ESCI Panzer I Series
Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. B
ESCI # 8024; Aurora/ESCI # 6226; Revell/ESCI # H2321; ESCI/Ertl # 8368;
As of the date of this article, no other manufacturer has given us this tank (or any of the following variants) in 1/72nd scale. With a few minor errors, these are excellent models, and I hope that Italeri plans on re-releasing them all in the near future.
The majority of the kit parts are the same, which isn't saying much, considering their small size. All three versions share the same hull/wheel sprue, as well as the tracks. Once again, ESCI astounds us with the finesse of their model making skills, considering how old these models really are. The surface detail is superb, and overall accuracy is very good. Pioneer tools are molded as separate parts, all hatches are open, including the engine and transmission access hatches! What a remarkable idea. Too bad no interior detail is provided. Even the visor covers are all molded separate, though you will have to open a hole in the hull or turret parts, if you want to pose the covers open. A tank commander figure is included, with the early-war style uniform and hat. His pose is a little flat, but not too bad.
Some problems with the kit include an over-simplified engine exhaust pipe and cover, and two unidentified projections on the front glacis plate, which need to be removed. The sprocket wheel has too few teeth on it, considering the large size of the individual track links, probably due to limitations in molding technology.
There is also an error with the shape of the rear superstructure. On this, and the following two kits, a couple of "corners" have been added to the rear of the superstructure, where it should actually be smooth plate, continuous with the sides of the rear hull. The following scan shows the offending portion of the kit on the left. On the right, I've done some photo-editing to show approximately how the hull should really look. It was probably easier to do the fix in the photo than it will be to actually do it on the plastic, although with care, it shouldn't be too difficult.
As is normal with the ESCI models, this kit had its tracks changed from the early, belt-type vinyl tracks to hard plastic link ad length tracks in the ESCI/Ertl release. The early tracks aren't as horrible as most vinyl tracks, though it will be difficult to replicate track sag. The hard plastic tracks are nicely done, though a little thick, which makes the vehicles sit a little tall when complete.
The decals are variable, dependent upon which kit you have. My sample is very old, and now useless. It was nice to see four marking options included, primarily in single colors.
Panzerbefehlswagen I Ausf. B (Sd.Kfz. 265)
ESCI # 8041; Revell/ESCI # H2341; ESCI/Ertl # 8370;
Based on the Panzer I hull, this kit features a fixed superstructure and additional radio antennas specific to the command version of this vehicle.
I have previously built an example of this model and posted a construction review, which highlighted a couple of weak spots, as well as shown what a nice model this is.
Again, my decals are very old and yellowed, but you can see that four marking options were included, which is quite impressive, including two from the Afrika Korps.
Panzerjäger I Ausf. B Pak L/43
ESCI # 8046; Revell/ESCI # H2346; ESCI/Ertl # 8372;
This was one of Germany's first self-propelled anti-tank guns, using captured Czech 4.7cm guns. Even though it was mounted in an open superstructure, this kit does not provide an interior, and the lower hull is actually closed off from the superstructure, which is quite incorrect. If the fighting compartment is heavily detailed, it may not be noticeable that you can't see into the lower hull and driving compartment, but if you're going to go through the trouble of adding this other detail, you might as well also open up the hull, and detail the whole thing. Considering the small size of the tank, it shouldn't be too difficult.
The gun is very detailed, although the superstructure walls are quite thick, and few other details are included.
Four marking options were once again included. I sincerely hope that if Italeri re-releases these kits, they continue with this practice of including several options.
Too bad ESCI never released the Panzer I Ausf. A to add to this series, but that would entail redoing the hull and suspension. Regardless, this is an excellent series of models.
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