Academy- German Panzer II Ausf. F 'North Africa' First Look
An important stop-gap for the Germans early in the war until the arrival of the Panzer IIIs and IVs, the Panzer II was a tank that saw service in some capacity throughout the entirety of the war. It was the main light tank of the period and served in the scouting capacity later until the arrival of wheeled vehicles that did it better and faster. Originating prior to the war in 1934, it was an enlarged Panzer I with a Rheinmetall KwK30 L55 20 mm (0.79 in) quick firing gun in the turret with provision for 180 rounds. Driven by the gasoline powered 6-cylinder Maybach HL62 TRM, it was crewed by three- the driver sitting in the front, the loader/radio operator on the floor under the turret, and the commander who doubled as the main gunner sitting in a turret seat. The aforementioned radio proved to be an advantage over previous models and enemy armor formations. Built with thicker 30mm armor in the hull and turret front, production of the Ausf. F began in 1941 and completed at the end of July in 1942, with a total of 1,004 created. Used mainly in the Eastern Front, some were sent as replacements to 2nd Battalion, 5th Panzer Regiment, 21st Division (II.Abt/Pz.Rgt.5) in Libya, after cooling modifications to the air intake and exhaust holes and changes to the radiator fan.
This is a newly tooled kit from Academy, and although it was released back in June, we just received it from MRC due to shipping delays on the west coast. It was well worth the wait though as the kit looks to be a real treat. They've revamped their instructions as well, colorizing the new parts and glue spots in the steps like I have seen on some other new kits. The booklet as a whole struck me as very well done- enough that I am leading with them, with the color schemes to come later.
The kit comes with five tan sprues, a decal sheet for the six kit schemes, a fret of PE, some string and a fret of poly caps. Sprue A contains parts for the top hull and hull armor plates:
Close-up of tread plate
Sprue B contains parts for the lower hull tub and sides:
Sprue C (x2) contains parts for the suspension, road wheels, sprocket, rear idler, return rollers, jerry cans, and the link and length track pieces among other bits:
No sink marks that I can spot in the underside of these tracks
Sprue D contains parts for the turret, antenna, tools, and armament. The main gun barrel is slide-molded so the barrel is hollow:
The PE includes parts for a jerry can rack and a muffler screen:
The decals include six scheme choices- three 1941 Libya schemes, a captured US sample from Africa in 1943, one from Heliopolis Egypt in 1942, and a Tunisian scheme from 1943:
Overall impressions of the kit have me really excited to start in-- this really looks to be of very high quality and I am crossing my fingers that the fit is as good as the kit looks. Loads of schemes to choose from- although the captured version has me intrigued. And it doesn't hurt that these center on North African versions as that is a favorite genre for me. Look for the full build review soon- I am inspired to get right into it.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders, pending full build.
Thanks goes out to MRC for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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