by: Jim Rae [ ]
My first encounter with the Panzer II, in 1/35th scale, was many years ago when I built several of the (old) Tamiya 'D.A.K'. Panzer IIs (complete with matching dwarves in shorts). Since then, I haven't built any. My interest in the Pz. II and Early-War armor hasn't entirely waned though, and to be honest I've been waiting for one of these for a while now.
So, the question is, is Bronco's new model the one I've been waiting for?
Bronco's panzer 2
The recent release by Bronco Model is CB-35061: German Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. D1 (Sd.Kfz.121), a 1/35th scale model of the Ausf D1 which saw service in the Poland Campaign of 1939 and was superceded by improved versions. The model itself comes on 9 sand-colored sprues with a small sheet of PE, a sprue of clear parts, a tiny decal sheet and an 11-page instruction booklet. Of the 9 sprues, 4 are for the vehicle itself and the remainder for the separate-link tracks.
As usual, I'll take a look at some of the salient points of the model and try and come to a 'judgment' according to my own perception of the kit.
The Instructions: As I've mentioned before in reviews of the company's releases, some of their earlier releases suffered from needlessly complex or confusing instructions. This has now been much-improved and the instructions are some of the best available. This is no exception. The 'Booklet' comes on very high-quality glossy paper and everything is clearly printed to permit identification of parts and positioning with no need to refer to a mass of archive pics or reference material.
The Moulding: Precisely what we usually see from Bronco. Clean, well-defined parts with the minimum of mould-lines and a complete absence of flash. Attachment points on the sprues are delicate and whilst many parts are tiny (and correspondingly delicate) only the usual care will be required in removing them from the runners.
Suspension: Each of the (four) wheel units consists of 4 parts with 7 more for each wheel. In the case of the wheels, two hubs are provided with the 'rubber' part provided separately to go over the wheels. This is quite a nice touch as it will create a more 3-D effect than single mouldings. The Drive Sprockets each consist of 4 parts, again avoiding the 'solid' look on many models.
Hull Deck: Gone are the days when we'd get a single moulding for the deck. The designer has chosen to mould Front, Center and Rear deck as separate parts with all the hatches as separate 2-piece mouldings. This will allow the super-detailer to add an engine and as much interior detail as required. The three-piece decking allows for a more realistic construction which follows the original construction faithfully.
The Side fenders: Normally, when an AM company does an update for a model, this is one of the first areas they consider. In this case, and bearing in mind the limitations of styrene, the fenders ARE good but for the 'purist' might be a little thick. As the outside edge has a lip on it, this shouldn't be too noticeable. Another useful detail are the separate attachment brackets (in PE) which permits something close to scale thickness on these parts. What would be impossible to reproduce is the non-slip plating on these fenders, in this, Bronco have showed a remarkable deftness of touch. All the required and 'official' items are present for attachment on the fenders. Very nicely-done is the 6-piece jack along with the tool boxes. Attachment of the tracks is shown AFTER the fenders are put in place, something I wouldn't personally recommend..
Tracks: With a subject like this, quite frankly, anything less than separate links would look horrible. The tracks on the Pz II were 'dead' in other words, they would have a degree of 'sagging'. This is only possible by using Fruils or the injection-moulded links provided in the kit. The moulding of the links is absolutely first-class and should go together with the absolute minimum of clean-up. Helpfully in the instructions they've listed the correct number (92 per side) so there will be no need for panicky-posts on the various Forums asking how many...
The Turret: The angled shape of the turret is convincingly done. Added to that, the four vision blocks around the turret are also well-captured each one consists of two (opaque) parts and one clear-plastic part with the external cover provided separately. This will allow the vehicle turret to be opened up a bit. The top hatches are a close a representation to the real thing as you would want also.
Inside the Turret: The principal armament was the 2cm Kw.K.30 L/55 with a co-axially-mounted MG34. The main gun is essentially a one-piece moulding with separate parts for the magazine and the spent-rounds container. It's a good representation of the original - complete with a hollow muzzle. The MG34 is also a good representation.
Scale: I scaled the model with my existing, 1/35th scale plans and I noticed NO discrepancies whatsoever.
Decals: Markings are provided for four vehicles - 3 from the Polish Campaign of September 1939 and the fourth, a Training Unit from a Pre-War exercise. Unfortunately the three Wartime vehicles have NO identified units with them although it wouldn't be too difficult to do some research and find suitable 'actual' vehicles.
The Ausf D1 is, it has to be said was a vehicle with limited applications. They were only used in Poland and, by the time the German invasion of Russia began, they had already been reworked into Ausf Fs, also a number had been converted into the Flamm Ausfuehrung A/B (1940). This does limit the potential for modeling the 'D' but as I'd imagine we're going to see the Panzer II as a series of vehicles from Bronco, it's not a great problem.
As to construction, I doubt if I'd give it as a present to a 9 year-old, but it could be an excellent 'transitional' kit for less-experienced modelers to have a painless introduction to the delights of PE and separate track-links. While it's a (very) sophisticated model, the subject matter is not excessively complex and could serve as a valuable bridge to the REALLY complex out there.
I must admit, it's a surprising choice for Bronco to have made but everything indicates that Phil Greenwood (the principal researcher on this project) has done his usual exhaustive work.
So, without the need for powers of divination, it's clear that this will be a continuing series from the company - and one to definitely take VERY seriously!