Alan Ltd's Gepard Flakpanzer
by Tor Riley
The Flakpanzer 38(t) was another attempt to provide anti-aircraft
protection for German armoured units, and mounted a 2cm FlaK 38 medium
AA gun. The engine was moved to the centre of the vehicle and the superstructure
extended to the rear to accommodate the gun platform. The armour around
the fighting compartment was eight-sided and the upper sections folded
down. The crew numbered four, driver, gunner, loader and commander.
Approximately 140 were built. Their major weakness was inadequate
firepower, and the last ten chassis were converted to Grilles. They were
issued in January and February 1944 to the AA platoons of each Panzer
regiment in the Panzer Divsions. A large proportion were issued to divisions
in the West and saw action in Normandy.
This is an in-the-box review only, so I can’t comment
on construction problems. Firstly, I can’t find any evidence that
this vehicle was ever known as Gepard in service, with the only vehicle
of that name I know being its modern Bundeswehr counterpart.
The kit comes in grey plastic, with four sprues containing
the individual tracks, wheels, sprockets, etc. The wheels are detailed
on both sides. I noted some sink marks in the springs, but as these will
be hidden behind the large road wheels, it’s not necessary to fill
The remaining three sprues provide the hull, superstructure,
gun and fittings. The drivers two-part hatch covers are separate and have
the pads molded on the interior face. The driver's visor is also separate.
The hull comprises a separate floor, sides, rear plate, and top (which
includes the floor of the fighting compartment). All this means that the
modeller has to ensure a good fit, otherwise the model will sit skewed,
rather than straight. The upper superstructure around the gun compartment
has individual plates so the model can be built with the side armour up
or down. No engine or crew is provided. One photo-etched part is provided,
the track-bin with its many holes. It’s good to see Alan have thought
about how best to represent this part.
The gun itself seems a bit simplified, but the mounting
and compartment interior look as though they will reward subtle drybrushing.
The 2cm gun barrel could be replaced with a turned aluminium one. Included
in the kit are ten 150mm shells and curved storage brackets, presumably
used for the 15cm Grille ausf M on the same chassis, also produced by
Alan. These can go into the spares box. One thing to note is that a raised
rib on the upper hull behind the drivers hatch needs to be removed, and
the hole immediately in front of it filled. This is another ‘leftover’
from the Grille, and is the fitting for the front barrel lock.
The instructions are five pages of history, diagrams and
painting guide. The diagrams are a bit ‘naïve’, but still
very helpful. Painting options are for 12 SSPzDiv Hitlerjugend, 9 SSPzDiv
Hohenstaufen, and 10 SSPzDiv Frundsberg, all on the Eastern Front, 1945,
and all in the same three-tone scheme of Dark Green and Brown over Dark
Yellow. The decal sheet provides the appropriate units markings, a loading
stencil, and individual numbers in white and red. Register is fine.
Overall the kit is of a very high standard, although modelers
might want to replace some of the tools, the jack for instance, with Tamiya’s
Panzer IV tool set. All those rivets will weather up a treat. Alan should
be congratulated for producing another original kit, ignored by other
manufacturers to date.
AFV Interiors (http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/5182/mardr2.html)
Chamberlain, Doyle & Jentz: Encyclopaedia of German
Tanks of World War II (revised)
Squadron/Signal No. 19: PzKpfw 38t in Action
Tech Intel No 2 p.11-12 and 21-22. Only two photos.