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In-Box Review
135
Bison I
15cm s.IG.33 (Sf) auf Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.B
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by: Rudi Richardson [ TAROK ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The ‘Bison’ and ‘Grille’ are generally accepted names for Germany’s self-propelled 15cm schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33 (sIG33) vehicles from World War II. One of Germany’s chief weapons manufacturers, Rheinmetall, introduced the schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33 (sIG33) in 1927. With a firing range of 4.7km it was the most powerful support weapon for the German infantry, and in Januray 1940 the first attempts were made to adapt it to a tracked vehicle. The entire gun carriage, complete with wheels, was mounted on the Panzer I Ausf. B Chassis, with tall shields of armour plate added to protect the front and sides. Six companies of these vehicles were deployed on the Western Front, with each company having six self-propelled guns. The sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B (“Bison I”) stayed in service until 1943. Thirty-eight examples of this vehicle were built.

Until recently, January 2009 to be precise, modellers wanting to reproduce one of Germany’s first self-propelled support vehicles (to be produced during the war) in 1/35 scale were limited to the plastic injection mould Alan kit, resin conversion kits, or to a combination of these together with a better, more accurate Panzer I Ausf. B hull and suspension by another manufacturer. Enter Dragon Models Limited with kit 6259 “15cm s.IG. 33 (Sf) auf Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.B”.

What’s in the box?

The kit, moulded in Dragon Models Ltd’s traditional light grey coloured plastic, comes in a standard slip top cardboard box with many of the sprues sealed together inside plastic bags instead of being packaged individually.

Filling the box to brim, and with over 670 parts, the kit contains the following:

  • 18 Sprues of light grey styrene;
  • 1 Light grey styrene hull tub;
  • 2 Light grey styrene box-shaped gun shields;
  • 1 Sprue of ‘Dragon Styrene’;
  • 2 Sprues of clear styrene;
  • 1 Turned aluminium barrel
  • 2 Photo-etched frets of brass detail parts;
  • 1 Bag containing 20 brass rings
  • 1 Bag of ‘Magic Track’ individual links;
  • 1 Cartograf decal sheet; and
  • 1 Instruction sheet.

    DML’s Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf.B has been hailed by many modellers as being the definitive 1/35 scale model of the vehicle. Thus it is hardly surprising that DML’s Bison I’s hull sprues are unaltered from that kit. That said, DML have included a revised Pz. I Ausf. B idler wheel which replaces the incorrect version in some of the Panzer I Ausf B kits in which DML depicted it with a solid rubber tyre as with the Panzer I Ausf A idler wheel. Also included are a few generic Panzer I and even Panzer I Ausf A sprues.

    In addition to the above, the Bison I’s superstructure sprues bear the legend “sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B”, while the sIG33 sprues themselves bear the specific sIG33 legend. This allows for DML to release the gun as a separate product – in fact prior to this review, and subsequent to the release of the Bison I DML released a kit of the sIG33 with crew through their subsidiary Cyber-hobby.

    The Kit

    Generally the parts appear highly detailed, and the casting excellent. While there are the virtually unavoidable pin marks these are very shallow, and almost not worth mentioning. Mould seams are almost unnoticeable, and there was no flash that I could find.

    Hull

    As always, DML supplies the lower hull as a tub, which in the case of the Panzer I includes the side fenders with raised diamond tread detail and some very nice detail on the sides and belly. Forward track guards are supplied, and the instructions indicate that they should be fitted. However since most photographs appear to show the Bison I without these I would leave it for the modeller to decide whether to fit this part or not. I suspect this may simply be a case of the hull instruction diagrams having being inherited from previous kits.

    A bogie suspension unit with springs (or “longitudinal quarter-elliptic springs”) is supplied for the rear four road wheels. A separate shock absorber unit is provided for the front road wheel. Brass rings are supplied for fitment the walls of ten road wheels. As noted above DML have included a revised Pz. I Ausf. B idler wheel.

    The glacis plate, transmission housing, and engine deck are all separate parts. The engine deck has an inner superstructure onto which the various outer panels are assembled. Also cast separately are the engine compartment access doors and fuel cap covers. Sadly much of this will be covered by the sIG33’s own wheeled chassis and gun trail.

    DML have included a well-detailed driver’s compartment. The various subassemblies and details which include the transmission, pedals to be mounted against a diamond thread back-plate, detailed fire-wall, are mounted to the floor-pan. This constitutes the interior subassembly which is then fitted to the lower hull.

    Other details include the hinged rear track guards, reinforcing bar across the rear hull, photo etch heat sink for the exhaust box, visors which can be positioned open or closed, tow hooks, headlights, as well as pioneer tools. The excellent weld seams, bolt and rivet detail does not go unnoticed, nor go unappreciated.

