German Panzer Kpfw.38(t) Ausf. E/F
Hobby Boss has recently re-released the TriStar kit of the Pz. 38(t) under their own label. Fortunately for me, the last time I worked on this particular vehicle it was using the elderly Italeri kit some years ago, so I can approach this model with no previous expectations. Let’s take a closer look at the kit.
The sprues are molded in a crisp light tan (odd, as every version of this tank is Panzer grey), and the kit includes both a small sheet of photoetch and a clear sprue for the vision ports. The photoetch includes some very welcome details, such as engine grill, tool tie-downs and even the little rhomboid signs the Germans used briefly at the beginning of the war. Slide molding has been used to good effect on the plastic sprues to offer open machine guns and main gun as well as other details. Individual track links are provided on metallic gray sprues and are very nicely slide molded and are relatively easy to remove and clean up. All running gear tires are molded separately from their wheels, which should make painting exceedingly simple for those who find detail painting something of a challenge. All hatches are molded separately, including the engine hatches for those who might want to add some aftermarket details. The kit even includes a couple of very nice commander figures in greatcoats, one full and one ¾, both with interchangeable heads.
Work begins on the running gear, which is highly detailed and capable of being fully adjusted for ground movement. Unfortunately, the majority of this work disappears when the large road wheels are added, but it’s still nice to have. Next up is the main hull, which is comprised of flat plates, but so well engineered that no filler is required. There are some details on the inside of the hull plates that once again make it clear that aftermarket add-ons were anticipated in the design.
When adding the running gear, you’ll find that the idler wheels are adjustable, which comes in handy when attaching the tracks. Speaking of which, I chose to assemble the tracks at this stage instead of struggling with them after the fenders were mounted. As stated before, the links are fairly easy to remove from the sprues and clean up, and have a slight “click together” action which helps in the assembly, although I wouldn’t depend on that to hold them together entirely. They fit over the drive sprockets very nicely and it was the work of maybe a couple of hours to get them completely assembled.
The tools provided are very well detailed and have photoetch tie-downs where needed, which adds a lot to their look. The upper hull goes on with very little difficulty, although I did find myself using a smidge of filler at the rear of the engine cover – the only place, in fact, where I used any during the entire build.
The turret is also comprised of mostly flat plates, which go together so well that no additional work was required. The turret features an essentially complete interior, including clear vision ports, and this is where the differences between this kit and the venerable Italeri kit became most apparent. Although the older kit was actually quite nice for its time, it featured huge open ports in the turret that had a sort of “insert-anti-tank-shell-here” look that I found disturbing even way back when. The Hobby Boss/TriStar ports make more sense and show that these were more complicated structures than Italeri had provided. Now it all makes a bit more sense.
Six different marking schemes are provided in the kit, all variants of Panzer grey either alone or with some temporary camouflage over them. Surprisingly, none of the schemes make use of the cute little rhomboid plates so thoughtfully supplied on the photoetch sheet. No doubt I’ll find use for these elsewhere.
All in all, this is a really lovely and relatively easy build of this feisty little vehicle, full of detail and just begging for aftermarket additions. Even without these, though, it’s a real treat to assemble and really looks the part. My heartfelt thanks to IPMS/USA and to Hobby Boss for the sheer pleasure in making this little gem.