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In-Box Review
135
PzKpfw I Ausf .F (VK18.01)
Panzerkampwagen I Ausf .F (VK18.01)
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

When this kit was announced by Bronco Models I remember thinking I have no knowledge of this vehicles at all, a few days of digging on the web produced some good information on a vehicle that was also called ‘Little Tiger’ apparently. The Panzerkampwagen I Ausf .F (VK18.01) was produced between April and December 1942 as an infantry support tank of which a grand total of 30 were built, This tank type did see active service on the Eastern front with the 1st and 12th Panzer Divisions in 1943. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information I have supplied here as it is from several locations and no two sources seem to agree 100% and that includes the information supplied by Phil Greenwood on the front of the instruction booklet. At the end of this review I have provided some links to sites I found of help and I think you may find them of interest as well.

Contents

The kit is supplied in the now standard Bronco Models packaging standard consirting of a cardboard tray and card lid; the lid has a very well done and eye catching artwork on it. The contents fit well in the box and arrived to me intact. Inside you will find the sprues individually packed in there own plastic bags with the exception of duplicated sprues and the contents break down as follows;
  • 5 tan sprues
  • 1 clear sprue
  • 8 brown sprues
  • 12 sprues of track links
  • 1 photo etched fret
  • 1 decal sheet
  • 1 print of the box top artwork
  • 1 instruction booklet

Review

To start this review I will take a look at the instruction booklet first. The booklet is printed to the Bronco Models usual high standard by using a good quality semi gloss paper. The booklet starts with a short introduction by Phil Greenwood in English, German and Chinese. Looking between the covers you see the usual guide to icons used during construction and a painting guide listing paints by colour in the three languages already mentioned and also the following paint manufacturers;
  • Mr Hobby
  • Hobby Color
  • Humbrol
  • Tamiya

Next you get a parts guide which is always worth checking the contents against; I will say I have not had parts missing from a Bronco Models kit yet that I am aware of. With those areas covered we get to the actual construction guide. The instructions guide uses line drawings which cover construction in 22 stages, however as is usual with a number of manufacturers Bronco Models included the sub assemblies increase the number of stages in reality. A nice inclusion during the construction is the use of CAD images/prints being used as a visual guide on how things should look when in place. During step 1 of stage four my instruction booklet has a correction glued in place which I believe was an error picked up during test builds and it is good to see corrections in the booklet rather than as a separate piece of paper. After construction is completed there are three finishing options provided which are;
  • Panzer Regiment 1, Russia 1943
  • Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie (NEU), Eastern Front Spring 1943
  • Panzer Abteilung z.b.V.66 Russia Fall 1942

Looking through the sprues and looking closely at the moulded parts I have not noticed any ejector pin marks that may cause issues during construction. All of the parts are as far as I am concerned free of moulding errors; I do not see any flash that will need work. The one area that could cause concern in some cases are the flow marks in some of the plastic parts which I know in some case can leave lines that need to be filled and which may be in areas that make that difficult. In order the check the flow lines seen in some areas of this kit I ran my thumb nail over them and detected zero issues in this sample. I have noticed flow lines appearing in a large number of manufacturers products of late and I can only presume it is a result of the advances in mould technology causing this issue on some occasions.

This model from Bronco Models has a full interior with the exception of an engine, and construction starts with various aspects off the fighting compartment. The various steps and stages look to me to have been well thought as regards ease of following the guide. I do have one complaint here; that is that there is no interior painting guide included with the kit and while many of us could muddle through not everyone will be able to.

Moving onto to a nice improvement that Bronco Models has made. When you get to stage 7 and the hull sides, floor, rear and interior come together, you also add the working torsion bar suspension which unlike other models where Bronco Models has included the torsion bar suspension system, this model has the swing arms and torsion bar moulded as a single piece and which I feel will make assembly far easier than it may have otherwise been. I do have one concern here which is with all of these elements coming together and a fair amount of gluing going on it may prove difficult to get torsion bars home and secured while remaining workable.

The wheels and tracks are next on the agenda and Bronco Models have a few tricks up their sleeve here! The wheels are very well replicated as you would expect with Bronco Models not known for cutting corners. The middle wheels are made up of four parts and which has an injection moulded plastic cap trapped inside during assembly, if done carefully these plastic caps are glued onto the spindle of the swing arms. The result of all this is that the wheels are able to be rotated, “so what” you may think “I am not going to play with the kit” but just think how much easier this makes painting the wheels at the end of construction.

The individual track links included in the kit are fully workable due to being held together by pins similar to the real track links. The track links are supplied on sprue runs and so removal and clean up will take some time but should be worth it in the end. There is a construction aid provided in the kit on which you place ten links at a time, this lines the links up perfectly for the addition of the pins which are inserted from each side and glued in place; it should be noted that the pins are sided.

The next few stages cover closing up the hull. There is again a nice level of attention to detail here with the hull roof portion with the turret ring in it being removable if wished to show off that interior you are so proud of. If you wish to add an after market engine bay to your model Bronco Models has also made it so that the louvered vents can be shown open or closed which is a nice touch.

The next few stages get the four track guards up together and again Bronco Models has added a great deal of detail. A great example of this detail are some of the boxes included for mounting on the track guards, with these going together via actual finger joints replicated on the parts that make up the box. There are 6 pieces used to make up these boxes and which are then further embellished with some photo etched parts; I am sure some will be saying this is over engineered but those who love the details like this will appreciate the effort.

