The Germans were absolute masters at adapting obsolete (and captured) equipment to limit the need for the development of new chassis' to mount a variety of weapons. Many examples exist of this 'recyling' such as the Bison, the Grille and even the diminuitive Hotchkiss Carrier adapted for a variety of uses. In the case of the Panzer I, the experiences gained during the Spanish Civil War, demonstrated that the Panzer I was of little practical value (beyond a reconnaissance role) - particularly when faced by vehicles such as the T-26 or the BT Series. The Flakpanzer I, the subject of this new kit from DML
, at first appears to be pretty much extemporized and was probably NOT a great success with only 20 actually being built.
The kit: basicsDRA6220 - 2cm Flak 38 auf Pz.Kpfw.1 Ausf A
is a 1/35th scale, styrene kit, consisting of around 530 parts in grey plastic (216 for the individual track-links), three (pre-formed) brass parts, three sheets of Photo-Etch, and a small sheet of decals.
The kit comes on NINE sprues (plus hull-tub) for the Panzer I along with the FIVE sprues for the (previously reviewed and released) Flak 38 and it's ammunition trailer.
About this review
Normally, I tend to do reviews on vehicles which I have good documentation on. I have good reference sources on the Panzer I, but not a great deal on the Flakpanzer Variant. However, since the largest part of the model is the 'Vanilla' Pz I Ausf 'A', and the Flak 38 is well documented, if there are any gaps, I apologize in advance.
I'll be doing using my usual format, looking at specific areas with comments on each and finish the review with an overview of the kit as a whole.
Into the box
. There's a lot of plastic crammed into the box and all the sprues are sealed inside plastic bags. In the case of the PE, it is all individually packed in small jiffy bags and taped to a large header card for additional protection. The casting is crisp with only a few minor (and easily removed) mould seams being noticeable. It is also worth noting, that this is NOT simply a conversion of the previous Panzer I kits, this kit (apart from the Flak38 and Trailer) is totally New.
1) The Flak 38
This is DRA6288 - 2cm Flak 38 mit Sd.Ah.51
. The trailer, the Sd.Ah.51and the gun, were reviewed by Vinnie, HERE (LINK)
so I will concern myself exclusively with the area of the barrel. I must admit, I was expecting a turned-aluminium barrel with a seperate, conical, (PE) flash supressor. However, for various reasons, DML
have included a plastic barrel. The basic breech/barrel is moulded in one piece with slide-moulding being used to excellent effect. However, the supressor is missing the small perforations, so an AM replacement may be indicated. A number of good alternatives are available, Check the Reviews Database!
2) The Supension
. As I mentioned in my introductory remarks, the entire kit is new. Indicating, naturally enough, that some of the previous flaws in the suspension have been corrected. Beginning with the drive sprocket, the center plate has the correct number of bolts (six) and the teeth of the sprocket include a smaller bolt on the outside of the rim. These, were flush with the center plate, but on the model they have a space. This is of NO importance whatsover! Moving onto the roadwheels, they are actually workable although it's NOT a feature I would personally introduce in the built model. This however, will have huge advantages in displaying the model in a diorama by avoiding the more 'static' nature of 'fixed' suspension, a nice touch. The moulding of the wheels is excellent with only the tiniest amount of seam present. However, as many German rubber tyres did have a moulding seam, perhaps this is deliberate?
3) Interior Detail
The driver's compartment is fully detailed and has some superb touches such as the eleven-piece transmission cover, driver's pedals, battery box(?) etc. As this is not an area I have well-documented, I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but from a modeller's point of view, it looks amazing.
: The fenders come with the correct bolt-detail, but, before construction begins, it is necessary to drill out holes for the attachment of the tools, rear exhaust mufflers and the Notek light. They do seem a trifle thick at first glance, but as they have a beaded line running underneath, this is purely 'first impressions' . What is extremely noteworthy, is the delicacy of detail of the 'diamond' anti-skid plating - absolutely stunning.
5) Rear Mufflers
: The exhausts make good use of slide moulding again, with the pipe actually open and not requiring replacement. The mesh covers are done in PE and will require some careful bending although the effort is worth it, as the difference between these and plastic parts is truly significant.
6) Fighting Compartment
: One of the most notable improvements, is the provision of
a pre-formed brass frontal plate, which reproduces the 'paper-thin' armor of the original. The pre-cut spaces and the design of the vision ports, allows these to be convincingly moulded in any position. Care will be needed to correctly align the three sections - Front Armor Plate, Gun Platform the Rear Decking. Sadly, all this hides the interior detail... Another aspect I liked, was the reproduction of the two folding 'wings' which were kept upright while on the move, and lowered to provide a platform for the crew.
7) The Trailer
: The Sd.Ah.51trailer was, for the Flakpanzer I, simply converted by adding a large box to contain additional magazines for the Flak38. This, I believe, used the same structure as the towed version of the gun, with the removal of the stabilizing arms. It's a well-done model of a simple trailer.
8) The tracks:
The tracks are all single-link. They are well moulded although, with four attachment points attached to the sprue they will require careful removal and cleaning up. This is the point, when normally, I would be making a claim for DML
to include a set of 'alternative' vinyl tracks for less experienced modellers. In this case, I won't. Panzer I tracks are not as complex as others and shouldn't cause too many problems using a simple jig for assembly. The fact that many archive photos show a fair degree of 'sag' will also make them more realistic.
9) The decals
: Decals are provided for four vehicles. As the Flakpanzer I was only in service with Flak Abteilung 614, there aren't a lot of decal variations but are three color schemes: Two (overall) Panzer Grey, one in winter camouflage and the forth in a two-tone scheme. The small decal sheet is well printed and has good register.
: The instructions are the typical Dragon
type which I would say are better than most of their other instruction sheets. Some nice touches are included, in particular, the section explaining how to build the gun at four different levels of elevation.
It's a tiny kit - not much larger than a MBT in 1/72nd scale. It's an impressively thought-out model although it's 'rarity' may well dissuade many from building it. I (personally) would have preferred an Aluminium barrel in the kit and the 'perforated' supressor. It is undoubtedly complex although, in this case, is much more 'accessible' for the less experienced modeller. The vehicle being constructed in a series of sub-assemblies, should make it a lot easier to deal with than others. It perhaps could be seen as an excellent 'bridge' between the 'shake 'n bake' and the more complex models on the market.
If I had to select a feature which stands out from the rest, it would be undoubtedly DML's
decision to completely re-tool the Panzer I, particularly with the suspension. Hopefully, this will see more using the basic kit, is a Panzerjäger 47 over the horizon?
VeryY Highly Recommended
Acknowledgements and Research
Firstly, my thanks to Dragon Models Limited
for supplying this review sample.
Secondly, many of my visual 'aids' were obtained from Panzerkampfwagen I
which, despite being in Russian, is a first-class source for images.