Attack Hobby's 1/72 LT vz. 38/PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A; PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. B & PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. F
At the beginning of the Second World War, Germany's best tank was really rather poor. Just on the other side of the border, though, Czechoslovakia had a couple of very nice light tanks, the LT vz. 35 and LT vz. 38. The LT vz. 38 was such a good vehicle, in fact, that it quickly superceded the German designs and became the basis for many other vehicles, including a Munitionsfährzeug and the Marder III. It served throughout the Second World War with many armies, and after the war it continued on, finally serving in the Czech army.
Attack Hobby has come out with a broad range of LT vz. 38 variants, covering nearly all of the different examples built. These three I believe finish up their series, with the original LT vz. 38 and a pair of PzBefWg 38(t)s. I have reviewed the other tanks in Internet Modeler (as well as some Extratech brass sets) and these kits share a great deal of common parts. I'll give a brief overview of these three new kits, then outline which kit you need to get for which variant, and what modifications you need to make (if any).
Starting with the LT vz. 38, this is the original Czech light tank. The boxtop shows it as the initial examples were camouflaged, in a rather striking three-tone scheme. The main difference between this version and the later German versions is the "battle" antenna running down the side of the tank. This is provided as a separate piece in this kit, allowing you to build either the Czech LT vz. 38 or a PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A. The decals, in fact, offer three choices. One is the cover scheme. The second is a PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A from Poland in 1939 and is finished in overall gray with white crosses. The third example is the one that was sent to England for testing, and is finished in a medium gray overall, with no markings other than an ID number on the front and rear.
The two PzBefWg 38(t) kits are pretty much the same, with only two parts being different between the two. Built on the same basic parts as the LT vz. 38 kit, both kits replace the antenna along the side with a large frame antenna that fits over the rear deck. The PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. B retains the curved front panel of the LT vz. 38, while the PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. F kit comes with the later straight style. The Ausf. B kit comes with three marking choices, one from France 1940 and two from Russia in 1941. All are finished in Panzer Gray. The Ausf. F kit has two marking choices, both from the Russian front during 1941-1942. Both are finished in Panzer gray, but the 1942 example is covered with a temporary white winter camouflage.
Which Tank Do I Want?
There are a total of eight Panzer 38(t) kits in the Attack Hobby line. So which one do you need to get to build the particular one you want? The Panzer 38(t) line can be broken down into three main sections: German tanks; foreign operators; and derivatives. Since the German tanks are the simplest to outline, I'll start there.
PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. A-D: #72807 LT vz. 38 or#72804 PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. C
The Ausf. A totalled 150 vehicles and were identical to the LT vz. 38. The only difference that it had over the original was the deletion of the battle aerial. The Ausf. B (110 vehicles) replaced the Czech radio equipment with German sets and some added Notek lights were added to the front, and brake lights to the rear, but for the most part everything else remained the same. The Ausf. C and D (110 and 105 vehicles, respectively) replaced the circular antenna base with an angled bracket and some also had the exhaust relocated to make room for smoke generators on the back side of the tank. If the tank you're wanting to build is from this series but has the large frame aerial over the rear, you'll want to use #72808 PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. B.
PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. E-G: #72803 PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. G
The Ausf. E version saw the first major design change on the tank, namely an increase in armor thickness. This led to a redesign of the plate in front of the driver's compartment. On the earlier versions this was a curved piece, while now it is straight (and twice as thick). The armor was thickened on the turret as well, resulting in fewer bolts and rivets being used. The turret machine gun lost its protective ring as well. The covers for the driver's compartment were replaced by stronger cast versions. Brackets for carrying extra track were added to the front hull as well. The Ausf. G and H were simplified even more, with even less rivets being used. If the tank you're wanting to build is from this series but has the large frame aerial over the rear, you'll want to use #72809 PzBefWg 38(t) Ausf. F.
Slovakia was one of the first operators of the LT vz. 38 tank, and ended up receiving just about every version produced. All the references list them as LT 38s, though, so you'll want to study the photos closely to see which tank you need. Kit #72804 Ausf. C or #72803 Ausf. G are your most likely picks, using the Xed out parts in the C kit to get the earlier Ausf. A or B.
Hungary initially received both Ausf. F and Ausf. G tanks totalling 108 vehicles. This makes kit selection pretty simple, being #72803 Ausf. G. However, on November 11, 1942 they received three more tanks, two Ausf. C (nos. 321 & 322) and one Ausf. D (no. 375). So there might be a photo or two showing these earlier examples, in which case you'll need kit #72804 Ausf. C.
Rumania received its Panzer 38(t)s after its original tank fleet was decimated by the Russians. They received 50 Ausf. A, B, and C tanks, which served throughout the war and were labeled as T-38s. The kit you'll want for Rumanian examples is #72804 Ausf. C (using extra parts to make the Ausf. B or Ausf. A examples).
The exact versions of PzKpfw 38(t)s used by Bulgaria is not known, as they purchased used examples from Germany (at exorbiant prices). The few photos I've seen all show PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. G vehicles, so you'll want to use kit #72803 for those.
Czechoslovakia received its first Panzer 38(t) tanks after the Second World War was over, and they were exclusively of the last version, the Ausf. G. For this example you'll want to get kit #72803.
Munitionsfahrzeug, Aufklärungspanzer 140/1, and Grille
Derivatives of the LT vz. 38 were numerous and varied, and Attack Hobby has provided kits of three main examples. The first is the Munitionsfahrzeug, based off of the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf. F chassis (kit #72802). I don't know if there were any built off of earlier versions, but considering how the construction is, I doubt it. The next option is the Grille Ausf. H (kit #72801). This is pretty much a one-version vehicle without heavy modification. Finally the last derivative is the Aufklärungspanzer 140/1. This too is a one-version vehicle, available in kit #72805. For the other variants including the Marder you can modify just about any one of the eith Attack Hobby kits.
The Attack Hobby line of LT vz. 38 tanks is a very welcome one and with a bit of work you can end up with some outstanding vehicles. I strongly recommend getting either the Part or Extratech brass set for the kit you choose, as you'll definitely want to replace the kit fenders with brass ones (if you don't, the wheels and track won't fit underneath them). The thickness of the plastic does put some of the rivets out of place a bit, but it's not too bad and if you want to you can always replace them in the correct locations. In general, though, the kits are well done and should make an excellent addition to any 1/72 armor line.