Home > Reviews > German WWII > Dragon Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B in 1/35 scale, Item 6186


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.

Highly recommended.

DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.