Dragon continues to update details of previous kits with the release of new versions and this kit follows that trend with this second kit of the Sd.Kfz.265 kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen I (Command Vehicle) and also offers 3 different configurations to boot.
The three versions in the kit are the basic Sd.Kfz.265 with (1) Frame antenna version, (2) Add-on armour version and (3) Tropical version, each with minor detail differences and you will have to refer to the instructions to determine the parts needed for each.
As you would expect the kit shares many of the lower hull, suspension/tracks from the Panzer IB and Sd.Kfz.265 kits (kit #6186 and #6218) and the rear engine deck from the Panzer IB DAK (kit #6207) so we will now look at the kit and the new and reworked parts.
The lower hull tub includes the side fenders with multipart suspension units and separate front road wheel axle with nice shock absorber spring and rear idler wheels. At the front is a separate plate with nice rivet and weld seam details but ensure this is attached the right way up with the bolts at the bottom while at the rear is a choice of two rear panels for an early or late configuration with or without the smoke dischargers plus alternate tail lights. The tail light mounting and later style tail light with convoy lights are included as etched parts for nice definition.
The profile of the fenders has been thinned considerably from that on the earlier kits and now the side and front edges are commendably thin if you wish to leave off the front fender extensions. Additional etched side strips are provided for the fenders to correctly represent the lip on the outside of the fenders and the overall look is much improved from the thick fenders of the earlier kits.
The incorrect idler wheels from previous kits which is depicted with a solid rubber tyre of the Panzer 1A idler has been completely reworked to depict the correct style for the Pz.1B. The new idler has the central ribbed section with separate outer rim discs and you also get a choice here with alternate discs with six or twelve inner spacing/support brackets between the discs.
The detail on the new idlers is good with the correct rib contours and hub bolts but if you wanted to get real pickey the ribs and outer discs are a little too thick in profile but this is probably the best that can be done with injection moulding and are a big improvement over the first idlers. I can only assume that these new idlers will filter through to the other Pz.I kits as the updated parts in the 251 series did as additional production runs are made.
The other overall update is all the visors and visor covers that are in clear plastic which allow the visors to be positioned open or closed for an alternate appearance.
The upper hull has the glacis and superstructure shell in one piece to which are added outer superstructure panels with separate doors and the clean plastic vision ports.
The fit of the super structure sides is excellent without any gaps showing when test fitting the parts with a separate front machine gun ball mount and MG34 barrel as well as separate side crew hatches. The side and top hatches have been re-worked to eliminate the large pin marks present on earlier doors and are now free of any blemishes to make the appearance much better.
The weld seams are very well depicted and the side armour reinforcing strips are also separate and it’s best to check your references to see if these should be fitted or not for the model you are building.
The two part Commander's cupola also has nice weld seam details as well as open vision slots on the lower section
The rear engine deck has the upper deck panel separate from the engine deck shell and all the access doors and fuel cap covers are separate parts for more detail definition but take note that the etched screen for the right rear intake grills has to be added from the inside before the top deck is glued in place.
There are many smaller details around the hull such as the towing shackles, head lights (with clear parts) and siren with separate face for good definition on the front hull as well as a full selection of pioneer tools along the fenders as well as very delicate radio aerial support tray and aerial.
The aerial version is just basically the standard version with the addition of the large frame antenna on three support legs attached to the hull with the frame being moulded cleanly with just the usual small moulding seam to be removed. There are two new locating holes on the fenders for the forward frame supports and these will still be there if you build either of the other versions and will be very hard to eliminate due to the tread plate pattern on the fenders.
There is also an add on armour version that is again, the standard version with additional armour plates that are added to the front of the superstructure and forward hull top with a section of etched metal for the front hull armour plate. Additional armour panels are also added to the commander’s cupola which uses a new upper section for this version. There are a few bolt heads included on the sprues that are added to the front etched panel and you have to carefully cut these off the sprue and add using cyanoacrylate.
The rear smoke grenade racks are also shown as an option for this version and you should check references to see if they are applicable to the model being built.
My personal favorite is the tropical version. Again, this is the basic version with additional parts for the raised "Tropen" ventilation ducts on the rear engine deck from the Panzer 1B DAK kit (#6207) as well as the NOTEK light for the front fender. The jerry cans also from the Panzer 1B DAK kit are included to use as required and these are nicely done with fine engraved stencilling with an etched central flange that fits between the two halves as well as separate handles and filler caps to make jerry cans with well defined details.
The rear smoke grenade racks are also provided with etched chains for the five smoke grenades with these usually carried on this version.
While they are individual links they are not workable and have to be glued together but to help with this each link has small pins and corresponding grooves so each link will locate precisely into the next giving the correct spacing between each link and a positive seating, but be sparing with the glue so you don’t clog up the small spaces between the links.
These are of the traditional line drawing exploded view type with easy to follow construction sequences but as with any kit careful study of the instructions before gluing is advisable.
One interesting deviation from the previous Panzer 1B and other recent kits is there is no bonus figures with this kit, maybe Dragon have now moved on from including those goodies at the low kit price but there is still plenty on offer with the kit itself.
The sheet is well printed with good colour register and has markings for Pz.Divisions 1 through 14 plus a selection of balkenkreuz with individual vehicle markings for three vehicles shown on the instruction sheet, one for each vehicle option in the kit. No specific unit information is given and you will need to refer to references to determine the decals to use.
Dragon continues to mileage from their latest kits, often by releasing varients. Dragon has released a kit that will allow the modeler to make nearly any variation of the kleine Panzerbefehlswagen I, including the three that are head-lined on the box-top and the instructions. These are a “Frame Antenna Version”, an “Add-on Armor Version” and a “Tropical Version”. Fans of North Afrikan vehicles will find this an especially nice addition.