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HobbyBoss 1/72 scale German PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf E/F plastic model kit review

Few parts, good fits, and fine details mark the tiny tank
Kit:82956 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$21.99
HobbyBoss (Sample courtesy of Model Rectifier Corp.)
Good fits; sharp moldings; good detail in scale; wide choice of markings
Tools molded on hull and fenders
Injection-molded plastic (tan); 26 parts; decals
Czech-designed LT Vz 38 saw widespread usage in the German army after annexing the Czechoslovakian provinces of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939. Designated the PzKpfw 38(t), early models took part in the invasions of Poland and France. Based on that combat, the armor on the hull front and the sides of the fighting compartment and turret was bolstered with extra plates riveted on.

A light tank, the 38(t) was relatively small, and in 1/72 scale, the finished HobbyBoss plastic kit comes in at 2 and 1/2-inches long and 1 and 1/8-inches wide. Don’t let the model’s diminutive stature fool you because the parts are finely molded and well-detailed. Sure, there are some accommodations for the small size, such as a lack of open hatches, tools and spare-track links molded on the hull and fenders, and the exhaust and gun barrel being solid. Each track run is molded with the road wheels and the outer halves of the drive sprockets and idlers, but they look good with fine link details, nice sag on the upper run, and thin wheels. The only noticeable concession here is that the guide horns between the wheels are solid rather than being shown as pairs.

The 4-page instruction sheet is easy to follow, and the decals and a separate color page show markings for six German tanks, all on the Eastern Front in 1941 and 1942.

The first step shows adding the inner wheel halves for the sprockets and idlers to the tracks, but I chose to leave them on the parts trees for painting. I also left the track and road-wheel assemblies off — they are easier to fit after painting.

Instead, I started the build by adding the hull top to the bottom, attaching the fenders, and the separate jack and Notek light. The fenders show hollow undersides where the toolbox is located that could be blanked with a bit of styrene, but it’s not visible with the tracks in place, so I left it as is. After placing the driver’s plate and its machine gun, the hull was finished in less than 10 minutes.

The turret took about the same amount of time. The kit provides an extra main gun and periscopic sight, a nice touch should you break one of these critical parts. I wish HobbyBoss had included extra machine guns because the kit parts break easily during handling.

After 20 minutes of construction, I was ready to paint. I lightened Tamiya German Grey (No. XF-63) a little for scale and airbrushed the hull, turret, running gear assemblies, and inner wheel halves. The decals responded well to Microscale Micro Sol and went on over a layer of clear gloss without silvering. I picked out the tools, machine guns, spare tracks, and road-wheel tires by hand, flowed on washes, lightly dry-brushed to emphasize rivets and hinges, and used AK Interactive weathering pencils to add a little dust before final assembly.

The finished model captures the Panzer 38(t) perfectly. With good fits and the small parts count, I spent barely five hours on it. It would make a great weekend project, and even the two-color camo patterns would not increase the difficulty by much.

The best part is the reaction it gets when I show it to people. Modelers are fascinated by the fine details, and non-modelers respond, “Aww, it’s adorable!” This is not the usual reaction I get to armor models, but they aren’t wrong; it is kind of cute.
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