exception to the rule, enrolling the crewmen within artillery branch. Anti-tank battalions belonging to artillery, designated as Artillerie-PaK-Abteilungen, were not very common, so troopers with red Waffenfarbe manning a PaK are extremely rare, the great majority having white or green Waffenfarbe. Likewise, a mistake is noticeable in the artwork illustration of PaK35/36, its traverse and elevation mechanism being on the right side while those should have been on the other side. Fortunately, the kit does not duplicate painter’s mistake, the mechanism in case and its related hand-wheels being set in the correct location.   

From the modelling point of view, Dragon’s PAK40 emerges as a superior kit, in scale, very detailed and featuring plenty of optional parts such as three barrels (early, mid, and late production muzzle brake), two recoil slide end caps, two different trail end handles, two recoil guards, and two models of wheels (cast and spoked versions). Between the two part gun shield, abounding in small details, should be sneaked the single photo-etch of the kit, depicting the sliding armour. The cannon can be displayed in combat or towing modes, the hobbyists having the possibility of adjusting the trails in the desired position after finishing the model.  Likewise, a hybrid arrangement combining both modes is also feasible for the cannon in fighting position. Images and films of the period attest the fact that PaK40 crews often fired their weapon with trails opened but with shield folded for transportation. This might be an important feature while hobbyists can assemble the kit in travelling mode but if he changes his mind in a later stage, he can put on show the cannon in combat mode, too. The size and diameter of the trails emerge in scale and has got fine spades and the aiming stakes. The traverse and elevation mechanism as well as the gun sight, breech, and cradle are finely sculptured and detailed.  Putting together the model is not the easiest thing and parts are very thin, requiring proper care when handling them, so definitely not a kit for beginners. 

A really insignificant draw-back is recorded at the barrels, in spite producer’s good intention, who gives no more than three models, all these miss the ring at the middle of the barrel. Dragon scaled down their 1/35 PaK40 kit and maybe there the related ring is provided as photo-etch. The manufacturer has forgotten about this detail when rearranging the model in 1/72 scale and neither furnished it as photo-etch nor cast it directly on any barrel. The most exigent modellers might find solutions for solving the problem, including scratch-building a ring from melted sprue or other materials or even replacing the barrel with a metal one. However, the final model of this PaK40, although built out-of-the-box, looks superb, and certainly transposes one of the best or even the ultimate PaK40 available in Braille Scale. 

At its turn, the PAK 35/36 is highly crafted, even more accurate than its larger comrade and again, perhaps one of the best versions of this cannon within 1/72 scale. Composed by 19 parts, assembling the weapon is almost effortless, the pieces fitting in places very well. Thanks to the solution adopted, with movable trails, the gun can be displayed in combat or in travelling configurations. The trails appear slim enough and end with greatly crafted spades, featuring two aiming stakes set above the right leg in the standard location as well. The traverse and elevation mechanism with related hand-wheels comes sharp, Dragon offering two optional hand-wheels with a more visible shaft in the centre of the disks. For many manufacturers the tiny barrel of PaK35/36 raises a provocation but this time is not over-scaled and due to slide mould, it arrives with muzzle already drilled. This fact is excellent while it exempt the hobbyist of supplementary efforts. The breech looks fine and a fairly sight is included, perfectly matching the shield sight opening. The both sides detailed shield has received crisp bolts and other characteristics, and even emerging a hair too thick, is still the thinnest 1/72 plastic PaK35/36 shield. The final result pleases the eye and constitutes an excellent weapon to be used as towed by different vehicles or in conjunction with crews benefitting by less detailed cannons. 

As a Figure Pro kit, corroborated with the fact that both PaKs have been already made available by Dragon in various kits, of course the central point of interest should focus on the five crewmen enforced by the company for manning the PAK40 cannon and definitely here we are in the presence of premium stuff. Though not mentioning as for the preceding sets where the illustrated army-men fought, Dragon has continued the excellent practice of copying stances adopted by real soldiers as revealed by reference images. Likewise, we again receive a scaled-down set, the 1/35 version being issue under the name “7.5 cm PaK40 w/Heer Gun Crew”. Bearing in mind these features and taking profit by the master-class Dragon moulds, a perfect 1/72 set has resulted, with a level of details fully compatible with their larger comrades. Nevertheless, to all these factors should be added the multi-part approach, facilitating not only a tremendously natural appearance, but also conferring the hobbyist the chance to convert and equip the troopers as he wishes. 

