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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6451, Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A 4.Serie/La.S. Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 164 styrene parts (including 46 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, one photo-etched brass fret, 16 stamped brass parts, two water-slide decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 12 steps.
DML has just released another sub-variant of their Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A, this time in the form of the 4.Serie/La.S. The defining difference was four fuel filler caps on engine deck, instead of the previous two; this was introduced in September 1938. Therefore, DML provides a new engine deck module part, as well as the incremental improvements seen on kit 6356. The parts for the interior have been deleted and rather mediocre decals have been provided; these merely consist of three Balkenkreuz national insignia.
These Magic Track individual links are packed in a separate bag attached to the usual DML parts card. Since the links fit together quite positively but very loosely, glue will be required to keep them under control during final fitting. They are not handed for the left and right sides, and require virtually no clean-up.
As is typical of all of DMLs re-vamped Pz.Kpfw.I kits, the road-wheels each have a pair of stamped brass rings fitted to the rims; these provide for properly-undercut details. Proper coil springs and their associated swing arms are also given for the first road-wheel station on each side of the hull. Finally, the idler wheels feature separate rings for a properly-undercut rim configuration.
The entire suspension system features some parts that can remain movable after careful assembly; the wheels will rotate and the main bogies will pivot. I recommend that the modeler fix the units in place after everything is in its proper location. If desiring to put the model on a base, plan ahead so the suspension system will properly follow the contours of your ground-work. Of course, if using the kit tracks, which are not workable after assembly, this entire exercise will be even more challenging.
The lower hull is a one-piece, slide-molded tub with integral side panels; this makes for ease of assembly and also provides for very positive alignment of the major components. The return roller mounts are in their proper positions, with each one positioned slightly lower than the previous one, working towards the rear. The separate bow plate/transmission housing is attached to the front, while a separate stern plate is attached in the rear. These parts represent the actual configuration of the prototype quite well. The rear plate is properly curved, while the front plate has weld detail as well as the flattened areas under the final drive housings, where they meet the belly plate. The belly plate and hull side walls feature crisply-molded rivets, panel lines, access plates and suspension system mounting points. The rear plate has the circular access cover molded in place and will receive several separate fittings, such as a tail-lamp, slide-molded jack block and its associated rack, tow points, various other fittings and finally, the tow pintle.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The separate track-guards are bare of tool and OVM locating holes on the upper surface, and have no knock-out pin marks on the lower surface. The instructions show which locating holes to open for this version, from underneath, so pay attention! The tools are nicely-done and have mounts and clamps molded on. Marker lamps are provided for both track-guards, as are exhaust mufflers. The latter have fine accordion pipe detail (correctly angled downwards) as well as opened ends, due to the use of slide molds; they are capped off by etched brass mounting brackets and perforated heat shields. The front and rear mud-flaps are separate, and include very nice rivet details. The tiny devices that hold the forward set of mud-flaps to the fenders are separate parts, a rather nice bit of detail engineering.
The port-side track-guard mounts a shovel, an axe and a fire extinguisher. In addition, the fire extinguisher has a separate mounting plate. The starboard side features a multi-part jack with separate mounting hardware and a choice of two different types of jointly-mounted wire cutters. Next to it is mounted a pry-bar and behind these items is the rod antenna stowage trough.
The upper superstructure is based on an inner shell that is molded with part of the glacis plate. To this, the front, side, rear and roof panels are attached; careful clean-up of the parts allowed them to fit nearly flawlessly. The roof panel has a proper ball-bearing turret race, with gear teeth for a more realistic representation of the actual item. The split hatch lids on the superstructure roof plate are separate parts; they feature fine separate levers and are devoid of ejector pin marks.
All view-port flaps are supplied as separate clear parts, with separate glass blocks, and include internal details. The small port on the superstructure rear is solid styrene and is not designed to be depicted opened up. Also included are the small armor plates seen on the sides of the superstructure, where they meet the track-guards; these can be used or left off depending upon references.
Up front, the forward glacis plate is fitted with a separate transmission access hatch panel that has bolt openings on the inner flange; it is the 75cm type that was fitted beginning with the 3.Serie/La.S. chassis, and continued on the 4.Serie/La.S. There is also a head-lamp with a clear lens, a shorter Bosch horn with separate mount, and tow points.
The new engine deck module is a separate part; it includes etched brass inserts for the screens seen at each rear corner. The engine deck radiator air intake hatch is a separate part, which can be depicted opened or closed. The two engine deck access hatch lids, as well as the four fuel filler cap lids are also separate parts, which can be depicted opened or closed.
