In 1932/33 talks were already starting to improve the Panzer IA which was already not really well suited for the developments of warfare on the European continent with all other countries delivering bigger, faster and better armed and armoured vehicles. So plans were drawn up to improve the IA with a bigger engine and a new transmission allowing the tank to reach the speeds that were promised from the start. Also it got an extra road wheel to allow for better handling in the field. The difference although visually small (different rear deck, and back of the hull different exhaust system) was a huge improvement for the IA and from 1936 the IB went into production. When production started for the PzKpfw IB it was well suited to take part in the Blitzkrieg tactics however when war drew nearer it became apparent that the light armor, armament and the relative slow speed would not match that of the Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks that went into production at around the same period. So its role had to be revised to that of reconnaissance and support vehicles. Just as with its predecessor the IA it became a well used platform for a few modifications from Command tank, to Ambulance, driving school vehicle, Instandsetzungs vehicle, mobile artillery in the form of SIG 33 on Panzer IB (Bison IB), Armed with a Czech 4,7 cm gun it became known as the Panzerjager IB.
One of the more exotic conversions was a vehicle designed to deliver an explosive charge. Drop it on destination, beeline it out of there and have your object demolished from a safe distance. Dragon calls it the PzKpfw I with Abwurfvorrichtung but I will name it in this review under the more common name of Ladungsleger IB, as it was called.
The Ladungsleger IB (or Chargedropper) came in three flavors where the construction with which to drop the charge differed from each other. There was a variant where the charge would be dropped from a sort of ramp on the back deck of the vehicle and there were two variants that had the box from which the charge dropped suspended on the end of 2 arms. The kit from this review deals with one of the latter variants.
I have always had a soft spot for the Panzer I in all its variants. And funnily enough the last Panzer IB from DML that I build was the pre smart kit Panzer IB kit# 6186 and funnily enough it was my intention to build it into exactly this version of Ladungsleger. Sadly the kit took a nosedive just before it went into the paint stage and I never found the time to repair the damages. So it might be called (if you believe in that sort of thing) Karma that the kit of the Ladungsleger IB made it into my house in the end. As I said before kit# 6186 was a standard release. Far before the 3in1 boxes and the smart kits arrived on the scene. And I was very curious to see how smart the smart kit of the Panzer IB actually was.
Well the kit comes in the standard box all DML kits come in these days. The top of the box sports box art of the Ladungsleger IB painted by Chang Heum. The sides show one of the decal options and some of the new features on this kit. And they are quite promising.
Upon opening the box you will see that it is not really full as a lot of the DML offerings come. It is pretty much half full. It stands to reason since this is a very small vehicle. But more it fits in with the Smart Kit concept adding more details in the molding process so you get a better detailed vehicle with a lesser amount of parts. It becomes even more shocking when you look at the first page of the instruction sheet where you will find out that a whole lot of parts are not used for this built.
In the box you will find:
- 9 light grey styrene sprues
- 1 transparent sprue
- A separate hull tub
- One bag of Magic Tracks
- 1 bag with PE rings
- One fret of PE
- A small decal sheet with 2 options
- Length of twisted metal cable
- The instruction sheet
- A small additional sheet that seems to be a correction on step 5
The Styrene sprues including the transparent one, hold a total of 299 parts of which 192 are used according to the instruction sheet and the sprues themselves come from a selection of Panzer I kits from the Dragon brand. Pretty much the whole family tree is represented here with sprues coming from the Panzer IA, the DAK Panzer IB, the Panzer IB Premium, the only sprue that is actually labeled accordingly to the name of the kit is Sprue P which holds all the parts for the Abwurfvorrichtung. Curiously enough they are labelled it as Ladungslger. Probably Abwurfvorrichtung was too long. Hell Ladungsleger already came in an E short.
Old vs Smart
The old Panzer IB was already a really nice kit. It was one of those kits that you could cut the parts loose toss them back in the box, shake it and of to the paint booth with it. Still it had some minor inaccuracies most glaringly the Idler that could only pass for the real thing if it was seen from a distance in a very dark room.
The Hull Tub
The hull tub matches up with the drawings from Panzer Tracts and it has the correct details on the sides, bottom and on top of the fenders (nice sharp thread plate pattern). Another nice feature of the Smart Kit is that the fenders are finished with strips of PE that you add to the sides of them. Very nice with additional bolt details in PE.
The wheels are also improved in the Smart kit. Already being of the correct diameter with the correct amount of spokes it now has PE rings you glue on both the inner sides of the rim to make them correct. Dragon also went to work on the Idler. The older IB had this extremely simplified, with the wheel consisting of one part. The Smart kit offers you the Idler as a two piece affair with the holes on the running edge of the wheel as per the original. Very nice touch.