The sprue of figures puts forward the parts for assembling exactly five troopers, without any limb or head options. However, in the upper area, somehow separate, there are supplied four projectiles only for PaK40, which is a downside of the kit. Neither the dedicated spures nor the one for the figures incorporate other types of PaK40 rounds, tubes or ammo boxes as well as PaK35/36 shells, practically obliging the modeller to fit the crew just at PaK40 or to search for PaK35/36 projectiles somewhere else. For sure it would have been effortless and costless for the company to distribute in the box few pieces of plastic as PaK35/36 rounds, granting more functions for the brilliant crew. Likewise, the way Dragon proposes to arm the troopers, all with Kar98K, make the impression that they would have been more appropriate for handling the smaller gun than the PaK40. Furthermore, it seems that for a couple of the here submitted stances, the manufacturer found inspiration in a pretty well-known colour photograph taken in Stalingrad and published in Signal Magazine, showing PaK35/36 crewmen operating the cannon and being accompanied by several infantry-men. 

On the box the company stated the poses depict commander, gunner, loader and two ammunition handlers but KStN, as well as filmed and photographed references, clearly indicate that one ammunition bearer and the driver had rifles, the rest of positions within a PaK40 crew receiving pistols as personal weapons and the commander MP38/40. According to instructions and artwork, Dragon advices hobbyists to add Kar98K and related ammunition pouches to all figs. This might be taken as a small mistake, and in order to better respect historical accuracy, as above highlighted, more appropriate would be replacing the rifles and pouches with pistol holsters, at least for gunner and loader, and MP38/40 for gun commander. Fortunately, the separate sprue of gear gives enough holsters for covering the needs. In conformity with how the manufacturer has equipped the figures, those are closer to PaK35/36, where the commander was armed with MP38/40 or pistol, the gunner and loader having either rifles or pistols, as KStN provided for. This fact accentuates the regret of not receiving any PaK35/36 round, extremely useful here and giving modellers the liberty of choosing for which gun to use the crew. However, it should be acknowledged in the above referred reference image of PaK35/36, no soldier holds a projectile in that moment, the photographer catching only the crew members fulfilling tasks in the front part of the cannon, so the ammunition handlers completely miss. For that reason, Dragon’s identified other sources for ammunition handlers and all poses might work fine for both guns, bringing life and genuine action either to PaK40 or to PaK35/36.

These soldiers are dressed in the uniform characterizing the Early War period but encountered till the end, formed by M35/36 tunics, regular trousers, and marching/jack boots. Related to head gear, the company designed for them only steel helmets although the modeller might set M34 or M43 caps taken from various Preiser or Caesar sets, the shape of Dragon heads allowing such conversions. Sometimes, the same attire was worn even in colder environments but the present soldiers are clearly created having in mind a warm day, the rolled up sleeves and opened collars emphasising sculptor’s intention. 

Putting together the figures is for sure a joy, in standard approach the parts flawlessly going in places and durable fixing with any modelling glue (polly-cement). Each figure has come with separate limbs, trunk, and head, as well as gear and weapons, setting up a true heaven for further conversions. Unfortunately, the manufacturer settled on providing just a single sprue of figures, like for “German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944” and “LAH Panzergrenadiers + Sd.Kfz.251/7 Ausf.D, Ardennes 1944”, which comes out as another shortcoming of the set, especially for one incorporating two guns and labeled as mainly a figure kit. Definitely the expenses with an extra sprue of figures, as delivered for the two sets of paratroopers and King Tigers would have cost the producer almost nothing and would have offered to the target groups an excellent opportunity in expressing their creativity. Applying one figure sprue marketing strategy, the hobbyist is almost obliged to purchase a second box, nevertheless cursing such policy, enriching his collection with extra anti-tank guns without crewmen. However, in case of buying more boxes, the gun surplus could be utilised in connection with various vehicles by displaying the weapons in travelling mode. Almost all WWII German vehicles as well as horses towed PaK35/36 while PaK40 would look good behind many trucks and half-tracks. In addition, the eventual supplementary cannons can be deployed with crewmen from kits featuring poorer guns or with sets offering only the crew such as Preiser’s “German PAK 40 Crew”.

Leaving aside the marketing tactics and the eventual benefits for their applicants, we should pass to closer analyse the poses in their standard approach. It has to be underlined Dragon’s advance to PaK crew is more than dynamic, realistic, and unconventional, similar stances being hard to find in 1/72 scale. Here it is about a PaK crew carrying out various activities around but not firing the cannon in that moment whiles no soldier is provided to operate or even to stay closer to the hand-wheels. In addition, by delivering only five figures, neither PaK35/36 nor PaK40 complete crew is covered. 

