DML #3026 Panzer II Ausf. C
I'm afraid that while I personally have waited a long time for a kit to replace Tamiya's 25-year old Panzer II, I was a little disappointed in Dragon's lastest offering. Produced in partnership with Alan Hobbies of the former Soviet Union, this kit does represent a huge upgrade from the aforementioned Tamiya PzII, and for that I think we are all grateful. A number of things troubled me, however, during construction, and I will describe these:
As is customary, construction begins with the lower hull and suspension, which is generally crisp, but I did find the detail on the drive sprockets a little 'soft', especially if compared with that of Tamiya's new Wespe (sorry, I had to bring that up!). Also surprising was the complete lack of detail on hull bottom, certainly an oversight that is not difficult to correct, armed with the right references, but worthy of mention. Once the suspension was complete, I moved onto the tracks, in order to finish the 'substructure' in its entirety before moving on - and this is where I began the hair-pulling! Aside from these tiny tracks being very difficult to work with (those tweezers better be good!) and the plastic noticeably softer than usual (go easy on the liquid cement), there were problems in fitting them under the roadwheels. It seems that these are molded too thick (I did not attempt to check how they scaled out), requiring considerable sanding to allow the track guide teeth to go around their rubber portion. This difficulty was also found on a few of the return rollers - the moral: Test Fit! (you have been warned...).
Aside from the 'track episode', the balance of the lower hull had gone smoothly enough. You'll probably want the replace both the towing clevis and taillight, but to their credit, Alan does supply PE for the wrap-around muffler cover, which went on just fine - no need to anneal. A little chain for each smoke discharger cap would be a nice addition as well.
The upper hull went more smoothly (I almost started to enjoy myself!) than the lower, but was not without its problems - a few high (low?) points:
All tools have the retaining clasps molded right onto them, reminiscent of some earlier Italeri kits, so you may want to cut these off in favour of either PE or in my case, fine wire. The jack is nicely done, and given that it's an earlier, lighter-duty version of the German tank jack, an interesting departure from the more familiar one. I added brackets from plastic strip, topped off with ModelKasten wingnuts. I left the poorly molded extinguisher off, adding a couple of straps from foil, and treated the jack block to a tiny hinge on one side, and a wingnut on the other. Many of these tools, by the way, could be replaced with 'early version' replacements from Tamiya's PzIV Tool Set, including the siren - watch the location of this item as well, as the instructions are a little unclear. I had decided to build this kit almost totally from-the-box, but if you decide on this route, the lifting hooks may make you change your mind - not only are they molded too thick to fit their bases, but when applied they interfere with rotation of the turret!
Headlights display the typical small sinkmark in the centre, but if you fill with CrytalKleer or an MV lens, won't matter. I left one off and modelled a fine wire coming from the mount.
The turret finishes off our PanzerII, and boasts the complete 20mm breach, complete MG34, as well as a rudimentary viewfinder. A few extra bits and you have a decent turret interior, but if you choose to add a figure, don't bother as it won't be seen. My example had a poorly fitting mantlet, so you may need some filler there. Of note is the darker grey plastic of the turret and many other pieces, presumably due to interchange of parts with DML's upcoming Wespe.
All things considered, if you want to do a quick and inexpensive Ausf.C, this kit is for you - for that reason I recommend it. If you're expecting another StuG IIIF or Jagdtiger though, forget it. My recommendation....don't take my word for it - buy the kit for yourself, and Happy Modelling!
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