Takom Panzer 1 ausf A and Panzer I ausf B 1+1
In our 'First Look' review, we noted that Takom puts two full tanks in this kit. I decided to do something crazy on this review and try build the kit exactly how the instructions say. I am one of those guys who rarely follows the instructions.
Recall from the 'First Look' review that the instructions have the modeler building both tanks at once. That is, you prep both hulls, build both suspensions, etc. I don't think I would have approached it that way by choice but, let's dive in and see what happens.
No surprise that construction begins with the lower hull. Well, two of them. We start with adding a few basic bits to the two lower hulls before moving to the suspension.
Assembly sequence here is a bit odd. The instructions have the modeler working on the left side of the Ausf A hull, then the left side of the Ausf B hull, in one step. Ignoring the right side that will need the same (or mirrored) parts, we move on to the wheels. I admit I could not resist working on the right sides of both hulls anyway. So my intent to follow the instructions was compromised pretty fast.
Fit of parts here was generally quite good, but alignment needs some care. The return rollers, for example, fit their axles pretty snugly, but it is easy to install them crooked, or knock them around a bit as you are adding other parts. I found part A6 to be much more delicate than it looks; there are four of them for the two kits, and care must be taken to get it off the sprue without breaking it.
The single coil spring on each side of the lower hull has a molding seam that is difficult to fully clean up. It's not all that visible, but, purists may want to replace these springs with coiled wire. Here are the two hulls (ausf A in front) showing this initial step. I also skipped ahead and added the final drive cover at this stage. The final drive covers took a bit of persuasion to get fitted correctly. Some extra time spent here is probably worth it down the road. I dry fitted the upper hulls here just to be sure I had it right. I think these bow pieces should have been included in step one, because it took some wrestling and that's when smaller parts can be damaged. It also adds strength to the hull pan.
Bogie Trucks and Wheels
The road wheels and the Ausf A idlers have a large, flat piece of PE added to them before construction. Then it's on to assembling the two-wheel bogie trucks, which was very straightforward work. Again though, Takom has the builder working on one side of BOTH hulls, then switching over to the other side of both hulls. It makes for a less-efficient workflow, in my opinion.
Here are the Ausf A suspension components built and ready for installation. It is easy to mix them up; the trucks are different from the ausf A to the B. But it is almost impossible to install them wrong. Attachment points prevent the modeler from putting the trucks in the wrong positions. So, nice design there.
Here are the Ausf B suspension components. Piece of cake so far.
Basic suspension components installed on the Ausf A. Note the trailing idler.
Here is the Ausf B at the same construction stage. I saw from these photos that I had a bit of minor cleanup to do on the wheels! They look worse than they are.....there's a bit of white-glue crud on the rims from the PE installation the night before. The joys of model photography, always showing us our mistakes after we show off the photos!
The Ausf B idlers are just slightly too far outboard from the hull, bending the track visibly. The idler mount needs to be cut down slightly to fix that.
Tracks are length-and-link, and are very well detailed. My only small gripe here is that there is no sag molded in, so the top runs will be straight and tight. The fit is extremely good; the pieces fit each other and the wheels exceptionally well. The only issue I had was that the track on the Ausf B was one link too long. I cut one link off and all was well. It is possible that if the idler were positioned slightly differently, the length would be OK. Length on the Ausf A was perfect, which again leads me back to the idler on the Ausf B as the problem here. Hopefully no one will notice that the tracks on my ausf A are backwards!
The fenders are very nicely done. There are some very large knockout pin remnants on the bottom side that really need cleanup, or they will be visible on the completed model. Fit is excellent. The photo below shows the completed suspension and the fenders & upper hull just dry fitted. It fit like a glove.
Dry-fitting both fenders and upper hulls.....then a coat of dirt-colored paint and glue the fenders & upper hulls on!
I had some worries about the fit of the upper to the lower hulls. This is because, as noted above, the final drive housing (the same part for both hulls) took some work to fit correctly. I was pleasantly surprised that the upper hulls fit perfectly.
However.....the driver's plate on the hull front is just slightly too wide and just a hair too short. If it is sanded down to make it narrower and fitted very carefully it will work. Below, I just set it in place to show the problem. This is an issue on both tanks.
On the ausf B kit, part E4 is an issue. It is a slatted piece that goes into the the 'step' in the hull behind the turret, between the engine deck and the upper plate on which the turret sits. The combination of the delicacy of the part and the numerous knockout tabs made it impossible to clean up for installation. I built my own substitute for this part using styrene rod and small slats.
