Kit, DML 6356, Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A Modified Version w/Interior “Smart Kit”
September 9 2007 at 8:18 AM
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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6356, Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A Modified Version w/Interior “Smart Kit”. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 287 styrene parts (including 46 clear), one bag of “Magic Tracks”, two photo-etched brass frets, 16 stamped brass parts, three water-slide decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 19 steps.
Although the initial release of this tiny Panzer seemed at casual glance to be quite nice, it had accuracy issues, some of which escaped my eye in my review of kit 6289. Perhaps the most glaring error of all was the improper positioning of the return roller mounts; DML had them running in a straight line, fore-to-aft, parallel with the fender line. In fact, each mount’s position drops slightly below the previous one’s as they run rearwards. There was also an issue with the idler wheel size and configuration.
Well gang, DML has not only fixed these problems, but has greatly refined many other parts, particularly in the kit’s suspension. They have also added several fittings (and inadvertently, some options) not included in the initial kit release. Finally, the turret and fighting compartments have been given a nearly complete interior; the former has also been modified for a higher level of detail and more scale fidelity.
These “Magic Track” individual links are packed in a separate bag attached to the usual DML parts card. They are newly-tooled and are very subtly different from those seen in the previous kit. Since the links fit together quite positively but very loosely, glue will be required to keep them under control during final fitting.
The suspension system has been greatly re-vamped, which enhances visual fidelity for a much more accurate appearance. For instance, all-new road-wheels are provided, each of which has a pair of stamped brass rings fitted to the rims; these provide for properly-undercut details. New 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 have been re-worked and they still 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 tub with integral side panels; this makes for ease of assembly and also provides for very positive alignment of the major componants. As mentioned in this review’s introduction, the return roller mounts are now in their proper positions. 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 convoy distance-keeping lamp, slide-molded jack block and its associated rack, tow points, and finally, the tow pintle.
The separate fender units 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 and there is now an optional Notek blackout driving head-lamp, but it was only fitted to one of the Panzer for which markings are provided in the box; check references! The multi-part jack features separate mounting hardware and a choice of two different types of jointly-mounted wire cutters. In addition, the fire extinguisher has a separate mounting plate. The exhaust mufflers 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 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 been re-worked to get rid of the customary bayonet-mount slots that keep the turret from dropping out. Instead of that anachronistic fitting, a proper ball-bearing turret race, with gear teeth down below, is now in place. This is a plus, especially since this kit includes a detailed turret and fighting compartment interior; more on that, below.
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; creative use of some “extra” clear parts will see it opened. In addition, there is an extra superstructure side plate, part C2, which has an opening for a view-port flap. Again if the modeler is creative and references support this configuration, I say, “Go for it”. Also new for this kit are the small armor plates seen on the sides of the superstructure, where they meet the fenders; 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; the original 60cm type is included as well as the 75cm type that was fitted beginning with the 3.Serie/La.S chassis. So if references show its use on a particular Panzer, the modeler has these options available. There is also a head-lamp with a clear lens, a slide-molded horn with separate mount, and tow points.
The new engine deck/side wall assembly is a separate part; it now includes molded-on armored covers over the small engine cooling air exhaust grills at each rear corner; the grills themselves are now crisply-molded separate styrene parts, without the etched brass inserts as seen in the original kit. The engine deck radiator air intake hatch is also the reinforced type; it is a separate, multi-part affair, to which is attached a new multi-part Nebelkerzenabwurfvorrichtung (rack to deploy smoke candles). The two engine deck access hatch lids, as well as the two fuel filler cap lids are also separate parts.
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, rod antenna, mount and its associated stowage trough complete this assembly.
The slide-molded turret also has counter-sunk screw head detail on its roof plate as well as the side walls; there’s 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 now have complete internal details. The hatch lid is nicely-detailed with separate levers for the inner faces, and, like all other visible surfaces of this kit, is completely devoid of ejector pin marks. Naturally, it 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 gunner’s optical sight. While the guns have the proper perforations on the barrel jacket (as well as the correct “off-set” configuration), DML has chosen not to use a slide mold to pre-open the bore ends, which considering their extensive use of this technique in most of their recent vehicle and figure kits, has this reviewer scratching his head. Regardless, a bit old-fashioned modeling know-how and a few turns of a fine drill bit in a pin vise will settle this “issue”.
