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Tristar German PzKpfw I Ausf. A late

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 513 styrene parts, 14 photo-etched parts, 10 pages of instructions in 17 steps and two waterslide decal options. Price: $43.00 USD, plus shipping.

Tristar’s debut kit of the PzKpfw I Ausf. A has been supplemented by this later version, which represents the “4.Serie/La.S.” with the following changes from the previous version: wider (75cm vs. 60cm) transmission access-hatch cover, four fuel filler caps (vs. two) on the engine deck, Notek blackout lights for the front and rear, later style horn, and smoke grenade discharger rack for the rear deck.

The basic parts of the kit have also undergone several improvements when compared to the original release. For instance, the bow plate has been corrected by the addition of flat portions under the bulges. The superstructure has now been given weld bead detail and the engine deck is a separate unit featuring three separate access hatches. The new transmission access-hatch cover and the plate it mounts to is also separate, but the original is also included, so the kit can also be backdated easily enough. The kits remaining hatches are also separate, which will make it easy to view the resin interior that is available from the manufacturer for this kit. However, weld detail has not been added to the turret or the bow plate, which is a shame. The individual link, workable tracks (in the Model Kasten style) and the photo-etched engine exhaust muffler screens (from Aber of Poland) are also included as per the original kit. Also, as in the original release, the molding, detail, engineering and fit of the parts are simply outstanding.

A completely new pair of figures is provided in greatcoats, which are suitable for any area in which this vehicle served. Separate heads are also included featuring padded berets, sidecaps or visored caps. These last embellishments make the figures suitable for service with the Afrika Korps. The well-animated figures also feature separate side arms, shoes and uniform items and can be considered “state-of-the-art”, since the detail on such things as insignia and clothing is outstanding. In addition, some of the photo-etched items include the necessary parts to make up the crewmember’s headphones, which is a very nice touch.

The markings consist of rather plain choices for the Polish campaign and the Afrika Korps. However, details such as the Notek blackout lights were not used during the Polish campaign so the modeler should check references prior to determining which decals would be used. The painting instructions also do not give the proper colors for the Polish campaign, depicting the vehicle in overall dark gray. But, oddly enough, the absolutely stunning box art does depict the proper colors, although the Notek lights are shown (incorrectly for the time period) fitted to the tank.Well-known author/researcher Tom Jentz is given credit for providing technical assistance and his two recent Panzer Tracts books (with co-author Hilary Doyle) on the subject are given plugs on the bottom of the box, so it is surprising that the kit’s designers did not get the paint scheme/vehicle features combination correct. But, that does not mean that we modelers, armed with proper reference materials, can’t figure things out for ourselves!

Altogether, this is an outstanding little model of this important early Panzer. And, although some might decry this release because it is not a low-price kit, what you get in the box makes it outstanding value for money spent.

Highly recommended.

As well as manufacturing their own line of resin kits and conversion sets, Chesapeake Model Designs (CMD) is the US Importer and distributor of Tristar products, and will ship worldwide. For more information see their web site at: www.chesapeakemodels.com. Phone/fax number is: 410-357-5496, NEW email: bill@chesapeakemodels.com.