login   |    register

In-Box Review
Pz. Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F
German Panzer Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_01

by: Scott Espin [ SPIFF ]

kit contents
The kit comes in an attractive box outlined in black with a beautiful rendition of the panzer gray tank in a forest setting. The instructions are clear with detailed black and white line drawings including breakouts for the various subassemblies. As can be expected, there is a brief history of the tank included on the front page. The second page includes a diagram of all the parts, accessories and decals included with the kit and the parts not to be used are grayed out, with the exception for three identical photo etched parts (PE-18) which should have been grayed out.

•1 Instruction fold out sheet
•10 Sprues molded in yellow/beige
•1 clear sprue (vision block parts)
•1 photo etch fret (brackets, tool straps, grill screens etc.)
•1 decal sheet

Markings and paint diagrams in black and white are included for six different schemes. Interestingly, three of the schemes are from of the same unit. I was especially interested in the worn white wash scheme of the vehicle with 19th Panzer Division.

•204th Panzer Regiment, 22 Panzer Division, Crimea 1941-42
•204th Panzer Regiment, 22 Panzer Division, Crimea 1942
•25th Panzer Regiment, 7 Panzer Division, Russia 1942
•204th Panzer Regiment, 22 Panzer Division, Crimea 1942
•19th Panzer Division, Russia 1942
•10th Panzer Regiment, 8th Panzer Division, Russia 1941

review in detail
Wheels and suspension
These are very well detailed and the suspension components will move if assembled with care. The bogie assemblies articulate with the leaf springs and each suspension arm moves about freely. There are many parts for these subassemblies and you must be very careful when applying the glue so as to allow the parts to move properly. If you plan on doing a diorama on uneven ground, you need to cement the arms in the proper position in order for them to remain that way. Otherwise, the suspension assumes the position it would be in if the tank was parked on flat, solid ground.

Separate plastic parts are provided for the rubber tire rims which really makes painting them and the road wheels simple and easy, just simply pop them on during the very final stages of weathering. They fit perfectly over the wheels and no sanding is required for proper fit. I would recommend leaving the wheel assemblies off for ease of painting and weathering the suspension and gorgeous leaf springs. The bolt detail on the wheels is great including the center nipple used for lubricating the main wheel bearings.

Lower Hull
The parts are thin and well molded with no warping. The lower hull is comprised of a bottom piece (which includes the front lower hull plate), two side plates, a rear plate and another for the front sloped plate. I was surprised at how well all the parts fit together. If the assembled hull isn’t square, trust me, it is not because of the parts. The detail on the rear is great and includes a swinging tow hook that actually works. It is tricky to put together though due to the very small parts.

Hull Sub-Assemblies
Next come several sub assemblies for the lower hull to include the visors (comprised of plastic, armored glass and PE brackets) and bow machine which are assembled along with various other bits and pieces for the front hull plate. The machine gun, visors and front hull plate are beautifully molded with excellent detail. There are many very small and fiddly parts here so you’ll need a steady hand, good lighting and some fine, pointed tweezers. The fenders are nice and straight and fit well into the hull sides. Based on my references, the fenders and fender brackets match perfectly, including the gaps between the fender and the hull around the final drive housing.

There are some very prominent ejector pin marks on the underside of the fenders which you may want to fill if anyone will be looking deliberately at the fender undersides. Otherwise they will be difficult for anyone to notice. The muffler appears to be at the correct height for this variant of the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t). The engine deck covers are well molded with good bolt and hinge detail. PE grill screens are provided which go under the underside of the outer edge of the engine hatches. They will be extremely difficult to see. There is a photo etch grill screen with frame which needs to have sections on three sides carefully folded to the correct angle (not 90 degrees….). You’ll want to dry fit a couple of times until you get the angles just right. There are some very tiny lights that go on the rear of the tank and the convoy lights are properly molded and look great.

All the tools are molded separately and include PE leather straps for buckling them down, a very nice touch. You’ll probably want to hold off on adding these details until after you’ve painted, but that all depends on how you like to build and paint your armor.

Gun Assembly
The main gun assembly is comprised of 11 parts, some of them small and fiddly. You’ll want to ensure that the assembly at the back end of the gun is as square as possible to prevent alignment problems later when you insert the completed gun assembly into the turret front plate. One end of the gun sight attaches to the gun assembly, the other end sockets into the front plate with a frame to be glued to hold it all in place. If done properly, the sight will swivel in alignment with the main gun as it moves up and down. Be careful when gluing the frame that holds the site in place as you’ll want to make sure the sight swivels, otherwise the gun will be fixed in place at the same angle as the gun sight and won’t be able to move. The machine gun is well molded with lots of detail and is identical to the bow machine gun. The ball for the socket mount is a little off and some sanding will be required. Don’t sand too much though so as not to make it too loose in the socket.

