ARM: Review -

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6575; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Last Production - Smart Kit; 1,211 parts
(750 in grey styrene, 240 “Magic Track” single links, 140 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 6 stainless steel mesh); pre-order price US $59.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: final version of a J with late exhaust systems and completely new fittings for “von Thoma” mesh skirts
Disadvantages: still comes with “Magic Track” links; AA machine gun skate ring and details but no AA MG
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and Pzkw. IV fans
    DML is now completing their final versions of the Pzkw. IV Ausf. J series with the last production variant to follow the Ausf. J Early Production limited release kit from (No. 43 - No. 6549) and the mid production one from DML proper (No. 6556), and now replaces a previous kit from 1998. This kit now only comes with the “flammenvernichter” (flame suppressor) twin exhausts, the later style return rollers (with four per side still in the kit), the close in defense weapon, but now the antiaircraft/commander’s machine gun is missing although the traverse rail is provided. It again provides the mesh floors for the rear “schurtzen” to turn it into a de facto bustle rack. However, the kit now has a new upper hull and fenders with modifications to fit the so-called “von Thoma” mesh shields as side protection. The kit adds a total of 149 new parts (less 80 rivet heads on the main shield sprue) as well as more than 80 new etched brass parts.
    As mentioned this kit has a new upper hull core and details as well as the mid J turret shell with the representative modifications. The new “von Thoma” shields are assembled from styrene, stainless steel mesh, and etched brass parts, so not for the novice or weekend builder. The shields also require reinforcing strips made from etched brass which have to be formed via a press (provided in the kit) to make a section of U-shaped channel. All of this hangs on new fenders with the receptacles built in for the shield mounts.
    Construction of the rest of the kit is the same as all previous “Smart Kit” Panzer IVs. However, as the tanks evolved so do the kits and there are a lot of parts which need to be drilled out for specific options; alas, as usual, DML rams the directions into a single multi- fold sheet and the word “busy” does not begin to describe them. You will need to look them over several times BEFORE starting the kit to check what has to be drilled out and for what options.
     The kit uses a hull pan which is complete less the stern plates, separate final drives, and much of the surface detail simulates screw or bolt holes; it also has an applique lower glacis plate. Drivers consist of only four parts; the separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now eight piece affairs without separate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hull as well.
    The upper hull consists of a deck and framework with applique sides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. Note that the new sides of the upper hull are N6 and N11 even though the previous ones (parts E21 and E28) are included. As usual with DML directions, read ahead and DO NOT ANTICIPATE which parts will be used!
    All ports and hatches are separate parts so they can be posed open. While no interior components for the lower hull are yet present, the hull still provides a rudimentary firewall for the engine compartment, and the various vents and louvers are also posable either open or closed. The bow also comes with a well-done machine gun and ball mount. Note that all ports have clear styrene inserts as well.
    The turret is relatively conventional in its parts breakdown, but the KwK 40 is unique. The barrel is nearly complete in regard to length, being trapped between the recoil cylinders at the rear and slid through the armored recoil cover and barrel jacket before having the muzzle brake installed; this is only in styrene, but a metal part could be provided later in an upgrade set. The commander’s cupola now consists of 22 parts. Other than the gun and cupola there is still only a minimal interior for the turret, however.
    Etched brass is hefty for this kit and covers both the new skirts and details as well as all of the previous options such as the engine air intake louvers, the inner guides of the idler wheels, some small brackets, and the flaps for the engine air intakes on the sides of the rear deck. As noted it comes with the “floor” mesh for the turret “schurtzen”.
    Tracks are the “Magic Track” snap-together-then-cement type, and modelers are advised to recall that when facing the head card the left side track links are on the left and right are on the right. So far no DS plastic tracks have been provided in any Pzkw. IV kit. As I repeatedly state before there is nothing wrong with the “Magic Track” links other than they are tedious to assemble, and the DS ones are now more popular with modelers who do not want to spend several hours making up the tracks or trying to figure out how to paint them (as DS ones can be painted off the model and installed later).
    Eight finishing options are provided along with a targeted set of Cartograf decals: 11th Panzer Division, Germany, 1945 (tricolor, black 33); Pz.Rgt. 31, 5th Panzer Division, East Prussia 1945 (whitewash over sand brown, red 515); 6th Panzer Division, Czechoslovakia 1945 (tricolor with shields, white 431 or white 433); Unidentified Unit, Germany 1945 (“ambush” scheme, black 615); 11th Panzer Division. Germany 1945 (tricolor, black 11, 21 or 25); Unidentified Unit, Silesia, 1945 (tricolor, white 602); 2nd Panzer Division, Germany 1945 (tricolor, partial “ambush” scheme, white 121); Pz.Rgt. 33, 9th Panzer Division, Germany 1945 (tricolor with shields, white 332).
    Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    Overall, DML has given the modeler almost all he needs to complete a late model J with or without the mesh “schurtzen”. Now for the A version?
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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