Romanian Tacam R-2 Tank Destroyer
Using First To Fight (FtF) Pz. 35(t) kit 038
by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski
Edited by Rob Haelterman

I have long had a historical and technical captivation with the German Panzerjäger series of AFVs. Perhaps it is the respect for the ingenuity of taking an obsolete vehicle and repurposing it by mounting a new gun on it. The subject of this article is the conversion of a Pz. 35(t) tank to a Romanian Tacam R-2 tank destroyer, one of Romania’s attempts at a self-propelled anti-tank gun, a Panzerjäger, tank hunter. R-2 is from the Romanian designation for the Czech Pz. 35(t) tank.

The artwork above-right represents the planned kit 72835 of the Tacam R-2 by Attack Models company. At this time, this smallscale model has not been released by Attack, nor by anyone else to my knowledge. Well, in truth I understand that Attack 1/72 Resin Model Kits did release a Tacam R-2 model years ago but I have never seen this available. I understand that this series of cast resin models were more quick-build gaming kits and predate the plastic Attack Models kits and the higher quality recent Attack resin kits. Looking at the artwork for the two kits above and below we can see the similarity in the artwork for the planned plastic kit and the older resin kit.

In the boxart above we see the largely unchanged Pz. 35(t) chassis with the tank turret and upper hull roof removed and replaced by a boxlike superstructure with an open rear. The main gun is a captured Soviet Zis-3 76-mm field gun. The AFV still sports the bow machine gun and radio antenna. I understand that there were 21 produced by the Romanians and served against the Soviets and then against the Germans. If fitted with a 75-mm Resita gun it would look largely the same except for a longer barrel and German style muzzle brake.


Construction References

Images off the internet above and below will help with detailing. The photo below shows the single remaining Tacam R-2, a museum display in Romania. The Soviet Zis-3 gun appears to have the original muzzle brake and is unchanged other than the new gun shield in front of the superstructure opening. The superstructure covers the driver’s roof hatch. On the rear deck behind the superstructure, we can make out the vague image of a mesh platform I presume held kit, ammunition and spent shell casings. Around the superstructure is a blue color band.

None of my references have the dimensions of the superstructure though there are enough interior photos to build a reasonable accurate interior.

As I cannot afford to visit Bucharest and measure this fascinating vehicle myself my next best option is to use the very nice 1/35-scale R-2 TACAM Model Kit #T35022 from CMK and convert the 1/35 scale parts up to 1/1 scale and then down to 1/72-scale. This boxart appears pretty accurate based on my references. Inside the superstructure we see a little of the Pz. 35(t) interior, the 76-mm ammunition stowage, and the ladder-like travel lock affixed to the gun breach. On the engine deck are two vertical rods I believe are supports for the missing platform.

Choices in smallscale kits for this conversion include the two First to Fight Pz. 35(t) kits, the veteran ESCI/Italeri Pz. 35(t), and the Attack Models Pz. 35(t) kits. The FtF kit is well detailed and proportioned but offers a simple quick-build suspension. The ESCI, now Italeri model, is well detailed and molded and recently re-released by Italeri. The Attack Models kit is well detailed but the molding is soft and the kit may be hard to find at this time. I would get rid of the Attack Model and ESCI kit track and replace them with superb cast resin Pz. 35(t) track set S72286 made by OKB Grigorov company.

Below are my measurements in 1/35 and 1/72 scales and diagrams of the needed superstructure parts, and pages of the CMK assembly instructions that may also help. At far right are scratchbuilt superstructure and gun mount parts. The new superstructure is fabricated with clear .010 styrene sheet which is stiffer than the white styrene sheet. The sheet being clear allows us to overlay it on the parts diagram and double check angles and shape.