    Superstructure/Gun Shield

    Of the 38 sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B vehicles (including prototype) manufactured by the factory, some had a slightly different shape of the upper part of the side gun casing. Instead of committing themselves to one shape, DML have provided modellers with both types of gun shield. The two box-shaped gun shields are basically identical except for the slight rearward slope of the one. Two sets of hinged rear side shields are supplied as well, which could be fitted open or closed.

    The blockade onto which the gun chassis is mounted is a fairly simple affair. The two blocking elements which get attached to the mudflaps consist of only three parts each and look the part. Modellers are given the option of either plastic or PE rods running to the rear point onto which the gun trail is bolted.

    sIG33

    The 15cm heavy infantry gun 33 included in this kit really is an amazing thing to behold. Being one of the most important components of this kit it is perhaps unsurprising that it commands a little more than a third of the instruction sheet.

    Supplied with a metal barrel (complete with rifling) the many fine minutiae include the pressed-steel wheels (the type used for horse drawn guns – i.e. without solid rubber tyres) complete with what appears to be multi-part brakes, the cradle with fine rivet detail, a highly detailed gun sight, and impressive gun shield.

    Modellers should take note of the blue numbering used as opposed to the black numbering used elsewhere at this point. While this may cause confusion, the reason for this is the duplication of sprue numbers due to sharing of parts between kits.

    Tracks

    DML have chosen to only supply modellers with MagicTracks, DML’s individual link track system. As these always received mixed responses from modellers, those that do not like MagicTracks will be disappointed that no alternative is supplied with this kit.

    Instructions

    Per the instructions, the assembly of this kit consists of 26 steps. This could be further split into five distinct areas: hull (including interior), which is basically the same as most previous Panzer I chassis vehicles; superstructure; sIG33; tracks; and final assembly.

    The complexity of instructions is by large a very subjective matter; what may appear overly complex and confusing to one modeller may not be so to another. Personally my initial reaction to the instructions was confusion, but as I read through them with parts at hand they became clearer. The build log which will follow this review shortly will reveal just how well an intermediate level modeller (which is what I would class myself as) can follow this kit’s instruction sheet.

    Decals/Paint schemes

    Modellers are presented with five paint scheme/decal options, namely:

  • S.I.G.Kp. (mot. S) 702, 1.Pz.Div., France 1940
  • S.I.G.Kp. (mot. S) 704, 5.Pz.Div., Russia 1943
  • S.I.G.Kp. (mot. S) 704, 5.Pz.Div., Russia 1941-42
  • S.I.G.Kp. (mot. S) 703,2.Pz.Div., France 1940
  • S.I.G.Kp. (mot. S) 703, 2.Pz.Div., Balkans 1941

    Conclusion

    Readers will have noted that I have elected not to discuss the subject of accuracy. Accuracy of kits tends to be a contentious issue, and I am by no means an expert of this subject, the sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B. Thus I will leave it to others more knowledgeable than I to discuss this. What I will say is that with my limited research and reference material (noted below) the kit appears to be an excellent depiction of the vehicle – and DML’s PzKpfw I Ausf. B, of which many sprues are included in the kit, is considered by many to be the definitive kit of the Panzer I Ausf. B.

    It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to review a DML plastic scale model kit, and having been very critical of DML in the past, this kit has left me thoroughly impressed. The subject is unique; DML have offered two options regarding the superstructure and corrected the previous Pz. I Ausf. B idler wheel; the sIG33 is a thing of beauty; and the casting is excellent with barely a cast seam in sight.

    I highly recommend this kit to modellers interested in the Early War period, vehicles based on the Panzer I chassis, self-propelled artillery, or even those simply looking for something different to build.

    References

    The following material is suggested reading for more information on the subject:

  • “15 cm sIG 33 (Sf) auf PzKpfw I/II/III”. Tank Power Vol. XXIV. 247. Janusz Ledwoch. Wydawnictwo Militaria. 2006.
  • “Modelling the German 15cm sIG33 Bison and Grille”. Osprey Modelling 19. Gary Edmundson. Osprey Publishing. 2005.
  • Bill Plunk’s build feature on Armorama: Bison Bashing

  • SUMMARY
    Highs: Based on DML's Pz.I Ausf B chassis. Stunning sIG33 gun. Unique subject. Excellent casting.
    Lows: An alternative to MagicTrack links would have been nice for some, but not a major deterrent.
    Verdict: Highly recommended to modellers interested in the Early War period, vehicles based on the Panzer I chassis, self-propelled artillery, or even those simply looking for something different to build.
    Percentage Rating
    95%
      Scale: 1:35
      Mfg. ID: 6259
      Related Link: 
      PUBLISHED: Apr 28, 2009
      NATIONALITY: Germany
    NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
      THIS REVIEWER: 85.47%
      MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

    Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
    This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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    About Rudi Richardson (Tarok)
    FROM: VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

    I'm a former Managing Editor of the Historicus Forma historical figure modelling website. While my modelling and history interests are diverse, my main figure modelling focus lies in Sci-Fi, Pop-Culture, Fantasy, Roman and WW2 German subjects. I'm a firm believer that armour and vehicles accessorise...

