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