by: Jim Starkweather [ ]
Yet another in Trumpeter's BP-42 armored train series, this is the Panzerträgerwagen which houses a Panzer 38(t) and this tank IS included with this model kit. This rail car was specifically designed as a ready-to-deploy defensive measure. A car would be placed near the front and rear of the armored train column. If the car was behind the engine, the engine could detach (via a Scharfenberg coupling) and allow the 38(t) to move off the transport car and move to counter any attack on the train. The rail car itself has a deep well that protects the tanks running gear from damage while on-board. The car appears well armored and suited for duty as a BP-42 component. While this car could have been used to move tanks into combat areas, larger (late war) German tanks would not fit on this customized transport.
This kit includes the rail car transport (Panzerträgerwagen), a Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Sd.Kfz.140, and the usual track section we are use to seeing on the other Trumpeter train car releases. A photo-etch sheet for the 38(t) is included and is marked as being for the Ausf. E/F. A decal sheet for both the tank and rail car is also present. 16 pages of instructions in black and white with one color painting and marking guide (double sided) is also provided showing a nifty three-color camouflage scheme.
The rail car sprues of the kit are clearly marked as A, B, and C. While the tank parts are marked as TA, TB, TC, TD (x2), and TT (x5). The rail car chassis is in two pieces. The fit appears good with a slight gap on our sample at the rear (photos shown at right) but this won't be a problem if attention to this area is given during the gluing phase. There are a small number (7) of unused parts in the kit. Most of these being on the A sprue.
This Trumpeter release will not surprise most people familiar with past releases. There is some minor flash present (mostly on the panzer parts). There appears to be some sunk areas on the rail cars folding ramp. None of these are anything major and while this kit does not have many "wow!" areas in terms of detail, it appears to be another competent release from the folks in Zhongshan City.
The cost of this kit might put some modelers off, however I am seeing a high degree of fluctuation for it. Expect prices in the USA around $90-95, UK £60-65, and (at least as of this writing) limited availability via Asian retailers. I am not sure what is up but I could only find this on HobbyEasy's site as a pre-order (showing a release date of Jan-21-2011), while other US or UK retailers show it in stock.
If you are keen on building a complete BP-42 armored train set, this release is obviously going to make you very happy. I think even for modelers who aren't going to build the whole set, this kit has some interesting possibilities for diorama makers as well. One can easily imagine a dio showing one of the 38(t)'s being deployed to counter Polish guerrilla fighters or the like. As I pointed out above this kit may put off some modelers due to it's close to $100 price tag, however with kits like this $100 may very well be a bargain compared to what it may cost (as a limited availability piece) 5 years from now.