|KIT:||Dragon 1/35 PzKpfw I ausf A|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Etched fret included|
The Panzer I marked the first production tank design in Germany since the conclusion of World War I. In 1932, specifications for a light (5-ton) tank were made and issued to the German industrial manufacturers Rheinmetall, Krupp, Henschel, MAN and Daimler Benz. In 1933, the design by Krupp was chosen. It was based on the British Carden Loyd Mk IV Tankette, two of which had been secretly purchased from the Soviet Union. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany from producing any tanks, so these versions were referred to as "Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper" (agricultural tractors). The design was modified in late 1933 to combine the Krupp chassis with the Daimler Benz turret design. In 1934, the resulting tank was designated the Panzer I Ausf A (version A), and production began in July.
The original Panzer I was designed as a light tank for reconnaissance and infantry support duties. However, the most important goal of its development was to provide a vehicle to begin forming and training a German tank force. It was to be replaced in the Panzer divisions as soon as possible by more capable purpose-designed combat tanks, although as it turned out, by the start of World War II, the Panzer I was still filling a significant role in these units due to extended time in getting more advanced tanks produced.
The tank itself was produced in two primary variants. The original PzKpfw IA was underpowered and was replaced in production by the PzKpfw IB, with a more powerful engine and other improvements. The B model can be identified by the slightly longer hull and extra road wheel necessary for the larger engine. For the most part, the two versions were similar in operation. A few attempts were made to make a heavier armed tank or one able to participate in airborne operations, but few of these were made. By the time of the replacement of the Panzer I, it was long obsolete in any combat role, and thus many of the surviving chassis were converted to other roles. Most attempts to mount guns were less than successful due to the small size of the vehicle, but it was successful as a turret-less tractor, both for training of tank drivers and carrying cargo and munitions to front line units.
Molded in light grey plastic, there is obviously no lack of polythene bags in China as each sprue is individually packaged. The detail level is just superb. Even the springs on the suspension parts show no sign of a mold seam. I found no ejector pin marks that would be visible once the kit was built. Included are ready to assemble individual track links (87 per side), called 'Magic Tracks'. I've been told that these are nearly fool-proof and so I shall see!
There is an etched fret for muffler covers and intake screens. Options are provided for open or closed cupola windows and hatches, though there is not an interior so you may wish to build accordingly. One can also have the radio mast raised or lowered. This isn't a big tank, scaling out about the same size as a 1/48 Sherman, but the detail is there in abundance.
Instructions are superb with well drawn construction steps and a layout of the parts. Several are not used on this variant. Build steps also have some detail drawings to help with parts placement. Markings are provided for three vehicles. One from the Desert in 1941 (as shown on the box art), one in Norway during 1940 in overall Panzer Grey, and one in Nuremberg during 1935 in Panzer Grey with Red Brown and Forest Green splotches. Decals are well printed and basically consist of number and crosses.
I have to say that this is one of the finest moldings I've seen on a kit. The level of detail is superb and one certainly gets all the right bits to do a very nice tank model. I'm personally attracted to these smaller light tanks as they provide all the enjoyment of doing a larger tank without all the additional parts!
Preview kit courtesy of me and my wallet for you.
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