Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6526; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H Mid Production Autumn 1943 - Smart Kit; 984 parts (691 in grey styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 single links, 51 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 10 etched nickel, 1 twisted steel wire); pre- order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: Another variant of the Panzer IV family with some changes and tweaks
Disadvantages: drops DS tracks for =93Magic Track=94 single links
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and Pzkw. IV fans
For their 20th new issue Pzkw. IV kit since 2006 DML has selected a mid-production Ausf. H variant from the fall of 1943. This variant is a production version pre-mandatory =93zimmerit=94 application and appears to use mostly H components rather than the late G/early H overlap of G parts with some modifications. While more than 2,300 H models were built, I leave it to more determined researchers to figure out how many of this model were produced.
This is essentially the same kit as the Pzkw. IV Ausf H with Zimmerit (No. 6560) from 2010 with several sprues swapped out =96 overall it changes out more than 63 parts and also replaces the DS track runs from the late H with two sets of =93Magic Track=94 single links (left and right).
Of all the comments I get on reviews, most of them concern the comments I make on the use of =93Magic Track=94 as opposed to DS single runs. Personally, I will use whatever tracks make the model look best even though some can be hideous to assemble. But modelers complain to me both ways =96 =93Why can=92t DML give us simple single run tracks so we can spend more time finishing the model than putting the tracks together?=94 or =93Why can=92t DML give us the Magic Tracks rather than DS tracks which don=92t fit as they are always two links too long?=94 are the most common. (If DML was smart like Trumpeter and others, they would simply put both sets in the box and let the modeler choose; makes life much simpler and doesn=92t cost them that much for an =93In House=94 product already on hand.)
Construction follows 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 upper hull parts (E21, E28 and new rear plate T2) need to have holes drilled in them in Step 8 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. This kit also adds the external air cleaner set which mounts on the right side of the hull, something which was found to be essential in the dusty summer conditions in Russia.
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 24 parts.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.
Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Considering how widely used this version was, surprisingly DML provides but a single finishing option: Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943 (tri-color with black crosses). A tiny sheet of but four crosses is provided from Cartograf.
Overall, the lack of finishing information lets down what should be a popular kit and it is somewhat odd for DML to not provide more options.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.