Bottom right are my three choices of 1/72-scale guns to use for the Panzerjäger conversion: at bottom is the injection-molded styrene Zis-3 from Skif Models kit 208, a good plastic kit. In center is the 20-year-old tan color resin kit 72A03 by LEVA Productions, a very good model especially for its age. At top is the dark green resin Resita 75-mm anti-tank gun made by Ostmodels (Ed.note: which according to our information is 1/76 and thus not listed on OTW). The Resita gun is a Romanian copy of the Zis-3 that was chambered for the Pak 40 ammunition and planned to be mounted in Tacam R-2 but that never came to pass. Additional options for a smallscale Zis-3 gun are the Zvezda kit 6253 and Italeri kit 6097. (More info on the different kits can also be found here.)

Above at upper center are the CMK 1/35 kit parts for the superstructure and gun platform. At upper right are the scratchbuilt 1/72-scale based on the CMK parts. Once assembled with plastic solvent it was sufficiently strong to handle.

The assembly instructions for the 1/35 CMK kit for the Tacam R-2 were invaluable in getting this conversion as accurate as reasonably possible, such as the ammunition ready racks on the interior of the new superstructure. Notice I said accurate as “reasonably possible”, and reasonable is subjective. I have so many models I wish to build and experience I have decided I cannot invest a month or three on perfection in one model kit.

The quick-build suspension of the FtF Pz. 35(t) kit is done well for what it is but the significant weakness in this type of suspension is that the pairs of roadwheels and return rollers are molded as one thick wheel. There is a little flash around some of the track teeth in need of cleaning. To simulate pairs of wheels with a space for the track guide teeth, the lower section of track was cut off with a sharp blade and a groove cut into the wheels with files. The leaf springs were also squared off and a groove cut into them to simulate two sets of leaf springs. When assembling the model, the track sections are reassembled with little evidence they were cut apart.

The resin interior from the Attack Models Pz. 35(t) kit can be made to fit into the FtF kit hull with careful sanding. The Attack Models resin engine and turret interior parts were not used. Being an open top AFV the Pz. 35(t) interior would be partially visible. Scratchbuilding the visible interior should not be difficult, with the right reference photos.

Scratchbuilding the gun shield was study and trial and error. Measure twice and cut once.

The complex gun shield is the most difficult part to resize to 1/72, scratchbuild, and make sure it is the correct proportion and fit with the gun and the scratchbuilt superstructure. The gun also needed some detailing. Accuracy of the model is dependent on the accuracy of the 1/35-scale CMK model and limited photos. We are also at the mercy of the quality and proportions of the Zis-3 gun and the Pz. 35(t) models we choose. The photos below peek in to the ready rounds installed into the interior of the superstructure based on photos and trusting the CMK model kit.

A tow cable was fashioned with teabag string and mounted around hooks on the rear. The gun muzzle is drilled out and the gun detailed with a gunsight, and with traverse and elevation wheels. The white rows of chips on the rear sprocket wheels are supposed to represent the drive sprocket teeth sticking through the track; these should actually be smaller.

The tank interior was painted white like the Pz. 35(t) would be, but with a primer red floor.

The ladder-like device atop the superstructure is a gun travel lock that would fold down and attach to the breach of the Zis-3 gun. The typical color for Romanian AFVs is olive drab.

The tow cable is fabricated from teabag string coated in white glue. The 1/72 scale Romanian crew figures are from Zvezda and from Retrokit (now RetroTracks).

Overall, I am happy with the model, I’ve long wished to add one of these to my collection of Marder Panzerjägers but there were no smallscale models available. A rule of thumb, or Murphy’s Law, is that if you have to scratchbuild a smallscale AFV, soon after you are done someone will issue a model of one! This irony has proven itself with several models I’ve built, so I predict we will have a smallscale Tacam R-2 within the year! Overall, I am happy with my model, while not a contest winner due to the parts and my effort, it is more than adequate for a wargaming piece and historical display model, and takes up much less shelf space than the 1/35-scale CMK model.


These models were purchased by the reviewer.


Panzers 35(t) and 38(t) And Their Variants 1920-1945, Walter J Spielberger, Schiffer Military History Book (2008)


Most kits listed in this article can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

Back to Articles List
Article Last Updated: 17 April 2021 Back to Home Page