German 20mm Flak38 Early
/Sd.Ah.51/Waffen SS Crews

Tristar 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35037
Review by Terry Ashley


Following on from the recent kit of the 20mm FlaK38 Late version (kit #35029) Tristar have now retooled their early version of the 20mm FlaK38 (kit#35010 and #35019) with this kit of the 20mm Flak38 Early with Sd.Ah.51 and 4 man Waffen SS Crew. You should also note that with the release of this kit the earlier kit #35010 will be discontinued from the product line-up.

There are many small detail changes between the initial 20mm FlaK38 and this new kit such as the numerous small “star” hand wheels on the base and around the gun, the revised gun mounting, new 20mm Flak gun, gun sights and other details similar to the part breakdown of the 20mm FlaK38 Late version (kit #35029).

But you have to take care as many of the original parts are still included on the sprues and you should make sure you use the correct parts as called in the instructions. The original one piece gun and barrel is still included which has the dimensional errors as mentioned below as well as the new corrected two part gun but if you use one of the available metal barrels to correct the original gun you actually have a spare 20mm Flak gun with the kit, an unexpected bonus.

All the new details and others have been captured very well by Tristar in this kit which shares some parts with the earlier releases but the many new and updated parts result in a very refined and detailed early 20mm FlaK38 gun.

As with the late version the 20mm barrel/gun in this kit has the correct dimensions all around and you also get the barrel separate from the gun housing which does make updating to a metal barrel easier for added detail if you wish.

The Kit:

The kit consists of just 141 parts in light beige plastic with a small etched fret with 21 parts but there is no decal sheet as with kit #35010 and the front shield mountings are separate parts allowing it to be built with or without shields for a purely anti-aircraft gun or for both air and ground engagements although the instructions don’t actually show the gun without the shields.


Quality of the moulding is very good overall with virtually no flash or pin marks to contend with but a few of the mould seam lines will require a little work to remove and care is needed as some mould seams double as weld seams on the actual gun such as on the two large cradle sides and around the gun base so you should leave these intact.

The 20mm gun barrel is moulded separate to the gun receiver with a separate shell ejection shut cover and a round included in the chamber if you leave the door open? The flash suppressor is partially hollowed out but the suppressor and neck holes are only represented by small indentations yet it is still probably one of the better plastic barrels available as the hollowed out flash suppressor is quite thin.

The actual measurements of the 20mm FlaK gun are; full length of the gun (receiver/housing and visible barrel including flash suppressor) 2252.5mm which equals 64.357mm in 1:35 scale and the visible length of the barrel with flash suppressor is 995mm being 28.429mm (rounded to 28.5mm) in 1:35 scale.

The kit gun is the correct overall length as is the barrel length at 28.5mm but you should take care when fitting the barrel as this shouldn’t be pushed as far into the received opening as it will go but left with the wider neck just outside the received for the correct configuration and barrel length. If you push the barrel all the way into the receiver opening there will be a gap around the barrel and the length will be slightly short, but this is not a problem so long as you position the barrel correctly as above.

I also choose to use the recent Adlers Nest metal barrel (set #ANM 35027) as this has a superior flash suppressor and barrel details and to add this just cut off the end of the plastic barrel locating pin and glue this into the receiver. Once dry, drill a small hole for the metal barrel pin and add the barrel, all very easy.

Kit gun and with the barrel replaced with the Adlers Nest metal barrel

You are provided with two alternate gun cradles, parts A-40 and A-66 but you should use part A-40 as indicated in the instructions with this kit as this has the more refined details.

The big improvements are the new gun mountings with the upper round bearings as separate parts with excellent details that include the round attachment points at either end of the bearing. There is a little fine flash on the ends of the bearings to be carefully removed with the bearings fitted to the corresponding attachment brackets on the gun mounting sides by the use of four very small ring pins. These pins will need extreme care when removing from the sprue and in fitting as they are extremely small and delicate and there is very fine etched chains added to the pins to finish off.

The separate upper shield mountings that are attached to the rear bearing join should obviously only be fitted if you are using the shields and again watch the part numbers as these mountings can’t be swapped from one side to the other and they are fitted using the same ring pins as the bearings for very detailed sub assemblies.

