It’s no secret that you can pick up cheap Chinese 1/48 “diecast” tanks from the likes of Classic Armour and 21st Century, but they seem to pop up pretty unpredictably. So when I saw an eBay seller flogging Panzer 38Ts for about £7 each I thought I’d jump on it.
At some point I’m going to sort some early war Germans, and they’ll need some early panzers for the blitzkrieg. 38Ts came in a platoon of five, and these diecast tanks are a really affordable way of fielding that in 28mm. The upper hull and turret on these is injection moulded plastic, with only the lower hull actually diecast metal.
So are they any good?
Good enough I reckon. The scale is 1/48, which is close enough for 28mm and absolutely fine if they’re operating together as a unit. Small differences in scale like that only matter for things like doorways IMO, or if you’re mixing 1/48 and 1/56 vehicles in one unit.
The tanks come in a box mounted on a plastic display stand. We won’t be needing that, and it comes off easily with two screws.
Detail is fairly good. The tracks are a bit nasty, they’re rubber bands and tend to get a bit wonky so you might want to tweak them a bit and glue them in place when you’re done. You get a moveable turret and the main gun and both MGs are articulated. I’ve actually glued those in place, as they tend to end up pointed in weird directions otherwise. Out of the box the paint scheme is grey/brown, which is actually what German tanks should officially have been painted in up to mid-1940, but as far as I can make out units in the field were actually just painting their tanks in the plain grey. All the available colour photos from fighting in France show grey tanks. So that means a respray is on the cards for this lot. One other issue is that all the vehicles have the same turret number, so you’ll want to change that if you buy more than one. If you just wanted a single tank for the Polish campaign you could probably use it out of the box and not get too much grief from your local rivet counter.
There are also a couple of other minor tweaks that might be required. The exhaust is just bunged on with a blob of glue and some aren’t lined up properly, so just pop that off and stick it back on with a bit more care than whatever 9-year old stuck it on in the factory in China.
My main beef with them is that the MG barrels are very brittle, and snap off at the slightest little knock.
The tracks come off easily, and the whole thing can get a dose of grey spray paint. I didn’t remove the pre-applied decals totally before doing this, I found that all you really need to do is get most of them off. A bit of Micro-Sol and attacking them with a mild abrasive like a rubber is good enough.
After the spray base coat I picked out a very few small details (MG barrels, muffler, etc) and then pinwashed the whole vehicle. As it’s an early-war bolted armour construction it has absolutely tons of surface detail, so the pinwash took bloody ages, but I think on a plain grey background you really need that strong black contrast to bring the best out of the model, so stick with it. I washed all the running gear and lower half in a sepia ink to get a bit of variation into the model, then went over everything with a lighter Army Painter ink wash. After that I gave it a drybrush with a very light grey, at which point everything all comes together and it starts to look good.
I weathered them using the Tamiya weathering powders, then sealed in matt varnish. Not a bad result from a cheap Chinese toy, I reckon.