Throughout, there is exquisitely delicate molded-in counter-sunk screw head detail as well as various other things such as weld beads, hinges and bolts. Separate (and tiny) lift hooks, transmission cooling air exhaust pipe, a rod antenna and its mount complete this assembly. The standard-issue 10-meter tow cable, seen stowed on the bow, is not included. This is the kits only major omission.
The slide-molded turret has counter-sunk screw head detail on its roof plate as well as the side walls; theres also some very nice understated weld bead details where appropriate. Like the superstructure, all view-port flaps are given as clear parts with separate inner glass blocks; they can all be modeled opened or closed. Likewise, they have complete internal details. The hatch lid is nicely-detailed with separate levers for its inner face, and, like all other visible surfaces of this kit, it is completely devoid of ejector pin marks. Naturally, the lid can be modeled opened or closed.
The twin MG13k armament is mounted in a movable mantlet, which also includes the tiny, centrally-located aperture for the gunners optical sight. While the guns have the proper perforations on the barrel jacket (as well as the correct off-set configuration in the mantlet), DML has chosen not to use a slide mold to pre-open the bore ends. A bit of old-fashioned modeling know-how and a few turns of a fine drill bit in a pin vise will settle this.
The bottom part for the turret is devoid of the non-scale tabs that usually would hold it in place on the superstructure roof plate. A very simplified representation of the commanders seat is provided, but thats about the only interior bit provided and it is really best used as a place to position a figure, should the modeler wish to add one to the kit.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Overall, the fit was good-to-excellent. All details were crisply-rendered and there were no ejector pin marks to be seen on any visible surface, including the inner faces of hatch lids.
Overall, the model scales quite well with drawings from the references listed below; its details match those of the 4.Serie/La.S., as seen in the drawing on page 1-70, in Panzer Tracts 1-1. The only major omission is the standard-issue 10-meter tow cable.
These are typical for DML and are clearly-rendered line drawings. The relatively low parts count should present no surprises, but as always, the modeler is urged to proceed with caution. Colors are coded to match Gunze and Testors paints.
Decals and Markings Information.
The water-slide decals are from Cartograf and are rather simple, but as usual, they are crisp and exhibit fine color saturation. As each design is only one color, registration is not an issue. Carrier film is thin and cropped close to the edges of the designs. Markings instructions for two Pz.Kpfw.Is are provided, both from unidentified units. They consist solely of three white-outline Balkenkreuze national insignia and are singularly un-inspired.
One leichter Panzer is painted overall Field Grey, while the other is base-painted in Field Gray with Khaki Green and Red Brown blotches. The time period referenced in the instructions is the year 1936. The color schemes are incorrect for that time frame, and indeed any other, since Field Grey (Feldgrau) was never a factory-applied color on the fully-armed and equipped Pz.Kpfw.I; it was seen on the very early 1.Serie/La.S. Krupp-Traktor, which had no turret or superstructure. Feldgrau is a greenish color distinctly different from Dunkelgrau, which I assume is what DMLs instructions (and some hobby paint manufacturers) are actually referring to.
The white-outline Balkenkreuze, which were introduced in October of 1939, are also incorrect for any era earlier than the campaigns in the West in 1940. On the other hand, this version must have seen action in Poland in 1939 and in the West in 1940, so a search in the stash may produce something more appropriate and certainly more colorful.
Basically, all the color information can be disregarded and the markings can be consigned to the spares bin in deference to something more accurate and complete. This variation probably did not serve in the Spanish Civil War, and it almost certainly did not wear the pre-war Buntfarbenanstrich three-color camouflage scheme.
This kit is essentially precisely what it purports to be, straight from the box. The distinctly different engine deck module is the unique feature of this version; in combination with other parts in the box, proper references and out-sourced markings, a fine replica will be the result.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included, but were not limited to:
1. Panzerkampfwagen I; Panzer Tracts1-1, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
2. Panzerkampfwagen I; Panzer Tracts1-2, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Pz.Kpfw.I/Pz.Kpfw.II Series and Variants; Achtung Panzer No.7, by M. Bitoh.
4. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II, Revised Edition; by P. Chamberlain, T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
5. Panzertruppen Vol.1; Schiffer, by T. Jentz.
6. German Leichte Panzer at War; Concord 7066, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecoque.
7. Panzerkampfwagen I; Wehrmacht Special No. 4009, Tankograd, by M. Zöllner.
8. Panzer I, the Beginning of a Dynasty; AFV Collection No.1, AF Editions, by L. M. Franco.
9. Blitzkrieg, Armor Camouflage and Markings 1939-40; Squadron 6101, by S. Zaloga.
10. Leichte Panzers in Action; Squadron Armor No.10, by U. Feist & M. Dario.
11. German Light Panzers 1932-42; Osprey Vanguard 33, by B. Perrett & T. Hadler.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and on-line shops; for details visit their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.