Bad Enough for Blitzkrieg: A 15mm Panzer II FireFight! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Saturday, 30 June 2007
When Germany invaded Poland, France and even Russia, Panzer IIs comprised a large percentage of the Wehrmachts armor. This light little tank saw service in Africa as well as on the Eastern and Western Fronts, making it a bargain for most wargamers. While it's powerful enough to fight smaller enemy tanks, such as the Soviet T-26, or any armored car, the PzII is also light enough that you have to be careful or risk losing your armor.

Despite its shortcomings, the Germans managed to utilize the PzII frighteningly well. Can you keep up?


The tanks included in this review.

We brought eight vehicles from six vendors into our painting area to clue you in on quality and which will best fit your army.

A Versatile Vehicle

The Panzerkampfwagen II was built throughout World War II, with early versions classified as light tanks and the last iteration�the Panzer II Luchs�designated a reconnaissance vehicle. We brought in a load of early versions and painted them up to give you a handle on how they compare.

For this review, we purchased Battlefront, Command Decision, three different Peter Pig, Gaming Models, Quick Reaction Force and Quality Casting models. That's quite the selection, and because Peter Pig makes three versions and Command Decision PzIIs come in three packs, we ended up with ten tanks! These are headed for our 7th Panzer division, making up the bulk of the armor in a light-tank company. Throw in a few PzIIIe vehicles we picked up from QRF, some reconnaissance armored cars from QRF and BF, and a couple of models from the Panzer 38(t) review, and we have a full company. Extra figures from the GrenadiereKompanie box set give us support units, and the division hits the road with a new armored company.

Overview

There's a lot of variation in this review�more than in any other we've done so far. Differences in all three dimensions, in barrel diameter, in layout � it's all there. No matter what style and look you're interested in, you can find a brand that suits your needs.

We really liked some of these models, while others were barely acceptable for tabletop use. The negative of having a lot of highly differentiated options is that you'll be unlikely to want to field some of these vehicles in the same army�given a variation of an entire centimeter in length (more than 20 percent of the original), and more than 30 percent variation in width, we will field these together only until we have an excuse to replace all but one or two similar-size models.


More direct view of the models in this review

Battlefront Miniatures


The BF PzII is a good looking model except for its oversize tracks.

For once, the Battlefront is not the largest model in our review, nor is it the only resin product. This mini is closely proportioned to the measurements we received off of AFVDB, and while it is taller than any other model, that size difference seems attributable mainly to oversize tracks. If you believe the story about BF tanks being built tall to take into account the company's infantry being on stands (we have heard it, but not from a BF representative, making it questionable), then this should make sense to you.

Edit: Leave it to readers, here's a link to a BF rep saying just that on TMP (8th post down, by Matt): TMP Link

The best thing about this model is the number of options. For example, while we did not model ours thusly, having the tank commander bundled with the vehicle is great, as far as we're concerned. Sure, you could buy a bag of 50 commanders and always have more than you need, or you could get them with your tanks. We prefer the second option, less waste.


The overall look of this tank is nice enough, but being tall for its width and height means it appears less than realistic�Panzer IIs were fairly low and flat. We would argue that the tracks, which cause the height issue and make it look more like a Pz 38(t) than a PzII, are the worst feature of this model.

For the most part, we like the level of detail, with even the crosshatch on the mud-guards showing through well. One nit here: The engine ventilation ports on the back of the deck, which are normally very clean on BF models, are rather thinly carved, making them less obvious than they could be after painting.

There's a lot of stowage on this model, more than on any other in the review. This can be good or bad, depending on what you prefer. From road wheels to what looks like the chest-based seats from an sdkfz 250, it's packed on there. We painted most of the stuff gray on the assumption that the crew would paint over anything that made their tank screamingly visible to the enemy, but you might feel differently.


The commander's hatch on this tank is as detailed as any, more detailed than most. The barrel and turret machine gun are both oversized, but frankly, that's true for nearly every entry in this review, with good reason: A 2 cm gun is awfully small at 1:100.

Overall, we're pleased with the Battlefront Panzer II; though it is a bit too tall, it's a nice-looking model, and if you primarily use Battlefront armor, you'll likely be more than happy with it.

GE011 Panzer IIF

$9.00 (USD)

Command Decision


The CD offering would be fine if the barrel and MG barrel were not so fragile.

As usual, the Command Decision entry comes in a three-pack. The vehicle has average dimensions, is detailed enough and looks good on the table. Lately, we've had good luck purchasing Command Decision models that we don't normally use (one thing about writing for Wargames @ Nordalia, it definitely takes you out of your comfort zone). Unfortunately, this model is the exception to that rule due to the fragility of the gun arrangements.

