DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6435, Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.S mit Fuel Drum Trailer Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 428 styrene parts (including 10 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, two etched brass frets, one piece of braided metal wire, one piece of braided string, four water-slide decal markings schemes and 10 pages of instructions in 27 steps, plus addendum.
DML has already issued a number of Smart Kits based on the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) chassis, to include (most recently) a 2-in-1 kit of the Ausf.E/F gun tank to stand beside their kit of the Ausf.G. They have now issued a kit with new parts that will allow the modeler to construct an Ausf.S. The main bits are a new superstructure front plate, a new hull bow plate and a new turret. As a bonus, an auxiliary fuel trailer carrying a single 200-liter fuel drum is included. It is based in part on a twin-drum trailer that was originally included in DMLs Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E Tauchpanzer kit. In fact, either trailer can be built with the parts provided, although (apparently) only the single-drum trailer is appropriate for the Pz.Kpfw.38(t).
New water-slide decals are provided, which give accurate markings for the Ausf.S. However, at least two of these schemes belonged to Ausf.Ss that had unit-specific stowage lockers fitted to their track-guards. Unfortunately, these lockers are not included in the box, but they are in the Ausf.E/F kit, number 6434.
These are the usual Magic Tracks and therefore come as individual links packed loosely in a bag. Each link has an extremely tiny pour pip between the guide horns as well as two very subtle ejector pin marks on the inner face. The fit is very good, but they will not stay together unless they are glued. The guide horns are properly hollow, and the links have a very delicate cast texture. Furthermore, they all have extremely faint casting numbers where appropriate. Each has a faint ejector pin mark on the inner face, which, for the most part, will not be visible on the finished model.
The suspension system is broken down much like most renditions from other manufacturers; this means that the road-wheels can be depicted in an articulated fashion to conform to terrain on a modelers display base. Planning will be needed since getting the bogies properly positioned and then getting the tracks to look right will be a bit of a challenge. The road-wheels are completely and properly detailed on both their inner and outer faces, while the return rollers have separate mounts and include manufacturers name on the rubber tire rims. There are two styles of leaf spring bundles, while the return roller mounts are separate parts. Two types of idler wheel can be mounted in various positions due to a separate cranked axle; this will ease using individual link tracks and therefore it should not be fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the fit of the tracks. The drive sprockets feature perforations around their rims, and are very nicely-detailed to include the ribs and bolt patterns seen between their inner and outer halves. A second set with smooth rims are provided, but they are not for use in this instance.
The hull is the usual slide-molded pan that includes the side walls molded in place together with the belly plate. There is proper rivet and panel details on the three outer sides, as well as suspension mount details on the side walls. Whats unique here is that there is also molded-on detail on the inner faces of the side walls, in the drivers and fighting compartment. There is also molded-on detail on the inner surfaces around the area of the drive sprockets. All this makes for a more simplified assembly process with absolutely no compromise in the detail department.
Separate inner and outer bow plates are provided, with the new outer plate featuring the proper rivet pattern seen on the Ausf.S. It depicts the 25mm plate fitted with an additional 25mm appliqué plate. The outer bow plate also receives separate tow hooks. A separate rear hull plate features a separate circular access panel. Options include idler wheel adjustment mechanisms or covers, two different exhaust pipe configurations (straight or raised), Nebelkerzenabwurfvorrichtung (rack to deploy smoke candles) with armored cover, and various tow hooks. Etched brass straps can hold a tow cable made from braided metal wire and styrene end-loops; the latter are slide-molded so the cable will fit neatly into place.
Up forward, the glacis plate features a separate transmission access hatch lid, a styrene drivers rough sight, and a mounting post for a head-lamp. The new superstructure front plate for the Ausf.S also depicts the type with a 25mm basis fitted with an additional 25mm appliqué plate. This plate features detailed inner and outer faces, with one separate view-port lid with a clear styrene insert for vision block. The second visor, unique to the Ausf.S, is molded in place. A proper antenna mount, rubber base and rod antenna are given for the port side, while a horn is fixed to the opposite side. The 7.92mm MG37(t) is a multi-part assembly, which includes a slide-molded barrel and receiver group, with opened muzzle. Among its separate parts are a gun-sight, a length of belted ammunition, an external armored sleeve and the external ball mount cover.
