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The last Marder III variant produced by Germany was the Ausf.M, with ‘M’ denoting ‘Mittelmotor’ (middle engine) for the mid-mounted engine. Based on the reliable Czech 38(t) chassis, it was armed with a 75mm PaK40/3 antitank gun. Because the engine was mounted centrally rather than at the rear, the fighting compartment, and thus the whole profile of the tank destroyer, was lower. Although this vehicle was still open-topped, the crew was better protected by armor that completely enclosed the fighting compartment.
The Ausf.M was the most widely produced variant of the Marder III, and it was more combat effective since the radio operator was moved into the rear compartment so that he could also serve as loader for the main 75mm L/46 caliber weapon, for which 27 rounds were carried. The Marder III M saw combat on all fronts.
Dragon has been carefully producing accurate 1/35 scale replicas of the Marder III family, and it has now released the latest one in the collection. This vehicle is a Befehlsjager 38 Ausf.M, a command version of the tank destroyer. This comprehensive 1/35 scale kit allows modelers to build the basic version of the vehicle, with all extra components available to fit out the command version. New elements specifically for this kit are a second radio set plus a distinctive rear-mounted star antenna. Since the Ausf.M had no hull-mounted machinegun, a newly tooled mount on the fighting compartment handrail supports an MG42. A plentiful selection of photo-etched parts (for example, the muffler shield, ammunition racks, storage box) contributes real panache to the kit. The fighting compartment uses Dragon’s proprietary Razor Edge molding technique to give an ultra-thin edge to the armor plates. This Befehlsjager kit adds something new to the popular Marder III M, with its altered layout and appearance.