Takom Panzer 1 ausf A and Panzer 1 ausf B 1+1
Takom's newest release is a "double" kit of the Panzer 1. At first glance, one might assume this kit allows the modeler the option of building either a Panzer I ausf A or Ausf B. But in fact this is a double kit; there are two complete Panzer I kits here, one each of the Ausf A and Ausf B. For the price, it is a heck of a value. Since I may be the only modeler who has never built a Panzer I, I was eager to take a look at this kit.
The history of the Panzer I is very well known. It was the first German tank to go into series production in the interwar period. In many ways it was a typical interwar tankette. Many armies, including the Soviets, Italians, US, British and French, were building very light AFVs with machine gun-only armament. The Panzer I was better than a lot of them, being of mostly-welded construction, having a radio, and having its MGs in a turret. WW2 combat would of course show that tankettes had very limited combat value and were extremely vulnerable, so this class of vehicle disappeared from the battlefield fairly early in the war. However, even as late as June 1941, the Germans still had nearly 200 Panzer Is assigned to front line units.
The important bit to know with regard to this kit is the difference between an Ausf A and an Ausf B. The Ausf A was the first production model and featured a 44Kw engine, insufficient to give the tank the desired mobility. The Ausf B had an improved 74Kw engine and new transmission. Externally, the two versions are nearly identical, but the Ausf B was longer, had an additional road wheel on each side, and had a different engine deck. The Panzer I was already out of production before the war began, but both types saw combat in the early "blitzkreig-era" campaigns. Panzer Is were also used in the Spanish Civil War and in the Chinese army.
The Panzer I has been kitted before. Italeri made a popular Ausf B kit many decades ago. This kit is still easily available and, for the 1970s, it wasn't a bad kit. With aftermarket add-ons it can still produce a good model. More recently, Tristar made an excellent Ausf A kit, now available from Hobby Boss. Dragon has done a series of Ausf A and B kits.
Takom's kits are all new and, as far as I know, this is the first time that modelers are offered both versions in one box. I am not a Panzer I expert by any means, and I did not measure this kit since I had no good drawings. I think it's fair to say (from the box, not the build) that Takom is trying for the "middle ground" here. The kit is vastly better detailed than the old Italeri kits; the intervening decades show. The detail is quite good, but the kits also look easier to assemble than the more intricate Dragon or Tristar kits.
The kit is very nicely packaged indeed, with a stout box and separately-bagged sprues. Many of the bags are ziplock, although not all of them.
The sprues for common parts such as turrets, tracks and wheels are simply duplicated here. Unique elements such as the hulls and some suspension components have their own sprues. The instructions are interesting because they assume both tanks will be built at the same time.
Here are the hulls and other basics.
The smaller Ausf A hull is on the left here, and the longer Ausf B on the right. Detail is crisp.
Turret parts are identical, as you'd expect.
Lower hull tubs. Again the molded-on detail is very sharp.
The sprues with fenders and suspension units differ between versions. The correct sprues are obvious of course.
Molding is quite good. Tools, for example, are delicate and have the clips nicely molded. The hollow part of the clip (below) can easily be cleaned up.
Track detail is excellent.
The tracks are length-and-link, and look to be a decent compromise between detail and buildability. We'll see as we build them.
The photoetch includes screens and detail bits for the road wheels. There are also two thin tow cables.
Markings are provided for a nice selection of early-war vehicles from various theaters.
One small flaw I noted was the knockout pin marks on the insides of the crew hatches.
One of the shared wheel and track sprues.
Hull details and more tools.
The instructions are in booklet form and are very nicely drawn indeed. However, they are a bit on the small side.
There are many color profiles, one for each scheme in the decal sheet. Very nicely done, with paint color suggestions.
.....and it all fits back in the box!
This looks like a fun set of builds. Stay tuned for the full build when we will ask the question, "is Takom the new Tamiya?".
Highly Recommended, pending full build, for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Dan Egan
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