On the right mounting the inner wall half is a separate part with a small etched bracket and the sight connecting rod that fit together with very small locating pins and corresponding holes in the etched part that are then trapped between the two mounting halves to allow the sight arm to move. This in turn allows the sight to move with any elevation of the gun as well as giving the correct open slit along the top of the gun mounting for excellent detail.

Also included is a choice of three lower gun cradle elevation arms, two of fixed lengths for the gun in the neutral position and one elevated about 40° while the third is hollow with a very thin inner piston rod allowing you to position the gun at any elevation and is probably the preferred choice.

Also the separate inner perforated reinforcing bracket has been further refined with the mounting brackets now included on the mounting wall, this bracket is barely seen after assembly but does add that extra level of detail.

There are also no pin marks at all on the new gun mountings and there is a subtle ‘orange peel’ surface effect with just fine moulding seams but as mentioned these should be left to represent the weld seams on the real mountings.

For the main sights, there are actually two types included in the kit, the initial “square” type sight and the later type but this is slightly different than the sight included in the Flak38 late version.

The main sight mounting between the rear of the gun cradle sides are different parts depending on the use of the early or later sights included but take note as there are three small tabs on the bottom of the main sight mountings (parts A-17/C-22) which look like pin marks but actually correctly depict the three small mounting lugs so don’t be tempted to remove these. The sight assembly sits slightly above the rear cradle sides as a result of the tabs which again is correct and does not sit flush as with most other FlaK38 kits and shows the attention to detail  in this kit.

Part A-17 showing the three lower tabs that
should be there so don't cut these off.
Later mounting (part C-22) has similar tabs


The initial sight is made up of 8 parts that fit together easily although the instructions show the sight mounting arm (part A-33) glued in place and this means you have to decide on the required gun elevation before hand.

Moving to the later sight, this is made up of 10 plastic and 3 etched parts for a very detailed sub-assembly and care will be needed when fitting the etched as well as the other parts as they are very finely moulded. The sight support (part C-23) has two small pin marks on one side that are easy to remove with a #11 blade with the fine mould seam lines also to be carefully removed.

The sight arm here is designed to be movable as it’s attached to the sight mounting with a small pin allowing elevation and this along with the movable parts in the gun mounting means you can set the gun at any elevation with the sight properly aligned.

The left side ammo rack is provided as an etched part with the X stamping included on both sides and this is an improvement over the thicker plastic parts on previous kits and there are four 20mm magazines provided, three for the etched rack and one for the gun which is slightly different from the other three so make sure you use the right one (part A-30) for the gun.

When fitting the gun to the cradle the main elevation linkage (parts A-12 and A-14) are also designed to be movable but again there is nothing really to hold this in place and you may want to glue this once the gun elevation is decided on.

The nicely represented gunner’s seat is made up of 6 parts and attached to the right side and this can be shown in the raised (transport) position or in the lowered position when the gun is in use.

On the elevation and traverse controls the small hand wheels have excellent details as does the main traverse box mounted on the right of the gun. The numerous small “star” hand wheels are provided as separate parts to use as required.

The round base plate has been revised with more refined tread plate and outer rim details as well as other very small bracket pins added to the mountings that again will require extreme care in handling.

Assembling the main gun cradle and gun sees the parts fit perfect especially the fit of the gun bearings allowing smooth elevation and no trimming was required at all making for a trouble free assembly. There are a few fine parts and some intricate assemblies such as the bracket and sight arm trapped between the right cradle sides but with care there shouldn’t be any problems.

The linkage arm (part A-26) is then added between the inner etched bracket (PE-2) and the gun bearing but this again is designed to be glued in place as there is not anything to hold it in place which is another reason to choose the required elevation and glue things firmly on place but the movable sight arm in the right cradle side allows this to be easily joined to the sight after fixing the elevation.

Additional parts such as the 7 fine pin chains can now be added and I find twisting the etched chains as well as bending to shape gives a more 3D look than just bending the chains.

Moving to the shields, these are the same as with the late gun but are not as thin as with the first Tristar FlaK38 kits and appear a little on the thick side for scale but also have the front shield fillets as separate parts allowing additional details to be included and these fillets are nice and thin.

