ARM: Review - 1/35 scale Pzkw. IV Ausf. J Early/Initial

Kit Review: 1/35 scale Kit No. 43 (Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No. 6549); Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Early/Initial Production - 2-in-1 - Smart Kit; 1,041 parts (681 in grey styrene, 288 =93Magic Track=94 links, 56 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 10 etched nickel, 1 twisted steel wire); retail price US $46.95

Advantages: first new kit of this popular subject from DML in 11 years; large number of new/modified parts from previous Pzkw. IV kits

Disadvantages: still comes with =93Magic Track=94 links; no zimmerit paste

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all German and Pzkw. IV fans

As most German =93Panzer IV=94 fans are awaiting DML producing the last two major members of the family - the Ausf. A with its early model suspension and details and the Ausf. J with all of the very late war changes =96 their affiliate has released an early model Ausf. J kit based on the recent DML Pzkw. IV Ausf. H Late Production kit (No. 6300). The last version of a J from DML was Kit No. 6080 which debuted in 1998 (for about $23!)

As the early model Js were mostly slightly evolved Hs this kit replicates that with only a small number of changes. The kit has a new upper hull core and details as well as a new turret shell with the representative modifications. The kit retains the the complete =93Schuertzen=94 stand-off plate arrangement from the H, using the same system from the StuG III and Sturmpanzer IV kits with etched nickel plates for the track runs and a set of plastic moldings for the turret. These are credibly thin and also permit posing the side doors in the open position for access to the turret. But this kit now provides the =93blind=94 hatches for the turret as to the best of my knowledge they were dropped when the =93Schuertzen=94 became factory standard.

Construction remains the same. 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 =93busy=94 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.

As with the earlier kits this kit has another new 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 now consist of only four parts; the separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now nine piece affairs without separate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hull as well.

The upper hull again consists of a deck and framework with applique sides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. Note that the sides of the upper hull (parts E21 and E28) need to have holes drilled in them in Step 8 for the =93Schuertzen=94 brackets but the directions note that these are optional. As this is the early model the muffler has a central tube section and six add-on parts to complete it along with a =93slide molded=94 exhaust pipe.

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 new commander=92s cupola now consists of 22 parts and also a mount is provided for the AA MG-34 machine gun (not provided in this kit, albeit it came in the late model H). Other than the gun and cupola there is still only a minimal interior for the turret, however.

Etched brass is kept to a minimum and only covers items 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.

Tracks are the =93Magic Track=94 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.

Note that based on the timing of production all of these tanks should be wearing zimmerit past; the kit does not come with any parts pre- molded with zimmerit.

Three finishing options are provided along with a targeted set of Cartograf decals: 3rd SS Panzer Division =93Totenkopf=94, Eastern Front

1944 (tri-color above the fenders, red 733); Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1945 (tricolor, black 524); and 6./2nd SS Panzer Regiment, 2nd SS Panzer Division =93Das Reich=94, France 1944 (tri-color above the tracks, white 621).

Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.

Overall this is a nice interim kit before the anticipated general release of a new late J.

Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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