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HiPM 1/35 scale PzKpfw Ia/FlammPanzer I

Kit: No. 35 001
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: HiPM, distributed by Condor Models International, 3408 S. Harvey Ave., Berwyn, IL 60402-3810, phone 708-484-6815
Price: $25
Comments: Injection molded, 152 parts, decals.

The first of the infamous Panzers wasn't big, but its historical significance was huge. Panzer I's fought in Spain and were the spearpoints of Hitler's pre-World War II invasions of Austria and Czechoslovakia. It was the German army's teaching tool for armored warfare tactics.

The Panzer Ia is HiPM's first armor kit and the first Pz Ia in plastic. The medium gray plastic parts have adequate detail, but many of the small parts in my kit suffered from mismatched mold halves. All parts needed cleanup with sandpaper and a file to improve appearance and fit. Two sinkholes marred the mufflers.

The kit can be built as either the standard machine-gun-armed tank or a rare flamethrower version used in North Africa. The only difference was a large barrel replacing one of the machine guns.

The turret parts required extensive cleanup. The lower turret ring (A23) is marred by the sprue-attachment points, which must be carefully removed to allow the turret to fit flush with the hull.

The installation of the gun mantlet required several dry runs and quick-setting glue to overcome the loose fit. Be careful fitting the front transmission plate (C16) to the hull; the beveled edge with the two protrusions should be on the top.

The breakdown of the hull/suspension components allows you to build the suspension separately and drop fit it to the hull - a bonus when dealing with the plastic track components. The kit features long runs of track for the straight sections and individual links to go around the drive and idler wheels. Track detail was soft and marred by flash.

Fitting the individual links around the drive and idler wheels was a nightmare. They required careful cleanup before they could fit together, but they were small and fragile and broke easily. If I build another I'll replace the kit tracks with vinyl ones from my spares box or look for aftermarket alternatives. The main axles (C21 and C24) were badly out of round, so I replaced them with plastic rod.

I didn't use any of the tools provided as they were crude and had lots of flash. Raid your parts boxes for replacements. Optional parts for the engine deck are included, but the instructions don't show what goes on which version. Decals for three different tanks are provided. They were trouble free.

I used Militaria No. 10 Panzer I by Janusz Ledwoch and Panzerkampfwagen I & II - German Light Tanks by Eric Grove as my references. While the overall dimensions look good, the return rollers are too far up on the hull, causing the tracks to ride high.

My kit required 20 hours of patient work to complete. While HiPM's kit isn't state of the art, it does end up as a neat-looking Panzer IA. With all the cleanup effort along the way, I can only recommended this kit to experienced armor modelers.

- Jim Zeske

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