The shields have excellent bolt head and attachment detail on both sides and not a hint of pin parks or other blemishes and the separate fillets also include small bolt head detail. After attaching the fillets there are five very fine etched wing nuts to be added that adds additional detail with the upper shield having the correct small triangular opening cover as a separate part.

The fine etched wing nuts added to the inside of the gun shields

One item not included is the spent shell cage sometimes fitted to the right of the gun mounting and you will have to use an aftermarket set for this if required.

The triangular base platform is in one piece with separate “feet” and there is a mould seam around the base that should be left to simulate the weld seam around the real base. The only issue with this is the sprue attachment points are right on the seam and will take some nifty knife work to preserve the seam while cleaning up the sprue scar.

Adding the gun to the base is very easy with a large circular lower plate that mates with the lower gun platform trapping it to the platform allowing the gun to traverse and shouldn’t cause any problems.

There are a few additional parts with 4 20mm magazine boxes and the spare barrel box from the Flakpanzer IA and Flakpanzer 38(t) kits to use in a diorama setting.

Sd.AH.51 Trailer:

The Sd.Ah.51 trailer is also very well done and is the same as with the previous kits. The main trailer frame has some prominent mould seam lines to be removed but this can be done very easily, the wheel mud guards are included in the frame moulding but still have well defined details.

The two wheels are very nicely done with subtle tread pattern and again no pin marks on either side of the wheel rims which again adds to the nice detail as does the multi part trailer hitch which is made up of seven parts.

The large ammo trailer is a fairly simple affair with the main box section in one piece apart from one end and the top which has details on both sides in case you wish to show this open. Included with this kit are the three lower box skids missing from the previous kits and the tools all have moulded on tool clips which would look better if replaced with etched clips.

SS Crew Figures:

As a bonus with the kit there are four gun crew figures wearing typical SS camouflage smock tunics and field grey trousers posed man-handling the gun into firing position that will make for a dramatic diorama scene.

Each figure is broken down with separate upper torso, head, arms, legs and all equipment as separate parts also. The heads are cut off for the helmets with camo covers and each is armed with standard Kar98 rifle.

The personal equipment provided for each figure consists of the Kar98 ammo pouches, bed roll, bread bag, gas mask case, meal tin, trench tool and water bottle for a good standard selection with each having nicely defined details.

Some of the equipment appears a little undersized such as the water bottle and meal tin as well as the Kar98 being 1mm shorter than the actual 1:35 scale length of 31.7mm but once added to the figures in a diorama setting this may not be that noticeable unless you mix these parts with other larger parts.

Detail on the figures is excellent with well defined uniform details such as collars, pockets and fabric seams as well as realistic fabric folds for the various poses for very good looking plastic figures when assembled.

There are the mould seams lines to be removed from the parts and care should be taken not to remove the fabric folds and seams when removing these.

Assembled figure showing the details and good fit overall


The instructions are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy to follow but as with any kit you should study these carefully before cutting or gluing the parts to avoid any problems.

The instructions for the figures are on the back of the box with images of the assembled figures showing the numbered parts in place and there shouldn’t be any real problems working out where everything should go.


This is another superb model if the earlier model 20mm FlaK38 with the attention to detail showing in the final build and the option to fit or not fit the shields allows you a choice of final configuration.

The inclusion of the initial and later gun sights also allows for some variation in the final configuration and checking references on which is applicable is the best option.

Due to the many small parts some assembly is a little intricate and care will be needed in some steps but the final result will give you most detailed early 20mm FlaK38 available in plastic today bar none and along with the later version (kit #35029) make for a perfect pair.

As with any kit there is scope for adding even more fine detail with the only real issue being the scale thickness of the shields but building the kit as a pure Anti-Aircraft gun will negate this issue.

The inclusion of the SS Crew figures basically gives you a diorama in a box and the poses would also allow the crew to be used on other artillery pieces for a different scene.

Highly recommended 8.5/10


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Detail images
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German 20mm FlaK in WWII 1395-1945
By Werner Müller
Schiffer Military History
ISBN: 0-88740-758-7
Flak at War
Trojca Publications
Waldemar Trojca, Karlheinz Münch
ISBN: 83-60041-15-6
Tamiya Photo Album 4
Tamiya Plastic Model Co.
Krupp Protze
Flak30, Flak38

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created May 20, 2008