The gun commander is undoubtedly embodied by the army-man a little bent in front and holding binoculars in right hand. An interesting aspect in terms of his personal weapon raises both the artwork and the instructions, contradicting each-other. The assembly guidelines preaches for endowing him with Kar98K while in the artwork he clearly appears without rifle, perhaps having a pistol holster on the left hip. As earlier emphasized, the reality would be challenged by following manufacturer’s recommendations for the personal armament advised to affix and the roles assigned to these troopers in standard approach. In this light, much better would be respecting the artwork and arm the gun commander with a pistol instead of rife. Still, the best choice for a PaK40 commander would be MP38/40 in accordance with KStN regulations. This figure is certainly inspired by the Stalingrad photo of PaK35/36 earlier identified, where indeed, the soldier had got a Kar98K but the presence of binoculars in unsure. In reality, that army-man is not the gun commander, the true leader starring in another photo taken on the same occasion but he has not been reproduced in plastic by Dragon yet. Both images can be found right at the end of the book “3,7 cm Panzerabwehrkanone (PAK)(Das Waffen-Arsenal Band 029)”  as well as in other sources. Anyway, sculptor’s choice is more than great, the selected pose being fully suitable and more than attractive while similar stances of PaK commanders are hard to find in Braille Scale. 

The same maneuver of changing the rifles with pistols in holsters should be applied at least to both the gunner, represented here as rushing his comrades to faster prepare the cannon, and the loader, portrayed with a PaK40 projectile in his hands. If in case of PaK35/36 many times reference images illustrate those specialised soldiers with Kar98K, no image or filmed document known to the reviewer reveals PaK40 gunner and loader armed with rifles as personal weapons. Nonetheless, such situations could occur on the battle field, perhaps when a PaK40 was operated not by its initial crew but by an improvised one. The rifle swap with pistol holsters encounter a problem taking into account the Kar98K slings are sculptured on the trunks as well as the gas mask straps. Because of that, the weapon slings could be painted as straps of other items, sometimes map cases, bread bags, binocular holsters featuring two ways of carrying, either by strap or by the more common belt loops, obviously, the modeller having to set the item in case. Additionally, an alternative would be removing one of the straps but it should be pointed out that the torso of the crouched soldier has got both rifle and gas mask container straps one over the other. Such torso is ideal to be allocated for a gunner or loader armed with pistol, the remaining strap representing the gas mask container one. 

With reference to the gunner, this arrives in a more than attractive pose and with the head turned a little back, he indicates something with hands, shouting to the team and trying to speed them up in setting the cannon. This is a very dynamic and persuasive stance, the open mouth and his gestures being very natural and giving emphasise to the whole attitude. However, bearing in mind the rifle, corroborated with the lack of crew members, in case hobbyists wish to complete the crew with a new gunner, the present one can excellent act as the driver of the prime-mover, giving guidelines to the crew where to push the gun or telling his colleagues either where he is going to park or simply informing that he is going to bring closer the prime mover.

As regards the loader, the kit supplies two standing figures with projectiles in hands but for playing the loader role, more indicated is the soldier standing twist to the left. Again, if completing the team with a new loader, armed with pistol, this miniature might embody one of the three ammunition bearers allocated to a PaK40. The necessity of bringing another loader is emphasized by the way the Dragon loader holds the round. The procedure enforced the loader should have kept the projectile with the base in the left hand, in that way avoiding to be hit by in the chest by the gun in recoil. The figure in case holds the round incorrectly as a loader, so a better role for him would be ammunition bearer preparing to give a new projectile to a true loader. 

Concerning the two ammunition bearers mentioned by the producer, one is accurately equipped with Kar98K and the other should have got pistol, but also the rifle might work. One of them approaches with a new round while his comrade, crouched, holds nothing, perhaps he has just handed over the projectile to a team-mate. In addition, in order to enhance the tasks carried out by the crouched fig, modellers can set in his hands or to display close to him one or more of the projectiles provided as separate parts on the same sprue. With or without further conversions, the roles within the team might be easily swapped, the stances clearly fitting to multiple tasks. 

