by: Jan Etal [ ]
First to Fight is a new Polish company that is combining a simple 1/72 model kit with a 12 page magazine. Their stated purpose is to commemorate the forthcoming 75th anniversary of the start on World War II on September 1, 2014.
The Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf. A issue is the second release in a series labeled “Wrzesien 1939” or “September 1939”. The simplified story of the Panzer I is that it was a light tank originally designed for training purposes. Formally known as the Sd.fkz. 101, these first vehicles came into production in 1934 with about 800 being built.
The basic Ausf. A version weighed 5.4 tonnes and had a average road speed of 37 km/h (23 Mph) and a cross country speed of 12 km/h (7.5 Mph). It carried a crew of two and was armed with a pair of MG 13 machine guns. These machines were nothing more than training and scout tanks but were used extensively during the early war. Most of them, along with the later improved Ausf. B, fought in regular Panzer Divisions until late 1941.
The subject of this review is the First to Fight1/72 scale PzKpfw I Ausf. A, kit# PL1939-002.
The kit and magazine are packaged together in a clear plastic bag. The magazine is colour printed on glossy paper and from this reviewers limited Polish has information pertaining to the orders of battle at the time of the start of the war, a section on the development of the Panzer I, technical specifications of the tank and a brief history of campaigns that it was involved in.
The kit itself is in a colourful side opening box. On opening it one will find two separately bagged modest sized styrene sprues moulded in a dark grey colour. The larger of the two contains the bulk of the body, suspension and detail pieces. The smaller sprue contains the turret pieces, antenna tray and a side hatch. Total parts count is 17 with 1 part (the side hatch) not used.
The box also contained a small container of liquid glue, an applicator stick and one moderate sized sheet of decals with four white crosses and a choice between six vehicle number sets.
A simple assembly guide will be found on the back of the box with an exploded view CAD image with lines and arrows suggesting parts placement. Marking and Painting instructions will not only be found on the back of the box but also on page 6 and 7 in the magazine. All colour references are for the AV Vallejo line of paints.
As this reviewer, and I am sure others might suspect, this is more of a quick-build War gamers type of kit. Overall moulding details are acceptable and in a few areas fairly good. Sink holes were absent and the few ejector pin marks are only in locations that won’t be visible after assembly. Flash was non-existent and moulding seam lines were generally light. The one problem area is the outer tracks where the seam will prove problematic due to the small size of the links. Another disappointment is that the track guide horns run full width across the inner surface of the tracks. To be fair, this type of one piece suspension is well done with spokes for the road wheels, appropriate size gear teeth and bolt details. Also noteworthy is that the tracks are moulded with an appropriate amount of sag.
Compared to other manufacturers, the sprue connection points (gates) are fairly large and on the one piece suspension, are numerous.
As would be expected with this type of kit, all hatches are moulded closed and the only one tool present was a shovel on the left fender and it is also moulded on; this, despite the fact that in the painting illustrations (both box and magazine) there is a jack, axe and fire extinguisher shown. Bearing in mind the simplification of this kit, the maker has at least made an effort to what at a distance appears to be a tread pattern on the top of the fenders and to create what would be a screening representation over the mufflers. The front headlights on the fenders are quite disappointing as they are moulded on but a horn piece is nicely moulded as a separate part.
As there is only the exploded view drawing for reference, it will be up to the modeller to decide the order in which this kit should be assembled. In my case I chose to attach the smaller detail pieces to the upper hull while that part was still on the sprue.
First to be attached were the two mufflers and the fit of these two parts was nothing short of perfect, although they did need careful clean-up of the two sprue attachment points. Clean up of the diminutive horn and large headlight was also somewhat tedious due to their small size. A similar situation applied to the conduit that I believe carries the wiring to the antenna took a few minutes to clean. The antenna tray took a bit of time to position as the locating features were not quite as positive as the other parts attached so far.
Once the initial parts were attached the hull bottom and rear plate were attached and the fit was extremely good with both fitting flush. Parts cleaning time aside, the actual part assembly time to this point could be measured in a few minutes.
The next step was to assemble the turret pieces and as this only comprises three parts, should have taken no time at all. However, the locating of the mantlet between the two turret halves proved a tad fiddly due to its size but not extremely so. Unfortunately, fitting the top and bottom turret halves resulted in small gaps at the front sides of the turret along the joint seam. These would need to be filled later.
The pair of suspension and track pieces again proved problematic when it came to eliminating a seam running down the track link centers, as well as the multitude (8) sprue attachment points on each part. However, these parts fit with a very appropriate press fit onto the pins that are present for that purpose. They position very well without gluing and can be removed for painting fairly easily.
For the most part, this little Panzer met my expectations for the type of kit that it is. Depending on the builder’s expectations for the result, the entire thing could be reasonably assembled in less than twenty minutes.
For the modeller willing to invest more time into the build, there is a great potential in this kit. Any shortcomings could be easily addressed with parts from the spares box or scavenged from other kits (jack, axe, fire extinguisher). For the more adventurous, hatches could be cut open and a simple interior added. There is also the potential with some scratch building to create any of the various Panzer I variants such as the Munitionsschlepper, Flammenwerfer or one of the numerous self-propelled gun versions.
This kit proved a pleasant and rather enjoyable departure from my usual more involved kits. Being as simple as it was, it should be build-able by any skill level and result is a nice representation of the vehicle.