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Mike

Panzerhaubitz PzH2000 Self Propelled Howitzer

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Panzerhaubitz PzH2000 Self Propelled Howitzer
1:35 Meng


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The PzH2000 is Germany's self-propelled howitzer, and has some impressive stats at its disposal, especially the rate of fire, which in burst mode can fire up to three rounds in 9 seconds. Don't you just love the name "burst mode"? It is also accurate out beyond 40km, and has plenty of advanced features that allow it to land multiple rounds on a target at the same time by altering the trajectory of each subsequent round to shorten the flight time. The main gun is a 155mm unit designed and made by Rheinmetall, and is highly advanced with separate charge and shell ammunition allowing for tuning of the round in the barrel, all of which is done automatically by machinery. More esoteric rounds are in testing that could extend the effective range of the gun even further in excess of 60km, which will doubtless increase its appeal to potential users.

The crew are well protected from counter-attack, even though the vehicles by their nature are usually some way behind friendly lines due to their long reach. In conflicts such as Afghanistan, where it first saw action with the Dutch, the boundaries of engagement aren't fixed, so additional armour has been added to the roof of the turret to protect it from mortar rounds. A few issues have been reported based on its use in Afghanistan, which will no doubt be dealt with in minor upgrades, such as heat and cold problems affecting the gun's operation at extremes of temperature. Almost 400 systems have been ordered so far, with most delivered and in operation, although a number have been mothballed due to budget constraints.

The Kit
For years all we've had in 1:35 is the ageing Revell offering, so when Meng announced that they were tooling a new kit of this beast, it sparked some interest amongst armour modellers. Meng are a firm favourite of mine, as they have high standards and produce good models, with this being no exception. The box is large, and it's not just to accommodate the barrel on the painting that adorns the top. Inside is packed with goodies, the weight of which is pleasant in the hand. Opening the box reveals another smaller carton taking up one corner and is full of track link parts, which should be fun to put together! A two-part hull and turret are separately bagged and moulded in mid-green styrene, and the nine main sprues are also moulded in that same colour. A strip of poly-caps are hidden away in the hull, plus another two larger ones for the gun's elevation mechanism, a small sprue of clear parts, two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts, a length of fuzz-free rope/string, a gigantic turned aluminium barrel in its own box, and a set of decals, plus of course the instruction booklet finishes off the package. Now you can see why the box is quite weighty.

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First impressions of Meng kits are usually good, and I'm not going to break with that tradition here, as we have a complete package that includes plenty of items that would be considered aftermarket by some manufacturers, all in the one box. Add top quality detail, plus an oversized A4 instruction booklet, and you're in business! If you're phobic about individual track links, you should perhaps consider therapy for that in advance, as these tracks aren't simple, but Meng have included a jig that will help you build them, as well as some ice-cleat parts, which my source tells me are placed on the outer edges of the tracks at intervals, to give your PzH traction in the winter, all of which are on a separate sprue in dark grey to match the hue of the main track sprues.

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Construction starts conventionally with the roadwheels, of which there are fourteen in pairs, with a poly-cap between them. The idler wheels are smaller versions of the roadwheels, and both they and the drive sprockets also have poly-caps between their paired wheels. It might seem an incidental thing to include them, but poly-caps are a godsend when building armour, as you can take wheels off at whim, which gives you leeway when assembling and fitting the tracks, as well as when painting them. The lower hull receives a gaggle of suspension mounts, bump stops and then the torsion beam units with moulded in swing-arms are slotted in through the holes into cups with the opposite sides of the hull. As usual, don't be too rough in testing the suspension, as styrene doesn't have a good fatigue life. The wheels and return rollers can be added at this point, but you'll have to cement the rollers in place, as they're too small for poly-caps. The lower hull is largely complete, save for the addition of the towing eyes on the lower glacis plate, and the rear bulkhead, which is separate from the main part. A further bulkhead is added at around half-way forward, which prevents excessive flex of the lower hull and stiffens up the build. Small parts are added to the rear bulkhead, and then a plethora of pioneer tools are strewn about the upper deck, plus a couple of PE mesh grilles on the top deck near the fire extinguisher. The driver's hatch is supplied with two clear periscopes, and is allowed to hinge freely if you're careful with the glue, as can the travel lock for the barrel, which is assembled and sited nearby. Light clusters and their protective cages are added at the front of the fenders, with a few variations possible for the remaining pioneer tools, such as the barrel cleaning rods, which may be shown absent or stowed.