    Copyright ©2017 text by Rudi Richardson [ TAROK ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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    Comments

    Great review, Rudi. It looks like this kit inherits the improved hull tub from the Panzerbefehlswagen Ausf. B 3 in 1 kit, and the improved road wheels from the Panzer I Ausf. A with Interior. The original Panzer I Ausf. B had thick fenders with no indention along the bottom. This made it difficult to leave off the front and rear mud guards, as doing so revealed the thick cross section of the fenders. The Panzerbefehlswagen 3 in 1 kit introduced the thin fenders with photo etched side inserts and the correct idler wheels (skeletal framework without tires). The latter was supposedly included in later boxings of the Panzer I Ausf. B, but I'm not sure if the improved hull bottom ever was. I believe this is the second kit with the improved road wheels featuring brass ring inserts. I think the side headlights with blackout covers are new to this kit. It appears this kit has an extra set of the smaller springs seen on the front road wheel station of the Panzer I Ausf. A Series 2 and 3 vehicles. If yes, they could be used to correct a potential issue with the original Panzer I Ausf. A Smart Kit. It also appears the tropical engine hatches did not make it into the box? Nor the smoke candle rack? Interesting, though not necessarily pertinent. I really want to buy and build this but I just cannot keep up. -Doug
    MAY 01, 2009 - 09:34 PM
    I didn't see any of these? I had to scratch my own using some old Tristar position lights (not headlights BTW ) (and because the DML ones are way to big!) and some Aber covers, for the single headlight I scratched a BO cover from plastic.
    MAY 01, 2009 - 10:45 PM
    Hi James, They lights I mention appear in the review, picture 60, Sprue H, on the left. The sprue appears to contains left and right lights with bases and wires plus the blackout covers. I believe they are marked as not for use. I have read about the lights on the fenders being oversized in the Ausf. B kits (the ones in DMLs Panzer I Ausf. A kits are much smaller) and almost mentioned it BUT when I looked at Panzer Tracts 1-1, the drawings of the Panzer I Ausf. B show a sort of medium sized light. It's hard to explain. In comparison, the little ones in the Panzer I Ausf. A Smart Kit look too small. The ones in the Panzer I Ausf. B kit look too big. The ones in the Panzerbefehlswagen 3 in 1 kit look about right. All three examples sit built up, side by side on a shelf, so I cannot reliably measure against plans. I cannot comment further until I have the kit myself. I did not know they were position lights! How were they used? Like the fender poles with white ends seen on many WWII German vehicles? -Doug
    MAY 02, 2009 - 02:43 AM
    That sprue is provided for the kit for a few specific parts. It is actually from a previous Panzer III or Stug kit (my opinion- it'll take some effort to back track through some of my models to check for sure). I actually cut them off this sprue and was going to use them. I took the time to trim the mount so it was close to the right look. During the process I noticed that they still appeared to big. So that is why I switched to the Tristar versions with the Aber face plates.
    MAY 02, 2009 - 03:55 PM
    I think I decided to go with Tristar's from eyeballing various pictures- the kit's items seemed a bit big.
    MAY 03, 2009 - 12:28 AM
    Hi James, The picture you posted clearly shows the smaller position lights on the Bison. Good catch. I now conjecture there may have been two sizes of position lights on the Panzer I Ausf. A and Ausf. B series tanks--a small and a medium small light. Both appear smaller than the position lights in the DML Panzer I Ausf. B kits. The Panzer I for Bulgaria appears to carry two of the larger headlights on the fenders but no central headlight. -Doug
    MAY 03, 2009 - 07:57 PM
    Built, there have been a number of issues, the most notable are the pin marks for OVM not required on this kit. Another omission is the instrument panel which can be clearly seen in the finished model and the instructions, where is it in the kit??? I had to scratchbuild one. The SiG 33 is overengineered and extremely challenging to build. The instructions call out wrong parts and leave out parts that need to be added. The finished model requires planning to build properly, the modeler should use the instructions as a guide rather than gospel. Good luck.
    JUL 29, 2015 - 04:40 PM
    Hail, necromancer! Sorry to hear the DML Bison has issues. I built the Alan version myself and it was a real chore - let it sit for a year due to aggravation but finally finished it. Not terribly accurate and the fit is hella poor.
    JUL 29, 2015 - 04:44 PM
    Im building this kit right now and I have the same experience. Worst is the suspension of gunwheels. Although I have the instrument panel in the kit its not included in the instructions. And they tell you to put the lower bar on the rear in wrong place obmitting the support bar at all. Its hard to tell from the instructions exact position of many parts and I found myself checking references, mostly Achtung Panzer and PMMS SIG comparison. Cheers Janne Nilsson
    JUL 29, 2015 - 05:47 PM
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