I decided to buy a few discounted SDV kits at a modeling fair earlier this month. It seemed to me to be a good preparation for Armoramas' ‘Miniature Magic’ campaign. This is not my first experience with “Braille scale” models since I have built some old Matchbox and Airfix 1:72 and 1:76 scale models in the past, and I also have an H0 scale model railroad.
Upon opening the box one finds 1 bag with several sprue's containing 51 parts in dark green plastic, a double sided A4 size instruction sheet and a small decal sheet. The construction manual is on one side and drawn in 5 steps. The first three steps are ‘exploded-view’ type drawings and the last two steps are drawings of the completed assemblies with thin arrows indicating the parts locations. These last drawings where a bit blurry and it was unclear as to where some of the parts fit exactly.
The other side of the paper is full of technical data and some global painting instructions in Czech as well as in English. The RAL numbers for the exact camouflage colours are indicated, which I prefer more than referring to numbers of a specific paint manufacture. Also on this side of the paper, there are 4 reference drawings of a PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. C. The front, rear, left side and a plan view. This last drawing, the plan, is actually reversed, obviously a mistake in the printing process. This really had me confused at first, especially when placing the commander’s hatch. Then I noticed the machine guns in the wrong place and realized the error. In my opinion, this was a very negative point since it can confuse the inexperienced modeler.
building the kit
Unfortunately the quality of the moulded parts is only poor to reasonable. Most of the parts have a lot of flash and plenty of sink marks. The parts needed for the small periscope on the turret had so much flash on them that I could not see what was actually included on the part and what was actually flash. I could not use these parts and had to replace them with scratch built ones. The sprue connection points are rather large considering the size of some parts so careful removal and cleanup is necessary.
The overall fit of the kit parts is reasonable.
Following the instructions carefully the kit goes together quite quickly (the wheels and track are in one piece) but not easily. Most of my time I spent filling gaps and cutting off flash. The front part of the hull was badly shaped and needed filling up with putty. Also there were gaps between the side parts (nos. 8 and 9) and the engine deck (no. 14) .
Painting was straight forward. I decided on a German Grey scheme. Some weathering was done with washing, drybrushing and some use of pigment powders.
There was no instructions on how or where to place the decals, so I referred to the box art. The balkankreuz and the numbers are to be build up from 2 layers of decals. First you place the red numbers and black crosses. Than, after allowing to dry for a little while, I put the white outlines in place. The result, in my opinion, looks pretty good and the decals reacted fine to the Microset setting solution I used. I did not use any of the unit markings, since I found them too large for the completed model!.
I am sorry to say, I did not find this kit to be a great model. Being familiar with SDV's civilian 1:87 models, the quality of this kit disappointed me. Building it out of the box with no aftermarket add-ons made it for me, a very simple and not so well detailed model. The biggest downer however was the position of the fenders. The fenders on each side follow the same line as the tracks, which is not correct. As for the real PzKpfw 38(t) the distance between the fender and the track is actually smaller at the front than at the back. The probable reason for this error is the moulded thickness of the fenders and it proved too difficult to correct. For me, this is the most disturbing error in the model as it gives the tank the wrong appearance.