On the Ausf B muffler, part E14 is wrongly identified on the instructions as F14.
Part TPc2, which is a small PE plate that goes with the radio antenna mount, is required on both kits, so two of these should be on the PE sheet. I only got one of these in my kit.
But I Digress.....
I should fess up here......although I really tried to follow Takom's suggested construction sequence, I just couldn't. The instructions aren't wrong - if you follow them precisely, it probably won't cause any problems. But I found them inefficient. It didn't make sense to me to clean up a few road wheels, assemble a couple bogie trucks, and then move on to something else when I knew more wheels and bogies awaited. It's also hard to switch from one tank to the other on every step without getting parts mixed up. Finally, Takom has the modeler adding a lot of small, delicate parts onto subassemblies before bringing those large assemblies together, which is just an invitation to break something.
So, my photos here are a digression from the instructions. But they're a more logical route IMO. Here, for example, is the Ausf A coming along, with all the major components attached but only a few of the fiddly bits done. That headlight on the bow, for example, is really delicate.
The turrets are almost identical on both tanks. The ausf B turret has lifting hooks on the roof that are not present on the ausf A turret; the ausf A has the hooks on the sides. Turret assembly was quick and flawless. The vision ports can be installed in open or closed positions. The hatches, if you recall the first look review, have big knockout pin marks that would need to be fixed if you want to show the hatches open. Fit of turret components was perfect. You could skip the glue on a lot of them (I didn't, just sayin....).
The tools are very delicately molded. The clips that hold them in place had very shallow moldings, making it easy to drill them out (see the "first look" closeup photo). Care is needed to detach them from the sprue and clean them up without breaking them. The numerous lifting hooks are tiny parts, ideal fuel for tweezer launching. The headlights were also extremely delicate. These fiddly bits are very fiddly.
Ready for the Paint Shop
Here are the two puppy-size panzers, ready for paint. My normal build routine includes painting the lower hull in a dirt color before attaching the upper hull, so, these have had that initial paint coat. I also left off the PE screens around the mufflers for now, and will attach that after the base coat. I left the front section of the fenders off on the ausf A, just to make it a bit different from the ausf B.
The antennas are from the kit. They are a little thick, but, could be thinned down with ease.
Sadly, I lost one of the tow hooks on the ausf B to the floor fairy, so I left the other off too. Grrr.....
I gave both tanks a quick cleaning in alcohol before painting.
Takom does a great job on the painting instructions, showing multiple views of the schemes. Most of the options are pretty colorful, with brown-and-grey camouflage and black, white and yellow markings. I painted the brown first, then used AMMO putty to mask it before spraying the grey. The brown is a mix of Tamiya Red Brown and Flesh. The Grey is a mix of various greys. This scheme is probably lighter than the actual colors, but I just didn't want to go as dark as they really should be.
I put down two layers of Tamiya clear gloss before decaling. The decal sheet is extensive, with enough leftovers to mark two or three other vehicles. Decals went on fine, although I had some problems with film showing even with two gloss coats. I blame myself for that, not Takom. I also got one of the crosses crooked; again, that was cockpit error, not the kit's fault.
After decals were done I did a light pin wash of brown-black. Then I painted some selected details in a lighter version of the two base colors, added some dirt-colored paint and they were done.
So....is Takom the new Tamiya?
This question was, frankly, prompted by the 'positioning' of this and other Takom kits. They tend to be very good kits, but they don't go right up to the bleeding edge of what is possible in a plastic model kit. They back off in favor of buildability. The Takom Panzer Is have fewer parts and simpler construction than, say, the Dragon or Tristar kits. But the level of detail is quite good anyway. For example, the tracks are not workable....but they're really good. The tools do not have PE clamps...but the plastic ones are quite good anyway. In most places, though, assembly is remarkably similar to the Dragon kit.
However, a few problems along the way (idlers on the ausf B; driver's plate) means the answer is 'no'; although these Takom kits really remind me of current Tamiya kits in terms of market positioning, a few of the design choices left me thinking they haven't quite gotten to Tamiya's level with their emphasis on buildability. So......no, I can't say Takom is the new Tamiya. Let's say halfway between Tamiya and Dragon or so.
I really enjoyed this build. And for $52 you get two pretty nice kits.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Dan Egan
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