Pz.kpfw. 35 (t)
The Pz.Kpfw. 35(t) was one of two light tanks seized by the German army when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938-39. Both light tanks were used to flesh out three German Panzer Divisions and were a very important element in the invasions of Poland (1939), France & the low countries (1940) and Russia in 1941.
The Czech firm Skoda was one of the leading producers of munitions, field guns and tanks in the 1930's. Their design of a light tank for the Czech army was the Lt Vz 35, which weighed 10.5 tons, had a 37mm main gun along with a 7.92mm MG in the turret and another 7.92mm MG in the front hull. It was the equivalent of the German Panzer III. When Germany took the Czech tanks they repainted them and changed their name to the Pz.Kpfw.35(t), the “t” being German for Czechoslovakia. The production line was never restarted and by early 1942 the few remaining tanks, with no spare parts, were withdrawn from service.
This is another fine Bronco kit that is jammed with detail and parts, and requires patience to build. The box top states this model was made in co-operation with SKP Model. It's plain to see that the molds and parts were made in China by Bronco, and one can assume that the Czech firm SKP Model provided the R&D. On opening the box one sees light tan sprues; five large sprues, ten small sprues (one is clear), 240 track links (120 R and 120 L), one PE sheet, and one decal sheet. There are many very small parts and all have very fine details. Be very careful in removing these small parts from the sprues to prevent breakage or losing them to the carpet monster. In some cases I used a razor saw to carefully cut the part from the sprue.
Steps 1-7. As with many kits the tank sides are assembled to a bottom plate. Before that the instructions add interior details to the sides and bottom. It's at this point that you have to decide to have the hatches open or closed. If the hatches are closed, the internal parts don't need to be added, which will speed up the build. On the other hand, if the hatches are open there is a full interior to assemble. The only thing that Bronco did not include was an engine. On a downside, Bronco does not list any color selections throughout their instruction booklet. While the Germans repainted the exterior I have not been able to find out if they repainted the interior as well, or even what the Czech army had painted their interior. I assembled the interior parts to see if there was any problems, even though I planned on closed hatches. Other than some parts being really small, there were no problems in construction.
Steps 8-12. I found that assembling the suspension will be the most demanding and difficult part of this model. Proceed slowly and make sure the right parts are being used. If careful, one can have a fully working suspension, which is good if you're modeling your tank over rough, uneven ground, but it can be very trying when it comes to getting the tracks on. There are 32 road wheels (B45), 16 per side and 8 road wheels on each suspension assemblies for 4 suspension assemblies total.
Before removing the road wheels from their “B” sprues, paint them the exterior color. In step 8, assemble parts B2, B57 and P2 (photo etch) as a unit first. When parts B59 and B60 are glued together this unit will go between B59/B60. If you get a tight fit you'll have to file some off the sides of part P2. In steps 9 and 10, the parts called out are for the left side and part numbers within (*) are for the right side. If the caps B17 and B18 are carefully glued on, the drive and idler wheels will be able to rotate. Once I had glued on some of the sub assemblies, I brush painted around them and then spray painted the exterior color on the sides and bottom, as it's easier to do now than later.
Bronco has provided 240 individual track links in two bags. Only open one bag at a time and assemble these as they are handed. There are 12 links per run and each bag will contain 10 runs of links. Each run will have a small R or L on the sprues between the links to identify them. Carefully snip the links from the connecting sprues and push them together to make a length of tracks, then repeat this for the opposite side. When I had assembled the first length of left tracks I placed them on the left side of the workbench. The right tracks went to the right of the work bench. That way I did not mix them up, or at least I knew which tracks to put on the correct side of the tank. These tracks stayed fairly well connected when they are flat on the work bench, but were a problem trying to get them over the suspension without popping loose. I ended up painting the tracks with a thinned-down rust color enamel. The lacquer thinner seemed to act as a mild glue and held the tracks together but still allowed me to carefully bend them around the drive and idler wheels. These tracks are not styrene, but thin Tamiya cement glued them together without any problems. Track sag was up to the crew and varied per tank, so I kept mine tight and had about 16 links left over. The more sag used will result in a smaller number of links left unused.
Steps 13-30. The remainder of the build went smoothly. Be aware of the optional parts and check your references to make an informed decision. The photo etch is brass and very workable, you will just have to decide on how much you want to use or not. Bronco provides enough parts to assemble 10 German gas cans. I only used five on this model and will save the others for future use. Both machine guns assemble without any problems if you remember to glue part B38 into B37 with the holes aligneds and clean up any excess glue. The machine gun body will fit into this ball unit. The complete 37mm main gun can be assembled and fits into the turret, but again Bronco has not provided any color call outs for the interior of the turret or the parts within. If the turret parts are dry fit before gluing, there won't be any fit problems. The instructions place the turret on the tank, but there are no tangs to keep the it on. I just glued the turret in the direction that I wanted. Lastly, while Bronco provides a radio base (actually two to chose from), they do not provide the antenna. I just used some .020” brass rod for that.
Bronco provides a decal sheet that has six options; two Czech army units 1937-38, one German army unit Poland (1939), two 6th Panzer Division France May-June 1940 and finally one 6th Panzer Division on the Russian front (1941). The decals are thin, conform well to the surface using setting and solvent solutions, and went on without any problems. Bronco paint schemes show a tri-color Czech scheme and the German army scheme in German Grey. Present research shows that the paint scheme for the Poland and French campaign should be 2/3 German Grey and 1/3 Dark Brown. I used Model Master Schwarzgrau '39-'43 enamel paint for the grey and White Ensign Models Schokol-Adebraun enamel for the brown color. both were spray painted on without any problems. I did give an overcoat of clear flat lacquer to dull the decals and paint.
This is an excellent model that provides a high level of details with a ton of parts inside and out. My only concern is that this kit is not for a beginner. The many small plastic and photoetch parts and the suspension system would try the patience of someone new, but if taken slowly and work carefully it will be a very fine model. I highly recommend this model to any armor modeler who wants to work on the tanks used in the early conflicts of WWII. I want to thank Dragon Models and IPMS/USA for giving the opportunity to do this review.