Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:44 pm Post subject: Tamiya #35299 Pzkpfw II Ausf C Polish Campaign
At the outbreak of World War 2, the Sd.kfz 121 Panzerkampfwagen was in service in large numbers alongside the Pzkpfw I. Lightly armed with the KwK 30 2.0cm cannon and a single MG34 as well as lightly armored with a maximum frontal armor of 15mm, the Ausf A/B/C were the first production models and saw widespread service in the Panzer Divisions during the invasion of Poland. Many of the lessons learned from the encounters with Polish forces would lead to upgrades on the frontal armor and modifications in the overall design that would lead to the later variants more commonly seen in France in 1940 and in N. Africa and the Eastern Front in 1941. Following on their earlier release of kit #3529 Pzkpfw II Ausf A/B/C (French Campaign), Tamiya has also released kit #3299 Pzkpfw II Ausf C (Polish Campaign). As the name suggests, this kit is an earlier version of the Pzkpfw II C as seen in service in 1939 and is the subject of this review.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with each sprue individually packaged in its own clear bag that is closed with a pair of staples. The small photo etched fret and decals were packaged separately in a small plastic bag and glued to inside of the box top to avoid any damage to their contents. The kit consists of over 220 parts arranged in the following:
• 5 sprues of dark gray styrene
• 1 dark gray styrene hull tub
• 2 sprues of green styrene for the figures and gear
• 1 small PE fret of 5 parts
• 2 bags each with 10 vinyl poly caps
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
Overall the kit parts are well molded with only some fine flash present on some of the parts such as the front hull tow ropes. There are the usual fine mold seams and the occasional ejector marks that will require some attention but nothing that I would describe as being out of the ordinary for a modern release kit.
Suspension and Tracks:
The kit suspension is well detailed with good definition on the suspension springs as well as the molded on detail on the hull. The sprockets are accurate with the correct number of 26 teeth present and detail on both the inner and outer surfaces with some faint ejector marks visible on the inner side that will have to be dealt with. The road wheels are designed with separate inserts for the back that trap a poly cap inside while the outer rubber faces and rims have good definition but do not have any raised “Continental” type lettering. The same is true of the return rollers which are one piece and designed to mount directly to the molded on posts on the lower hull.
The sprockets and idlers are both designed to mount using poly caps as well and the idler mount is fixed in position. This kit corrects the error on the idler in the French Campaign kit by providing a correct 18mm diameter idler vs. the previous 17mm diameter and also has the two small holes near the hub cap commonly seen on early Pz IIs. The tracks provided are of the link-and-length variety and have good detail on both the inner and outer surfaces of the links, although not quite as good as what can be achieved with individual links, it does come very close. There are small ejector marks on the inner surfaces of the long runs but these will be largely hidden once mounted and shouldn’t present too great of a challenge. Curved lengths are provided to fit around the sprocket and idler with specific parts labeled for the front and back to insure proper alignment with five individual links provided for each side to insure everything connects up as intended.
Upper Hull and Fenders:
The upper hull is provided as a mostly single molded piece as the foundation for additional panels to be added for the front, sides, and rear areas. The panels have excellent weld detail molded into their top edges and careful installation should produce a well detailed result. There are separate hatches provided for the radio operator and the engine compartment while the two-part engine access hatch is molded as a single piece. No interior details are provided for the hull fighting compartment or engine compartments.
The fenders are molded with a diamond-style tread plate pattern on the upper surfaces with the correct sections on the rear right side smooth and free of the tread plate. The fenders have some holes already molded open while several others need to be opened up from below with a pin vise. These are clearly called out in the instructions when required but not all of the holes present need to be opened, so care is required. The front fenders are molded integral to the upper hull while the rear fenders call for additional extensions and separate mud flaps with a beveled rear edge to give them a better scale appearance. All of the fender tools come with molded on clamps without the handles and the jack has two simple styrene brackets for its mount. The jack block is molded with fine wood grain detail on the upper surfaces but not on the sides. The wooden antenna trough also has finely molded wood grain detail while the hull antenna mount is provided for but no actual antenna is included. The fender mounted headlamps are provided with separate blackout covers that have a fine cloth texture molded in.
