German 20mm Flak 38 Late
w/Sd.Ah.51 Trailer

Tristar 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35029
Review by Terry Ashley


Tristar have now released this long awaited update to their excellent 20mm FlaK38 (kits #35010 and #35019) with this kit of the 20mm FlaK38 Late version with Sd.Ah.51 trailer.

The first thing to note is there are many small detail changes between the initial 20mm FlaK38 as depicted in the previous Tristar kits and the Dragon 20mm FlaK38 (kit #6288) such as the numerous small “star” hand wheels on the base and around the gun, the stamped elevation and traverse hand wheels, a simplified design for the gunner’s seat and other small changes so you should be careful when looking at reference pictures to make sure you are looking at the right version.

All these details and others have been captured very well by Tristar in this kit which shares some parts with the earlier releases but has many new and updated parts which result in a far more refined and detailed 20mm FlaK38 than previously offered by anyone and we saw a sneak preview of some of these details in the recent Sd.Kfz.251/17 from AFV Club (kit #AF35118).

Probably the most important update is the small dimensional errors in the barrel/gun housing of previous Tristar FlaK38 kits have been corrected and the 20mm barrel/gun in this kit is the correct dimensions all around and you also get the barrel separate from the gun housing for good measure.

The Kit:

The kit consists of just 141 parts in light beige plastic with a small etched fret with 30 parts and the same decal sheet as with kit #35010 with a few optional parts provided to build the gun with or without shields for a purely anti-aircraft gun or for both air and ground engagements with the instructions clearly showing the different assembly sequences along the way depending on your choice which you have to make very early on.


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 but take care 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 with a round included in the chamber if you leave the door open? As mentioned the gun has been revised and now has a separate barrel and gun receiver and while the flash suppressor is nicely hollowed out the muzzle brake and neck holes are only represented by small indentations but is probably the better of the plastic barrel 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.

With the revised kit gun the overall length is the correct 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 received 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 Lion Roar 20mm metal barrel (set #LB3515) as this has a superior flash suppressor and to add this just cut off the end of the receiver to correspond with the metal barrel, drill a small hole and add the barrel, all very easy. 

Image comparing the Dragon and Tristar guns showing both are spot on dimensionally.
Additional images show the armorscale and Lion Roar metal barrels fitted again with the correct dimensions.


You are provided with two alternate gun mountings (parts A66 or C2) to use depending on your choice of adding the shields or not as part C2 has the shield mounting bracket while part A66 does not, so the final configuration has to be decided at step 1 in the instructions.

The big improvements are the new gun mountings with the upper round bearings separate parts with excellent details that include the round attachment points at either end of the bearing. These are fitted to the corresponding attachment brackets on the gun mountings by the use of four very small ring pins which will need extreme care when removing from the sprue and in fitting. Added to the pins are very fine etched chains provided for a nice finishing touch.

Take note that there is a locating hole on the right bearing only for the elevation arm so take care to fit this correctly as it’s easy to transpose the bearings if not careful.

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 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 and allow the sight arm to move which 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 the separate 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.

The main sight assembly mounted between the rear of the gun cradle sides has been extensively revised for the later sight and to add additional details but take note that there are three small tabs on the bottom of the main sight mounting (part A17) 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 A17 showing the three lower tabs that
should be there so don't cut these off.


Moving to the sight itself, this is made up of six plastic and two etched parts for a very detailed sub-assembly and care will be needed when fitting the etched ‘cross hairs’ as there are two small pins at the side that fit onto the sight frame (part C19) leaving a very small gap around the etched part which again is how it should be but will need care to position the etched part correctly.

The instructions show to leave the sight mounting arm (part C15) unglued to allow this to move in accordance with the gun elevation but there is no way of holding this in place and it’s best to decide on the required gun elevation and glue the sight accordingly.

The left side ammo rack is now 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 the kit provides four 20mm magazines, 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 A30) for the gun.

When fitting the gun to the cradle the main elevation linkage (parts A12 and A14) is also designed to be movable but again there is nothing to hold this in place and as with the sight its best glued according to the gun elevation decided on.

The nicely represented late gunner’s seat is made up of six 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 are now the stamped later style with excellent details as does the main stamped traverse box mounted on the right of the gun with these being the main visual differences between the early and late guns. The numerous small “star” hand wheels are also of simpler design on the later gun and these are provided to use as required but the early model fine hand wheels are also included on the sprues and you could use these to detail up the earlier kits if you have these stashed away?

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 A26) is then added between the trapped etched bracket and the gun bearing but this is not designed to be movable 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 new for this kit but are not as thin as with the previous Tristar FlaK38 kits and are 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

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.

Sd.AH.51 Trailer::

The Sd.Ah.51 trailer is also very well done but 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.

The instructions are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy to follow but as with any you should study these carefully before cutting or gluing the parts to avoid any problems while the small decal sheet which is the same as that from kit #35010 gives a few generic kill marking scoreboards you can use if required.



This is simply a superb model if the late 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.

Due to the many small parts some assembly is a little intricate and as with any kit there is scope for adding even more fine detail but the final result will give you most detailed 20mm FlaK38 available in plastic today and being the late version is not just another 20mm FlaK38 kit but offers a real alternative to the others available.

The only real issue is the scale thickness of the shields but building the kit as a pure Anti-Aircraft gun will negate this issue and also allow you to use the excellent AFV Club 60cm Flakscheinwerfer searchlight (kit #AF35125) in a diorama setting, a flak tower perhaps?

Highly recommended 8.5/10


The sprues
Click for larger image
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 March 24, 2007