The best thing about the Command Decision product is the crispness of its cast. The details literally jumped out at us, something no other vendor in this review achieved. They're very clear, easy to paint up and stand out even in the boring Panzer Gray paint scheme.


The worst thing about this model is the barrel/machine gun construction. When we opened the package, the barrels came on a single sprue, three barrel/machine gun/glacis plate pieces joined by the ends of the barrels. The barrels were bent, and are very thin bits of metal. Bending them back broke the machine guns off two of the three tanks, and we feared we were going to lose one of the main guns also (we didn't, but it sure felt like it was going). Command Decision is the only vendor that did not oversize the main gun and turret machine-gun barrels of its Panzer II, and we wish it had.


The tracks on the CD models are nice enough, and the road wheel detail is excellent. There's not much stowage built on, meaning you can choose how much to add. The hatches are where the CD product falls down in the detail department, however. Not that they're poorly detailed�they're nice enough�but because the hatch is much smaller than the holder on the tank, you have to be very careful about placement if you wish to model the tank with the hatch closed. If you model the tank with the turret hatch open, it will look just fine.


CD-320B Panzer IIB/IIC

$22.00 for three models.

Note that CD offers five Panzer II models � a-b, B-C, c-a, d-e, f and g-j

Due to the price tag that bags of three carry, we chose to only review one model.

Gaming Models


Painted up, the GM tank looks good, but is smaller than any other vehicle.

Gaming Models' pre-painted miniatures are made of a very light and porous resin, as evidenced by the air bubbles you can see in the pictures. This tank is repainted and decaled up to match others in our army. While the products are very inexpensive for 15mm�$4.00 ready-painted, though not detailed, just base-coated and dry brushed, they are the least expensive model in this review. However, they're also not the best on the market. Only you can decide whether price outweighs quality, but even painted up, their scaling is such that we will not likely be using them with our armies for long.

The best thing about the Gaming Models product is the price, which is definitely appealing if you're on a budget. And unlike all the other entries in this review, you could play with them the day they arrive.

The worst thing about this model is the porous material used for casting. While our PzII is not the worst Gaming Models product we own in that respect, and overall it looks pretty nice, the turret has a couple of annoying holes. Seems this PzII has seen some action already.

The level of detail on this model is acceptable, and in general on-par with the other models in this review. The commander's hatch is a notable weakness, but the rest stands up well by comparison. The detail of the road wheels is as good as some of the other vendors, but doesn't approach the detail of the best products in this review. Gaming Models makes no bones about the fact that its products are for quick-use tabletop gaming and are not collectors pieces, so we think that's probably okay. There is as much gear strapped to the decking of this model as the best of the other competitors, and while it comes with these bits unpainted, there's enough detail there to color these bits up.


Note that this model is very, very small. It could be used in conjunction with Command Decision or Quality Castings, the smallest of the other products in this review, but even then it looks a bit undersized (not enough to matter, in our opinion, 2mm or so). It could not be used with any other product in this review without looking like the tiny little brother of the other PzIIs.

Panzer IIB

$4.00 (USD)

Gaming Models has no Web site or resellers. Contact it at to order, or see our product-line overview for more samples.


Peter Pig (3 versions)

The three Peter Pig models will appeal to those who care about separating sub-versions of vehicles.

Peter Pig offers three versions of the early-war Panzer II: the IIb, IIc and IIB. We noticed while writing this article that there is now a Panzer IIF, which we did not review. The turrets are exactly the same for these three models, but the hull and track arrangements are different, as we'll explore below.

Peter Pig makes good models that some people swear by, and these PzIIs are no exception. They were more difficult than others to assemble, primarily due to excess flash, but this was easy enough to get over.

The best thing about these models is their overall look. They appear much like you would expect a Panzer II to look, though just a bit wider than seems normal. This may be a deal breaker for you, but it didn't bother us much. The variety is also a very nice option, if you are looking for a particular Ausf, Peter Pig has given you a choice of four popular models.

The thing we like the least about the Peter Pig models is the lack of detail in the sprocket road wheel. It's just a disk. This is not uncommon in this review, but it would be nice if this expansive selection had that one little bit done up nicely. Since it's on the side of the tank�an area not often seen clearly when gaming�perhaps this won't matter to you.



The three body styles show differences in engine access panels, driver's hatches and tool stowage, with one having an angular, welded front end while the other two have cast hulls. The different suspension mechanisms are depicted by one set of connected bogies in sets of two, and two tanks with larger spring and leaf road wheels. These models are on the larger end of the spectrum.

The body of one vehicle, as shown in the measurements chart at the end of this article, is smaller than the other two.

The breadth of options, the acceptable detail, and the barrels that are oversized but not club-like make these models among our favorites. The fact that all three use the same commander's hatch, and one looks like an Ausf F, but without the commander's cupola, weighs against that popularity.

