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CMK's 1/35 PzBefWg 35(t)

By Tony Edwards

 

Background

In the early to mid 1930's, the Czechoslovakian army, along with all the other major armies in the world, was re-evaluating and re-arming in an effort to modernize the various arms of their defense force. Naturally, this included the creation of an armoured element for the army.

By 1934 the army had hammered out their AFV specifications, tenders were called for, and prototypes ordered built.

The model to win the "Light Cavalry" section was produced by the Skoda Automotive company, and was adopted by the Czech army as their standard light cavalry tank and designated 'LT vz 35'. A total of 298 vehicles were ordered, and started entering service in 1936. During summer and autumn of 1938, the LT vz 35 saw action against Germany's 'Freikorps', during the battles for the Sudetenland. The new vehicles also saw action against Hungary whilst defending Slovakia and Transcarpathian Ruthania. Combat was also seen against Beck's Polish units along the Ruthanian border.

Following the German occupation in March 1939, the German army immediately accepted the LT vz 35, designating it 'PzKpfw 35(t)' (the (t) standing for "Tschechisch" or "Czechoslovakian"), absorbing them into the panzer divisions.

Quick Look

4 large sprues in dark grey plastic, a small sprue of light grey plastic (comprising the FuG 8 antenna and bow MG plate), small PE fret, resin notek light, 5 resin jerry cans (in two patterns), no flash, link and length type tracks, positionable turret hatch, no interior, crisp and delicate moldings, some sink marks, lots of ejector pin marks, decals for two vehicles (A01 & A03, 3rd Panzer, Pz Abt 65, 6 Pz Div).

Construction

Before I commenced the construction of this kit, I decided, as the object of this review is to show what the kit is actually like, not to use any aftermarket products or detail sets, and to only use those things that I could find in my spares box.

Construction begins with the wheels and bogie suspension units. The distinctive front and rear sprockets come first, with the two sprocket halves and the dished outer wheels. Next come the road-wheels and bogies. One thing to note with the bogies, is the noted 5 degree angle that you are instructed to bend the suspension arms backwards to, is critical in order to hold the road-wheels in place. However, don't be content with just measuring and bending, as always, dry fit, test, and dry fit again. I forgot one set of arms, and trust me, nothing is more annoying than having the wheels fall off every few seconds.

This was really the only time I deviated from the instructions and went my own way. I left the wheels (and tracks, obviously) off the kit, for ease of painting.

Lower Hull
The hull is built up by 5 pieces, the belly plate, side walls, glacis and the rear plate (added during construction of the upper hull). The most important thing to remember with the hull is to make absolutely sure that the walls are aligned correctly, unless of course you want the bogies floating in mid air, and at odd angles above the ground. Remove all the molded on detail, as instructed, and cement the sprocket and forward track tensioning wheels and mounts in place. The last three steps dealing with the lower hull deal with the placement of the sprockets, return rollers, bogies and the plates that keep the rear mounted drive sprockets clear of mud, however, as noted above, I chose to leave most of this off till after painting.

Turret
The turret is made up with just 7 main components, with another 5 for the cupola, along with the 37mm gun assembly and the co-axial MG. Construction is pretty straight forward, though care should be taken with the turret 'floor'. I don't know if it's only with this kit, or with the entire series, but there was a fairly wide (.5mm - 1mm) gap between the rear walls and the floor, though it's nothing that putty and sanding won't fix.

Upper Hull
This area probably took the most time, apart maybe, from the tracks. The driver's front plate is cemented in place first. The thing to be aware of here is that when you cement the plate that blanks off the hull MG (part D1), you must remove the rivet detail on the driver's front plate, part D1 won't fit flush unless you do (trust me). Another detail of note is the headlight. Through my research on this vehicle, it appears that the headlight isn't fitted with a normal blackout slit cap, just a slit piece of canvas, which, in turn, appears to be missing in a lot of photos. To take advantage of this detail, I drilled it out, painted the inside with a bright silver and glazed it with Humbrol's Clear-Fix. Next, I opened the horn, and cemented the antenna box in place, as per the instructions.

The pioneer tools are up next. The clasps, and the tools themselves, are among the worst I've seen, so I replaced the clasps with some old Eduard PE items from an old Tiger II set. Same deal with the jack clamps. Talking about the jack, I replaced that too, the supplied one is nothing more than a rectangular block of plastic with a handle.