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The tracks are individual link type in non-flexible styrene, and require a steady hand, as well as restraint with the glue, or you'll mess them up. Three parts make up each link, with an inner face and outer face locking together around the double track pins. There is a gluing surface between the two outer faces, plus two pins that fit very snugly together with a firm friction fit. A modicum of liquid glue, firm pressure and the handy little jig that Meng have thoughtfully provided should see you through most of it, although you will need to remove some of the flash from around the ejector pin marks hidden inside the two link faces, in order to make a firm join. Sprue gates are very fine and sensibly placed, and the whole system is similar to the set available from Bronco for the now redundant Revell kit that I have to find now before I can dispose of it. There are 98 links to each side, and as you can see from the picture, that means a lot of parts to remove from the sprues almost 600!

Assuming you survive the track making process, the hull halves are fitted together, and the side skirts are added, as are the rear parts of the sponsons and their light clusters. You'll need either 125mm or 140mm of the string (not pictured) to build the towing cable, which is supplied with a pair of towing eyes for each end in styrene. These drape around the left side of the hull in one of two ways, depending on which decal option you are planning on using.

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Now for the barrel. It's a big piece at 23cm long, and has a narrow section in its mid-section to accommodate the styrene blast-bag, with the section behind fitting within the breech parts, leaving 10cm on display, to which you can either add a single part muzzle brake (a super bit of moulding), or a protective bag that has realistic looking fabric drape to protect the barrel from debris when not in use. You'll have tro scrape the seams on both parts, but that's not too tricky, as they have been placed top and bottom where shape isn't quite so critical. The mantlet also holds the smoke grenade dispensers, with four either side of the barrel on straight brackets. A poly-cap is secured in the roof, and two clear-vision panels are added to the sides of the turret before the mantlet is secured in place, and the gun's breech, replete with those big poly-caps I mentioned earlier, which lets the barrel elevate and remain in position, rather than requiring gluing to hold it in place. Additional armour is added to the "eaves" of the roof, with a louvered door and two solid doors glued to the front of the turret, plus a few other small parts here and there. The two crew hatches are built from two parts and then installed with a combined handgrip/hinge part that should allow them to open and close. A pair of aerial mounts and clear hazard lamp are added to the rear of the turret, although one decal option calls for the addition of a bracket to the right, and two alternative aerial bases are included too. The turret is then finished off by the addition of a stowage rack and mesh grille on the front, the commander's machine gun on a ring mount, and here you have a choice on FN MAG or MG3, the latter showing a family resemblance to the MG43 of WWII. A PE cover is fixed to the top of the curved barrel root along with a pair of substantial lifting-eyes, and a small sensor turret with protective bar finish off the upper, and the simple one-piece lower is added. Why it's left so late is a mystery, and I'd add it a soon as the barrel is in place to avoid damaging any of the small parts on the turret. The completed turret can then be put in place and twisted to lock it in place on the bayonet fitting moulded into the ring. Construction is complete!

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Markings
Five decal options are included with the kit, although four of them sport identical three colour green/brown/black NATO camouflage patterning, which is handled at the outset of the four glossy colour pages at the back of the instruction booklet. The fifth option is a four colour Greek camouflage that adds sand to the mix and has different patterns for all the colours. From the box you can build one of the following:
  • 131st Artillery Battalion German Federal Armed Forces
  • 115th Panzer Artillery Battalion, German Federal Armed Forces
  • School of Artillery, German Federal Armed Forces
  • 14th Field Artillery Division, Royal Netherlands Army
  • Hellenic Army, Greek National Day Parade, 2005


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The decals are small but as they are printed by Cartograf and as you'd expect the quality is up to their usual standards of registration colour density and sharpness.

Conclusion
Another great kit from Meng, which includes lots of goodies on top of the excellent moulded in detail to make the kit a bit of a stunner, as they say in the tabloids. Individual links, metal barrel and two sheets of PE would cost you a few bob/euros/dollars in aftermarket, so it looks like great value at the relatively modest asking price it has been pegged at.

Available soon in the UK from Creative Models


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Review sample courtesy of
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Thanks guys!

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Trying to resist the urge to buy this one!

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Too late for me, bought it a few weeks ago. :frantic:

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Anyone going to put money on whether someone will be producing the German based "silencer" for this? :pray:

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Now THAT would be something to see on the display tables. :yikes:

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Now THAT would be something to see on the display tables. :yikes:

You know you want to 3D print me one :wicked:

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"as well as some "missing track-pad" parts to give your PzH some signs of wear, all of which are on a separate sprue in dark grey to match the hue of the main track sprues."


They are actually the Ice grousers fitted to the tracks in winter conditions (snow and ice) to stop the thing from sliding around the roads, The Leopard 1's have them stowed on the front
armour below the drivers hatch when not in use. Not sure where they are stowed on this wagon though.

Looks a cracking kit and a lot better than the Revell version.

Regards

Dan

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Ice grousers... righto. I think there might be some moulded into the front deck too, actually. Will amend the review :)

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