by: Todd Michalak [ ]
First To Fight is a new company on the modelling scene and is offering up a series of models to commemorate the rapidly approaching 75th anniversary of the beginning of WWII, whereas in September of 1939 the country of Poland was first to feel the sting of the advancing German Army. The story of the Polish people and their plight against Hitlerís forces is often a forgotten one in history eclipsed by stories of the Blitzkrieg, the bombardment of Britain and the horror set forth by the Nazi machine.
First To Fight pays tribute to Poland and her fight in in the late days of 1939 with their Wrzesień 1939 (September 1939) Series of models. The TKS 20mm (Polish Tank Destroyer) is the first in a lengthening line of models on this subject.
The TK, first known as the TK3 began production in 1931 and although there were 575 of these little tankettes produced, there were only 24 of the TKS version by the outbreak of WWII. The TKS came equipped with a thicker 10mm armor protection and the Nkm wz.38 FK 20mm gun.
The TK3ís and TKS tankettes were the only option of defense against the onslaught of the German Army; as a result there were heavy losses due to the undersized and underequipped tankettes meeting head to head with heavier battle tanks in the invasion.
The TKS 20mm (Polish Tank Destroyer) from First To Fight, model number 001 is a 1/72 mold injected plastic model kit. The kit comes in a small vibrantly designed box with w depiction of this tankette in action on the front and construction details and color chart on the back. Inside the box you will find one dark green styrene sprue containing all the parts to construct one TKS tankette. This kit also comes with a small container of adhesive for assembling the model and a booklet outlining the TKS and its operational history. The booklet is printed solely printed in Polish with a few black and white photos of the tankette and a color scheme layout in the center of the booklet.
There are only 12 parts to this tankette kit; however, all of the parts are molded crisply with plenty of detail throughout. The lower hull and casemate make up the bulk of this model. Fine panel lines and accompanying rivets add plenty of detail to the overall surface. The two supplied track assemblies are pre-molded with the drive sprockets, idler, return rollers and road wheels all together. These two pieces have some very nice detail added to them from the bolt pattern on the drive sprockets to the bogie suspension.
There is one track bar and one shovel included with this set. These are to be attached to the front vertical face of the casemate. The 20mm main gun armament has three pieces to the construction; a two-piece mantlet and a scaled 38 FK 20mm gun. There is a spare road wheel/bracket assembly, radio antenna and finally the muffler all included on the sprue tree.
These small war gaming type braille kits are designed for quick and easy construction. Most of the parts are fairly indicative of what you would see on most 1/72nd scale models whereas the larger parts are easy to remove but many of the smaller parts can be problematic depending on the methods used and of course your patience in removing them. The one issue I found with this kit at this point was the gate attachments for the track assemblies. There are ten attachment points that need to be separated and cleaned up. This would not be a problem but due to the tiny delicate nature of the tracks, some care and patience will certainly be needed when getting to this part of the construction.
Other than the slower clean-up of the tracks on this kit, the entire model falls together basically in about under an hour. All that is left to do is to paint up the little TKS. The color chart on the back of the box, and on the inside of the accompanying booklet, show a three tone camouflage scheme. Whether you paint by hand or with an airbrush this can be done rather easily. The listing of color paints on the box reference only Vallejo paint but with a quick search for a paint conversion chart, any of distributed paint should suffice.
I chose to use an airbrush to paint this one. Once the base coat was applied, I simply used poster tack to mask out the base color sections in preparation for the first of the three colors. Since I used Model Air paints from Vallejo, they paint dried quickly and I was able to apply the second mask to cover the second color of the camouflage allowing the third color to be applied right away.
Once things dried sufficiently and a clear coat applied, I was able to sponge on some of the base color followed by some German camouflage Black Brown from Vallejo to make for some chipping effects. This was all followed with another quick clear coat and finally several light washes were applied to make things pop.
I really like what First To Fight has brought to the table. The subject matter is refreshing as much of the invasion Poland and the Polish peoples fight for independence goes overlooked. The kit is very well made and with the exception of the cleaning of all the gate attachment points on the tracks this was a pleasure to build. The booklet supplied with this kit showing the history behind this tankette should probably be printed in more than one language if judged from the recent demand for kits from outside Poland, it more than warrants it.
I feel there might be room for the inclusion of a figure or two with this kit as due to the overall size of this kit, would certainly spruce things up as well as give a sense of scale to the piece. I feel the £7.99 (#13.17) is fair as you do get a decently made model and the booklet on the operational history, even if itís printed only in Polish.