S-Model finally releases the base version of the Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.B, which should make early-WW2 Braille scale modellers very happy because previously, in case they wanted a 1/72 model of this vehicle, they had to rely on the old Esci one, re-released by Italeri with its load of difficult-to-repair problems.
Probably in order to sell the highest number of copies possible, S-Model forces the modeller to buy two different versions of the Pz.Ib, in case he wants to build both versions of the vehicle, the european and the north african one: the main difference being the engine deck (which was modified so that the vehicle could operate in the Tropen), it was certainly possible to include both in the same kit. But business is business ...
These are the parts which both kits share (you can see the DAK ones here, in beige plastic, while the other kit is in grey plastic). The left sprue is the same you can find in the Panzerbefehlswagen, which I previewed here, so strong and weak points are exactly the same. S-Model just cut the Panzerbefehlswagen superstructure (large empty space of the right), leaving on the sprue many bits and pieces of the Panzerbefehlswagen.
The right sprue is the new one, and contains the Pz.Ib superstructure and turret. You can see that the engine deck is missing - you guessed it, it is separate and it is the only real difference between both kits.
I never go into extensive measurements, but I wanted to evaluate accuracy in length anyway, and the model looks a bit too long (4,53 m against 4,42 m). However, since it looks right and I do not want to start a war, I stopped measuring here.
Visors are moulded as part of the structure, and they came out over-simplified on the chassis but very fine on the turret. S-Model decided to make big savings by cutting on some grams of plastic, so they did not include the small separate sprue which you can find in the Panzerbefehlswagen kit, containing separate visors to replace the basic ones.
The main visible difference between Ausf. A and Ausf. B turrets is the towing hooks relocated onto the turret roof in Ausf. B. No lifting hooks are present here, neither in the Ausf. A nor in the Ausf. B configuration. MGs are well done, but very fragile.
The typical reinforcing pipe for the idler across the lower hull rear is present, which makes for a latest serie vehicle.
And here we are - the different engine decks.
The one on the left is the Tropen version (kit PS720097), with slits in the engine hatches (covered by armor cowlings) and holes with deflectors inside the left rear hatch lid. You need it in case you want to reproduce any DAK Pz.Ib or variants (Panzerjaeger I, Panzerbefehlswagen).
The one of the right is the "basic", "european" engine deck (kit PS720096). Any Pz.Ib or variant fighting in Europe and USSR used this version.
As it happens in the Panzerbefehlswagen kit, there is no open posterior vent with grilles and you have to work hard on it to make it look as it should be.
More differences between "normal" and "DAK" versions: most DAK Pz.Ib and variants carried a rack with jerry cans on the posterior left fender, so S-Model correctly lets you build one, providing six rather nice jerry cans plus a PE part for the rack itself (right photo, top part). But since S-Model had to make bigger savings, you only find the small PE part in the DAK Pz.I (PS720097); the "normal" Pz.I (PS720096) has the jerry cans, but not the PE part. Oh, well.
The DAK decal sheet (left), with some numbers and symbols which looks appropriate for DAK Pz.Is (though the typical DAK palm looks blurred, and we know why, and there would be a lot to discuss about it). "Normal" decal sheet on the right, with numbers I could find no evidence of (but I will look better into it).
To sum up, nothing is perfect, but the final model you can obtain from these kits can be more than satisfying, so another win for S-Model.
Preview sample purchased by the author.
This model can be purchased from