Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:47 pm Post subject: DML #6572 PzKpfw II Ausf B Smart Kit
The Pzkpw. II was part of the German army’s efforts pre-war to develop an effective panzer force and production capability, and underwent several modifications before the final production model was settled on with the Ausf. c (lower case) design. Over 1,100 of the Ausf c-A-B-C variants were produced by 1940 with only minor variations between the different designations taking place during the production run. Thinly-armored (a maximum of 14.5mm), its combat experience in the Polish campaigns soon showed this was far from adequate, and an up-armoring program was initiated to beef up the protection, particularly on the hull and turret fronts. This latest release by DML (Dragon) kit #6572 aims to replicate an Ausf. B in the pre-up-armoring configuration, and is a follow-on to their previous up-armored release of a Pzkpw. II Ausf. C as kit #6432.
The kit comes in the standard slip-top cardboard box with the multiples sprues packaged in sealed bags. The kit consists of over 600 parts and includes the following:
• 18 sprues molded in gray styrene
• 2 sprues molded in clear styrene
• 1 fret of photo-etched brass
• 1 pre-formed brass shovel bracket
• 3 pre-bent metal wires
• 1 separate lower hull tub
• 1 separate turret top
• 2 bags each of 108 handed track links
• 1 decal sheet
• 1 instruction booklet
This kit represents the third Pzkpfw II release by DML and builds on kit #6432 Pzkpfw II Ausf C mit Zusatzpanzer. The vast majority of the sprues from that kit make a re-appearance in this release, with additional sprues and parts added to provide features specific to an original configuration Ausf. B before the up-armoring program was initiated. New to this kit is the inclusion of an anti-aircraft MG34 mount for the right hull side, parts to represent accurately the original curved bow plate and access hatches for the hull front, and the flat split-hatch configuration for the turret roof. Also included are the correct Ausf. B versions of the vision ports for the hull and turret.
As with kit #6432, the correct drive sprockets are provided for the early Ausf. B, but still contain the error in terms of the number of teeth in the design, with the kit part having 25 teeth vs. the actual vehicle’s 26 teeth. This in turn influences the Magic track link pitch design, meaning that if the sprockets are replaced with AM parts featuring the correct 26 teeth, the kit links will be unusable, so you’re somewhat stuck with this error as a result (unless you also replace the tracks). The correct idlers and suspension springs are provided, and the lower hull is beautifully-detailed. The idler is not able to be tensioned, so bear that in mind when fitting the tracks in terms of desired sag.
The kit includes a PE shield for the muffler, but doesn’t provide the option for cutouts or parts to fit a smoke candle rack, a feature commonly seen on Pz IIs post-1940. The kit includes a nearly complete interior for the fighting compartment, but is missing the driver’s instrument panel. The MG ammunition area has been redesigned from the previous kits, and includes PE racks to hold the ammunition for added detail. The kit also includes radio equipment and PE parts for their mounts, along with 2.0cm ammunition clips and PE holders. But in a glaring error, the instructions don’t include any steps or diagrams on how exactly to install these parts. The only guide available is the CAD drawing on the bottom of the kit box, so you’ll have to hunt for the parts on the sprues and PE fret yourself to figure this one out if you want to include those details.
As part of the interior, all of the hull and turret vision ports have multi-part assemblies to produce excellent detail for these features, but the ports can only be posed in the closed position. The multi-part assemblies also feature clear styrene parts for non-clear/glass portions so the builder will need to think through how best to paint/detail these areas based on their preference. The interior does not include any details or parts for the engine bay so the builder is on their own to pursue the AM front if you wish to add to this area or show the engine hatches open. The radio operator’s rear hull hatch is designed to be posed only in the closed position, limiting the ability to show off detail in this area as well.
