SDV Model's 1/87 Praga PzKpfw 38(t) Tanks
The PzKpfw 38(t) started life in Czechoslovakia in the mid-1930's as the TNH tank. This tank was developed privately by CKD (Ceskomoravska-Kolben-Danek) to compete on the foreign market against the Skoda LT vz.35, which had captured the home market. The TNH tank turned out to be a much better tank than the LT vz.35 and Iran, Peru, Switzerland and Sweden all purchased the TNH tank. Czech rearmament in 1937 opened the local market up to the TNH tank, and after comparison tests, the TNH was selected as a standard light tank of the army, designating it the LT vz.38.
Before the LT vz.38 could enter service with Czechoslovakia, though, Germany occupied the country and took over production. The LT vz.38 was superior in every way to the PzKpfw I, and was more in line with the PzKpfw III. Since CKD already had the production capability in place, Germany ordered them to increase production of the LT vz.38, with the new tanks becoming the PzKpfw 38(t). During the invasion of Poland, 59 PzKpfw 38(t)s were used, along with 112 PzKpfw 35(t)s.
In the face of much better quality and more powerful Soviet armor, the PzKpfw 38(t) quickly fell out of front line service, with nearly 800 PzKpfw 38(t)s being lost in this action. Germany quickly started replacing the PzKpfw 38(t) with other designs, and passing off the remaining tanks to its allies, such as Rumania, Hungary, and Slovakia.
In all, over 6400 vehicles based on the PzKpfw 38(t) chassis were produced, and its performance in the early years of the war should list it amongst the best tanks of the Second World War.
When these kits first came across my bench I thought they looked familiar. After looking closely I noticed that while they are a bit simpler, these kits are smaller versions of the Attack Hobby Panzer 38(t) tanks. The same parts breakdown are in these kits, with the main hull being made up from a bottom and two sides, with the different versions having different upper hull sections. The main difference between these kits and the Attack Hobby kits (besides the scale, of course) is with the tracks. These are molded with the wheels as one piece, which will make painting a bit more of a challenge.
Aside from the simplistic treads and wheels, though, these kits have some excellent detail and the simple construction should make building these things a snap. Finishing is left up to you, as the decals provide you with two sets of crosses, lots of divisional markings, and a full set of turret numbers. The decal sheets are the same in each kit, so all you have to worry about is deciding which version of tank you want (the only differing parts are depicted with the decal scan and consist of the upper front hull parts).
While 1/87 scale might not be a common scale for the average armor modeler, these are scaled to fit in perfectly with any HO train layout. Since the PzKpfw 38(t) was often used as part of armored trains, you could really add some interesting pizazz to your train layout with a couple of these kits. Their simple construction and basic camouflage will make them a fast and easy way to add some World War Two military hardware to your HO layout.