The superstructure and turret.
Well these were always very good to start with. The transmission cover is very nice. The superstructure itself comes as a base to which you glue the armor plates with the vision ports in them. The vision ports themselves can be found on the transparent sprue. The same goes for the back deck. Which give you a base and you add the sides and the top. Again DML managed to sneak in an improvement by offering the air intake grill under the turret as a multiple part PE piece. The parts for this are very thin and small so take care assembling this otherwise you still will end up using the plastic version. The back deck has the correct configuration with all the right hatches and openings. The Superstructure roof has some really nice features and details. Particularly the turret ring which has nice ball bearing details., not much of which is visible since the turret sits on top of it.
The turret looks the part and has all the correct details. With the two MGís that are off set from each other. Interior wise the turret offers nothing but the hatches so if you decide to open up the commanders hatch you better put a figure in it otherwise the viewer gets a nice look into nothing.
Speaking of interior. The kit doesnít mention that you use them but on the sprues you will find a firewall and a floor. It doesnít fill much but if you decide that the drivers hatch is opened with a figure in it could benefit you if you install these parts since it is just enough to fill that visible space. The tools have their clamps already molded on them so you really donít need any PE to get a good looking model.
I remember when I bought the earlier Panzer I the world did not yet know of Magic Tracks. Instead the tiny fragile Panzer I tracks were attached to sprues and a lot of care was needed to get them out of that without damaging or breaking them. A lot of patience was needed. And a lot of praying that you ended up with enough for the 2 runs. Now they are provided as magic tracks. And what a difference it is. They are of the right size according to Panzer Tracts, they have the correct profile, the lightening holes as per the real McCoy. But best of all they are already separate. They donít have the big push out mark that some of the larger Magic Tracks have. And they require little in the way of cleaning. I only spotted a few that had a little amount of flash present on them. You need 99 tracks for one run. The kit offers you 216 track links. Which means you get 18 spares that you can add to your vehicle.
This contraption consists of 17 styrene parts and the piece of twisted cable. Comparing it with the pictures and references I collected at the time for my own scratch build they seem to be spot on. DML even found some answers to parts that were a riddle to me when I built it. The detail on the arms is very well done and they should look great once finished. The only thing I have a bit of concern about is the metal cable which seems a bit too thick and could be too stiff which means that adding it might be a hassle with the chance of damaging the structure. It might be that with the build I will decide to make a new cable out of copper wire which is more pliable.
The instruction sheet
This is the standard DML affair that you fold out and the whole process is outlined in 17 steps. So far in my scrutinizing of it I havenít yet found any issues here. More on this in the built log. Keep the small extra sheet in mind that is a correction for step 5 otherwise you end up using the wrong parts. The paint options give you a choice between 2 vehicles. One of an unidentified unit and one of the 1st Pz Division. Both from 1940 and both painted in Panzer grau. Most of the Ladungslegers have been put into action on the Western Front in France.
I already mentioned it before in this review. The older issues of the Panzer I kits were already very good with some minor issues and the heritage for this kit was already good. However with the Smart kit pretty much the majority of the issues have been dealt with. Dimension wise you could not really wish for more. It has the correct length. The correct width and the correct height. The tracks are spot on. The improvement of the Idler is as perfect as it could be and to top it all off it is finished with a neat conversion which looks the part as well. One gripe I have with the kit though is that a lot of the Ladungsleger IBís I have seen in photographs have one or 2 spare wheels mounted in special made holders on the back fender next to the back support of the Abwurfvorrichtung. And that feature is not present in this kit.
As modellers we tend to be drawn to love the oddities. When you get a new kit you always start looking what versions there were, always looking for that unique angle. The manufacturers cater to you the modeler with in the box versions that you can build without the aid of scratch building or the help of the AM companies. Sadly this comes with a price - Literally. Since there is so much extra in the box it can only be done with a price increase which makes a kit of a vehicle this size not exactly cheap. I think I paid somewhere between 35 and 40 euroís for the old Panzer IB, which didnít have an interior, Tracks in sprue, A bad idler, Etc. etc. The Ladungsleger IB is quite a bit more expensive. But in my opinion you get a better kit with better details, better tracks, and just the right amount of PE to add something without making it too hard. Some old issues improved but still with the great ease of building that the older kits already provided, and aside from that you get a huge amount of extra stuff for the spares box. So is it worth it? I think yes. For those looking to build a Panzer IB variant that is not the standard you could not really get better than this.