After Hitler came into power, Germany repudiated the Treaty of Versailles and started to build up its armed forces again. The light Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf. A became the first German tank and was began production in 1934. The type had its baptism in fire before the beginning of WWII, during the Spanish Civil War. Germany sent a contingent of Pz.kpw. I Ausf. As and Ausf. B light tanks, including crews to support their ally, General Franco.
first 41 tanks arrived in Spain in October of 1936. They were engaged
in combat for the first time, against Republican T-26s near Esquitas.
Later, they operated around Madrid. These tanks were subsequently left
in Spain after the withdrawal of the German experts, because Spain in
the meantime had trained its own tank crews.
Pzkpw. I Ausf. As and Bs entered service with the 1st and 2nd Agrupacione de Carros, that took part in combat under Teruel and Brunete around the Obro River and at Catalonia. After the end of the Spanish Civil War the army kept this type in service until the end of the 1940s and the last machines ended their career in training units.
A small number of PzKpw. Is were modified in Spain to the 'Modifcado' version (the subject of this kit). The original turret was raised and the two machine-guns were replaced by a 20mm Breda automatic cannon. Tanks modified in this way had been created as a counter-weapon to the Republican T-26 and BT tanks of Soviet origin, that were armed with a 45mm cannon. The combat experience proved that the original machine-gun armament was insufficient against these machines.
Weight 5.4 tons Length 4.02 m Width 2.06 m Height 1.92 m Armor 13 mm Engine M 305 (57 hp) Max. Speed 37 km/h Range 145 km Armament 20mm Breda automatic cannon Crew 2
What's in the box?:
are four trees of medium gray plastic parts, a decal sheet, and a small
Tree letter 'A' holds the upper superstructure of the tank, a turret for making the basic German version with the twin machine-gun armament, turret hatches, and vision flaps. Two parts are X'd out on the plans as excess. Total parts on this parts tree is 23.
Tree letter 'B' holds the lower hull pieces, and the link and length type track links. 54 parts here.
Tree letter 'C' holds the bogie parts, suspensions, road wheels, drive sprockets, idler wheels, return rollers, mufflers, and tools. 74 parts on this tree with one part X'd as being excess.
smaller tree letter 'D' holds the 'Modificado' turret parts. Five parts
on this tree are X'd as excess. Total parts here are 10.
The decal sheet has markings for three Spanish Civil War machines.
The first marking choice is for a machine of the Panzergruppe Drohne, Legion Condor (Spain 1937) This machine is shown as having the machine-gun armed turret on it.
The second marking choice is for a 'Modificado'' (Spain 1938) with the tall 20mm armed turret.
The third option is a machine of the Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legion (Spain 1938) This machine sports the machine-gun armed turret also.
decal sheet has an error printed on it. A circle, divided in half horizontally,
is shown as being white and red. A second, smaller decal sheet is included
to correct the colors. It gives the circles again in yellow and red
as they should be.
The instructions are an 8" x 5" booklet. The first page of this booklet gives a black and white copy of the box art and the history of the vehicle in English. Page 2 begins with the history again, but in Czech this time. The bottom of the page gives the international symbol explanations and a picture of the decal sheet. Page 3 shows the parts tree drawings, with Xs over the parts on these trees that are to be sent to the spares box. Pages 4 through 12 give the assembly steps for the kit. Pages 13 to 15 give the painting and decaling guide drawings. These drawings are shaded, in different tones, to tell you what colors to use per the shading guide at the bottom of page 12. However, maybe it is my tired old eyes but some of these black shadings are so close in tone that telling them apart is hard. I think I will go by the box art.
The box art shows a crewman hanging out of a side hatch. However, there are no figures included in the kit. This is too bad, as you can position most of the hatches and flaps in the open position if desired.
I have had the Italeri offerings of the Pz.Kpw. I Ausf. B versions for years. This kit of the Ausf. A is very welcome. By the way HiPM also has a kit of the Befelswagen (command version) of the Ausf. A, and a flamm version too (flame-thrower). I hope to get each of these later.
I think that HiPM has done a very good job of molding this tank and recommend it highly.
I traded a friend in Australia for mine (Thank you Kevin). It should be easily found at most well stocked hobby shops.