Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer
Late Production

Kit # VS720021 Review by Rob Haelterman


The Jagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer" was a tank hunter derived from the PzKpfw 38(t), using a widened chassis and completely redesigned hull together with larger roadwheels (825 instead of 775mm diameter). Its gun was the Pak 39 L/48 which used the same ammunition as the 7.5 cm KwK 40 of the PzKpfw IV and as the 7.5 cm StuK 40 of the StuG III and IV (but not the same as the PaK 40). It seems that the name "Hetzer" was never used by the Germans themselves during the war. Risking the wrath of some historians, I will continue to use the name "Hetzer" in this article nevertheless, purely because it is shorter to type than Jagdpanzer 38(t).

Production started in March 1944. 2447 Hetzers were delivered to units between May 1944 and May 1945 [5] and the vehicle became operational on the Ostfront in the Summer of 1944 and on the Westfront in September 1944.
The type served in Panzerjäger units of infantry and Volksgrenadier divisions and independent Panzerjäger Abteilungen, not in the Panzerdivisionen, although some exceptions existed [2,5]. A detailed distribution list can be found here.



Vespid is a relatively new Chinese manufacturer, but already with a solid reputation for quality, akin to that of Flyhawk kits.

The instructions are clearly printed, in color, on glossy paper. A few parts are not for use as they are intended for the earlier version represented in kit VS720022. (In case you wonder, it doesn't seem that you have all the parts to build the early version from this release, however.) The only option this kit offers you is to use a plastic or metal gun barrel and the choice between two marking options that don't refer to any particular unit or theatre of operations. We'll coma back to that later.

The main parts. An interior or crew figures are not provided, but the gun sight is connected to the main gun, allowing it to move in parallel.
I wonder why there is such a large gap next to the lower hull. (I checked, and it's also there in companion kit VS720022.)
Based on what I find at Henk of Holland, sprue A is almost, but not entirely identical to that of VS720022 as the latter contains two types of gun mount.

Tracks are link-and-length, very crisp and well detailed.

Roadwheels, idler, mantlet and other parts that are dedicated to the late version. The roadwheels have detail on the back. Only the rare 4-hole idler type is given, which is a pity, given what marking options you are presented with.

Steel tow cable, plus metal cylinder (sleeves) for the ends of that cable, a metal gun barrel and PE parts. The instructions tell you that you get two sleevs, but my kit contained three. Clearly Vespid knows that I am bound to feed at least one of these to the carpet monster.

Small decal sheet. Well printed.


According to my references (see below), the Hetzer evolved as follows (in bold the features of the kit), leaving out the prototypes:

  • Initial production
    • scalopped gun mantlet
    • ram horn towing attachments
    • 12-hole idler
    • A few with muzzle brake
    • A few with transversal beam and tow hook on rear plate
  • April 44:
    • Ram horns dropped, hulls extended with towing eyes
    • Slightly smaller flange on top plate for mantlet
    • No lightening holes in outer rim of drive sprocket
    • Rundumfeuer MG shield shortened
  • May-July 44
    • Extra hatches sloping on rear hull plate: one for commander and two close at each side of the bottom of that plate. Spare tracks moved accordingly.
      Some remarks:
      • I have read (but can't remember where) that the commander's hatch was later reduced in size. I have no visible proof of this.
      • [5] shows a picture of a vehicle with only the extra commander's hatch, but not the maintenance hatches, and already with the new gun mantlet. This seems like a rare exception.
        Drawings in [5], however, show the following evolution which seems to be contradicted by pictorial evidence
        • Two extra hatches: commander + right maintenance
        • Only extra commander's hatch
        • Three extra hatches when the new muffle was introduced
    • No heat guard for muffler. I am unsure if this was an intentional measure, or it was only due to temporary lack of parts.
    • 3 Pilzen on roof (June, according to [5])
  • Aug 44:
    • "Ambush scheme" introduced
    • Lighter gun mount mantlet (gun mount without bolts and different shape, no notch in "Saukopf" mantlet)
    • Larger wheels with smaller rubber rim and 16 rivets (?) instead of 32 bolts, but same overall diameter accorindg to . [5] claims this only happened in October 44.
    • Various new types of idler fitted
      - 6 hole flat
      - 8 hole flat welded
      - 6 hole dished, stamped, ribbed
      - 6 hole dished smooth
      - 4 hole dished smooth (Skoda)
  • Sep 44:
    • Edges of Schürzen bent inwards
  • Oct 44:
    • Flush driver’s periscope with rainguard
    • Riveted (instead of bolted) roadwheels, which is probably indistinguishable in this scale. (This change might already have happened when the new roadwheel was introduced.)
    • Flammvernichter exhaust, mounted higher.
    • Stop light on left rear fender in lower position.
    • New hatches left and right of exhaust
    • Small reinforcements to top of gount mount on some vehicles [5]. I have not yet seen visible proof.
    • Stronger front suspension; the vehicle no longer showed a nose heavy stance
    • "Ambush scheme" phased out
  • Very late production.
    • Loops for camo
    • Side supports for tow eyes, or tow eyes replaced by heavy duty U brackets

Befehlspanzers carried an extra Sternantenna on the rear left hull side.



