by: Andras [ ]
The VK 16.01 (or unofficially PzKpfw.J.) was a very peculiar design – along with its “sister” the VK.18.01. (or PzKpfw I.F). (VK stands for VersuchsKetten, experimental tracked vehicle; the number 16 stands for the weight and the 01 is the model number.) They share many features but they were designed to perform different roles – namely infantry support in case of the PzKpfwI.F., and reconnaissance in case of the PzKpfw II.J. They shared the same engine, similar hull, same torsion bar suspension and the same tracks; the main difference was the turret and the primary armament.
The concept was a very interesting one, but I think it is safe to say, a very outdated one. We are talking about up-armoring a light tank to heavy tank standards (the frontal armor was 80mm, the sides and turret 50mm), which put its weight to 25 tons -about the same weight as a T-34’s. This tank was supposed to work in a battlefield where increasingly high powered anti-tank guns, and fast, hard-hitting medium tanks were already making it somewhat of an anachronism even before the design process was finished.
It was equipped with a Maybach HL45P engine, which gave it a top speed of 21kmph, and the wide tracks gave it an excellent cross-country mobility. Based on the experiences of the PzKpfwI.F, it was up-armed with a 2cm KwK 38 L/55 gun, and a co-axial MG-34. The turret had only manual traverse. An interesting feature it shares with the PzKpfwI.F. is that the hull was one unit with the superstructure, as opposed to the superstructure being bolted to the hull, as we can see in most German tank designs. MAN produced 22 of these little tanks in 1942; seven made it to the 12th Panzer Division, and were transported to the Eastern Front, and some were given to the 13th Polizei Panzer Kompanie.
This tank (and its sister designs) were not exactly successful in the field however they served as evolutionary steps to the Pz.Kpfw II Ausf L, Luchs.
I’ve only recently heard of Flyhawk, when they came out with their Renault FT-17 models, and the PzKpfw I F both of which were met with general enthusiasm by the modelling community. I could not wait to see what this model will be like.
It arrived in a sturdy box with a very nicely designed sleeve. The artwork on the cover is a painting of the vehicle. On the back there are a couple of QR codes for different social media links, a short introduction of the tank, along with a couple of photos of the model.
When you open the box, you would think the designers were working in a CPU factory. All sprues are protected by shape-cut foam; this, combined with the sturdy box ensures that the model will not get damaged in transit, unless, you drop it into an industrial shredder. The PE sheet, a nylon thread and the decals are placed in their own separate bag, attached to a thin cardboard sheet –the way Dragon Models used to pack their own offerings. The other side of the sheet has cobblestones printed on it, which could serve as a diorama base for the model once completed. Overall I have to say the design and presentation is very impressive; Flyhawk did not spare time and effort to provide great a looking package.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow; where needed colored pictograms are supplied to help the modeler. There are also explanatory drawings provided showing the completed overlapping drive wheel assembly, and also the tracks, which will make the build easier for the modeller.
The parts –which are admittedly the most important parts of a model- are excellent quality. The detail is crisp, there is no flash anywhere, and even the smallest parts are molded perfectly. The model measures up nicely against the published dimensions; as far as I could ascertain it is a quite accurate representation of the real-life vehicle.
The PE sheet is quite extensive; in most cases you would not expect to see this much brass in a 1/35 scale model let alone in a 1/72 scale one (as opposed to aftermarket PE sets of course).
The sprues are coded with letters. Sprues A, C, E, F, V contain the tools, equipment, towing hooks, and other small parts; sprues S, U, W contain parts for the hull, the turret, the suspension, and some parts of the running gear, sprue T contains the drive wheels, idlers, and road wheels, and the two sprues coded Q contain the tracks. The hull is made out of two major parts, which are already detached.
I have to say, the model looks like a 1/35 kit both in the quality and the number of the parts; the designers did not make compromises or take shortcuts when producing this kit. What I really like about the model is that it's designed for different skill levels; there are several options for alternative PE or plastic parts (or even a choice between a multipart plastic assembly, and a simplified single one), making the difficulty of build "scalable". You can choose to use the plastic parts, but if you really are up to the challenge, you can use the 1/72 scale, two part PE lifting hooks for the turret (they are tiny...).
The only thing I did not like was the lack of metal gun barrel. The 2cm cannon is made out of two parts: the main barrel, and the muzzle break. It's a very delicate assembly, and would probably be better replaced with an aftermarket part. Another thing that could be swapped for a metal part is the nylon thread that was supplied for towing cables.
Painting and Finishing
Three paint schemes are available: an overall panzer grey color from the 13th Verstaerkte Polizei-Panzer Companie from 1943, and two late-war camouflage schemes from the Pz.Abt.z.b.V.66 from 1942. The painting guide is easy to understand, and the colors are given in both Mr Hobby and in Tamiya codes.
The fit is excellent (I could not resist, and started to build the model right away), and I did not meet any challenges during the build. This is an excellent model of an obscure, but interesting-looking German light tank. It is very difficult to find any faults with this model, it really is a small gem.