The biggest problem I encountered with these tools (by rights, if I was to do this kit again, I'd replace all of them), was a problem of my own making, and is a lesson to always check your references thoroughly. I replaced the 'triangular' mounting plate and strap for the shovel with a PE 'standard' semicircular 'dish' mount, commonly found on most panzers. WRONG! Although it is possible that some 35(t)'s would have had damaged mounts replaced in this way, I have no photos showing it, so, in retrospect, I should have either scratchbuilt a new one, or (better still, as I was keeping the kit supplied shovel), left it in place. I also wound up scratchbuilding a new tow cable. Not that there is really anything wrong with the kit supplied cable, though it is more delicate than it looks… You have been warned…

Putting it all together
The remainder of the instructions deals with the assembly of the various subassemblies and adding detail. No real surprises here, as the instructions even detail the size and placement of the external 'wiring' to the headlight, horn, etc. Be careful with the FuG 8 frame antenna assembly, it is very delicate once built, but before it is placed on the vehicle. This part is probably where the kit excels most other injection-molded kits, the inclusion of the resin jerry cans and notek headlight, along with the etched parts. The PE fret supplies the jerry can racks, the old style vehicle ID plates and some wing nuts.

Painting

I used some auto-primer, sprayed into a cup, thinned further, and applied with an airbrush to prime the model. I followed this with a pre-shading coat of satin black, over this was sprayed, in successively lighter coats, Tamiya acrylic German Grey lightening up gradually to Tamiya Dark Grey.

The tyres were hand-painted with Testors Model Master Flat Black, with the cupola vision blocks/periscopes and the rod antenna painted with Tamiya's Semi-Gloss Black. The tracks were airbrushed Tamiya acrylic Flat Brown, drybrushed with Model Master Rust with the final drybrushing in Humbrol's 'Metal-Cote' Gunmetal.

Final Construction

The tracks were the last parts assembled. If you have the money, I would recommend replacing the link and length tracks with some aftermarket items, such as Fruil-Modellisimo or Modelkasten items, if they are available. Each link, both the individual links and each link in the lengths have a bad ejector pin mark dead centre. The result of which are irreparable sections (which, thankfully are barely visible, being the main top and bottom runs), or, like me, the 3 hours + cleaning and re-detailing them, which I did for each individual link, as they are highly visible.

The muffler is a basic, 2 piece, cylinder affair, which I cemented together, base coated Flat Brown and while still wet, covered with sodium bicarbonate (bi-carb), drybrushed Tamiya Red Brown, followed with a final light drybrushing with Model Master Jet Exhaust, then glued with CA in place.

Decaling

The decals are quite nice, being well drawn and in register, and also being pleasantly thin. I sprayed the tank with Model Master Gloss Lacquer to provide the base for the decals, and applied the decals using Solva-Set. They nestled down really well, with no silvering. The only problem with the decals is that they showed an unnatural tendency (a tendency bordering on the pathological) to curl and roll into useless little cylinders of film, thankfully however, CMK have provided and extra balken-creuz (cross) and unit markings. Once dry, I (thankfully) airbrushed on some Model Master Matt Lacquer. (Is it only me, or do others feel it wrong to have a glossy AFV on their table?).

Weathering

My main aim was to depict the abteilung's commander's vehicle at the end of a long drive, so it would be really dirty/dusty, with only a little soot around the exhaust and main gun barrel. I airbrushed a fairly heavy coat of Tamiya Flat Earth acrylic over the lower hull and a little way up the lower superstructure, followed with an overall coat of Floquil Dust. I then added some dark brown pastel dust on the lower hull, orange and rust coloured pastel dust to the tracks. After this followed some powdered graphite applied by finger over the face of the tracks and along corners and other areas of high wear, to give a metallic look without removing the dust and other pastel layers.

Conclusion

All in all, this is a pretty nice little kit, with only a couple of problems to contend with, (but then, nothing's perfect). The only reason I couldn't suggest this kit to all modelers, is the lack of placement/alignment pins. This omission means that this kit, really, should only be attempted by those with some experience in the hobby. After the 11 or so hours of work, it rewards the builder with a fairly accurate replica of an important early war vehicle. Thanks to Earl Martell of NKR Models for his assistance with replacement parts.

References

Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II (Revised Edition)
P. Chamberlain & Hilary Doyle. Editor: T. L. Jentz.
Arms & Armour Press, 1993, ISBN: 1-85409-214-6

Leichte Panzers in Action
Squadron/Signal Publications #10
Squadron/Signal Publications, 1974, ISBN: 0-89747-043-5

German Tanks of World War II in Action
George Forty
Arms & Armour Press, 1991, 1-85409-132-8

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