Aufklaerungspanzer 38(t) mit 2cm Kw.K. 38 Smart Kit
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6294; Aufklaerungspanzer 38(t) mit 2cm Kw.K. 38 Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||630 parts (324 in grey styrene, 240 "Magic Track" links, 62 etched brass, 4 clear styrene)|
|Price:||price estimated at US $34 - 38.00. Will be available online from Mission Models|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Clean, "state of the art" kit of this popular vehicle; portends a line of Praga TNHP tanks from DML|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all German and Czech based vehicle fans|
Recently Tristar began to release a new series of the popular Praga TNHP based tanks as used by the Germans, with a Pzkw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F and then an Ausf. G kit. Based on all other kits released by Tristar, DML was certain to rise to the occasion, and now the first of its kits based on the Praga chassis have shown up in the form of the Aufklaersungspanzer version used by the Germans late in WWII.
Basically this vehicle was little more than a "sports" version of the later model Ausf. G versions of the Pzkw. 38(t). The turret was removed and the upper works replaced with a casemate reminiscent of the late model T-26S1 but fitted with the complete 2 cm Haengelafette 38 turret used on the Sd.Kfz. 234/1 armored car and other late-war scout vehicles. There were two good reasons for this: one, to provide the vehicle with some antiaircraft capability due to increasing Allied air operations, and two, to give the crew the maximum possible chance to carry out visual reconnaissance while still providing nominal armored protection. (The old US Army rule was never to give recon forces anything big enough in the way of firepower to be able to counter tanks or they would forget their mission and pick a fight, but that's another story...)
50 of these vehicles were built in February-March 1944 and were to be issued in lieu of the Luchs, which was slow in coming.
DML has graciously decided to jump into the 38(t) market with this kit, which is good as it does not compete with the Tristar kits and therefore crowd the market. They have also made it one of their "Smart Kits" which still seem to confuse modelers. I must reiterate: the concept of the "Smart Kit" is to get a top quality, easy-to-assemble and accurate model of a specific vehicle that does NOT require massive amounts of after-market purchases to approach a more than acceptable level of accuracy. While this particular kit does have more brass than past "Smart Kit" efforts, I think that is based on what modelers like to see in brass as opposed to some of the more ridiculous efforts that require a master's degree in soldering to complete.
Most of the sprues in this kit are labeled "Ausf. G" so nobody should have any misperceptions as to what is coming behind it. You can pretty much bet all vehicles based on the Ausf. G chassis or related variants will come from DML over the next year or two (I already know many people who are hoping for a new 15 cm Bison or at least the various Marder III variants.)
The kit is typical of the new DML breed, with a "slide molded" lower hull pan and judicious use of those techniques for some of the other parts as well. Six new sprues in the kit cover the Ausf. G components plus the "Magic Tracks," and another three come directly from the DML Sd.Kfz. 234/1 kit (#6298) intact. The amount of "gating" on the 38(t) sprues will be obvious, as the D sprue (interior) and H sprue (upper hull details) show this right now.
The suspension is conventional but very well done, with details on both sides of the road wheels, drivers and idlers. Each suspension bogie consists of nine parts. Like Tristar, DML provides the choice of idler adjusters (parts D28) or covers (parts D29) for the kit, but unlike Tristar tells you it is an "either/or" proposition and not that one goes on top of the other.
The kit comes with the basis for an interior, and as such provides shafts, a transmission and a final drive unit with the kit. Seats are also provided. One of the more interesting bits in the kit is part A18, which is a "doormat" type non-skid rubber pad for the floor of the crew section.
The "Magic Tracks" are clean and only have a hint of ejection pin marks on the outer flanges of the track link face as well as the "pip" used to mold them in the center of the link face. There is a hoo-hah sheet about the wonders of "Smart Kits" that comes with it claiming the links have casting numbers on their outside flanges, but after a few minutes with a lighted 10x jeweler's loupe I did find them. No woof tickets for that one, they DID provide them!
The brass goes for the most part onto the engine deck and covers the various bin lids, grilles and covers which many modelers like to leave open to show their handiwork. The DML kits also make good use of their "slide molding" to create more compact details, e.g. the same detail Tristar achieves with three parts is done with but one.
A command antenna from the original command Panther kit is provided to give the modeler a pre-molded "crow's foot" antenna head.
Markings and directions for finishing are provided for two vehicles: unknown unit, Western Front 1942 (!) and unknown unit, Eastern Front 1942 (!). I think they may have meant 1945 and this is only a typo, as the research and input came from Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundsen and they wouldn't make a goof like that. Decals come as a small sheet from Cartograf.
Overall this is a good choice and as it is currently only presented in model form by a somewhat rough kit from Russia it should appeal to modelers who want to build and not wrestle with a kit.
A 60 (Ausf. G) wheels and
suspension arms, rubber matting
B 67 (Ausf. G) fenders, upper hull, engine compartment
D 60 (Ausf. G) interior parts, radio
E 1 (Ausf. G) hull pan
H 43 (Ausf. G) casemate, glacis, ammo boxes
H 45 (Sd.Kfz. 234/1) turret and fittings
J 4 (Ausf. G) clear styrene
J 10 (Sd.Kfz. 234/1) Kw.K. 38 2cm gun
K 13 (Pzkw. 38(t)) OVM and pioneer tools
K 17 (Sd.Kfz. 234/1) ammo racks and magazines
Y 240 "Magic Track" links
WC 4 MG42
MA 41 etched brass
MB 19 etched brass
MC 2 pre-formed turret grilles
g 4 Antenna elements
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.