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Tasca 1/35 scale PzKpfw II Ausf L "Luchs"

Kit: 35-001
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Tasca, imported by Dragon Models USA, 1315 John Reed Court, City of Industry, CA 91745, 866-365-8721,
Price: $54.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 278 parts (26 vinyl, 7 photoetched), decals
Pros: Excellent detail and fit, full gun breaches, openable rear hatch, working torsion-bar suspension, fine accessories, good commander figure
Cons: Suspension of front and rear road wheels inoperable, sinkholes in track
Even as its troops moved into Poland, the World War II German High Command recognized a need for a fully tracked "reconnaissance" tank. Although derived from the Panzer II, the Luchs used a different suspension system: a torsion bar suspension and interleaved road wheels, not unlike the Tiger and Panther tanks. Only 100 vehicles were built before production ceased in January 1943.

Tasca, a division of the Japanese Platz company, has issued its first 1/35 scale armor kit. The plastic parts show excellent detail, and the few noticeable ejector-pin marks are located where they won't show when the model is finished. Instead of a one-piece upper hull and one-piece turret, each comprises several separate panels, allowing a high level of molded-on detail. Even tiny parts such as wing nuts and lifting hooks show excellent detail.

Tasca has provided torsion bar suspension for nearly all the road wheels, which operate like the real things. Unfortunately, the first and last arms are connected to solid non-operating shock absorbers. The one-piece soft plastic tracks show excellent detail, but mine had some small sinkholes.

The instruction sheet is well-illustrated and easy to follow. A separate four-page booklet covers painting and decal locations for three vehicles and contains several photos of an actual vehicle. The Cartograf decals look good, and the photoetched fret has parts for radiator-intake screens, a "crows foot" antenna, and a few other small details. A commander figure is included, and while his pose is rather static, the molding is well-done.

The hull pieces fit together well. When you install the torsion bar suspension, make sure you don't get glue on the suspension arms; they must be able to pivot so the interleaved road wheels can be installed. The idler arms are designed to be adjustable so proper tension can be put on the tracks. I usually leave off road wheels and tracks until painting is finished. The interleaved road wheels might have complicated this, but the working suspension allowed me to follow my usual procedure.

Alignment of the upper hull pieces, is crucial to a good fit. The instructions show wire or stretched sprue added between the Bosch headlights and the top of the hull. I used soft lead wire to replicate these power cables. The five-part jack is one of the best I've seen in any kit.

The turret fit was excellent, and the mantlet includes breaches for the main gun and machine gun. If you take care in assembly, you can get the rear hatch to operate. The turret has a basic interior, but if you leave the hatch open, you may want to add more detail. Two styles of the commander's hatch are provided in the kit, and the jerry cans are superb.

I painted the model at this point, using Tamiya and Polly Scale acrylics. I applied the decals over brushed-on spots of Future floor polish. The decals didn't seem to react to Micro Sol, but Solvaset worked. I used white decal strips from my spares box to add white lines on the jerry cans to indicate they carry water.

The tracks are molded in soft plastic in a very good earth/rust color. I filled the sinkholes with gap-filling super glue. Tube glue worked fine for attaching the ends. I clamped the joints with spring clothespins until the glue set. The tracks fit well, but to get a realistic sag, they had to be glued to the tops of the road wheels with super glue.

The "crows foot" antenna was added last. Bending the brass antenna was easy using Tasca's plastic cone-shaped form. The antenna really sets off this diminutive tank.

This finished model comes up a few scale inches short of published dimensions. Thomas Jentz's Museum Ordnance Special Number 22 "Luchs" Panzerspaehwagen II (2cm) (Sd.Kfz. 123) is a great source of photos of the Luchs at The Tank Museum in Bovington, England.

I spent 22 hours on my Luchs. You should have experience with multipanel construction and delicate parts. It's clearly the best Luchs out there, and I can't wait to see what Tasca will do next.

- John Plzak


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