by: Andras [ ]
The history of the VK 18.01 was summarized in the previous review of Flyhawk Model VK 18.01 (Late). This new model depicts an early version of the same tank, so there will be some overlap between the two reviews.
The most notable differences between the Early and Late models are the location of the mudguards (the early version has the characteristic gap where the crew hatch is between the front and back guards in the middle of the tank), the presence or absence of towing cables, storage boxes and the different location of the mounted tools. Finally, the early version lacks the the gun protectors and extra track links.
The model has arrived in the usual Flyhawk Model packaging: a very sturdy cardboard box with a sleeve. The artwork is somewhat unimpressive: a good quality painting of the tank -from behind. None of the usual dramatic, rolling over the enemy trenches with burned-out enemy tanks in the background artwork for this model.
All of the parts are embedded into shape-cut foam for safety. The PE fret and the decals are attached to a thin cardboard sheet with the usual cobblestone print on the back.
The quality of the parts, as usual, is excellent. The molding is crisp, with no flash showing; the details are very sharp and very fine.
.The model measures up well against the published dimensions, and quite accurate in scale.
The PE sheet is quite extensive for a 1/72nd scale tank. They have provided PE periscope covers, cable holders, etc. which can be used instead of the plastic parts. This approach provides a certain “scalability” for the difficulty level of the model, although some PE is essential for the build (the engine cover screens, for example). We also get a pair of metal gun barrels... more exactly: the ends of the double MG-34s that are hanging out of the protecting sleeve. Talk about tiny metal parts; attaching them requires fine tweezers and very steady hands. You will have to cut the plastic guns off the gun sleeves, and carefully drill a hole in their place to mount the metal replacement.
The sprues are coded with letters, and are slightly different from the Late version of the tank; this indicates that Flyhawk Model did not simply repackaged most of the previous model, but actually spent time and resources on the design procedure. Sprues A, B, C, E, F, V contain the tools, equipment, towing hooks, and other small parts; sprues H, I contain parts for the hull, the turret, the suspension, and some parts of the running gear, sprue J contains the drive wheels, idlers, and road wheels, and the two sprues (P) contain the tracks. The hull is made out of two major parts, which are already separated from their sprues.
One thing that could be swapped for a metal part is the nylon thread that was supplied for towing cables.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow; where needed colored pictograms help the modeler. There are also explanatory drawings provided showing the completed overlapping road wheel assembly, and also the tracks.
The fit is excellent, and aside from the tiny PE parts, and the gun barrels, I did not encounter any challenges.
The first step starts with the hull: assembly of the two parts of the hull, the engine deck, exhaust system and the frontal armor. (In this case I opted to leave the molded-on periscope covers, as I wanted to compare the tank to the late version I've built, where I chose to use all the augmentations provided.) The second step details the rest of the hull assembly with the suspension.
The third step details the assembly of the running gear; a very nice colored diagram shows the finished overlapping wheel system. Flyhawk Model used a similar system to Dragon's road wheels for the 1/72nd scale range of Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack series: many of the road wheels are already attached to each other to make assembly easier. In order to make the weathering step a bit simpler, it might be better to leave this step and the subsequent track installation, after the painting is finished and the lower hull is weathered.
The fourth step details the track assembly. My suggestion is to leave the drive sprocket off and glue the individual track links to them. This is the most difficult part of the assembly, and it's easier to do while the sprockets are not attached to the tank. This way it is easier to install the tracks once the mudguards are in place.
Next step shows the attachment of the mudguards, and is followed by the placement of tools, headlights, and toolboxes on the mudguards. (These too should probably wait until the painting step is complete.) The last two steps show the assembly of the turret, and the final assembly of the tank.
Only two generic Panzer grey paint scheme is available: one with, one without a Balkenkreuz.