|KIT:||Mirage 1/72 PzKw IV ausf D 'Tropenpanzer'|
|PRICE:||$18.98 (16.96 at Squadron)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Includes etched brass fret|
Following news of the lack of success by Italian forces in North Africa following defeat in battle by the British, the German Army decided to send in what was known as the 'Barrage Detachment; Africa'. Even before actually deploying, it was enlarged first to an Armored Division and then to a Mechanized Corps. Commanded by Erwin Rommel, this 'Afrika Korps' was soon to become legendary. It was based around forty Panzer IV ausf D/E tanks of the 5th and 8th Panzer Regiment. These tanks were modified for conditions by improving air and fuel filters as well as improving engine compartment ventilation. Cooling vents were cut into the top hatches of the engine compartment and then protected with armored shutters.
The DAK or Deutches Afrika Korps was initially based on the 15th and 5th armored division. This was later expanded into the 21st Armored Division. The original color of these tanks was panzer grey as they came from Europe. They were camouflaged with mud and later repainted with a desert sand color. This paint wore away showing the grey undersides, making for some pretty ratty looking vehicles.
The tanks carried a 75mm L/24 main cannon and had two 7.92mm machine guns. One was co-axial with the turret and the other mounted in the forward hull. Its 285 hp Maybach engine provided a top speed of 42 kph in perfect conditions. Maximum range on roads was 210 kilometers.
Molded in various shades of grey, the seven sprues that comprise this kit are fairly well molded. Inspection of the pieces shows that there is no appreciable flash, those ejector pin marks that are present will be easy to remove or are hidden after construction, and though there are a few sink areas on some of the parts, it isn't anything major. I have to say that if you are looking for a good value for your money, this is it as the number of parts included in this kit are nearly staggering. Granted, two of the large sprues are dedicated to road wheels and suspension, but that can be expected on any tank kit.
The kit includes a photoetched fret which is basically used for fender caps and a few other smaller bits. The brass feels as if there is a coating of plastic on it as it is seems a bit slick, but that is just the way it is produced. The tracks and tow cables are made from a very flexible black vinyl. I have no idea how well this material will accept paint, but some other vinyls I've used in the past have not been a problem.
Instructions are quite good with the various sequences drawn in a 3-D style that almost seems photographed. Any modifications needed are clearly shown. There is a separate section showing the use of the photo-etch fret so I'm assuming that using it is optional for those who don't feel comfortable using this material. A color chart is provided with Generic, Vallejo, and Humbrol references. No color information is given during actual construction; all of that left for the painting and decal guide. There are markings for five tanks which are either in panzer grey or desert yellow from the mid-1941 time period. Decals are well printed, but the white seems to nearly disappear against the light blue background of the sheet so I wonder how it will work when applied. I've not had any issues with Mirage decals in the past and expect none with these.
Mirage has long been known to offer a good value for the money and this is yet another fine small scale armor kit. The detail level is good and with all those parts, it should provide many hours of pleasant construction.
Historical background from the kit instructions.
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