The Sd.Kfz.121 Panzerkampfwagen II, or easier to say, Panzer II, was built to fill the gap between the inferior Panzer I and the preferred choice for the panzer divisions, the Panzer III. Designed as a training tank that could also fulfill a combat role, the Panzer II was numerically the predominant type employed by the panzer divisions during the early years of WW II.
To my knowledge, this is the first time this tank has been kitted in 1/48 scale since the Bandai F/G model of the 1970s. I have built several kits in “quarter scale” and find them a pleasant break from the Advanced Modelers Syndrome that seems to overtake my builds in the larger scales. I will be doing this review as an Out of the Box (OTB), with no additions -- a real weekend project!
This is the first 1/48 scale armor release of 2011 for Tamiya. The kit contains 155 pieces on four sprues of dark grey plastic, along with two round hull weights, decal sheet, instructions and a background/marking sheet.
Sprue C and E
Sprue A x2
The box states that the “A” through “C” models can be depicted by this kit. To me, it looks like the only major differences between the marks externally were the bolt pattern on the vision slits and the placement of the smoke candle housing on the muffler. A new twist for me is the use of a decal to replicate the mesh screen around the muffler as opposed to a piece of photo etch. A quick check of the Internet revealed that the kit has the same marking options as the 1/35 Tamiya release of the same name. Curiously, the road wheels are molded as two pieces in 1/48 scale unlike the one piece ones found in the 1/35 kit. Knock out marks are numerous but mostly lurking on the inside faces of the parts, like the turret hatches. The molding process has you removing numerous tabs from the parts before you can attach them; use care here as the parts are tiny.
Knock out marks on inner hatch faces
Assembly is broken down into 16 steps plus one for the supplied commander figure. Steps 1 through 4 have you assembling the lower hull, running gear, and tracks. The hull does away with the metal tub of previous kits and builds up from four pieces of styrene. No fit problems were encountered, and the hull was nice and square. Two round steel weight bars are supplied to add some “heft” and were installed next. The road wheels, sprockets, and idlers were then constructed and installed. Did I mention the parts are tiny? I was fortunate not to suffer any dreaded “tweezer launch” during this step.
Running gear -- I said they are tiny!
I also decided to attach the wheels with small bits of Blu-tac to allow me to remove the tracks and running gears to ease painting and detailing. The tracks are link and length with sag molded into the top run. No spare links are supplied, but a quick look through various references did not show any pictures of spare tracks adorning these marks.
Side view lower left hull
Weights in lower hull
With the lower hull assembled, steps 5 through 12 involve assembling the upper hull and onboard tool stowage. Pay attention to the instructions, (we're modelers; we always read the instructions), as there are a few holes to drill and tabs to be removed from parts to ensure a proper fit. Once again, no fit problems were encountered, and the parts were well detailed and crisp. On the down side, six of the tools are molded in place on the fenders making painting a challenge. Also, pay attention to what vision covers you need to install to represent the mark you are modeling.
Step 9 has you assembling the muffler heat shroud and replicating its cooling holes by applying a decal.
Muffler shroud with decal and smoke candle rack installed
Steps 13 through 16 involve assembling the turret. Once again, be sure to attach the correct visor covers to the turret sides. Knock out marks are prominent on the inside faces of the roof hatches so I glued them closed.
Front view primed and sans armament
Rear view -- muffler to be installed after detailing
To finish the build, I primed the tank with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black then coated the whole tank with light coats of XF-63 German Grey to try to replicate faded panels. I next popped off the tracks and running gear and painted the rubber tires and
applied to the tracks. Then, I painted the tools and small details.
At this point, I
sprayed on some Dullcote and things went
Murphy's law personified!
After many choice words that made my family cringe and run for cover, I did a warp drive to the not so local hobby store to get a new bottle of D
Finished Pz II (Did I mention it's tiny?)
Trying to show the THREE decals that make up the left Balkancruz
Trying to show muffler shroud detail; the decal looks better than it photographs
This kit is light years ahead of the old Bandai F/G model of the 1970s. Tamiya continues to expand their 1/48 range by cloning some of their latest 1/35 releases in 1/48 scale. Mr. Tamiya, is too much to hope for a 1/48 scale Matilda II, Char B1 bis, or BT 7?
Pros First Panzer II in these versions. Crisp detail. Great fit.
Cons No tow cable or spare track links. Molded on tools.
Thanks to Tamiya for the review sample.