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Sd.Kfz.265 Kleine Panzerbefehlswagen

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.265 Kleine Panzerbefehlswagen Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review August 2004 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.265 Kleine Panzerbefehlswagen Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6218 Primary Media 465 parts (437 in grey styrene, 25 etched brass, 3 clear styrene)
Pros Clear, crisp, state of the art version of this little vehicle; crew a bonus Cons Single-link track not likely to appeal to all modelers in this scale
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $27.98

First Look

The Germans learn from their mistakes, as a general rule, and when they create something new out of whole cloth they look to the past for guidance. In the First World War, tanks were generally unable to communicate with each other with the exception of visual signals, e.g lights, flags or even a semaphore system of wig-wag signals used by the British. But the French grasped the basics and created an armored radio command tank on the FT-17 platform, the T.S.F.

When the Germans went to create their new tank force in the 1930s, they realized early on that it had to be a radio-equipped force to be most effective on the battlefield. Not only would it need to have a radio in every tank for short-range control and coordination, but they would also need longer-range sets to keep commanders in touch on a much larger battlefield than those fought over in past wars. But even then, only a receiver would fit in the first tank, the tiny Pzkw. I. As a result, a specialized model had to be created to carry both a transmitter and receiver so that a commander could control his tanks on the battlefield.

In 1935, between 6 and 15 early model Ausf. A tanks were converted to become the kleine Panzerbefehlswagen or Sd.Kfz. 265 - small Armored Command Wagon. As time progressed, a special longer chassis was used, eventually becoming the hull for the Ausf. B version of the "battle" tank. A total of 184 of these were produced between 1935-1937. Later, when larger tanks came into service and the Pzkw. I series was judged obsolete, they were converted to fill other functions as an armored ambulance, a mobile command post or a mobile observation post.

DML's kit uses the hull of their nice new Pzkw. I kit but with two new sprues added (J and K) providing the 34 parts needed to convert it to a command vehicle. It provides parts for both the early split-hatch model and the later rectangular cupola. It also has more optional position hatches and a choice of view port styles. The only thing I did not see in the kit was a blanking plate for the machine gun mount as used in later vehicles. The kit only has one part (K15) for this and that is the gun mount itself.

The model also comes with the old StuG III crew set from DML (#6029) so the modeler has a set of figures as well. Note that both the early "crash helmet beret" and the later sidecaps are also included in this kit. The headset bands are now part of the etched brass fret ("MA Parts") so there is no more steel fret for this kit.

The only squawk I ever hear over kits like this have to do with the itty-bitty single links for the tracks, which can be tedious to assemble. Still, this tank used "dead" tracks made of cast steel links, and it is the only way to get them to look right.

The kit comes with five different marking schemes - an exercise one in Germany in 1938 which is actually somewhat gaudy, and four solid Panzergrau ones - one of which is an ambulance with the 4th Panzer Division in France 1940.

Overall this is a nice little kit and one that begs for an interior, so I am sure the after-market boys will be modifying their old Italeri kits to fit.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.