by: Mark [ ]
What was to became the Panzer 1 (Sd. Kfz. 101), started development in 1932 as the Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper [La S] (agricultural tractor). The designation of Panzerkampfwagen I Ausführung. A, did not happen until 1938. Mass production began in 1934, as the LaS. It was intended as a training tank for the new panzer forces. The first 150 units delivered were without the superstructure and turrets (ohne Aufbau), for crew training. Production started with a Krupp 59HP, 4 cylinder air-cooled engine and four road wheels. The suspension system was based on the British Carden Loyd tankette.
The Ausf. B went into production in August 1936. It replaced the Krupp engine with a Maybach liquid cooled 6-cylinder engine producing 90HP. The chassis had to be lengthened 40cm to accommodate it. A fifth road wheel as added and the suspension modified. 295 of the training version were produced by the summer of 1937.
This kit represents the La S (PzKpfw I Ausf. A ohne Aufbau) Schulfahrzeuge (School Vehicle). It had a completely open top to provide unlimited visibility and easy access for the instructor and student(s).
The kit is from Tristar (moulds are now owned by Hobby Boss) and was released in 2006. Sprues A through D are from kit 35008. Sprues E and T are from kit 35019. Two figures (sprue FT) and sprue I are new additions to this kit. There are 271 parts, plus track links; however, all the turret related parts will not be used. What’s in the box?
9 Sprues molded in beige
3 Track sprues molded in beige
1 PE Fret
1 Decal sheet
1 8 page Instruction manual
The quality of the styrene is very good. There is a little flash on some of the parts, but nothing difficult to remove. Any ejector pin marks are located such that they shouldn’t be seen once built. The Instructions are standard Tristar line drawing format, consisting of 8 pages. Assembly is broken down into 10 steps. The instructions include a parts breakdown list, which is something every manufacturer should do.
The assembly process begins with the transmission and interior. The transmission is made up of 14 separate parts, and is well detailed. I haven’t found any clear pictures of the interior of this vehicle, so am not sure of the accuracy. As this is a training vehicle, the interior is very basic to begin with. The seat, steering controls, and instrument panel are all represented. I would like to have seen decals included for the instruments. Instructions call out for the interior to be painted either Panzer Grey, or Flat White (Cremeweiss would be more accurate).
The hull is made up of four separate parts. Consisting of a bottom hull piece, 2 side hull pieces, and a rear hull piece. The fit appears to be good. There may be a few spots that need some filler. But, no large gaps have to be dealt with.
The running gear is not complicated. Careful gluing will allow the roadwheels to rotate, if you choose. Each side consists of only 20 parts. For the road wheels (D7 & D8) there is a small raised notch on one of the spokes. This needs to face outwards. It’s highlighted in the instructions, but easy to overlook.
The track links are glued together so they are not moveable. Each side should have 87-88 links. I would recommend using 88 links to allow for some natural sag to be added. There are three sprue connection points that need to be cleaned-up on each link. Assembling these tracks will take time and patience. Extra links are included on the sprues in case you damage or lose one.
The engine compartment is very nicely detailed. Both fuel tanks and oil cooler are included. The Krupp 4-cylinder engine is nicely represented. Instructions say to paint the engine grey or flat white, which probably isn’t correct. A check of reference material will be needed to determine the proper colours. The rear deck lid is well detailed. You have the option to build with the various hatches open or closed. The mufflers are comprised of two pieces with a seam line that will need to be removed.
The front fenders can be either installed or left removed. There are plenty of pictures out there showing both configurations. You also have the option of removing the molded latches (that attach the fenders) and use the included PE parts to make the latches more realistic.
The final build step adds all the external parts, tools, lights, etc... The grills need to be formed before being fitted over the mufflers. It would have been nice if Tristar had identified the diameter of the bar to use for forming the grills.
The figures are last. You have a driver and instructor if you want to add them to your build. They are nicely molded with average detailing. I cannot say anything about the accuracy of the uniforms, as I have no reference material on this subject.
Painting – As the kit represents a vehicle from the mid to late 30’s, early Panzer Grey will be correct.
Decals – Options are provided for three different vehicles from unknown training units.