  • Preliminary remarks
    The final model didn’t turn out as well as it deserves, and I take full responsibility for it, although only partially. The main reason is that it seems that Vespid has changed the type of plastic that they use. While I previously wrote that the plastic in the Comet kit (or any other Vespid kit that I built in the past, for that matter) reacts very well to MEK, the plastic in the Hetzer kit is almost inert. After having asked around, I started to believe that I didn’t clean the kit parts well enough before starting the assembly and that the mold release agent was playing tricks on me. Parts just kept falling off, with all the types of glue that I normally use failing to hold the kit together, apart from cyanoacrylate. I was almost ready to accept my fate when I decided to do an experiment on a bit of sprue. I cleaned it, sanded it, cut it in two, just to make sure I had access to plastic that couldn’t possibly have been in contact with the molds. Behold… the plastic didn’t stick at all with MEK, and barely held together with regular modelling glue. I’ve heard from other modelers that they didn’t suffer from this annoying tendency, but I honestly fail to see what I have been doing wrong. If anyone has ideas, suggestions, or other useful remarks, they are welcome to contact me.
  • In the end, to avoid losing any more parts while the carpet monster was aroused, I decided to stick the model to a small base to be able to handle it without too much risk. My incessant frustration made me forget to take enough in-progress pictures of the build, while the finished model in the pictures below doesn’t show off all the fine detail this kit has on offer. And, yes, it comes with some very fine, crisp detail.
  • I wanted to build a Hetzer captured by the Bulgarians after the end of the war (and after they switched sides). That particular Hetzer was a late type, but had an 8—hole idler. The kit has a 4-hole idler while the other kit that Vespid released, covering the “early” Hetzer, comes with a 12-hole idler. Trying to be as truthful as possible, I drilled out 4 more holes in each idler part. Other modifications are a different type of headlight, a makeshift right front fender, omission of sections of Schürzen and omission of the MG. A picture can be found here, while more information on Bulgarian armor can be found here.
  • Decals came from a Bison set. This vehicle only needs three red stars. Unfortunately, the white border of the stars in the decals is not in perfect register, which didn’t bother me too much as I reckoned that this might have been due to hasty application by the captors (even though the picture of the real thing seems to show a more uniform border).

On to the actual construction.
The suspension is a very nicely detailed bit of engineering, but the axles of the support rollers were a bit short to correctly align those tiny wheels (unless I did something wrong). The rim of the idlers was also somewhat irregular in my kit. What is nice is that the lengths of track have a realistic curvature, which will add to the realism of the finished kit. The kit offers you individual track links that aren’t called for in the instructions, but which came in handy nevertheless. (Perhaps Vespid read my review of their Comet kit.)
A word of warning, which applies to all tracked vehicle kits: always place at least a single track on the drive sprocket when gluing the halves together. The slightest misalignment of the teeth will make the whole track assembly look quite crooked.
The hull extensions with the towing eyes (PE3 and PE4) are very delicate, very thin and thus have a only tiny mating surface for the superglue to bite. This becomes even more of an issue for the even tinier reinforcement triangles (PE5). I would recommend cutting a very shallow slot where they are to be placed, to have at least somewhere to put your glue.

On the rear of the hull you are supposed to place a tow cable. The kit provides a metal strand of twisted cable, which is nice, but has a certain tension. You are supposed to wind it around three dimunitive PE hooks (with almost non existent mating surfaces). I didn’t want to take the risk of having the hooks snap off, so I left the cable off. The kit instructions are also somewhat vague about this. You get one cable to which you are supposed to add three towing eyes. The math doesn’t add up. The rear hull plate also accepts two spare track segments. The kit gives you four. Later on in the build, you will notice that I didn’t fit the longer spare track segment on the engine deck, just to give the kit its own identity. Speaking about the engine deck, I decided to hollow out the lifting handles instead of using the PE parts (which looked too flat). Copper wire would perhaps have been even better (and surely less work).

