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Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, Mid Production

Tamiya, 1/48 scale

by Brett Green

Tamiya's 1/48 scale Hetzer is available online from Mission Models


Tamiya's brand new 1/48 scale mid-production Hetzer features good detail, superb fit, link and length plastic tracks, and separate hatches to permit the installation of crew figures.

In common with Tamiya's earlier 1/48 scale armour releases, the lower hull is supplied as a single, solid metal casting. This certainly lends weight to the overall model, but with the fixed suspension and the link and length tracks, the model would look exactly the same weight with or without the cast hull. The front and rear of the metal hull are covered by plastic pieces - certainly of benefit as this will enable consistent surface texturing.



Tracks are supplied as link and length in solid plastic. The track sprue incorporates a clever assembly jig for the top run, which ensures the correct curve is achieved for the drive sprocket. When this section of track is glued in place, it acts as a guide for the remaining track sections.

All tools are separately moulded in this release. They are quite well detailed even in this small scale

Inevitably, in this scale, some of the parts will appear slightly overscale or simplified, but they remain quite acceptable in my opinion. If you want to lift the level of detail and finesse, there are already several photo-etch detail sets available (including the Hauler set that I used on mine).


There is almost nothing to say about basic construction except "fast and easy".

Construction took almost no time at all, especially with the very simple running gear of only four road wheels and one return roller per side.



Fit of all parts was uniformly excellent. No filler was required anywhere. The tracks were especially noteworthy. They were an absolute pleasure to assemble, and lined up exactly to the last link. The only area that I tweaked was to smooth the curve of the tracks in one place on each side. I slightly bent the first link of the bottom track run upwards on the port side, and the rear link of the bottom run upwards on the starboard side.

I estimate that basic construction, including removal and cleanup of parts, took around 5 enjoyable hours.

Hauler's Photo-Etch

Hauler's photo-etched fret for Tamiya's 1/48 scale Hetzer looked impressive. However, it does not matter how sweet a photo-etched fret looks behind the cellophane. What counts is how it works on the model.

The Hetzer presents some particular challenges for an all-injection kit. The real vehicle featured thin skirting and machine gun shield, perforated toolbox and exhaust heat shield, fine handholds. All of these detail areas are somewhat compromised on Tamiya's kit.

Hauler's Hetzer photo-etch set represents especially good value, as it includes the Schurzen,  the distinctive perforated toolbox, a lovely, delicately detailed mount and guard for the remote control machine gun, the exhaust heat shield plus various tool shackles, straps and hand holds.

At first I thought that I would simply install the tool box, grille and exhaust, but the remaining photo-etched parts were just too tempting.



The photo-etched metal was quite easy to cut from the frame, tidy up and fold into place. There is not too much origami demanded by this set, but some of the smaller parts that make up the machine gun mount do require care. Several butterfly nuts are absolutely tiny - I drilled fine pilot holes before gluing them in place.

I did not use all of the parts. For example, I substituted fine copper wire for the rear deck handholds, and I did not replace the straps on the jack block. Most of the other parts were used though.

At first, I was a little intimidated by the side skirts but I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the mounts were formed with the aid of my Etch Mate metal folding tool. My only word of caution is that the instructions seem to label the part numbers for the mounts incorrectly. Check your references before gluing the mounts to the inside of the skirts.

I also added electrical cable from the Notek light using fine wire, and hex bolts for the side skirt mounts punched from scrap styrene with my Historex punch and die set.

By the way, in case you are wondering why some of the mounts are not touching the superstructure in the construction photos, the skirts were only temporarily attached to the model using Blu-Tack!

There is no doubt that Hauler has astutely assessed the most important areas where additional finesse is required on Tamiya's little Hetzer. This set is neither outrageously expensive nor unnecessarily complicated, and it really adds a great deal to an already fine kit.

Painting and Weathering

I wanted to replicate the typically hard-edged camouflage of the Hetzer in 1/48 scale, but I did not want to completely brush-paint the camouflage, nor to mask the pattern. I was concerned that brush painting would leave out-of-scale brush marks, while a masked pattern always looks, well, masked! I therefore decided on a middle route

The first step was to spray the model in an overall coat of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black. I was careful to reach every nook and cranny, including the nether regions of the lower hull and the insides of the tracks. In addition to help identify imperfections before the camouflage colours are applied, this black coat will be a good base for the track colour and for deep shadows.



Next came the base camouflage colour. Out of the three camouflage colours, it is hard to tell which colour might have been applied first. I took a punt and chose green. Polly Scale Panzer Green was used for this coat.

