Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.6315; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1(F) - Smart Kit; 750 parts (503 parts in grey styrene, 216 "Magic Track" links, 15 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 1 twisted steel wire); estimated price US$45
Advantages: totally new from the ground up kit; did not use older kit parts for changes; prepared for "drop in" after market engine sets; some new features
Disadvantages: probably not enough etched brass or mixed media parts to suit some modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German armor fans
F I R S T L O O K
There was some speculation on the internet when this kit was announced that DML would simply either (a) upgrade their original Pzkw. IV F1 kit from 1997 to "Premium" level or (b) mix and match parts with the excellent Pzkw. IV F2 "Smart Kit" (No. 6360). The answer is not quite (b) as DML has simply added a new sprue of parts (sprue L) to provide the L/24 gun to their F2 kit.
Like its sibling this is based on the brand-new "Smart Kit" molds with the new 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 (sounds like the sales of painting masks will go up again!)
The upper hull consists of a deck and framework with applique sides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. The muffler has a central tube section and six add-on parts to complete it along with a "slide molded" exhaust pipe.
All ports and hatches are separate parts so they can be posed open. While not present, the hull does come with 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 like the KwK 40 in the F2 this one uses the same system for the L/24 gun. 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; again, this is only in styrene, but a metal part could be provided later in an upgrade set. Other than the gun and a very well done commander's cupola of 18 parts (5 are optional) there is 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, some small brackets, and the flaps for the engine air intakes on the sides of the rear deck.
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; glad DML simplified that as before I needed a 10x jeweler's loupe to tell which was which!
A big sheet of targeted Cartograf decals is provided with this kit, and given that there were more F1s than F2s built (about 462 versus175) it gives no less than TEN different finishing options! These include: Pz.Rgt. 31, 5th Panzer Division, Russia 1942 (grey with sand overspray, white 423; 3./Pz.Rgt. 35, 4th Panzer Division, Russian 1942 (sand with red-brown overspray, white 301); 4./Pz.Reg. 31, 5th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1942 (whitewash, white 821); 8./Pz.Rgt. 36, 14th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1941 (grey, yellow 831); 3./ Pz.Rgt. 21, 20th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1943 (tricolor, white outline 334); Unidentified Unit, Kursk 1943 (no indications of colors; black 3); Pz.Gren.Div. Grossdeutschland, Voronezh 1942, (sand over grey, white 2); Captured Vehicle, Major Shalimov's battalion, Leningrad Front 1942 (grey with white Soviet markings); 4./Pz.Rgt. 5, 21st Panzer Division, Libya 1942 (sand, red 402); 8./Pz.Rgt. 8, 15th Panzer Division, Libya 1942 (sand, black 8).
Credits include project supervision by Hirohisa Takada, technical drawings by Shin Okada and technical assistance from Tom Cockle, Gary Edmundson, and Notger Schlegtendal.
Overall this kit makes a nice "bookend" to the F2 and should appeal to the same fans.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.