S-Model introduced their Pz.Ib serie with one of the most successful examples, the Sd.Kfz.265 Panzerbefehlswagen, which was produced in great numbers and saw action in Europe and Africa until late in the war.
The main sprue contains most of the pieces necessary to build the vehicle. Both commander's cupola and lateral hatches can be mounted in open or closed position (although no interiors are provided). Upper hull and engine deck are moulded in a single part via slide moulds. This means that you have no choice of building a Tropen version, unless you do some cut&paste with the tropical engine deck you can find in the Pz.Ib DAK kit (PS720097). As you can see, detail is good, and even the threadplate on the fenders is acceptable. What is much less acceptable is the shallow detail on the posterior grille.
The commander's superior access varied three times during the various stages of production: an early version without cupola and with hatches having a square pistol port, a tall cupola with the same hatches as the first one, a lower cupola with hatches having a round pistol port. In the kit, both types of hatches are provided, but the cupola looks more like the lowest, later type, hence you can build either the earliest or the latest-style vehicle. Also, since the MG ball-mount is not moulded on the front plate, it is possible to build the earliest vehicle without ball-mount, or even the ambulance version without MG.
As done before in other kits, S-Model lets the builder choose to leave the vision ports as they are (easy solution, lesser detail) or shave them off and replace them with those in a small separate sprue (more work, higher detail). The small sprue contains other small pieces, such as the antenna, lamps and tools.
A small fret contains the lateral additional armor and some very flat tools, and another one the perforated plate to be wrapped around the muffler.
Each side of the suspension, wheels and track is moulded as a single part. Despite this, the detail is sharp, way ahead of the old Esci/Italeri mould. The double rows of track guide teeth are moulded as a single wide tooth, which I think is acceptable given the tiny size. Naturally, due to limitations of slide mould technology, you can not expect much detail on the outer track, which also needs careful cleaning to avoid damage to the track detail.
Sadly, the idler wheel looks mis-shaped, as you can see in the pic where it is compared to a real one. I do not even think this is due to small scale, but rather to poor research or oversight. Correcting the piece would be very complicated and it is better to leave it as it is.
Another critical point is the large, posterior vent, which should be opened with some visibile louvres, but it is moulded solid instead. Again, opening it would be possible with a good amount of careful work.
Some vehicles mounted a large storage bin immediately above the large posterior vent, which is not to be found in the kit, but this is not something to blame S-Model about.
A small decal sheet contains some German crosses, red cross for the ambulance version and the number "I04" which is a bad choice, as this number was found on a vehicle from 1st Battallion, 5th Panzer Regiment, 5th Leichte Division in Tobruk, hence it had to mount the Tropen engine deck.
To sum up, this is the best choice so far if you need a Sd.Kfz.265 in this scale. Good value for money, as in every S-Model kit, and some errors that can be fixed or simply overlooked.
Preview sample purchased by the author.
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