Moving onto the finishing of the model the turret is the last to be tackled. This area starts by tackling the two MG34’s for the turret, these have been made using a slide mould as can be seen by the step in the sprue and which has provided the MG barrels with hollow ends. The turret interior does not require a lot of parts to be added other than the previously assembled Mg34’s, the scope for the guns and the periscopes for the commander. The hand cranks are assembled and added to the separate base of the turret. The exterior of the turret is also straight forward basically consisting of the addition of the extra armour panels and hatch, add the turret to the hull and it a case of job jobbed.

Conclusion

5 to 10 years ago talk of tanks such as this being produced in plastic by major manufacturers would have been a pipe dream, however today we are being tempted by a host of unusual kits. Bronco Models is I believe now one of the companies snapping at the leader in the market by releasing a lot of very high quality models. This model like a number of their releases is not aimed at the novice but should be within the possibilities of most; it is also good to see Bronco Models reducing the parts count in their offerings to make them more attractive to build. This particular kit shows a lot of promise and I am sure they will be built into some stunning offerings, but it is a shame to see the lack of interior painting guide.

Reference

Achtung Panzer Live links
Flames of War Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: Full interior minus the engine and the forward thinking to allow it to be displayed while also making the engine bay viewable if adding an AM engine.
Lows: Lack of an interior painting guide.
Verdict: This should make a stunning little gem of a model.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: CB350143
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Dec 05, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.16%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.97%

Our Thanks to Bronco Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2017 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

I'm surprised manufacturers don't take the approach Eduard has with their weekend kits. Bare bones at substantially reduced prices. I would love to see basic, upgraded and super kits. Kimmo
DEC 06, 2013 - 01:28 PM
The Tiny Tiger hath arrived on my stoop, quite as promised by the vendor and heartily hoped-for by me! A quick look into the box reveals a nice pile of tan styrene goodness for body and turret and interior bits, a pile of brown link and pin sprues for those beefy-looking tracks, and some PE, clear periscope pieces, and etc. Stuff looks GOOD and molding is clean and crisp. The instruction booklet is pretty nice - I didn't see any obvious errors (but hardly did more than a quick glance - errors often pop up later...) and the artwork looks up to snuff and usefully clear for guidance. There are indeed a few CAD images that will help show stuff assembled. As mentioned above in the review, there is indeed interior, and indeed no guide for painting it. But that's no news, I'm sure! There are 3 color-schemes offered - so folks have some choices of tanks in (OstFront) service. What is a bit interesting is that the instructions mention that these things were produced back in 1940 - but all other discussion (and paint-schemes) refer to some being sent to Russia in time for Kursk and lingering on into 1944... with the majority having actually been assigned to various rear-area training and development units. I can imagine that the crowd of 30 or so produced did SOMETHING between when assembled in 1940 and eventually sent east in late 1942... Anyway, it is indeed a nice-looking kit and I'm pretty keen on getting into it sooner then later. Initially, I had "planned" on this being my entry into the Bronco campaign, but maybe not... I may shoot for doing a build feature with it, instead. @Robert: I'd say "jump on it whenever you get the chance" - if you like interior stuff, this looks to rank right up there with those Tristar 38(t) and Pz 1 with interior kits - and may be more accurate than was those Hobby Boss cars - which while having neat interiors, did get some stuff pretty "off". It should be fun and rewarding, albeit not necessarily very easy to see into! (Turns out that this Bronco kit does NOT offer any easily-removed turret-roof - the turret may of course be mounted loose, but that's about it for easing view into the interior.) @Biggles; I THINK you are referring to Tristar's 38(t) ausf B kits with and without interior - and their AM interior kit for any 38(t)? T has not, best I know, done a 35(t) kit, but I bet it would be pretty nice were they to offer one! @Big. & Thudius; Yes - I agree whole-heartedly. It would be great if any of these fine kit-makers offered versions of these kits with and without interiors (and priced appropriately) - I squirm around with Dragon StuG III kits which mostly have lots of fighting compartment stuff - which I don't tackle. I like "guts", but not in every kit. Adds both a lot of special dimension and a lot of added effort which isn't always what I want. And the inners cost to tool and mold, and so raise the cost of kits. Cheers! Bob
DEC 06, 2013 - 05:48 PM
I doubt that there would be much in the way of difference in price either with or without an interior as an option as Bronco have invested in the moulds already which is where the costs are.
DEC 06, 2013 - 06:33 PM
Great review! Thank you for submitting this. Do you have any photos of the finished model?
DEC 06, 2013 - 07:31 PM
There might be if they market them correctly and plan ahead a little. It might not be attractive for current releases though, depending on how the sprues are layed out. If they sell more of the basic kits than they would have sold premium ones in total, there could be some cash to be made. A tricky balance to find. Kimmo
DEC 06, 2013 - 08:04 PM
There are some pictures of the finished model in one of the two news stories on this model.
DEC 06, 2013 - 10:31 PM
Very nice review of very nice kit of very nice tank, thank you Darren. I really like "Small TIger".
DEC 07, 2013 - 10:16 AM
@PanzerBob - thanks for the heads up on the kit... look forward to seeing you start it
DEC 11, 2013 - 05:44 AM
Great review! After reading I decided to purchase the kit! I am also planning to start it in the next future. Has anyone idea of what aftermerket engine can be used to complete the interior? Or just some more detailed info to modify an existing engine. Thank you very much
NOV 20, 2015 - 06:46 AM
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