Kit: No. 35022
Manufacturer: Tristar, from Model Rectifier Corp., 732-225-2100, www.modelrectifier.com
Comments: Injection-molded, 554 parts (51 photoetched), decals
Pros: Accurate model of a historically significant subject, nice detail, working suspension
Cons: Fit of click-together tracks not tight enough to be reliably workable
Designed and built in Czechoslovakia, the Panzer 38(t) earned its fame in the German Army's blitzkrieg assaults of World War II.
Tristar's Panzer 38(t) Ausf G/ Panzerbefehlswagen 38(t) follows the Hong Kong company's Panzer 38(t) Ausf E/F kit. The parts are beautifully molded in light tan plastic. Highlights of the kit include a fret of photoetched metal parts, a partial interior, separate track links, a working suspension, clear parts for the vision blocks, and additional parts to build the Panzerbefehlswagen command tank variant. No figures are provided.
I started construction by building the suspension units, drive, idler and road wheels. The road wheels are built from separate tire and wheel parts, helpful for painting.
The lower hull is constructed from numerous "flat" parts. It went together smoothly and was quite sturdy when finished.
The design of the suspension makes it fully articulated, useful for the diorama builder who wants to pose the tank in a non-static position. The tracks are nicely molded and designed to be clicked together. I found their fit was not tight enough to make them reliably workable with the movable suspension. After the tracks came apart several times while I was installing them on the suspension, I decided to glue the tracks together as well as gluing the suspension in a neutral position. Leaving the fenders off until after construction made installation of the tracks easier.
A nice touch is separate parts for the visors at the driver and hull machine gunner positions, allowing them to be posed open.
The turret went together easily. The main gun and the machine guns feature hollow muzzles. Interior turret detail includes seats and vision blocks inside the commander's cupola. When I tried to install the turret on the hull, I found the opening wasn't large enough. I enlarged the hole with a sanding stick.
I built the command tank. Tristar includes extra stowage boxes and fenders along with the frame aerial to model the command variant.
I painted the kit with acrylics. Decals printed by Cartograf are provided for German, Hungarian, Slovak, and Bulgarian tanks. They went on perfectly over a gloss coat.
The MBI book Praga LT vz.38 Pz. Kpfw. 38(t) was my primary reference.
It took 22 hours to complete my 38(t), much of that assembling the tracks. This Tristar kit is accurate and easy to build; intermediate modelers should have no problems. It's nice to have an up-to-date kit of this historically important tank.
- Jim Zeske