A lot of us have seen the Matchbox Jeeps, that people use as Jeeps for their allied armies, posted up all over the Bolt Action community. Not as common, for quite a while there has been sporadic talk of a cheap toy Panzer 38(t) that was suitable scale for Bolt Action use. I first remember hearing about them from a forum user, Heychadwick, at least 12 months ago, but never got around to chasing them up.
Well folks, I finally have and boy am I glad I did.
The Panzer 38(t) was originally a pre-war tank made by Czechoslovakia. After Germany took over the country, they adopted the Panzer 38(t) into their army and it saw a lot of use in the early war years. They also gave some to their allies, Hungary (~108), Slovakia (~69), Romania (~50) and Bulgaria (~10). Some versions were also exported to other countries before the war. They used a 37mm gun with co-axial machine gun, a hull mounted machine gun and had 25mm of armour on the front.
Hungarian Panzer 38(t)s assemble to invade the Soviet Union.
These toy Panzer 38(t)s are listed as 1:48 scale from Classic Armor Diecast and I was able to pick up one off ebay for $14 Australian. At that price, I was very interested in seeing how it compared and as soon as I saw it in person, I ordered another 3. It is barely out of scale for 28mm. When comparing it against a Warlord plastic infantryman to historical photos, there is half a head height difference, which really is negligible at a tabletop distance. It fits in perfectly well with my 1/56 vehicles.
Once I threw a coat of paint on it, it really stood out as a great buy. While the detail might be slightly behind some of top standards of a model company, the fact that it is a third of the price is amazing and the detail is still better then some resin models out there. You can see the hundreds of rivets that characterised the Panzer 38(t). The guns all move, but I glued mine static for added durability, while leaving the turret free to move. I've painted mine up for my Hungarians. The tracks are rubber, which may remain slightly tacky with some paint. After I undercoated it, mine took some time for the tracks to hold the paint.
If you want a light tank for your Axis army at a low points cost and at a very low cost to your wallet, I can't recommend one of these tanks enough. There also exists a few Marder IIIs in the same line which I am keen to see now. So that's it. It's a great little kit to re-purpose for tactical wargaming. If you've have any experience with this range of toy tanks or have any questions, come join us on the forums.