Maquette 1/35 Pz.Bfwg.38(t) Command Tank Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||February 2007||Manufacturer||Maquette|
|Subject||Pz.Bfwg.38(t) Command Tank||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||3541||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting subject. Nice interior detail in driver’s compartment||Cons||Flash on parts and some nasty sinks. Dim printing of instructions. Only one marking option. Black plastic sometimes is sometimes is hard to paint over|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$22.95|
Before WWII, there were two Czech industrial concerns which were engaged in the construction and manufacture of tanks. One of them was SKODA in Pilsen. The other one was CKD. CKD was formed by a merger of old established engineering firms. Gradually, as the concern grew in size and power, it was acquiring other companies. One of the acquisitions was the PRADA works. PRADA made trucks, tractors and passenger cars at the time.
Based on results of tests, a decision to adopt the TNH tank as a standard light tank for the Czech army, the LT vz.38, was made in July 1938. One hundred and fifty of these tanks were ordered immediately.
The first 20 tanks were supposed to be delivered before the end of 1938, with the remaining 130 vehicles before the end of 1939. After the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939 they not only seized all the equipment of the Czech army, but were quick to realize the value of the LT vz.38 for their Panzer Divisions.
The PRAGA tank, the German designation Pz.Kpfw.38(t), was widely used with success by German, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian armies at the vital period of WWII (1939-41). They were also exported to Sweden, Switzerland, Peru, Iran and other countries. Approximately 1400 PRAGA vehicles of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, TNP, TNH and LT-40 modifications were produced from 1939 to 1942.
Since 1941, a part of the 38(t)’s were required in Marder and Grille self-propelled guns and Sd.Kfz.140/1 reconnaissance tanks, new Bisons, Flakpanzer I’s and Hetzers. All were designed on 38(t) chassis. The vehicle possessed excellent tactical and technical characteristics: speed, maneuverability, armor protection, armament and high reliability. The PRAGA tank was the best light tank of the initial period of WWII, ideally suitable for Blitzkrieg operations.
The 38(t) was used by Panzerwaffe in the Polish campaign in 1939 (71 vehicles). It was used in France in 1940, in the Balkans in 1941 with the 8th Panzer Div. Six hundred and twenty-three 38(t)’s took part in Operation Barbrossa in Russia.
The Pz.Bfwg.38(t) command tank, subject of this kit, was the standard PRAGA tank with the addition of the Fu eight radio (0.83 Mhz, range 80 km) installed in the area of the bow machine-gun, which was removed, with a frame antenna over the motor compartment in the rear. Each Wehrmacht Panzer Division had seven to ten of these PRAGA command tanks. A total of 300 Pz.Bfw. 38(t)’s were produced.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a Pz.Bfw.38(T) tooling across a grassy plain with a burning Soviet T-26 in the background. The vehicle is shown in the one and only marking provided in the kit: turret no. 202 with the 8th Panzer Div. (however the division mark for this unit is not on the decal sheet). A jerry can rack, with three jerry cans on it, is shown mounted behind the turret, but you do not get this assembly in the kit. Too bad.
The kit contains seven jet-black and one off-white parts trees, a small decal sheet and the instructions. The instructions consist of three individual eight ½” x 11” sheets, printed on both sides, which totals six pages. These pages are printed in a rather pale gray ink.
The first page of the instructions begins with a history of the Pz.Bfw.38(t) in both Russian and English. This is followed by tech data and a three-view drawing of the lone marking option.
Pages two through six give us 14 assembly steps. Step 14 is just an illustration of the model completed. No parts tree drawings are provided.
There are four identical letter A parts trees. These trees hold: the individual track links, drive sprockets, road wheels, idler wheels, leaf springs, return rollers etc. (66 parts per tree). Flash is found on the teeth of the drive sprockets and on some of the individual links.
Large letter B tree holds: the fenders, tow hooks, air intake grill, hull bottom, rear engine deck, transmission, tools, fire-extinguisher etc. (29 parts). Heavy flash was found around some parts here also.
Large letter C tree holds: the hull sides and rear plate, final transfer covers, muffler, upper nose plate, a sledge-hammer, vision port covers, seats etc. (31 parts) On one hull side, on the exterior, there are two deep sink marks with a single sink inside the part. On the other hull side there is one shallow sink mark on the exterior and two deep ones inside. These interior ones will be seen as they are inside the detailed driver’s compartment. Apoxie-Scupt putty to the rescue here.
There is no letter D tree.
The letter E tree holds: the turret parts, main gun, the machine-gun, tools, three German steel helmets and three gas mask canisters etc. (55 parts)
Small letter F tree (the one molded in off-white plastic) holds: the hull roof turret base plate, the front fighting-compartment plate, the frame aerial parts, two wood beams (for use crossing ditches) etc. (18 parts). Flash again appears on the frame aerial and front fighting-compartment place.
On the plus side, Maquette did manage to keep ejector pin marks out of sight on parts. However, I did not like the nasty sinks on some parts and the flash. It is also my opinion that the kit should have been molded in a lighter color of plastic than the jet-black.
The small decal sheet completes the kit’s contents. I has the turret number 202, in red with a white border, skeletal white German crosses and the letter “C” with a small two next to it that goes on the rear. This is supposed to be a vehicle with the 8th Panzer Div. According to my research, the 8th had the marking of a letter Y with one small vertical bar to the left of it. I don’t know what C2 stands for?
NOTE: When I scanned this decal, I could only get the white crosses and the C2 to come up as looking blue. However, trust me…they are white on the sheet.
I would say that the skill level needed for this kit would be intermediate. A modeler should have some previous work with individual treads and putty. I liked the interior parts provided. Don’t know just how much that can be seen afterwards? But, hey…at least a guy knows it’s in there…right?
Recommended to Wehrmacht buffs. Something different from all the Tigers and Panthers on the market.