Alan Ltd. 1/35 Bison I
|$23.98 (21.47 at Squadron)|
|Scott Van Aken|
"Thanks to the experience of the Spanish Civil War, the Germans realized that the Panzer I was lacking in armor and armament. As a result, production ceased in 1939 and many of the extant vehicles were stripped down to their running gear for use in other projects, many of which involved some sort of self-propelled artillery. In early 1940, the first 38 heavy field guns were installed on Panzer IB chassis. This consisted of a box like armor shield around a SIG-33 gun of 150mm. Six companies of these guns were first used during the invasion of Belgium and France, and later in other theaters until 1943.
Despite overloading the Panzer I chassis, the Bison I was remarkably effective and reliable. They were used successfully on the Russian front until mid 1943. Approximately 132 of these SPGs were produced and after the chassis wore out, many guns were remounted on Pz 38(t) chassis, which were more suitable and able to handle the weight.
As you know, I like to thoroughly inspect a new kit for three things: sink areas, ejector pin marks and flash. This kit is a delight in that there is no flash, few sink areas (and then in places where they won't be seen after construction) and only a few ejector pin marks (those easily cleaned up).
Apparently, the way this thing was designed was that one rolled a complete SIG 33 field artillery piece onto the top of the modified Panzer IB chassis and then bolted it in place. This means that you get the complete field gun; wheels and all. There is no parts location guide so it is difficult at this stage to say what if any parts are redundant. The kit is well molded with really nice detailing that is on a par with much of what is out there from Dragon or Italeri and others. Separate track links are provided, which will be a touch time consuming to assemble, but will result in a much more accurate looking model. I should point out that the top center sprue shown above is only one of four identical sprues that contains the track links, road wheels and other repetitive bits. The left side is the SIG 33 gun and the sprue on the right is the hull and shield parts. Two etched bits are provided for an exhaust shield and an engine intake grille.
The instructions are quite good, and though there is no painting information provided during any of the 18 construction drawings, it is provided at the very end and basically consists of what to paint the various shells used by the gun. No mention is made of the overall color of the gun so I'll have to say it is as shown on the box art and in Panzer Grey. Markings are provided for four guns during 1941 in either Russia or Greece. Decals are by ProDecal and, based on previous experience with them, are quite thin. They are also printed on white backing paper, making seeing the white decals very difficult.
I'd have to say that this is one of the better kits coming out of Russia. The quality of the moldings is very good and while the instructions seem a tad basic, they do provide all the info needed to produce a fine model. Because of the small bits and separate track links, I'd recommend the builder have some experience behind him (or her) before tackling this one. Considering what you get in the kit, a very good one for your money.
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