|DRAGON - Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A 4.Serie/La.S.|
A look at Dragons latest Panzer I Ausf.A kit....
Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A 4.Serie/La.S.
Manufacturer: Dragon Models
Material: Styrene & Photo-etch
Serial Number: 6451
The Panzer I Ausf.A was Germany's first mass produced tank, over 800 being manufactured between 1934 and 1936. Lacking a large gun it was only armed with two MG13 machine guns.
Although supplied in one of Dragon's standard-sized boxes, the contents do rattle around a little, despite being carefully packed, the individual sprues all being bagged up separately as usual. In addition to the grey styrene sprues, there's also a large transparent one, small photo-etched brass fret, decal sheet, one bag of Magic Track individual links, and a small bag containing thin brass rings.
Assembly begins with the construction of the running gear onto the separate one-piece lower hull. Dragon has had some problems in this area with recent Panzer I releases, but thankfully seem to have sorted itself out with this release. Each of the eight roadwheels is provided on a small separate sprue, and two of the aforementioned brass rings are fixed one either side to provide the correct profile. It would be wise to plane this part of the assembly sequence, since there are differences between wheels, and it's relatively easy to get them mixed up. This holds true for when you're fixing the wheels to the correct suspension bogies too. Probably best not to flood everything with cement until you're absolutely sure you have everything in the correct place!
Once the running gear is all nicely complete apart from the tracks, you'll add separate front and rear walls to the lower hull before adding the two fenders that are supplied as separate parts. These are detailed on their upper surface with an extremely finely reproduced tread pattern, whilst their lower surface is moulded smooth. Apart from all the locating holes that it is....and there are a lot of them! There is a side diagram on the instructions showing which ones will need to be pushed through to make actual holes, and it's not all of them, so again take care and ensure you know you have it right before continuing!
Then the tracks, although most modellers will have already installed them by this stage. They are supplied as individual 'Magic Track' links and are extremely small! Only one type is provided, so there are no right and left-handed problems to be considered. You'll probably be convinced before starting that there aren't enough in the kit to make two runs of tracks...but you'll be surprised. I've built a few of these Dragon Panzer I's now, and each time I do I wonder if I'll have enough links to do the job. They are tiny as said...and fragile, so try to ensure you don't break too many when assembling them. Remember, they are 'Magic Track' and not 'Working Track'...so they won't stay together without cement. Make up your run, brush your cement between each link, leave for a few moments only, and then position on the model. Don't leave it long enough and they'll fall apart anyway...leave it too long and they won't 'sit' right.
Both rear and front mudflaps are provided as separate parts, and although you could just cement them raised, they're not really made to be positioned in that way, so it would probably be better if just positioned down. All the various tools for storing on the fenders are supplied complete with moulded on clamps, so if you want to replace them you'll have to either scrape away the plastic clamp or replace the tool. Of course you would have to source photo-etched replacements for the clamps themselves too.
Each of the two exhausts at the rear of each fender is supplied in two halves, which doesn't really matter as Dragon provides a fine photo-etched mesh screen to be placed over each box.
Construction then moves onto the superstructure. This is provided as an octagonal shell, with separate roof and turret race. The instructions point out that one of the holes in this structure needs to be filled before proceeding further, but there's no need to really, since there are parts provided for fixing to the outside of this structure to provide the armour, and one of these covers the gap completely. For all the other vision slots there are clear parts provided to make up the various working armoured vision blocks and brackets that can then be displayed opened or closed.
The engine deck/housing is also provided as a separate part, moulded complete with sides and rear wall. It's provided with separate access hatches though, for those that may want to explore aftermarket possibilities. Although the two smaller air intakes, one on each side are provided with photo-etched mesh to cover them, the large louvered cover at the centre rear of the housing in provided as a solid part, which is a little disappointing. Moving onto the turret itself, again this consists of a slide-moulded shell, the two MG13 machine gun barrels being inserted into a separate mantlet and then this being fitted to the front of the shell. The two barrels are all there is of the machine guns, with no internal parts at all being provided. Interestingly, the large semi-circular hatch that takes up more than half of the turret roof is not only provided as a separate part, but also has various details added to its inner surface, so Dragon has allowed for the possibility that the modeller may want to pose this opened, but if you do, the lack of internal detail in the turret, i.e. the other halves of the two machine guns may be quite noticeable. Once the turret is in place, there are some other smaller details to be added around the model such as antennae trough etc., and then it's on to the painting. Markings-wise there are only two options provided, both of which are unidentified units from 1936 and both in panzer grey, although one has a camouflage scheme applied over the grey. If you're adventurous, there are some far more interesting schemes you could apply from the Spanish Civil War.
I've really liked all the Dragon Panzer I variants so far. There's just something about their size and the detail the models contain that appeal to me. This one is no different. I've no doubt it will be a pleasure to build and paint, and as I said above there are some very interesting colour schemes for this if you're prepared to look around a bit. Recommended.
My thanks to Dragon models for the review sample.