The bottom part for the turret is new and is now devoid of the non-scale tabs that usually would hold it in place on the superstructure roof plate. A re-worked and quite delicate turret race ring is now provided on the turret base.
Based on parts from the earlier Flakpanzer I, DML has now included a relatively comprehensive interior for the fighting compartment, which, with all-new parts for the turret interior, comprises over 70 styrene and etched brass parts.
Beginning with the turret, the following is provided: turret traverse hand wheel and multi-part commander’s seat and frame; to this is attached the electric power slip-ring. Trigger/receiver groups, ammunition magazines, spent shell catchers, sight and travel lock parts are given for the MG13k main armament. As mentioned above, parts for the interior portions of the view-port flaps are also given, making this area quite complete. The only major item not included is the tray seen below the MGs that held ready magazines; this is quite easy to replicate using photos in the cited references.
The fighting compartment features the rear firewall, main floor and sub-floor, each as separate parts. Up front, a multi-part transmission, as well as final drive and brake drums are complimented by gear a shift lever, the driver’s hand and foot controls, and a two-part seat. Inexplicably, there is no instrument panel for the driver. An internal Gepäckkasten (baggage bin), radio head-set bin, a radio with etched brass rack and the crank that raised or lowered the antenna mast finish up this area. Along each side of the fighting compartment there are various ammo racks, some partially filled. Signal flag racks (without the flags), spare MG barrel container, as well as a few odds and ends fill out the remainder of the side walls. Vehicle and radio batteries (with some etched brass detail parts) and a small step for the commander complete the interior.
Some major items that are not present include two gas masks and their stowage racks, and a “Zielschiene”, or gunner’s sight stowage case, as well as some head pads and various hand grips. Most of these can be found in the spares box, or are easily scratch-built using references.
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. With wise use of references and the parts in the box, the kit can be made to replicate the 3.Serie/La.S. with the so-called “modifications” as seen in the drawing on page 1-74, in Panzer Tracts 1-1.
These are typical for DML and are clearly-rendered line drawings. The addition of an interior makes this kit a bit “busy”, but all seemed to be OK. Colors are, as usual, 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 for three leichte Panzer are provided:
• White-outline R6, 6.Panzer-Division, Western Front 1949-40. Overall “Field Grey”.
• White 13, 3./Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V.40, Norway 1940. Overall “Field Grey”.
• White 22, I./Pz.Rgt.15, 5.Panzer-Division, Poland 1939. Overall “Field Grey”.
While I have no quarrel with the markings themselves (although I can’t find a reference for “R6”), DML is still not providing the proper information regarding the colors these early Panzer should be painted. Modelers should note that for the time period that the markings included in the kit depict, they should all be finished in Dunkelgrau Nr.46 (later the code was changed to RAL 7021). This was over-sprayed with Dunkelbraun Nr.45 (later RAL 7017) in patches, so it covered roughly 1/3 of the item being painted. Why this well-documented information is still overlooked (or un-accepted) by both modelers and kit manufacturers, is beyond this reviewer’s understanding.
In addition, while both “white 13” and “white 22” have the armored covers over the air intakes and exhaust, only “white 13” has the Notek lamp up front (actually only the mount is seen in photographs) and convoy marker lamp at the rear. “White 22” probably features the earlier tail-lamp configuration, which is still included as parts B38 and B39. Again, CHECK those references!
This kit is essentially precisely what it purports to be, straight from the box. As I have stressed several times, with proper references and research on the modeler’s behalf, there are many more possibilities right there in the box. Add to those points an extremely accurate and well detailed kit, and the limits are only set by the modeler’s skills and reference sources.
Frank V. “Curley Stooge” De Sisto
References consulted for this review 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. “Panzer Vor, Vol.1”, Concord 7053, by F. De Sisto.
7. “Blitzkrieg, Armor Camouflage and Markings 1939-40”, Squadron 6101, by S. Zaloga.
8. “Leichte Panzers in Action”, Squadron Armor No.10, by U. Feist & M. Dario.
9. “German Light Panzers 1932-42”, Osprey Vanguard 33, by B. Perrett & T. Hadler.
Reviewer’s 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 reviews.
DML kits are available from retail and on-line shops; for details visit their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.