The turret is very detailed and includes many parts to accurately depict the many panels with bolt detail all around. The turret is comprised of the main gun/front plate assembly, the upper deck assembly with commanders cupola included with vision ports and a working hatch. The rest of the turret is made up of separate panels for the sides, turret rear and the armored turret ring lip under the front plate. It’s a little tricky to get it all together, but can be done with patience and an absence of caffeine. The turret appears accurate when compared to my references.

There are a few more details to be attached to the tank including a very small PE latch assembly with padlock to lock the access hatch on the front left. These parts are very small and require extreme care, but look fantastic on the assembled tank. Another option is provided for additional spare track brackets on the upper front hull plate with 4 small PE parts for each assembly. If installing those, you’ll need to shave off two of the molded plastic bolts for each spare track bracket assembly. I noticed, at least based on my references, that Tristar omitted the two hinges that go for the folding hatch cover on the front right of the upper hull.

The tracks are made up of individual track links that will need to be removed from the sprues and cleaned up. The detail on the links is nice and crisp. Be sure to keep the links labeled (T-2) separate from the rest of the normal track links (T-1) as they are needed as end pieces on the spare track sets. The track is designed to be fully workable so the links are snapped together. Two pins pop into the sockets on the next link. They should be strong enough for you to handle them and get them around the drive sprockets, but you may need to add a touch of cement to ensure they stay together once they’re wrapped around the sprockets and wheels.

A commander figure is included with nice crisp uniform detail. There is a headset with PE parts for added realism and detail. The painting guide includes everything you need to paint the emblems, rank epaulets, insignia, cap etc.

Tristar has received much critical acclaim for their 1/35 scale Pz.Kpfw. IV series, and their Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F is just as good. This is a well engineered kit featuring crisp, clean moldings, movable suspension parts and snap-fit individual track links. The fit and finish are excellent and the level of detail is fantastic, it would be difficult for anyone to be disappointed with this kit. This is a great kit for any fan of the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) series. I am enjoying building mine so much I want to get another!

A Build Log is available via the Forums to evaluate the parts fit and construction assembly.

My primary references were:

PzKpfw 38(t) in Action
Squadron/Signal Publications Armor No. 19
By Charles K. Kliment and Hilary L. Doyle
Illustrated by Don Greer, Rob Stern and H.L. Doyle
ISBN# 0-89747-089-3

Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two
The complete illustrated directory of German battle tanks, armoured cars, self-propelled guns and semi-tracked vehicles, 1933-1945.
By Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, Technical Editor Thomas L. Jentz
ISBN# 1-85409-518-8
Highs: Excellent details, lots of photo etch, movable suspension and wheels, individual track links.
Lows: Some of the parts, including the PE are very small, but then again, this is a very small tank.
Verdict: If you’re in the market for a great rendition of the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F you would do well to consider adding one or more of these to your collection.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35020
  Suggested Retail: $42.00
  PUBLISHED: Apr 26, 2008

About Scott Espin (Spiff)

I have been an avid student of military history for over 35 years, especially World War II with my focus mostly on German military equipment (tanks and aircraft). I'm especially interested in anything relating to the Eastern Front and North Africa. My Dad ignited my passion for modeling when I...

Copyright ©2020 text by Scott Espin [ SPIFF ]. All rights reserved.


Scott, thanks for the great review I've heard a lot of good things about Tristar and following your great build I think I'll pick one up to go with my Dragon 38 , it should be interesting to see how they compare Thanks again , Bob
APR 26, 2008 - 03:04 PM
Thanks Bob, I appreciate the comments and the interest. I'm having a blast building this kit and would love to do another in a standard gray scheme. I'd be curious to compare the interiors as well (Dragon kit comes with it, Tristar sold separately).
APR 26, 2008 - 05:15 PM

What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • PzKpfw_38t_Instructions001
  • PzKpfw_38t_Instructions002
  • PzKpfw_38t_Instructions004
  • PzKpfw_38t_Instructions003
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_11
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_10
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_09
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_02
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_03
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_04
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_05
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_06
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_07
  • PzKpfw_38t_Ausf_F_08