The Marder series of tank destroyers is one of the interesting Frankenstein-esque stories of the German war effort in WW2. The numerical advantage of Soviet armour on the eastern front became obvious early on in Operation Barbarossa. At the same time it became clear that several tank chassis were obsolete or rapidly becoming so in the face of the new Soviet tanks. Tanks based on these chassis could no longer hope to survive tank combat and were instead refitted with other weaponry, including the French Lorraine chassis, the German Pz. II and the Czech P.38(t). The latter one, when armed with either captured Soviet 76mm guns or 75mmPak 40s, would be fielded as tank destroyers under the name Marder III, one of the myriad of uses that the German forces found for the versatile Czech chassis,
I've been waiting with adding German tank destroyers to our motor pool, as I've found no kits in 1:48 for vehicles earlier than the Marder III, which hit the scene in 1942. But when I saw a post on the Chain of Command facebook group about 1:48 scale Marder III:s available for less than $10, you know I could not resist.
The model in question was a die-cast pre-painted toy, available to buy from various e-bay retailers in China. And indeed, both the Marder III Ausf. M and the Marder III Sd. Kfz. 139 were available, as well as the Pz 38(t). An unusual choice, but since all three vehicles are based on the Pz. 38(t) chassis, there's some sense to it. But really? "Nobody will want to buy unknown and uncool tank like the Pz. III or Pz. IV! The real money's in the Czech chassis, I tell you!"
Anyway, prices seemed to range between very expensive (if bought from the UK), or very cheap with free or cheap shipping from China. After some browsing I had two Marders on the way, for less than 10 bucks each including shipping. For that price I was pretty happy if I got anything better than a lump of molten iron.
Imagine my surprise when these two boxes arrived at my apartment, looking a lot better than expected. Here's a picture of the Marder III Sd. Kfz. 139 straight out of the box, untouched.
As you can see it's not perfect, but definitely good enough for me to put it on a tabletop to play right away (once unscrewed from the display base, that is). The only part that obviously stood out was the brown rubber threads, which had only a few random spots of thich metal paint on it. Other than that, it looked spiffy.
Above you can see the results after a quick paint job. I wanted to see how good it could look with a minimum of fuzz, given that it was supposed to be a budget Marder after all! The tracks were painted over completely, and then given a light drybrush. I went over the rivets and other detail with a dark wash, to make them stand out a bit more. I also took out some rust coloured pigments and brushed them around the rivets as well. Finally I took some sand and mud coloured pigments and mushed them around the roadwheels and tracks.
I bet you could get a nicer looking vehicle out of it if you went whole hog and repainted it from scratch, but this way I went from having no Marder III to have a pretty nice looking one for 10 bucks and maybe half an hour of hobby time in total, which is very hard to beat! I could definitely recommend this addition to your German force if you use 1:48 scale tanks, and if I didn't already have the Tamiya 1:48 Pz. 38(t), I'd be next on my shopping list.
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.