Polly Scale paints are very durable and fast drying acrylic paints. They tolerate handling much better than either Tamiya (which seems to scratch and rub off easily) and Gunze (prone to fingerprints), although Polly Scale paints are undoubtedly more temperamental to spray. The Polly Scale Panzer Green was thinned with around 20% Windex to improve the flow through my Testor Aztek A470 airbrush.

I did not worry too much about full coverage on the lower hull and tracks, but the upper hull was thoroughly painted.




Using Tamiya's instruction diagram as reference, the camouflage pattern was now drawn onto the green surface with a brown artist's pencil. This, in turn, acted as a guide to a brush-painted outline in each of the additional camouflage colours. At this stage the paint job looks pretty bad, and some serious self-discipline was required to continue!

Gunze Panzer Dark Yellow and Panzer Red Brown were used for these additional colours.


Click the thumbnails below to view additional images:

Skirts and smaller details were Blu-Tacked to a small box and painted separately

The rough outline is filled in using camouflage colours sprayed carefully with the airbrush

Now the painted outline was "coloured in" with the airbrush. The camouflage colours were heavily thinned and very carefully sprayed inside the painted outlines. This starts to improve the untidy finish, but not much.

At this stage I checked the pattern against Tamiya's instructions and made several corrections to the pattern.



To seal the basic paint job and prepare the surface for decals, the model was sprayed with an overall coat of Future floor polish thinned with isopropylene alcohol. Tamiya's decals were used. These settled down perfectly under Micro Set and Micro Sol decal solutions. Unfortunately I handled the side skirts too early after applying the Micro Set and managed to mangle the duplicated crosses. I did not like the look of them anyway, so I sanded them off and re-painted the centre of the skirts.

The first stage of weathering involved a selective oil wash. Lamp Black and Raw Umber oil paints were heavily thinned with odorless thinners, then applied to rows of bolts, weld beads and other structural features. Some subtle vertical streaking was also brushed onto the hull. The wash was then left to dry overnight.



With the wash thoroughly dry, I sprayed the entire model with Polly Scale Flat. I wanted a dead flat finish but this coat left a very slight sheen, so I applied a second coat with the same result. A third flat coat, this time using Gunze Flat Clear, finished the job nicely.



With the basic paint job finished it was time to attend to the details. First, the tyres and tracks were touched up with flat black as required. Next, the machine gun, spare tracks, tools and exhaust were painted with a fine brush.

I did not want to obscure the camouflage with weathering, but I did want to convey the impression of a vehicle that had seen some use:

  • Pastel chalk was used to give a slightly oxidised appearance to the gun barrel and the spare track links.

  • Dirt and mud were added to the wheels, tracks, lower hull and rear hull plate using a slurry of pastel chalk mixed with odorless thinners (mineral turpentine would do the same trick). This mixture, once dry, won't rub off with handling. You can also mix different coloured pastel chalks to obtain variety in the finish. Do keep in mind, though, that the slurry is much darker when wet than it is when it has dried, so some experimentation on scrap material is advisable.



  • Tiny spots and streaks were drawn onto the surface of the vehicle using a brown artist's pencil. I tried this as I thought that my previous use of a lead pencil looked underdone in low light and overdone in bright light. I was pleased with the results using the coloured pencil, especially the horizontal streaks on the hull sides and the skirts representing scuffing against branches and other obstacles.

  • I still used some 2B lead pencil though, for the edges of the major structural surfaces and handles. Lead pencil was also used for the shiny track shoes.

  • An antenna was added from stretched sprue, dipped in Testor's Gunmetal Metalizer (twice for proper coverage) and polished for a metallic finish.

  • The plastic rod formation light was painted with a base coat of dark grey and two generous coats of Tamiya Clear Blue.



At last, after more than a few anxious moments, the camouflage was starting to come together.

A final thin coat of Gunze Flat Clear was applied to seal the pencil weathering.


I think that this new generation of 1/48 scale armour kits has a lot of potential.

When I started modelling in the 1960s, it was the simple bagged kits from Airfix and Frog that fired my imagination, and that were appropriate for my limited skills. Tamiya's new 1/48 scale armour kits possess a similar appeal. They seem to offer something for everybody - a beginner can build them straight for the box in hours, or a more advanced modeller can superdetail to their heart's content.

I really like the philosophy behind Tamiya's new range of 1/48 scale vehicles and, even more importantly, I like the plastic in the boxes.

Hauler seems to feel the same way. Their growing range of 1/48 scale photo-etched parts and accessories will lift these simple models into a new class.

Model, Images and Text by Brett Green
Page Created 18 July, 2006
Page Last Updated 23 July, 2006