The periscopes are very nice, but are a tight fit. Taking a sliver of plastic off the opening in the upper hull will make life easier on you.
The kit offers open hatches, but without an interior (or crew figure) I decided to glue them closed. Well, actually, you get a little bit of interior: the lower half of the periscopes, the lower half of the gun sight and the commander’s binoculars. This is where the kit gets over-engineered. When the gun moved, the gun sight moved with it (which makes sense, doesn’t it ?). Vespid allows for the gun to move around both axes. For the periscope to follow there is a structure that attaches the gun sight to the rear of the gun. (The latter is not the cradle, just a plastic extension.) It’s a fiddly affair, made all the worse by the truculent plastic. On top of that (literally) is the sliding periscope cover (PE 16) that is supposed to slide with the periscope. Vespid doesn’t mention it, but if you go for a moving gun, the gun cover would need to be pushed around by the periscope. A sliding periscope cover held in place by 4 microscopic PE parts (PE8) and being pushed by a plastic periscope that is attached to the gun with a fiddly connection characterized by tiny mating surfaces of glue-phobic plastic is the stuff of nightmares. I probably overcompensated, but I added as much reinforcement to the inside structure as I could and happily sacrificed the mobility of the gun.

For those wanting to scratchbuild an interior: good 3D interior drawings can be found in [1,2, 6] and Eduard's 1/35 instructions (or kit) can also be of assistance.

Some side-notes about the gun assembly: the mantlet and has some nice casting texture, and the gun barrel comes as both a plastic and a brass part. The latter being slightly thinker, requiring some drilling on the receiving end. Going towards the finishing line, I drilled out the Pilzen on the roof, bent the left rear fender to match the picture, lost the handle of the jack and scratchbuilt a new one and added the (empty) Rundumfeuer mount. The instructions for the latter are puzzling. You are supposed to fit part 18 in front of it. However, part 18 is also the main gun periscope and is only provided once. The next part of step 12 is equally puzzling as metal cylinders are supposed to be added to wires (?). I am not sure where the wires should come from (or what they represent). Not finding them on the picture I based my model on, I left them off. I did add the clamp for it, which fortunately is supplied twice, so I could feed the carpet monster some dessert with the other one.


Based on my observations and my references, the vehicle in this kit has accurate feature’s for a vehicle built from September 1944 onwards, which makes it the same version as the Esci kit (which has other issues however). The 4-hole idler is rather rare, however, and has implications for the marking options. It would have been nice if Vespid had provided alternatives.
Both of these options can be found in [5] and are the same two marking options of the Eduard 1/35 kit.

  • 212 is given as a vehicle of 97. Jäger-Division in Moravia, Czechoslovakia, May 1945. The vehicle is drawn in [5] with a 6-hole idler, which is confirmed by a picture in the Eduard instructions. Eduard also mention that the "212" might be in red or black with a white border, instead of blue.
  • 102 is given as a vehicle of 8. SS-Kavalerie-Division "Florian Geyer", Transylvania (Romania), Autumn 1944. The vehicle is drawn in [5] with a 6-hole idler. While Eduard confirms, I have not yet found any pictures of the real vehicle. The Eduard instructions also mention that the "102" might be in red with a white border, instead of blue.

The idler in the kit is thus incorrect for at least one of both options and likely for both. A 6-hole idler can be sourced from OKB Grigorov, or from the UM kit of the Hetzer.

Note that 212 might have had fake visors painted below the real visor.

For those who are interested Panzerwrecks 6, p 49 clearly illustrate the standard: BMM & Skoda camo schemes.

Returning to the accuracy of the features, the only things that that warrant improvement, in my opinion, are

  • adding the electrical wire for the headlight
  • installing an antenna to its mount on the right rear hull
  • adding a tiny periscope for the Rundumfeuer machine gun (part F6 in the Eduard 1/35 kit)

What the dimensional accuracy is concerned, I refer to this article.


This is a very highly detailed and accurate kit, which is perhaps somewhat overengineerd and comes with some of the smallest photoetch part that I had the "pleasure" to work with.
My main concern is the gluability of the plastic, at least in my kit and in my hands.



[1] Panzerjäger 38(t) Hetzer & G-13 Vol I, Photosniper 3D #14, M. Motyka et al., Kagero, 2014
[2] Panzerjäger 38(t) Hetzer & G-13 Vol II, Photosniper 3D #17, M. Motyka et al., Kagero, 2015
[3] Hetzer & G-13 Vol I, Photosniper #17, M. Koenig & G. Parada, Kagero, 2003
[4] Jagdpanzer 38, In Focus 1, Panzerwrecks, 2015
[5] Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer Vol.1, Gunpower 30, M. Rainko, AJ Press, 2008
[6] Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer Vol.2, Gunpower 30, M. Rainko, AJ Press, 2010
[7] Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, TankPower Vol VIIII (219) Limited Edition, J Wrobel, Wydawnictwo (1997)
[8] Jagdpanzer 38 ‘Hetzer’ Osprey 2004 E New Vanguard 36


Kit purchased by the reviewer.


Vespid kits can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated:
03 March 2024

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