Dragon 1/35 SdKfz 161/4 2 cm Flakpanzer IV 'Wirbelwind'

KIT #: 6540
PRICE: $51.50 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart kit

HISTORY

The Flakpanzer IV "Wirbelwind" (Whirlwind in German) was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the Panzer IV tank. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft gun M÷belwagen.

In the first years of the war, the Wehrmacht had less interest in developing self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, but as the allies developed air superiority, the need for more mobile and better-armed self-propelled anti-aircraft guns increased.

The Panzer IV's turret was removed and replaced with an open-top, nine-sided turret which housed a quadruple 2 cm Flakvierling 38 L/112.5. A closed-top design would have been preferable, but this was not possible due to the heavy smoke generated by the four anti-aircraft guns. Production of the tank was carried out by Ostbau Werke in Sagan, Silesia.

As the 2 cm shells used proved less effective against aircraft than the 3.7 cm shells the Wirbelwind was eventually replaced by the Ostwind which was equipped with a single 3.7 cm FlaK 43.

The armor and rapid fire from the four guns of the Wirbelwind was also very effective against infantry.

It is believed that either 87 or 105 Wirbelwinds were produced during the war, but due to discrepancies between the recorded production numbers at Ostbau Werke and Wehrmacht service records, the exact number will probably never be known.

THE KIT

As with all Dragon armor kits, there are a ton of parts (over 800 in this one thanks to the Magic Tracks) an their attention to detail is as good as it gets.  I'll now turn this preview over to the Dragon PR people to tell you of all the features in this kit.

-Newly tooled 2-directional slide-molded turret for Wirbelwind
- Turret w/realistic weld seams
-
Newly tooled interior and furl tank parts for Pz.IV Ausf.H
- Hull newly reproduced w/internal detail
- Turret ring accurately produced
-
Newly tooled gun mounting platform
- Two spare-barrel cases included
- Gun-sight cover can be assembled open/closed
-
Newly tooled ammo magazines inside turret
- Gun cradle offers great detail definition
- Gun sight and hand wheels w/well-defined detail
- Spent-shell cage made from photo-etched part
- Slide-molded one-piece gun barrel w/hollow muzzle
- 2cm Flakvierling 38 cannon w/ accurate detail
- Cannon can be freely posed at different angles
- Spare antenna included under spare-barrel case
- Air-intake covers have option of injection or photo-etched parts
- Realistic double-layered air intake
- One-piece upper hull; 2-directional slide-molded w/new engine-deck design
- Driver's and radio operator's housing w/splash guard
- Hatches w/internal detail
- Spare-track bracket on glacis plate w/photo-etched and plastic option
- Spare-track bracket on lower hull front
- Optional spare rod antenna included
- Injection-molded fenders made to thinnest possible dimensions
- Side fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Spare-wheel rack w/spare wheels on upper hull side
- Two types of side-skirt armor plate w/bolt detail
- Injection-molded OVM w/clasps
- One-piece lower hull made from slide molds
- Hull bottom fully detailed
- 40cm Magic Tracks are detailed in both sides
- Completed MG w/workable ball mount
- Photo-etched parts for engine-deck ventilation grill
- Engine hatches can be assembled open/closed
- Great detail on newly tooled hull rear
- Extendable jack w/separate parts
- Accurately detailed idler adjuster mountings
- Detailed towing-eye brackets w/separate parts
- Road wheels and suspension w/multiple components exhibit crisp detail
- Idler wheels have detailed parts
- Fuel filler flap has open/closed option
- Final-drive housing w/details on both sides
- Separate armored cover for final-drive housing
- Sprocket wheels w/breathtaking detail and multiple delicate parts

Looking through the sprues I found no instances of flash or sink areas or any other sort of mold glitch. As usual, there will be parts not used, but really, not as many as you'd think. The instructions are quite comprehensive with 21 fine drawn construction steps. Included in these are small detail sections to show how some of the more complex bits are attached. You'll have to fill a few holes and remove a bit of detail to get things just right and there are a few instances of optional parts (mostly involving the few photo etch pieces provided. Markings are for five vehicles, all on a Panzer Tan base. Four of them, including the box art vehicle, are from unidentified units in 1944 or 1945, but have interesting camo schemes. The lone identified vehicle is from PzRgt 1, 1st Pz Div, "LAH" in Belgium during 1944. This has a worn winter white wash over the three color camouflage. Markings are provided where needed.  

CONCLUSIONS

Another excellent Dragon armor kit with enough bits and pieces to keep one happily building for a considerable time. The end result will be a superb representation.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

September 2009

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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