As in any Dragon Figure Pro kit, the modeller will receive two separate sprues, one for gear and one for weapons, both duplicated one time. The sprue with gear  supplies 4 entrenching tools, 4 shovels, 4 bayonets in sheaths, one binoculars, 4 mess-tins, 4 canteens, 4 gas mask containers, 4 gas mask containers with rolled gas cape pouches, 4 Zeltbahns, 4 bread bags, 4 gas cape pouches, 8 Kar98K ammunition pouches, 4 StG44 ammunition pouches, 4 MP40 ammunition pouches, 2 Gewehr43 ammunition pouches, 2 map cases, 1 MG gunner case, 2 holsters for 7.65 mm P-08 Parabellum/P-38 Walther pistols, 2 holsters for 7.65 mm P-38 Walther, and 1 pistol holster for 7.65 mm small pistol such as Mauser or Sauer. Likewise, a little odd because those are not necessary here, is the decision to include the sprue provided within Paratrooper sets, with bandoleers, and not the one without as the manufacturer used for the infantrymen from Ardennes. Anyway, these bandoleers are more than welcome either for Dragon’s paratroopers or for conversion utilizations on other companies’ miniatures embodying Fallschirmjagers. 

The sprue with weapons enriches collections with  3 Gewehr43, 3 Kar98K, 1 MG34, 1 MG42, 2 folded and 2 opened bipods for MGs, 1 StG44, 1 MP40 with shoulder stock folded, 1 MP40 with shoulder stock opened, and a Sten Mk2, its side magazine coming separately next to it. Furthermore, on the same sprue there are included 4 standard and 4 Fallschirmjäger steel helmets. For sure, both weapons and items of gear exceed with much the necessary of five soldiers, so the remainings are extremely useful for further conversions or replacements of less detailed items displayed on various figs as well as for setting as accessories within vehicles or dioramas. 

The multipart solutions corroborated with the inspiration got from reference photos as well as the intensively detailed work of the sculptor and the high precision mould led to an impressive final result, the crewmen not only perfectly interacting with the cannon, but also catching the interest through their extreme dynamicity and beautiful carving. 

Attire is completely and perfectly detailed, featuring genuine creases, buttons, collar and shoulder boards as well as nicely shaped pocket flaps facilitating a clear determination of the uniforms, the opened collars fully matching the rolled up sleeves for a genuine aparence. The astonishing anatomy attracts not only due to the perfect ratios but also because of extraordinary facial expressions fully adapted to the actions. The intricate finger issue is outstandingly solved by the mould which succeeded to make fingers easily identifiable and ideally adjusted to grip around objects or naturally stay. 

Cast in hard plastic the product allows ideal fixation with standard modelling glue (polly-cement), also wonderfully receiving enamel, acrylics or artistic oils. Except sharp details, the high precision mould provided flash-less minis and with just a small amount of seam lines, the multi-part solution also preventing the appearance of plastic in excess. The crewmen are supplied without bases, but this is common to any Dragon Pro Figure kit. Generally, in set aiming artillery crews such devices might affect the interaction with the weapon, but obviously, here is not the case. Moreover, few of them have got a good balance, excellent to check the arrangement before permanently gluing them in the desired locations. The soldiers exceptionally go with the cannon even without touching it and for this reason, the adopted stances consent to basing, too. 

As stated in the opening of this review, many companies rushed to portray the famous PaK40 and PaK35/36 with or without crews, most of them dressed in M36 uniforms. Except some of those figures, from the huge number of 1/72 sets on WWII Germans in Early War attire, Dragon’s crewmen, released in the tall side of 1/72, best match in terms of size, uniform, and level of sculpture with Preiser, Zvezda, Pegasus Hobbies, and Imex infantry-men, that by coincidence, are cast in hard plastic as well. This represents an important feature especially for modellers wishing to complete the number of troopers within a PaK40 or PaK35/36 team, the five members supplied by the manufacturer being undoubtedly insufficient but more than enough for a small vignette.

Definitely this is not a kit for gamers, but those which will decide spending some hours with Dragon’s crewmen and PaKs will not be disappointed, the products making a remarkable impression both in dioramas or wargaming tables, bringing force and a plus of reality to any scene in which they are involved. Furthermore, the crewmen are extremely suitable for conversions, allowing easy transformations into riflemen in out-of-ordinary stances. In spite having to pay a modest sum of money, the inclusion of a PaK35/36 gun sets out as a nice and useful touch, giving hobbyists more options to adjust the crewmen according to their needs. Crew and PaK guns simply impress, a normal thing considering the pieces are scaled-down versions of the much-admired 1/35 Dragon series. Almost incredible, the manufacturer succeeds to transpose to these Braille Scale miniatures the stunning details of their bigger brothers, creating one of the most attractive tenders on 1/72 WWII German figures market.    

 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 10
Poses Quality 10
Details Quality 10
Mould Quality 10
Sculpture 10
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 10