Home > Reviews > German WWII > Dragon Sd.Kfz.265 kleine Panzerbefehlswagen I “3-in-1” (6222)


Dragon Sd.Kfz.265 kleine Panzerbefehlswagen I “3-in-1” (6222)

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 460 styrene plastic parts including 24 clear and 216 individual link tracks, three photo-etched brass frets, eight pages of instructions with the assembly steps varying according to the version chosen by the modeler, and three sets of markings. Price: unavailable.

DML continues to get a great deal of mileage from their latest kits, often by releasing major variations. Or, as in the case of this latest release, minor variations of a vehicle which itself is a major variation of the base vehicle. Thus we have a kit that will allow the modeler to make nearly any variation of the kleine Panzerbefehlswagen I, including the three that are head-lined on the box-top and the instructions. These are a “Frame Antenna Version”, an “Add-on Armor Version” and a “Tropical Version”.

Aside from these features, DML’s designers have tackled the main visual inaccuracy of the original issues of this kit (two different Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf.Bs and the first kl.Bef.Pz. I), namely, the rear idler wheel. The original kits not only depicted this (slotted or “skeleton”) wheel as solid, but also instructed the modeler to paint the rim as if it was rubber-tired. Sorry; wrong! But all is not lost, since DML has recently been observed to take many of the criticisms leveled at their kits “to heart”, and have gone ahead and made many corrections to them. Luckily for us modelers, this kit is no different. So, there are new parts, as well as modified parts, to depict two different variations of the idler wheel, both properly configured, according to Jentz and Doyle’s Panzer Tracts #1-2. Note that I said two different variations, not two complete sets of idler wheels. So don’t get excited (as I did before I inspected this kit) by thinking you can take the extras from this kit and add it to a previously acquired kit; you can’t.

There are several other major changes to the original parts. The hull pan (part “I”) has been modified to accept a photo-etched brass fender edge (other photo-etch parts provide for screening to go under the engine deck grill, a perforated shield for the exhaust muffler and chains for the smoke-candle rack) for scale appearance. It has also been modified by thinning the front and rear edges, so the modeler can now choose to leave off the front and/or rear mud flaps, and still things will look realistically thin. There is a second rain guard (part K24) for the commander’s cupola with a slight variation in the rear face. There are completely new visors in clear styrene for the entire vehicle. These all include internal latch and mount details and can all be modeled in the opened or closed position.

Other new parts include the frame antenna and mounts, as well as the storage bin often seen behind the superstructure. This includes a separate lid that can be modeled opened or closed. There are also new engine deck access hatches with the cut-outs and cowlings, to represent a “Tropen” (Tropical) version. The up-armored version receives new styrene panels for the front of the superstructure, the visor seen on that face, and the plate that was fitted to the rear half of the glacis plate. The bow appliqué armor is represented by an etched brass plate, to which bolts (provided on sprue “K”) are added. Six jerry cans (as seen for instance, in the recent Tiger I kit) are also included. These have etched brass parts that get sandwiched in-between the cans’ halves, representing weld beads. Items seen in the original kit, but absent here, are the figures and the option to model the very early version without the commander’s cupola.

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. The Notek head-lamp, not part of the original kit, is included here, along with its mount (parts E9 and E10). If using this option, note that it was not seen on German AFVs used in the Polish, French or Norwegian campaigns (see my comments below regarding the instructions and the colors and markings). 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. Although not specifically mentioned in the instructions for the original kit, this new kit shows 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.

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. 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. In another improvement compared to the original kit, all ejector pin marks on the insides of the hatch lids (which were fairly light to begin with) are absent from this kit.

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 remaining, and rather minor inaccuracy occurs. The bulges that protected the final drive housings, on the lower front plate of the bow, should be flat at the bottom, which would also slightly alter their shape. I suspect that re-working them would have meant completely re-tooling the hull pan as well. Regardless, with a judicious application of mud, this will be barely noticeable.

The 216 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 on my kit.

The instructions are clearly drawn and can be followed with confidence, with the exceptions noted below. The three sets of markings are beautifully printed by Cartograf of Italy, but there are several things to note.

1. Frame Antenna Version: This depicts a vehicle that should have a Notek lamp, and no armor plate bolted to the superstructure sides, as shown in the instructions. Contrary to the instructions, this should also have the storage box behind the superstructure. Photos suggest that it should also have the new cupola rain guard (part K24). I also believe that at the time of its use (either the Balkans or early in Barbarossa) it should have been fitted with the appliqué armor plates. It should be finished in overall dunkelgrau RAL 7021.

2. The Add-on Armor Version is marked as belonging to the 11. Panzer Division, and served in Operation Barbarossa. The instructions correctly leave off the bolted armor plates on either side of the superstructure. It should have the Notek lamp fitted, and no storage box behind the superstructure, contrary to the instructions. It should be finished in overall dunkelgrau RAL 7021).

3. The “Tropical Version”, seen in North Africa should be in a two-tone scheme of gelbbraun RAL 8000 and graugruen RAL 7008 (over the base dunkelgrau RAL 7021). Contrary to the instructions, it has the appliqué armor panels and front Notek lamp, but is missing the bolted plates on either side of the superstructure. The photo I based this commentary upon also shows an empty rack, probably for jerry cans, on the left side rear fender. This is not included in the kit.

The information above is taken from various publications such as: Panzer Tracts 1-2, by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle, “Objectif Moscou”, by Yves Buffetaut, “Achtung Panzer: The Invasion of France and the Low Countries” by John Feenstra, and DMLs 2005 catalog.

In conclusion, this kit is a vast improvement over what was a very sound kit to begin with. The refinements, as well as the options, make this the kit of choice for modelers of this early war Panzer.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.

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