|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
As Germany attempted to rearm in the 1930s in the lead-up to WWII, the military leadership relied heavily on the Pz.Kpfw.I. Some 1,493 examples of all types were built and these light tanks served in early campaigns even though they were supposed to be just training platforms. Mass production of the Ausf.A commenced in 1934, while the improved Ausf.B with a different engine appeared in August 1935. The Ausf.B was lengthened and it had five road wheels per side. The Panzer I was thinly armored with just 13mm steel at its thickest point. It operated with a crew of two – the commander/gunner and driver. An unusual version of this small tank was the Ladungsleger, literally a Demolition Charge Layer. These modified tanks were typically found in the panzer-pionier-bataillon of panzer divisions in 1940 in time for the campaign in Western Europe. The conversion comprised a device mounted on the rear deck that could lower a 50kg explosive charge onto or against a field fortification before it was then detonated.
This is yet another interesting armor variant from our friends at Dragon. One often wonders when, or if, they will ever run out of ideas for these interesting vehicles. What you have is your standard Panzer IB with the additional bits to add on the demolition charge at the back of the tank. Much of this is done in photo etch, which is an appropriate medium for this sort of thing and keeps it nice and light as well.
Like the standard kit, you also get photo etch for the wheel rims on the road wheels and the Magic Track separate link tracks. This kit does not have a full interior as you can find on some Panzer I boxings, but it really isn't needed. A few modifications will need to be made to attach the additional bits, but the instructions show you all of what is needed. Here are the rest of the features of the kit from the PR folks:
- Newly designed Pz.Kpfw.I mit Abwurfvorrichtung
- New Abwurfvorrichtung represented
- Intricate spring molded on the bottom of Abwurfvorrichtung
- Cover of Abwurfvorrichtung can be assembled open/closed
- Upper hull w/authentic detail
- Idler wheels w/accurate detail
- Road wheels w/photo-etched rings
- Suspension system realistically represented
- Engine deck exquisitely detailed
- Engine hatches can be assembled open/closed
- Air-intake grill reproduced like the real one
- Side fenders w/detailed tread pattern
- Lower hull formed from multiple parts for greater detail
- Accurately modeled glacis plate w/removable transmission inspection cover and accurate bolt detail
- Fighting-compartment access hatch can be assembled open/closed
- Turret roof hatch can be assembled open/closed
- Gun assembly is movable
- Multi-directional slide-molded turret w/accurate bolt detail
- Driver's vision port cover can be assembled open/closed
- Turret vision port cover can be assembled open/closed
- On-vehicle tools w/molded-on clasps
- Suspension w/coil spring in fine detail
- Magic Tracks w/accurate detail
Markings are for two vehicles, both in overall panzer grey. The box art version is from 1 Panzer Division in 1940, while another with large white tactical numbers is from an unidentified unit during the same time frame. The decal sheet is well printed and with the help of setting solution, the decals will work over even matte paint.
At over 400 parts, it is what you might consider a medium to light weight kit, so don't expect to finish it in a week. The addition of the charge and its carrying unit makes for a rather unique vehicle that would be perfect for a diorama.
Thanks towww.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can get yours at your local hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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