Pz. 38(t) Ausf. E/F with Full Interior

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1:16
MSRP
$248.00
Product / Stock #
82603
Company: Hobby Boss
Provided by: MRC - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Bottom Line Up Front

This reboot of the Panda Hobby Pz38(t) kit in 1/16 scale is a mixed bag. The full interior provides some exciting possibilities, but the kit is marred by some very sub-par engineering. This kit has a lot of nice features, but it really fights you in some places. It can be made into an award-winning model, but it will take patience, skill, and lots of coins for the swear jar.

I built this review as a ‘naked build’ so you can see all the features of the kit unobscured by filling, sanding, painting, or weathering.

History

The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) was developed in Czechoslovakia by ČKD during the 1930s and saw extensive service with the German Army where is saw action in the invasions of Poland, France and the Soviet Union. Production ended in 1942, when its main armament, the 37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8, was deemed inadequate against current Allied tanks. The Panzer 38(t) continued to serve as a reconnaissance vehicle and in anti-partisan units through the end of the war. In all, over 1,400 Pz. 38(t)s were manufactured. The Ausf. E & F were built between late 1940 and late 1941 with improvements to armor thickness (to 50mm) with an extra 25mm of bolted-on applique armor to the front glacis and improvements to the mantlet. Other improvements to storage and hardpoints were added to the mudguards.

The Kit

This kit began life as Panda Hobby’s PH-16001 in 2013. We now have it from Hobby Boss in its evolved form with a full interior and a much bigger box to hold the additional sprues (five of them!) as well as a new photo etch fret.

Sprues A through H are the same ones found in the 2013 Panda Hobby kit. Sprues K(x2) through M contain the interior parts for seats, ammo storage, bulkheads, batteries, radiator, engine, transmission, radio, and a plethora of miscellaneous handles, switches, and other parts.

There are two photoetch frets. Fret A is from the 2013 kit and Fret B has sections for the ammo bins and brake mechanism.

The decals from the 2013 kit are present with two additional sets of markings for vehicles which served on the Eastern Front in 1941-42.

Vital Statistics and Scores

Detail: 4 out of 5

This was pretty much covered in the in-box “first look” review, but it’s worth restating here. The level of detail is not overwhelming, but definitely acceptable for a kit in this scale. It’s not what you could call “state of the art.” Modelers who want eye-popping super-detail have a great starting point here. Additional wires and various details can be added to make a first-class interior build. There is enough detail that with a few decent reference photos or books, most modelers with an advanced case of AMS could happily run wild adding all sorts of super detail. Be warned that painting will have to be done in sub-assemblies if you want to retain your sanity.

Engineering: 2 out of 5

This is where the kit suffers the most. The best way I can describe it, is that it does not seem like the people engineering this kit had the kit builder in mind. Here are some of the major issues I fund:

The hull parts lack any sort of locator tabs and even a small misalignment that is overlooked will cause major headaches down the line.

With the locator pins and holes that do exist, almost none of them fit. You will need to enlarge the locator holes. Not a huge deal, but annoying none the less.

The hatches are not designed to be posed open. On a full interior kit? Really?

The ammo box holders will not fit all the ammo boxes. You will need to leave one of them out.

The fenders have no locator tabs or pins. This was by far my biggest gripe.

The PE parts for the radio housing have bending guides but call for bending a complex rectangular part that is only about 1/32nd of an inch wide. Even with a bending tool, this is a big challenge. Since this is a 1/16th scale kit, Hobby Boss could have done everyone a favor and provided an alternative plastic part that would have answered just as well.

The molding is sharp and any sink marks, seam lines or other imperfections appear to be strategically located so they will present minimal problems during clean up or will be hidden when the kit is assembled.

On the plus side, the running gear is very user friendly. Getting the large road wheels to align is a cinch. The tracks are very nice too. Don’t count on them being ‘workable’ though. They will need to be glued in place.

Cleanup is also pretty nice. Almost all of the seams and ejection pin markings are pretty easily removed or situated in a way that makes them inconspicuous.

Fit: 3 out of 5

The fit is ‘good’, not excellent. Take your time, read ahead in the instructions, and dry fit everything five times over and you’ll be ok. Still, the kit will fight you. Some parts like the commander’s cupola, the fenders, and parts of the engine will challenge your confidence and a person possessing ‘basic modeling skills.”

Instructions: 3 out of 5

The 16-page instruction booklet is well illustrated, but several of the sub-assemblies leave the modeler guessing as to where they go and how they are situated. The PE strips for the steering brake assembly is unclear and I had to head to the internet to find photographic references to make sure I was doing it right.

The kit also gives you options for different versions and provides the parts but doesn’t tell you which options apply to which variant.

Markings: 5 out of 5

No issues with the decals. They are agreeably thin, in register and react well with Solvaset.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a big Pz38(t) that will have presence on the contest table, this is your kit. Be warned though that it will test your patience. Poor engineering, lack of locator guides, and tricky fit issues take most of the relaxation out of this build.

For most modelers wanting to display the insides of the tank, the full interior you get in the box is only a starting point. The fact that it is in gigantic 1/16 scale makes it necessary to add all the minutiae found inside real tanks. It’s just too visible to leave out.

All that being said, this is (as far as I’m aware) the only game in town for a Pz38(t) in this scale. I predict we will see more than a few of these builds on the tables at Nats and regional contests this year.

Thanks for MRC for the review sample.

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