Dragon Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B in 1/35
scale, Item 6186
by Frank De Sisto
Item 6186, German Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B in 1/35th-scale injection molded
styrene plastic. Contains 421 injection-molded styrene plastic parts (including
three clear lenses and 222 individual track links), 27 photo-etched brass
parts, seven marking options and eight pages of instructions in 10 steps
(plus correction leaflet). Price: TBA.
I have always liked the decades-old Italeri Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B kit and
its derivatives, the Kl.Bef.Pz. I B and the more recent Zvesda/Italeri
Pz.Jgr. I B. For their time, they were very well-done kits. Even today,
with the addition of aftermarket items, they can produce stunning models.
But, time marches on.
First, Hong Kong’s Tristar produced a pair of extremely well-done,
state-of-the-art kits of sub-variants of the Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A. These
were quite well received. Now, DML has entered the fray with the first
of a series of kits based on the longer Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B chassis. The
next kit, already announced, is to be a Kl.Bef.Pz. I B, which is soon
to be released.
In essence, DML has done an outstanding job with this latest kit. With
what’s provided in the box, it represents either a 5a. or 6a.Serie/La.S.
vehicle, according to Jentz and Doyle’s Panzer Tracts No. 1-1. There
are also a number of parts, which will allow some variety within these
two versions. This can account for items that were commonly retrofitted,
as well as factory-standard items. So, there is an optional rear-mounted
smoke candle rack, a total of four optional rear-mounted tail lamps. These
options include the Notek blackout lamp. However, a front fender-mounted
Notek headlamp is not included in the kit; more on that later. There are
also two styles of idler wheel housing reinforcement devices, and finally,
two styles of hull vision ports.
The turret is correctly detailed to represent an Ausf. B type and includes
all view ports and rivets molded in place. This is done with slide mold
technology that allows for very crisp details including weld beads, conical
rivets and counter-sunk screw heads. As a result of the use of a slide
mold, there are two nearly-invisible seam lines on either side of the
turret, between the view ports. These will be extremely easy to remove.
The MG13k machine guns are properly represented, with one barrel being
shorter than the other. The roof hatch is a separate part that has three
knock-out pins on its inner surface.
The upper hull itself consists of two main frames to which the outer
skin of armor plates is fitted. The glacis is molded on, but the roof,
front and sides of the armor superstructure are separate parts for increased
detail definition. A dry fit of these parts, after they were carefully
cleaned up, indicated that there will be no unsightly and hard to fix
gaps where the plates touch each other. The second frame is for the engine
deck. Again, the sides, top and rear plate are attached to this sub-frame.
The front section features separate view ports and crew access hatches,
while the rear features separate engine access hatches, fuel and water
ports. All hatches and ports have knock-out pin marks on their inner surfaces
that will need attention if they are shown in the open position.
The lower hull contains this kit’s only major error. The lower
bow plate does not have a flat section on the bottom of the final drive
bulges. This in turn throws the shape of these bulges off. The lower hull
is a single piece that includes the main fenders, suspension attachment
points, hull-to-superstructure attachment strip and bolts, and completely
detailed belly plate.
The suspension is well represented and features separate coil springs
as well as suspension arms and girder. The road wheels are all of the
later reinforced type, while the fine drive sprocket thankfully lacks
the prominent sink mark which constantly bedeviled the Italeri kits. The
idler wheel, probably due to constraints in the injection molding process,
does not have the proper open “slotted” appearance on its
rim. Because of that, the idler wheel’s spokes are not strictly
accurate. The tracks are well molded and are of the later pattern, typical
of these longer chassis. They are tiny and each has five points where
they attach to the sprue. This will mean that clean-up will be tedious,
so I believe they are best replaced with after-market items, specifically
those from Friulmodel.
The tools and detail fittings are mostly either very well done or excellent.
In the excellent category, I’d place the jack and front fender/mud
guards, machine gun barrels, hull and turret lifting hooks, headlamps
(with clear lenses or solid lenses), and the two different styles of separate
view ports. Everything else is very well done, although the tools and
jack block could all be improved with after-market photo-etch straps,
clamps and brackets.
DML does provide photo-etch for the exhaust muffler protective plate
as well as a screen section for the engine deck air intake grill. Other
small etch bits are included for the various optional tail lamp mounts,
chains for the smoke candle caps and other doo-dads. The markings provide
for seven vehicles (six basic, with one having an option of two different
sets of tactical numbers). Two are from the Polish campaign, one is from
the Scandinavian campaign, three are from the French campaign and one
is from the Balkan campaign. So, a two year period from mid-1939 through
mid-1941 can be represented with what’s in the box.
The decals a
re printed by Italy’s Cartograf and are thin, in register
and have excellent detail and color saturation. The camouflage colors
as given in the instructions are substantially incorrect in that they
make no mention of recently published information by Jentz and Doyle regarding
the two-tone Nr.45 dunkelbraun and Nr.46 dunkelgrau camouflage used in
the Polish, Scandinavian and French campaigns. However, the vehicle of
the 14th Pz. Div. in the Balkans has the correct monotone RAL 7021 dunkelgrau
color called out in the instructions. In addition, the kit, as mentioned
above, lacks the front-mounted Notek headlamp, which (although authorized
in June of 1939) was NOT seen on vehicles during the 1939 Polish campaign.
So, all of the later vehicles should have the Notek lamp. Of course, the
modeler is cautioned to check available references for photos of specific
vehicles and their features.
The two figures included can be used with any of the decal schemes given
in the box, and represent Wehrmacht Heeres crewman in early/ mid-war uniforms.
One comes with a choice of heads that includes either an M1940 side cap
or M1934 padded beret, while the other has only the beret. Each wears
the standard M1934 Panzer crew uniform with shirt and necktie and can
be equipped with side arms, a pair of binoculars and a mixture of plastic
and photo-etch headphones. Both figures are well-molded and have very
fine cloth details on their uniforms. Their head-gear features well-done
and fully detailed insignia, while their tunics, although they feature
epaulettes and collar insignia, do not have finer details such as skulls
or rank pips. Both can be posed either in the tank’s turret or beside
it on the ground. The more interesting of the two figures holds a pipe
in his right hand, which he is using to point with.
So, this kit, along with the recent Tristar Pz.Kpw. I Ausf. A kits, will
allow the modeler of early war German AFVs to construct state-of-the-art
replicas of these important tanks.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details
see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.