Tamiya 1/35 Panzer IV ausf J 

Kit 35181, $49.95 SRP

I'm not bored at all being retired.  I've got plenty to do and keep learning more and more about the silliness of this hobby.  I needed a blaster. In Jack-Speak, that's a very fast two or three day slammer out of the box.  I decided to bring out a kit that most armor builders have in their stash, but rarely seen on show tables.  The Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf. J (early) is a very nice kit. Well engineered and the kit that I was looking for.
The early Panzer IV Ausf. J was the beginning of some subtle changes to a simplified production run from the Ausf. H.   The addition of Pilson to the turret roof and removal of the electric motor for rotating the turret were prominant to the early Ausf. J.   Subsiquant variations would follow in the mid and Final Ausf. J tanks. Most notably the steel return rollers that would be downsized to three units per side (final version) and the exhaust would be changed to straight piped dampners.  Pistol ports were removed in the turret rear and added armor was introduced for the turret roof in addition to a close support (grenade throwing) hatch. in all, over 1,750 Ausf. J's were produced from March 1944 till the end of the war.  It remained a vitale unit in the Panzer Divisions which were suffering from attrition while trying desperatly to convert to the Panther.
A Chicago Cub loss was all the time it took to sand road wheels and complete the entire chassis. If you've ever built a Tamiya kit you'll know how smooth it is.  I build my armor in three stages. Chassis, Hull and Turret.  Before I started the Hull I elected to go with the kit tracks since it was going to be out of the box. However, a trick I learned years ago. I ran HOT water on the track and got them good and loose but careful not to stretch them out.  Then I slipped them on and over the running gear like the instructions say, but I wanted a wee bit of sag. I took four clothes pins (with the springs) and clamped them over the return rollers and bottom of the road wheels and lower track run.  Before clamping I put Tamiya Glue (Orange Cap) on the track that would be on the upper return rollers.   I got the sag I wanted and let this dry till I was ready for paint.
On to the Hull which was a breeze to build.  No surprises here but  the kit did not include the shurtzen side shields but rather included just the mounts for them. Using a new #11 blade I hollowed out the bow machine gun and while I was at it did the same to the turret coaxial mount.   Before I mounted the muffler on the rear plate I made sure to apply liquid glue and used a stipple brush to give it pre-rusted look. After i mounted the side skirt rack I applied a little green putty in the joining area's to resemble weld marks.  It's the little things that add up.  Before you could say, "That's the third out and the Cubs lose a heartbreaker"  I had everything finished but the turret.
Sometimes when you have turret shields involved it's a bit rough trying to get everything to line up correctly. This time, because of experience, I did one side at a time and let it dry before doing the other side.  Patience payed off and I just needed a little tweaking when I finished.  The gun barrel was a breeze and the seam was removed with my new tool bought at the Indy Show. Actually, I was a little perplexed on how smooth everything was going. On to the paint shop.
As always I gave the tank a rattle can coat of Tamiya flat black.  Then came out the books.   I decided on the scheme, not the Unit and went with a cool vehicle from Normandy and belonging to the 12th SS, Hitlerjugend.  It was a German yellow base coat with green and brown stripes put on hap-hazard.  I started with Tamiya/Vallejo dark yellow colors and then refilled my Grex from God with red brown then the green.  It came out really well and I gave it a Future coat to prepare for the decals and oil washes.  The decals went on GREAT. I used the kit supplied sheet and settled them down with Solvaset.  It took three applications but they snuggled down nice.  The 12th SS shield was off of another separate Tamiya sheet that they issued separately.  After the decals dried I gave them a gloss spray of Future and I started my oil washes with the usual Windsor-Newton Dick Van Dyke brown.  I cut the oil with turpentine.  When the film was left after the wash I started to blend in with brushes and removed some of the fiIm with a pair of cotton panties (shut up) and Q-tips.  Works for me. I painted the muffler hull red and the wooden tool handles Tamiya buff. When the buff color was dry I took out my Burnt Sienna oil and using just a bit, brushed it over the buff until I started to get that very cool wood grain effect. Smells good too. Reminds me of when I was just a young lad, another story that is.  The rest of the time i started touching up and applying different colors to the machine guns, canvas and drivers armored glass. More dry brushing with oils and paint were done and I was ready for pigments. Using Mig products, I applied it on the trucks, lower hull, bottom hull and a touch on the fenders and muzzle. Don't over do it! I used my eye dropper, generously given to me by Dave Schemel of Just Plane Stuff, to put a drop of Tamiya Thinner to make the pigment stick and really look like road grim and natural build up. Be careful about the drop of thinner as the capilary action makes it travel very fast, hence the one drop at a time. The last thing was pigments of rust and dirty brown on the muffler and another few drops of thinner to really stand out.
I had pre-made the Base when things on the Tank were drying and using Celluclay mixed with water and white glue, i spread it over some Styrofoam and added curb trash for the ground work.  the French wall was something I had from a Show. Before the Celluclay was dry I pressed the tank into it so i could get some illusion of weight and where to place the Panzer in relation to how I wanted it viewed. When the base dried I painted it earth tones and added some pigment here and there. I Futured it and did an oil wash on this too. After some clean up it was flatcoated and it did come out purdy.   The tank was dry at this time too and was shot with the same flat coat.  The result was really eye catching!  The final task was adding some black pastel to the gun barrel.  There you have it.
Pre-planned this took only 22 hours over a three day period. Gotta love it.  It never saw the contest arena as it now belongs to a private collector. I was so taken with this kit that i bought two on the cheap and want to do that famous pic of two Das Riech Ausf. J's (early) during Operation Cobra. these will be a little more involved with Zimmerit and battle damage.  That's it for now because i hear a few kits calling my name.  It's a sickness.

Jack Bruno
July 2014