The separate fighting compartment roof plate incorporates the rear wall of the superstructure, and is provided with separate hatch lids; the latter feature well-done head-pad texture and are devoid of any detail-marring ejector pin marks. Various etched parts as well as a grab handle detail this area, while the turret ring, true to the prototype, does not have any bayonet mount cut-outs on its rim to be used to hold the turret in place. There is also a turret ring guard molded in place.
The engine deck panel is a separate part that features separate access hatch lids and a separate grill. There are two sets of hatch lids. One set has a row of rivets along the bottom edges; the other does not. References indicate the set with the rivets on the bottom edge should be used. The access hatch lids feature separate end parts with rivet detail as well as etched brass frames and screens for their undersides. The engine hot air exhaust grill gets nicely done etched brass parts for the screens. Styrene bolt heads are included on the sprues; these are to be shaved off and applied to the frame around the etched brass screen section.
Track-guards and OVM.
The track-guards are separate and feature stamped rib details on the upper and lower faces; all mounting brackets are separate parts and there are a number of tiny wing nuts that can be added for enhanced detail. The port side is fitted with a Notek head-lamp and a shrouded rear-view mirror. Tools are all separate and also feature etched brass brackets and straps as do the various tail-lamp assemblies. The perforated grouser box is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly; on this is stored the multi-part vehicle jack which, again, has etched brass mounting brackets. Various etched parts are provided to create the racks that hold spare track links, while a jack block is also included. Photographs indicate that several units modified the tool and OVM stowage, while others added large, custom-fitted stowage lockers on both sides, or various stowage lockers. These are not provided as options in this kit, which is a pity since at least two of the markings schemes provided require them. Curiously, DML has these parts in their system since they are, as mentioned above, included in the Ausf.E/F kit. Reference photos should also be consulted if a specific configuration is desired.
This is based on a slide-molded main core and is new for this kit. The Ausf.S turret featured sides and rear walls that were 15mm thick; this is accurately depicted. To this is added a slide-molded commanders cupola that is further detailed with separate parts; it also has a beautifully-done hatch lid with textured head-pad. Note that what appears to be an ejector pin mark is no such thing; it is the inner detail for the small signal port flap. There is a choice of two styles of rotating periscope (one has a weather-proof boot; the other does not). The turret race and the lower rear plate are separate parts and there is also another separate part for just below the mantlet. Rivet and bolt patterns are present in all the proper places and the panel lines between each adjoining plate of armor are nicely restrained.
The front plate accurately depicts the 25mm-thick panel with 25mm appliqué as seen on the Ausf.S; naturally, this part includes a proper rivet pattern. The mantlet is separate as is the slide-molded, pre-bored 3.7cm KwK; naturally, the gun can elevate after construction is complete, but be careful with the glue. Other parts for the co-axial MG mount are provided, to include its outer mounting collar. The MG37(t) itself is molded in a similar fashion to that fitted in the superstructure front plate.
The hull/fighting compartment includes a very nice multi-part transmission based on a slide-molded core, with attached drivers hand controls. The revised etched brass parts are also included. While these add detail to the original styrene parts, the assembly still lacks several control rods; references should be checked for further details. A drive shaft and non-skid protective cover completes this assembly. There are multi-part drivers and radio operators seats, an instrument panel and the typical floor-mat seen in these tanks. A bulkhead/engine compartment firewall encloses the compartment from the rear. A spare MG37(t) gun barrel, ammunition boxes, as well as a number of other smaller detail parts are also provided. All vision ports have interior details and include clear styrene parts to represent the glass blocks. The multi-part radio assembly includes transformer and junction box and is now mounted on the port-side inner side wall. In step 15, the instructions show the radios assembly sequence, but there are no specific directions on where it or any of the accessories are mounted. It is shown (partially obscured) mounted on the side wall in step 16.
The engine compartment features fuel cells, battery box and various accessories, often enhanced with etched brass parts. A multi-part radiator and housing as well as fan are also given. The engine itself is broken down into many, many separate parts and comparing it to photographs reveals that it is visually very accurate. Just about all that is needed is for the modeler to add wiring and fuel lines for a complete appearance. The access hatch lids as well as the circular panel seen on the hull rear plate can all be left open to reveal the detail.
The turret interior features ammunition stowage lockers, accessory bins, traverse hand-wheel and rotating periscope detail. The main gun itself features sights and breech detail, but be advised that the Germans removed the perforated breech guard prior to use. There is also a pair of bicycle-type seats for the turret crew as well as clear vision blocks for the interior of the commanders cupola.
