ARM: Review - DML 1/35 Scale Pzkw. IV Ausf. E 3-in-1

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series No.
6264; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. E 3-in-1 Kit; 1,062 parts (541 in grey styrene,
288 "Magic Track" links, 187 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 10
preformed steel wire, 5 DS plastic, 4 preformed brass 2 turned brass, 1
turned aluminum, 2 twisted steel wire); price estimated at US $38-44
Advantages: absolutely amazing kit of rarely modeled early war Panzer;
details both inside and out on most parts, including the fenders, new
figure of Guderian a bonus!
Disadvantages: may be overlooked due to being relatively low production
early war vehicle
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all early war German and "Afrika Korps" fans
I have to admit, while not being a big fan of German armor (!) that I
do have a soft spot for early war German armored vehicles. Tom Jentz
frequently comments his favorite German tank was the Pzkw. III, but I
have to say I always like the Pzkw. IV series.
Developed in the early 1930s as a close support tank - carrying what
was then thought of as the best close support weapon, a 7.5 cm
howitzer, the Germans managed to provide everything that the Soviets
did in their T-28 medium tank in a much smaller and handier package.
Given the cover designator "BW" or "Battalion commander's
vehicle" the Pzkw. IV was produced in a number of short run series ,
each with commensurate improvements, between models.
The Pzkw. IV Ausf. E, which came out in September 1940 and was
produced through April 1941, was one of the first models to take combat
results into account. It was found early on that the Pzkw. IV was too
thin-skinned to stand up to anybody's antitank guns, and with this
tank it got an increase to 50mm on the bow plate and 20+30mm on the
upper glacis, as well as a new visor for the driver to give him more
protection. Hatches were countersunk against ricochet damage, and the
turret rear was redesigned to incorporate the redesigned commander's
cupola and eliminate potential shot traps or weak spots in the hull
rear. Later, more applique armor protection was added to the lower hull
sides and suspension units to protect against antitank guns and mines.
A total of 206 chassis were built - 200 as battle tanks, 4 as
prototype bridge launchers, and two more as experimental chassis.
This tank was followed into service by the improved F model, which
became the first major production version of the Pzkw. IV and also the
first one to mount a long 7.5 cm gun partway through the production
run. The Ausf. E remained in service until early 1944 when the last of
them were either worn out or lost in combat.
DML produced most of the Pzkw. III and IV versions in the late 1990s
(I reviewed the Ausf. F1 in 1997 and the Ausf. J in 1998), which were
good kits at the time if rough in some areas, but this kit marks a
return to the IV series with a vengance. All of the molds are new from
the ground up, and many of the components are clearly for use with
other kits to follow. The model does permit the modeler to make any of
three different Ausf. E versions - initial production, late
production, or "Afrika Korps" version. Parts are provided for all
three, including a first - two different hulls, one with applique
armor and one without.
I must warn modelers that this is a VERY complex kit, and comes with a
large number of options which are called out in the directions. As with
all recent DML kits, many of the parts are redundant and offer the
modeler the choice of either styrene parts or etched brass - DML is
one of the few, if not the only, company to offer this; others either
assume you will buy their sets aftermarket and replace kit parts, or
give you no option but to use them from the start. Since a good number
of modelers still are a bit leery of etched metal due to tales of
vanishing parts or problems in attaching them, it gives the
"retention challenged" (e.g. the guy who loses itty bitty parts!)
modeler a fighting chance.
The kit also comes pre-section for detail fans who want an interior.
All hatches are separate parts and some interior detail is included,
including a very complete turret basket and 7.5 cm L/24 gun; this has a
choice between a "slide molded" styrene barrel or a turned aluminum
one. A very detailed 21 part commander's cupola is also included for
the turret. There are other details here that need to be seen and
appreciated (MIG fans will be happy!) such as the geared turret race.
The model just abounds with details. Each of the suspension bogies has
18 parts (19 with protective armor cover) with separate tires for
painting. Safety chains are provided for the towing shackle mounts as
they have separate pins too. Two sets of engine deck doors are provided
(early/late model and Africa) along with etched inserts for those who
wish them.
This detail takes a good jeweler's loupe to see - there are two
DIFFERENT sets of "Magic Track" links, one for the left side and
one for the right, as they replicate the different sides that the track
pins are inserted from for holding the track together! Alas, DML did
not identify which bag is which, so I hope you at least keep them on
the correct sides! (Think hard on the types of judges at shows who are
going to have to use an "IPMS Death Ray" - penlight - and 10x
jeweler's loupe to check on that - payback can be fun!) (DML does
tell you that the fastener side goes out and the smooth head goes in,
as there is a "knocker" to keep them in place if the fastener
fails. They don't identify which bag is which, though, so you have to
sort it out.)
The last tidbit they include with this kit is a 23 part "Gen 2"
styrene figure of Heinz Guderian. This is a very detailed figure with
what appears to be one of the hallmarks of Gen 2, namely a separate
face to make painting easier (e.g. paint it on the sprue.)
Markings and finishing directions are included for ten different
vehicles: two early models from Panzer Regiment 21, 20th Panzer
Division, in Russia (one winter in white, one summer in grey); five
late production models with the 1st, 7th, 8th, 11, or 22nd Panzer
Divisions in Russia; and three Afrika Korps ones, one from the 5th
Light Division and two from the 15th Panzer Division, 1941.
Overall this is another stunner from DML, and having built the old
Tamiya Pzkw. IV Ausf. D kit 27 years ago (1978 for those of you who
need help adding!) this model is in a completely different league from
that one.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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OK, I needed a break from ships and decided to build this puppy.....this thing is a dioramist's wetdream.....the return rollers have "Continental" logos molded in plus they even molded the snap ring retainers in the hubs, it has two fuel filler ports which have enough "interior" to model open, you can have the idler tensioning mechanisms partially disassembled to have crewmen making the tension adjustments, you can also have the cluth/brake housings disassembled for maintenance and it even has bolt heads for the armored covers that you can scatter on the ground, and the clutch housing covers have bolt hole detail on the backside of the flanges!Almost zero flash, what mold parting lines there are are so minimal or so well placed you can ignore them (meaning they parted the mold where a ridge should be on the real vehicle part). So far I have 4.5 hours in the build and the lower hull/suspension is done, a quick snip to free the part from the sprue and either another quick snip or a swipe with a sanding stick is all that's been needed to clean up the parts, not a dab of filler needed yet as all parts separate on the same lines the real parts scalpel use was needed to clean a tiny bit of flash from between two gear teeth in the final drive, since I'm building with them closed up it didn't even really need that.
You also get two sets of tools, one set has the mounting clamps molded on and the other are "loose tools" that can be used with the PE clamps or model the clamps open and have the tools loose (in the crew's hands as they work) we just need a few tracks and loose pins so we can replicate a photo of a Pz IV E with the crew pounding the pins back in during a repair....
Tamiya might as well just melt down their armor molds at this point.
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