The upper hull and fenders are integrated as a one piece assembly with the fenders featuring excellent tread plate detail on the top side. Some of the fender tools and equipment are provided with molded-on clamps, and some without— those without require the use of 3-part PE clamps to get an accurate look. There are plenty of clamps provided on the PE fret, so it’s possible to replace the molded-on clamps with PE ones to achieve a consistent look without problems, but the mount holes in the fenders will need to be filled with putty first. The provided 3 pre-bent lengths of wire are designed to add the unique welded-on barrier/screen to the side hull air intake for the engine compartment, and offer better detail than could be achieved with styrene parts alone. The tracks are the now-familiar Magic individual handed links, and are molded in different shades of gray to distinguish one side from the other, with the darker gray representing the left-hand and the lighter gray the right-hand links.
The turret interior features a fully-detailed breech for the KwK 30 2.0cm main armament, including its mount into the turret and optical and open sights for the commander. The open sight flaps in the mantlet can also be posed in the open position if you do this carefully, even though the instructions don’t indicate that as an option. The barrel has a hollow muzzle and is integrated with the breech, however the flash suppressor only has molded impressions vs. actual holes as on the real thing. This could be enhanced with careful drilling-out and/or replaced with an AM barrel without losing the breech detail in the process if desired. The coaxial MG34 is also highly-detailed, and is drawn from the DML generic weapons sprue WC included in many kits and not designed specifically for the Pz II. As such, there isn’t any provision for installing an ammunition drum to show it fully loaded once mounted. The commander’s split hatches can be posed either opened or closed, and have excellent detail on both inner and outer surfaces, providing the easiest way to show off all the turret detail.
The instructions consist of 21 exploded diagram-style assembly steps with sub-assembly call-out boxes as needed. There are a significant number of parts marked as not-for-use, and care will be needed when going through the instructions to be sure you’re using the right parts, as some of the steps do have inconsistent parts numbering from one step to the next, so watch out for this.
Decals & Painting
Rounding things out in the decal department, a sheet is provided by Cartograf, and the marking options include the following 7 options all in monotone panzer gray scheme:
• 5/ PzRgt 35, 4. PzDiv, Eastern Front 1941
• PzRgt 15, 11. PzDiv, South Russia 1941
• PzRgt 18, 18. Pz Div, Central Russia 1941
• PzRgt 3, 2. Pz Div, Greece 1941
• I/PzRgt 24, 24. PzDiv, South Russia 1942
• PzAbt 101 (Flamm), Central Russia 1941
• 1/PzAbt zBV40, Denmark 1940
The choice of marking options is somewhat surprising to me, given the fact that this kit is a pre-up-armored Ausf. B in design and configuration, so I expected the kit to have at least one or two Polish or French campaign options compatible with the original armor configuration, but those are not offered. Given that the up-armoring program was conducted in 1940 based on combat experience from Poland in 1939, it would follow that vehicles serving in 1941/42 would’ve received the add-on armor prior to those campaigns taking place, however some may have slipped through the cracks here and there. It is strongly advised that builders check their references before committing to a specific marking scheme for accuracy’s sake.
It’s also worth noting that the box-art features a vehicle outfitted with the side fender storage bin, with these parts included on sprue A (see the final photo at right). They are parts from the Ausf. F kit, but aren’t marked as “not for use,” so if you want to replicate that specific vehicle configuration (giving up the AA MG mount in the process), you can, but have to do some detective work on your own to achieve it, since the instructions don’t call this out as an option.
The amount of detail provided in this kit is quite impressive, especially for a vehicle of this size. There are clearly features added to distinguish this kit from the Tamiya offerings of the Pz II Ausf. C such as the AA MG34 mount, and of course the fighting compartment interior itself, which is totally lacking from the Tamiya kit. As often happens with kits that have evolved from previous releases, the DML instructions have some errors (minor) and are missing steps entirely, such as that needed for the radio gear and ammunition for the hull (glaring). They can make the build experience a little more challenging than it ought to be. The marking options are an interesting selection, and not the ones I would’ve thought would be included, and therefore may dampen the appeal to some modelers as a result, and/or force them to go the AM route for more accurate markings. With these points aside, the kit is a very highly-detailed kit that accurately represents an early Pz II Ausf. B in all respects and is recommended for those looking to add an early-war Pz II to their collection.