Of course, as with any kit that has interior details, much can be added by the modeler, especially such items as crewmens gear. Lots of other items are not given, such as the internal fire extinguisher, drivers foot pedals and hand-break, turret slip-ring and conduit, plus various small plates, boxes, and conduits. Inside the turret, there are no brow-pads for the commanders cupola, while it would appear that the main gun trigger group is also absent. Using the cited references, many of these missing bits can be added using styrene sheet and rod, and by raiding a well-stocked spares bin.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Based on experience with other DML Pz.Kpfw.38(t) kits, I anticipate no problems with parts fit. Of course since this kit is the basis for several others, there are many more separate parts than might be usual; the modeler is urged to clean them and check the fit as he proceeds. No sink marks were found and in every case except for the above-mentioned individual link tracks, there were no visible ejector pin marks. There are the typical small nodes on many parts, which require lots of effort to clean. However, this is better than the alternative: ejector pin marks that need filling and sanding, with the obliteration of surrounding details a distinct possibility. Molding is typically crisp and all part seams are restrained and easily cleaned.
According to drawings in reference 2, cited below, this kit is dimensionally very accurate. Placement of details is also substantially correct. DML has done a fine job, especially depicting some of the different rivet- and bolt-head styles and patterns. I am still not sure about the position and the configuration of the radio set; references are not conclusive on this point. I suppose the biggest issue involves the many missing bits in the interior as well as the disconnect between the markings and unit-specific stowage lockers.
These are in the typical, and busy, line drawing style. There are many sub-steps within the main steps, but with patience and due diligence on the part of the modeler, all will be well in the end. The small addendum sheet covers the alternate engine deck access hatch lids.
Decals and Markings Information.
DMLs usual sub-contractor, Italys Cartograf, has provided water-slide decal markings for four tanks. The decals are in excellent register, have sharp detail and fine color saturation. Colors are keyed to Gunze and Testors paints. Markings and painting instructions for the following four tanks are included:
Unidentified unit, Ostfront 1941-1942.
Yellow 9, 20.Panzer-Division, Ostfront 1941 (given as unidentified unit).
White 535, 5.Kp./Panzer-Regimant 27, 19.Panzer-Division, Ostfront 1941-1942 (erroneously given as being from 7.Panzer-Division).
Unidentified unit, Bohemia 1945.
Three of these tanks are to be finished in Dunkelgrau, while one is covered in Dunkelgelb with a mottled Rotbraun and Dunkelgruen camouflage pattern. References indicate the markings and color schemes are accurate. However, the modeler is cautioned to check his own sources to determine which markings would be seen with a particular stowage arrangement.
From the point-of-view of a typical fan of the Pz.Kpfw.38(t)-series, it is nice to see the Ausf.S kitted, despite my criticism based on some omissions. The kit is basically quite accurate, well-molded, easily assembled and nicely detailed. Now, if only DML would kit a Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.A, B, C or D, with the stepped superstructure front plate, the family would be complete.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included, but were not limited to:
1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
2. Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Ausf.A to G und S; Panzer Tracts 18, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Panzertruppen 1; Schiffer, by T. Jentz.
4. Panzertruppen 2; Schiffer, by T. Jentz.
5. The Eastern Front: Armor Camouflage and Markings 1941 to 1945; Squadron 6102, by S. Zaloga & J. Grandsen.
6. Pz.Kpfw.38(t) in Action; Sguadron Armor 19, by H. Doyle & C. Kliment.
7. Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) & 35(t); AFV/Weapons Profile 22, by J. Milsom.
8. Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.A-D in Detail; Wings & Wheels Special Museum Line 38, by F. Koran & V. Francev.
9. Czechoslovak Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945; Bellona, by H. Doyle & C. Kliment.
10. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948; Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
11. Praga, LT vz.38 Pz.Kpfw.38(t); MBI Publications, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
12. German Leichte Panzer at War; Concord 7066, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
13. Panzer 38(t); Tankograd 4012, by M. Zöllner.
14. Pz.KPfw.38(t), Wydawnictwo Militaria 241, by J. Ledwoch.
15. Blitzkrieg Armor Vol.2: The Eastern Front; Armor Plate Press, by T. Laemlein.
16. Allied-Axis 13; Ampersand Publishing, article by P. Stansell.
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 mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.
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