by: James Bella [ ]
IntroductionThree years prior to production, in utmost secrecy due to the Versailles treaty, the design of this small panzer hit the drawing table. Various prototypes were modified and tested, then in 1934 production began on the Pz.Kpfw.Ausf. A. Consisting of a two man crew, one serving as the driver and the other as commander, machine-gunner and radioman, the Pz.Kpfw first saw action in the Spanish Civil War and continued on into WWII. Tristar's offering gives us the choice of building either an early or late version and includes the fighting compartment, engine and transmission.
The kit contains 500 parts consisting of
14 sprues molded in tan
1 sprue in clear
1 PE fret
Instructions consist of two separate sections containing a brief history (same as the box top), sprue layout, paint chart and color/marking drawings, as well as 13 assembly steps. The individual steps are clear and concise, with part placement well marked. It's advisable, as always, to study these well before beginning construction. Decals provided, which are printed by Cartograf, allow for 4 early options (3 Company 2 Battalion Agrupacion de Carros, Pz-Abt.zBV40 Norway 1940, Polish Campaign and 5 Liechte Division, North Africa) and 2 late options (Polish Campaign and North Africa Campaign)
the partsThe hull comes as separate pieces, rather than the usual tub style. This allows for greater detail on both sides of the parts which is a welcome addition due to the included interior. Alignment of the belly pan and sides will most likely be a critical step, but the design of the rear plate, bulkhead and drive shafts should simplify the process and aid in alignment. The engine, transmission and fighting compartment are very well detailed and slide mold technology is evident in such parts as the beautifully molded engine block. The engine itself consists of over 20 parts and begs for the hatch to be left in the open position.
Suspension components are well defined and the road wheels have the grease nipples molded on. Molding seams are slight on the parts and should clean up easily. Two sets of road wheels are included, one with separate reinforcing rings and the other as one piece. The one piece wheels are called out in the instructions as not for use, though without assembling the multi piece wheels I can not detect a difference between the two.
Tracks are non- working indy links, marked left and right, with three sprue attachment points each. It looks like they will clean up easily and should assemble into nice looking tracks. The instructions call out for 87-88 links per side, and clearly show how they should be installed.
The superstructure has obvious welds which have been, surprisingly, omitted on the turret. Hatches can be modeled in the open or closed position, and the engine hatch can be closed, fully open, or partially open. The partially opened option reflects the practice to allow additional cooling for the Krupp air cooled engine. Vision ports have no open option, but the vision slits are, well, actually slits. The pioneer tools have molded on clamps, though the latch handles are photo etch. The exhausts are not hollowed out which should be done for a more realistic appearance. Also, for the same reason, the machine gun barrels should be drilled out.
Photo etch parts are provided, some of which are optional based on preference to produce a more detailed vehicle. The fender latches, for example, can be left as the molded on ones or using the PE ones which consist of 6 separate parts for each latch. The exhaust shields are also photo etch, as are various other details.
Tristar's offering of the Pz.Kpfw.1A appears to be a nicely detailed and well designed kit that should build into a fine model.