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Academy 1/35 scale Panzer II Ausf F "North Africa" plastic model kit review

This German tank scale model kit give you six options, including one in U.S. markings 
Kit:13535 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$44
Academy Plastic Models (Sample courtesy of MRC)
Well-molded link-and-length tracks; slide-molded barrel
Fuzzy tow cable; unclear camouflage painting diagrams; differences in fit for running gear
Injection-molded plastic (tan yellow); 281 parts (13 photo-etched metal; 8 rubber; thread); decals
Academy has just released a new 1/35 scale plastic model kit of a fairly uncommon armor specimen: the Panzer II Ausf F in North African service. “Uncommon?” you ask. Well, by the time the Panzer II Ausf F began production in late 1941, the tank’s role had been switched primarily to reconnaissance. Only about 500 were built by the end of 1942 when Germany started using the chassis solely for self-propelled guns, like the Marder II.

The kit includes markings for six North African vehicles, including one captured by U.S. Rangers. The instructions have clear assembly diagrams, but because of all the available options in the kit, they can get a bit complicated. I suggest you pick the version you want to build and go through the instructions, crossing out the steps you won’t need. Disappointingly, the painting guides lack top views for the camouflaged vehicles. Also, the two colors for the camouflage are so close in tone it is difficult to make out the pattern; the box art will be some help for a camouflaged vehicle.

Overall, the kit features cleanly molded parts and excellent detail, but you’ll want to fill the three ejector-pin marks on each of the drive sprockets. I was tempted to build the captured vehicle, but photos of the real tank showed an unusual stowage rack and box not included in the kit. Instead, I opted for markings for the 7th Panzer Regiment.

The multipart hull assembles without difficulty. Fitting the running gear to the hull, I noticed the road wheels, drive sprocket, and idler were tight, but the return rollers were extremely loose. The link-and-length tracks’ upper run is molded in one piece with correct sag. I used it to make sure all of the other track pieces fit properly before all the glue set. The number of links shown in the instructions fit perfectly. When the tracks were dry, I was able to remove the tracks and running gear from the hull, making painting easier.

I did wind up with an unfilled locator hole on the front right fender because the vehicle I was building had the jack mounted where a short pry bar (Part D26) would normally go. I filled the hole by clipping the front bracket off the pry bar and installing it. (It may not be correct, but it worked). Also, the thread provided for the tow cable is poor quality and fuzzy. Even soaking the thread in diluted white glue failed to work get rid of errant strands. Fortunately, the spare wheel hides much of it.

The turret took no time to build. I left the vision block ring (Part D18) to install after the turret was painted and avoided masking or painting the vision blocks in place. Vinyl bushings allow the gun mantlet to raise and lower. The slide-molded main gun barrel has a hollow muzzle, but I had to drill the machine gun barrel to improve realism.

After paint and a coat of Tamiya Clear (No. X-22), I applied the decals with some help form Micro Set and Micro Sol. The yellow markings are a bit transparent and don't show up well over the dark yellow underneath. A flat coat sealed everything to finish.

Thanks to the excellent fit of the parts and one-color paint scheme, I only spent about 17 hours building my North Africa Panzer II Ausf F. The finished vehicle matched the dimensions in the Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles (David Doyle, Krause, ISBN 978-1-1440203-55-8). Academy has produced another fine plastic scale model kit any modeler that has a bit of experience should be able to build.
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