Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6300; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H Late Production - Smart Kit; 1,048 parts (682 in grey styrene, 288 =93Magic Track=94 links, 52 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 10 etched nickel, 1 twisted steel wire); retail price US $49.95
Advantages: first new kit of this popular subject; large number of new/ modified parts from previous Pzkw. IV kits (130 added from other kits and 154 new molded)
Disadvantages: still comes with =93Magic Track=94 links
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and Pzkw. IV fans
The Germans continued to evolve their Panzer IV series of tanks, and in an effort to defeat shaped charge weapons such as the Bazooka and PIAT they added thin sheets of steel as standoff protection to the hull sides/tracks and turrets of the tank during the Ausf. J run. When viewed head-on and compared with training materials given US soldiers it explains much. Most US soldiers and tankers described combating and knocking out =93Tigers=94 but in reality most were actually the Pzkw. IV Ausf. H and J models with the turret plates fitted.
DML has now followed up its popular Pzkw. IV Ausf. F1/F2 and G models with an H. This kit is evolved (like the original) from its predecessors and as noted above DML has added or replaced more than280 parts in the kit. The new version provides the complete =93Schuertzen=94 stand-off plate arrangement, 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. As this is an H the viewers are still on the side doors of the turret, as to the best of my knowledge they only dropped them with the J when the =93Schuertzen=94 became factory standard.
The model also adds a new cupola, turret shell, upper hull and applique panels, engine deck items, and fenders. A separate sprue provides three different styles of muzzle brakes, so the modeler has a choice.
Construction mirrors the previous kits. 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. 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. 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, but this one provides some extras as well as T-34 track for applique armor protection.
Five finishing options are provided along with a targeted set of Cartograf decals: Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943 (tricolor with T-34 tracks); Unidentified Unit, Vistula River, Poland 1943 (tricolor, black 923); 3rd Panzer Division, Ukraine 1943 (two-color, red 624);2nd Panzer Division, Normandy 1944 (two tanks - white outline 802 and white outline 823 with =93trident=94 markings).
Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Overall this is another nice kit and other than some stray errors should be popular and well received; now for an A and a J!
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.