The distinctive curved hull front is addressed in this kit by swapping out the small G sprue from the French Campaign for a replacement Sprue F. This sprue contains the curved bow plate as well as the specific upper hull hatch plate required and the characteristic small access hatch, tow cable, and brackets as a single piece. This piece suffers a little bit in the detail, particularly on the tow cable ends which are molded together and somewhat squashed together, causing them to look almost two-dimensional as a result instead of two separate ends hooked one on top of the other. The rear hull plate has the correct early style brake light arrangement and the two-part muffler has a separate, hollowed out, exhaust pipe. The PE fret is the identical fret provided in the French Campaign kit but this time around the screen that is needed is the one without the cut-outs. The fret is etched steel instead of brass so may need some extra annealing in order to shape it into the proper curve.
The turret consists of an upper and lower half and the upper half has excellent weld detail molded in on all the angled surfaces where the armored plates would meet on the actual vehicle. The commander’s split hatch is well represented with detail on both the inner and outer surfaces with separate square head pads provided for easier painting and detailing. A commander figure with a separate head and arms is provided in a standing pose with his arms outstretched and braced on the open hatches. The turret interior is basic, consisting of the commander’s chair and mount to serve as a stand for the figure and basic details on the breeches of the KwK 30 and MG34 along with a sighting scope and eye piece.
The assembly of the main armament is straightforward with the MG34 and KwK 30 both as one piece elements that install into the mantlet. The MG34 has nice molded detail for the cooling holes and a hollow muzzle while the KwK 30 has a hollow muzzle but the vent holes in the muzzle and at the neck are molded solid. The barrel also measures out slightly too long by 1mm. The mantle is designed to install using poly caps to allow it remain movable so that the guns can be posed at the desired angle.
In addition to the vehicle commander figure, this set also includes parts for 3 additional infantry to accompany the vehicle in a diorama setting. One figure is posed crouching with binoculars while the other two are armed with Kar98 rifles, one in a half crouched pose and the other standing but slightly stooped over. The figures have separate torsos, arms, legs, and heads and are on a sprue marked © 2009 while their accompanying gear is provided on a separate sprue marked © 1994, indicating the different ages of the respective sprues.
Instructions and Finishing Guide:
The kit instructions follow the standard Tamiya mode of black and white exploded diagrams and accompanying text identifying various parts for added detail. 14 steps deal with the assembly of the vehicle while 1 step is reserved for the commander figure and 1 step for the 3 infantry figures for a grand total of 16 steps. Tamiya paint color call-outs are provided for the figures and for some parts throughout the assembly instructions. The finishing guide suggests only a plain panzer gray scheme vs. the ordered 2/3 Dunkelgrau and 1/3 Dunkelbraun scheme and provides markings for 2 vehicles with the 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzer Division and for 1 vehicle with the 33rd Panzer Battalion, 4th Light Division. All vehicles are of course from the Polish Campaign, 1939.
The kit delivers what it promises, a Pzkpfw II C for the Polish campaign. The quality of the molding is very good and the level of detail on many of the small parts is equally impressive. The idler error from the French Campaign kit has been addressed while the barrel length was not, leaving the possibility for an AM barrel open for those who want the correct length. While I’m not a fan of the link-and-length approach for kit tracks, the fact that the sprocket has the correct 26 teeth means that my preferred method of track replacement, Model Kasten, won’t be possible because the existing sets are designed for inaccurate sprockets with only 25 teeth ironically enough, so I will be giving the link-and-length a whirl after all. Recommended for the early war panzer enthusiast.
A Build Log is available to evaluate parts fit and assembly.