Like the perhaps better known and more numerous Panzer 38(T), the Panzer 35(t) was enrolled into the German Army when the Third Reich expanded into the Czechoslovakian territories of Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939. The Germans seized around 240 35(t)s, which were soon put into action against Poland, and later France and Russia. Armed with a 3.7cm KwK 34(t) gun and two 7.92mm machine guns, and with armor protection of 8-35mm, these vehicles were rendered obsolete by the second half of 1942 and subsequently scrapped or sold off.
20 of these vehicles were converted into command vehicles, Panzerbefehlswagens, which meant they were fitted with extra radio equipment and a frame antenna on the engine deck.
The kit comes in the familiar Bronco Models sized box, with nice box top art by an unidentified artist. The side of the box advertises the special features of the kit. The sprues come in a clear sealed plastic bag, and include the following:
- 7 sprues molded in sand colored styrene
- 1 sprue molded in clear styrene
- 1 separate upper hull
- 1 slide molded gun barrel
- 1 separate engine deck
- 240 track links
- 2 frets of photo etched parts (1 large and 1 small)
- 1 decal sheet
- 1 instruction booklet (mostly black and white with some color).
There is also a small poster of the vehicle, the same picture as on the front cover.
Bronco Models has a reputation for over-engineering their kits, and if you normally build kits from Dragon or Tamiya, this kit will be a whole lot different. It does contain a lot of very small parts, both styrene and PE, and it will challenge your patience and skills. That said, it does not contain many parts that are not for use.
The build starts with the construction of the hull sides interior. Yes, this kit has a full interior, except for the engine compartment. Bronco has put a lot of effort into the interior, and itís literally packed with nice and crisp details. This kit actually looks busier on the inside than the outside. Especially all those rivets, giving this vehicle that real early war AFV look. If someone would like to really go nuts on detailing the interior, I guess it could do with some wiring for all the electrical installations and radios.
The bottom plate of the hull and the firewall between the engine room and the crew compartment features just as much detail as the hull sides. Even tiny wing nuts are to be added to the escape hatch in the floor. Just imagine having been hit and a fire starts, you would have to loosen no less than six wing nuts to open that hatch. Doesnít sound very user friendly to me!
A major feature in this Panzerbefehlswagen interior is the extra radio equipment which was carried. It builds up in a frame, which contains both the radio and ammo boxes for the 7.92 mm machine guns. Even a small throat microphone is to be added but, again, some wiring would look nice here. Iíd suggest that you paint these sub-assemblies before theyíre glued together, since thereís a lot of small details which will be very hard to reach when fully assembled.
The only real down side to this great interior is that not a lot of it can be seen when the vehicle is finished, not even with the commanderís hatch open. Placed in a field workshop diorama, it would be perfect though.
This vehicle has eight road wheels, which are arranged in two bogies of four wheels each on both sides. These assemblies are quite complex, so do study the instructions very carefully before gluing anything. Do remember to add a small bolt on each hub of the road wheel. These are for oil inspection, and they are to be cut off the B sprue. A nice touch, which really adds to the realism of the build.
Both the road wheels, idler wheels and the drive sprockets can be made workable, but personally I find such a feature ridiculous; no modeler is going to play around with a kit, so I always glue mine.
Bronco has provided us with a set of cement-free tracks. These are supposedly to be clicked together, but I must say that I have tried this before with very mixed results. Again, itís a static model, so Iím going to be gluing mine, but they do look excellent, and it doesnít seem like thereís much clean up to do.
The upper hull starts with the construction of the fenders, which is a very straight forward build. Thereís not a whole lot of detail on the underside of these, but once fitted over the tracks, nothing can really be seen anyway. The upper hull of the crew compartment holds the standard AFV tools: shovel, pickaxe, jack and such like. All these are held in place by some beautiful PE, which might be a bit fiddly to construct. Hangover build is not recommended here! As in the lower hull, here too is a well-executed interior.
The engine deck is actually a bit plain; only the wire and the frame antenna occupies this area, but it does hold a heck of a lot of rivets.
The front armor plate houses the driverís and radio operatorís see-through hatches and the radio operatorís machine gun. As for the rest of the build, there is more detail on the inside than on the outside. Both hatches can be assembled open or closed. The Czech-made 7.92mm machine gun is excellently reproduced, both the gun and the mount, but as with so much of the brilliant interior, this will be very hard to spot once the vehicle is assembled.
This turret starts off with the gun assembly. Again Bronco has paid much attention to detail, with a very well slide-molded gun barrel with some fine detail on the muzzle brake. Also the inner part of the gun is great looking, and if no figure is placed in the commanderís cupola, this is really going to add to the realism of the build.
On the lower insides of the turret, you have to add 38 small rivet heads, which are to be removed from the B sprue. This can be a difficult task indeed, because these will have to be placed with an exact spacing or else will look wrong. And knowing how tricky these little suckers are to remove, I guess the carpet monster will be well fed.
The commanderís cupola looks very nice, too, especially the hatch, which features some nice texture on the protective padding on the inside. Like the hull parts, I can really recommend that the inside of the turret parts are painted before they are assembled.
For the final touch, the muffler, the antenna and the frame antenna is mounted. Please be very careful when removing the frame antenna from the sprue as this part is very delicate, and will easily break.
Bronco gives options for two vehicles, both in early war Panzer grey color schemes:
1. Panzer R07, Light Tank platoon of HQ II. Battalion, Pz. Regiment 11, Pz. Brigade 6, 1st Light Division. Poland, September, 1939
2. Panzer A03, Signal platoon of HQ Pz. Abteilung 65, 6th Panzer Division, France, May-June, 1940.
Bronco have provided an excellent model of the Panzerbefehlswagen 35(t) which can be made into a great model out of the box. The kit contains a high level of detail and is well engineered overall. Compared to other manufacturersí kits, this kit holds a great number of small parts in both styrene and PE, and can be challenging to construct, but these many parts do go into making the standard of the model very high. The interior really makes a difference, and I hope some of the other manufacturers will take up on providing this great feature as well as it really adds realism, and means you donít have to keep hatches closed or place figures in them in order to obscure the emptiness inside. Another bonus is that if for some reason you donít want to build a Befehlswagen, then just leave out the extra radio equipment and leave off the frame antenna, and youíll have an ordinary Panzer 35(t). So this is actually a 2-in-1 kit! Well done Bronco Models.