Home > Reviews > German WWII > Dragon German Sd.Kfz. 265 Kleine Panzerbefehlswagon, Item 6218


Dragon German Sd.Kfz. 265 Kleine Panzerbefehlswagon, Item 6218

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 432 plastic and 24 photo-etched brass parts, five decal options and eight pages of instructions in 11 steps. Price: Unavailable.

Hot on the heels of the recent release of the Pz.Kpw. I Ausf. B, DML has followed up with the command version of this early German Panzer.

As one would expect, the majority of the parts are from the original issue, with a total of 35 new parts included in this latest iteration. These new parts consist of a superstructure shell, which like the first kit, is designed for the attachment of the detailed outer “skin”. There is also the option of either fitting the later, retrofitted second-type cupola (with 14.4mm armor basis, and round signal pistol port on the hatch lid) or the original flat roof plate with the square signal pistol port on the hatch lid. This is a very nice touch. Remember, however, that according to Panzer Tracts #1-2, if the modeler wishes to depict a 1.Serie/Kl.Pz.Bef.Wg. “as built” with this original style roof (as well as the three-color camouflage scheme and red-white superstructure band given on the decal sheet), certain modifications must be made around the hull rear plate. This would include the earlier bolted idler wheel housings and a screened area on the upper corner, opposite the exhaust muffler. Naturally, the Panzer Tracts book shows all.

The kit also has a number of other options, such as several different tail lamp configurations. Note that one of these is part of the “Notek” blackout driving system, but that there is no hooded headlamp included. If using this option, which was not seen on German AFVs used in the Polish or Norwegian campaigns, the modeler must raid his spares box for a proper Notek headlamp. Other options include a smoke-candle rack with its attendant hull rear plate, clear or solid plastic head lamp lenses and variations on the device to reinforce the idler wheel mounts. There are also separate view ports, signal pistol ports, crew hatches, engine access hatches, and finally, fuel and water filler port hatches. Not specifically mentioned in the instructions is also the option to delete the separate armor plate that was bolted to the hull superstructure sides just above the fenders, as was done on some vehicles.

The photo-etch parts provide for screening to go under the engine deck grill, a perforated shield for the exhaust muffler, chains for the smoke-candle rack, tail lamp mounts, plus crewmen’s communications headsets and throat microphones.

As there has been much commenting regarding the decision by DMLs designers to use separate outer panels on the hull and superstructure, I carefully test fitted and attached these parts. As long as they are carefully cleaned and placed (I put the two side plates on first, followed by the front, rear, and finally, the roof) only a tiny bit of filler will be needed. This minute gap appeared on the port side of the roof plate. I also do not feel (as some do) that the weld seams are overstated.

Overall, the parts break-down allows for maximum detail. For instance, the front mud flaps are cleverly designed so that the small rivets seen on each side, as well as the tops of the parts are all there. This is done without resorting to slide-mold technology. Since there is no attempt at providing for thinned fenders (mold constraints) the modeler will probably opt to use the mud flaps. Therefore it is nice to see those parts properly represented. The vehicle’s small fittings, tools, and especially the jack, antenna base and self-defense MG34, are also very nicely depicted. There are no visible ejector pin marks on any outside surface of the kit. Pin marks on the insides of the hatch lids are fairly light and will easily come off without spoiling adjacent details.

The suspension is broken down so that maximum detail is present and the main units can articulate. However, this is also where the kit’s only major inaccuracy occurs. The idler wheel should be of the skeleton type, with a hollow, slotted rim. This would have been impossible to mold in one piece, and rather than break it down further, the kit’s designers took the easy route. This is certainly understandable, but it does not explain why they chose to tell the modeler to paint the rim as if it were rubber-tired. It is not. Perhaps some enterprising after-market company will come to the rescue. Another very minor quibble is the front plate for the bow. The bulges that protected the final drive should be flat at the bottom, which would also slightly alter their shape. This is barely noticeable. The 208 individual link tracks will be a chore to clean and assemble since there are five sprue attachment points per link. However, there are no ejector pin marks on these tiny fellows, because the designers put them next to the parts, thus the five attachment points per link. The obvious trade-off is either having a difficult-to-clean ejector pin mark on the part, or more easily cleaned attachment points. I believe the designers made the better choice. The fitting of the tracks to the suspension will be aided because the designer’s had the good sense to leave the idler wheel axles as separate, adjustable parts. I strongly recommend that the modeler take advantage of this by not cementing the idler wheel axles into position until after the tracks are fitted. Personally, I will hang Friulmodel tracks (ATL-20, available at www.chesapeakemodels.com) on my kit.There are a total of four figures included in the kit, which are one of DMLs older sets. However, the quality of molding and detail is really quite good and certainly up to current standards. And, their inclusion in this kit adds value to an already well-priced package. With careful painting, these guys will look great. They were originally packaged as a separate figure set depicting an assault gun crew from the early and mid-war period. So, two of the figures have the options of wearing the padded berets. Three other heads wear side-caps, while another head has the option of wearing a cap with visor. Of the four figures (three standing, one seated), only one has the correct Panzer crew collar tab; two have standard artillery collar tabs (that’s where assault gun crews came from), while the last has none at all. So, care in using them is in order, if the modeler is finicky. There are a total of 45 parts for the figures. These include two different styles of pistol holster, small and large binoculars, three pairs of headphone pads (to be used with the photo-etch) and an MP40 magazine pouch (although no MP40 is included). Finally, the instructions only cover two of the figures, as the other two are not meant for use. But that won’t stop us, will it?

The five sets of markings (including one set for an armored ambulance) are beautifully printed by Cartograf of Italy, and consist of a pre-war vehicle, two from the 1940 campaign in the west, one from 1941 in the Balkans and the last one from North Africa, also in 1941. There are several things to note.
1. Both vehicles used in 1941 (11.Pz.-Div. in the Balkans and 5.le.-Div. in North Africa) should have the hooded Notek lamp on the port-side front fender.
2. The pre-war vehicle (with the nifty red/white checker-board strip around the superstructure rim, from the 2.Pz.-Div.) should be in the “Buntfarbenanstrich” three-tone color scheme.
3. The two 1940 vehicles (4.Pz.-Div. in France and the 9.Pz.-Div. in Holland) should be in two-tone Nr.45 dunkelbraun and Nr.46 dunkelgrau.
4. The vehicle from the Balkans in 1941 (11.Pz.-Div.) should be in overall dunkelgrau RAL 7021, which DML correctly states.
5. The vehicle from North Africa in 1941 (5.le.-Div.) should be in a two-tone scheme of gelbbraun RAL 8000 and graugruen RAL 7008. This information that I have just related, also from the above-referenced Panzer Tracts book, has been available for nearly two years, so manufacturers (not only DML!) have had plenty of time to get with the program. But, thankfully, we modelers can avail ourselves of this reference material in order to give our efforts that last bit of accuracy.

I guess the question is this: since Italeri has had a nice kit of this vehicle available for decades, is this new kit really necessary? Yes, the DML kit will cost more, even if discounted. Yes, the DML kit will be more work to complete. But, the detail in the DML kit far surpasses that of Italeri’s effort. So, in my humble opinion, YES, the DML kit is the way to go. With only the minimum of extra effort (and a single reference book), any modeler worth his salt should be able to come up with quite a little gem with what’s in the box.

Highly recommended.

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