8-41 Panzer IIb, 8-42 Panzer IIc, 8-43 Panzer IIB

� 4.50 each

Quick Reaction Force


QRF's Panzer II is a nice model except for some blurring of detail on the hull and lack of tread detail.

Quick Reaction Force has a nice enough Panzer II model, in-line size-wise with rivals. It builds up nicely and fits in well with the larger models in this review; for example, it looks nice with the Peter Pig models, albeit slightly small in the height dimension.

The thing we like best about the QRF model is the turret. The cleanliness of the commander's hatch, the sizing of the barrel�just oversized for stability, but not as large as some other vendors�and the mounting of the glacis plate. Because the turret is the top of the tank, it draws your eyes, and no one surpasses QRF in this regard; only Battlefront comes close in level of turret detail and cleanliness of cast.


The thing we like the least about the QRF model is the top of the hull. As sharp and clear as the turret is, the details of the hull are shallow, and in some places faded out completely. This could be due to mold wear, but we suspect it's the master. While you can tell that the engine grilles are there, you really have to struggle to see them. The same is true with the engine-access hatches.

QRF has a unique (for this review) track setup. The tracks have no backs, and you mount them on the hull such that, in theory, there is a more realistic look to the arrangement from the side. We appreciate the system, and thought it worked well, but when we went to write, we discovered that we had mounted the tracks backward. No accounting for idiots, and without a solid back, those tracks are unlikely to come off in one piece, so we left them. While the detail on the sprocket isn't the best, you'll have to look at the back of the tank to see that. Our mistake, but we opted not to leave QRF out or further delay this review over it. Please don't think too poorly of us, we put together a lot of models and are bound to make the occasional mistake.


The QRF tank is a nice enough model, and you'll like it in your army, either alone or with Peter Pig vehicles, but we would like to see the hull have deeper detail etchings.

Note that QRF also makes a version of the PzIIc with additional armor for later in the war. We did not purchase one of these vehicles.

GFV 13 Panzer IIC

�4.50

Quality Castings/Battle Honours


The BH/QC model is nice, if a bit on the small side.

As is usually true, the Quality Castings Panzer II offering is nicely modeled. We did not receive a hatch, but used a supplied command figure, skipping the hatch entirely. This model did not suffer from the all-too-common problem with Quality Castings/Battle Honors miniatures�in other words, there were not 5,000 little parts to be assembled without instructions. It came in a few pieces and glued together as easily as any other product in the review.

The thing that we liked the most about this model was the level of detail throughout. It's common with Quality Castings products to find detail at a level that is very nice and nearly always clean, and this model is no exception. From the rivets at the edges of the track guards to the hinges on the hatches, this PzII is nicely depicted.


The thing we like the least about the model was the lack of a hatch. Every tank in a squadron does not require the tank commander hanging out of the turret. This may be a packing error as none of the "official" pictures shows a commander, and all show a closed hatch. But we've never picked up a Quality Castings Panzer II before (we've traditionally purchased only BF PzIIs as they suited our needs), so we can't be certain.

This model is on the smaller end of the spectrum, fitting well with the Command Decision and Gaming Models figures, but clearly smaller than the QRF, BF and Peter Pig entries.

A close comparison of all of the models will show that the QC/Battle Honours looks the most like an actual Panzer II, and it paints up well enough. If the overall aspect of a tank is important to you, there are several very nice vehicles in this review, but this is the most true to the original without sacrificing stability of barrels.


If you like your light tanks to be smaller to show the difference between them and medium tanks like the Pz IVD and Pz IIIE, then this model will serve you well. It is a bit expensive, but there are always ways around that problem like purchasing on eBay or waiting for a decent sale like the one at Grandiosity at the time of this writing.

Manufacturer: Quality Castings/Battle Honours
Model: 4005 Panzer IIC
Price: $8.95

US Sourcing:
Warweb.com/Grandiosity
http://www.warweb.com

Statistical Data


Length

Width

Height

Notes

Original, Ausf c/A/B/C

4.81

2.22

1.99

AFVDB Measurements/100

Battlefront (F)

4.60

2.18

2.30


Command Decision (B/C)

4.90

2.10

2.00


Gaming Models

4.20

2.35

1.90


Peter Pig sm *

4.50

2.90

1.90

Width � 2.8 at front, 2.9 at back

Peter Pig sq *

5.30

2.90

2.00

Width � 2.7 at front, 2.9 at back

Peter Pig rd *

5.20

2.90

2.10

Width � 2.8 at front, 2.9 at back

Quick Reaction Force

4.55

2.45

1.80


Quality Casting (c)

4.90

2.20

1.80


  • sm = small road wheels (ausf a,b), sq = squared glacis (indicative of Ausf F, but Ausf F had a commander's cupola), rd = rounded glacis plate (ausf c, A, B, or C)
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