|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Panzer IV is the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the late 1930s by Germany and used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen IV (abbreviated PzKpfw IV) and the tank also had the ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 161.
It was initially designed as an infantry-support medium tank (Begleitwagen, mittlerer Panzer), to work in conjunction with the Panzer III which was intended to engage enemy tanks. Later in the war it was up-gunned and up-armored and took over the tank-fighting role while Panzer IIIs were either put into infantry support duties or converted into other vehicles. The Panzer IV was the most common German tank of World War II, and was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, such as tank destroyers and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. The Panzer IV was the workhorse of the German tank corps, being produced and used in all theatres of combat throughout the war. The design was upgraded repeatedly to deal with the increasing threats from enemy forces. The Panzer IV has the distinction of being the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout all of World War II, with over 8,500 produced from 1937 to 1945.
The Ausf. H, began production in April 1943 and received the designation Sd. Kfz. 161/2. This variant saw the integrity of the glacis armor improved by manufacturing it as a single 80-millimetre (3.15 in) plate. To prevent adhesion of magnetic anti-tank mines, which the Germans feared would be used in large numbers by the Allies, Zimmerit paste was added to all the vertical surfaces of the tank's armor, though this was dispensed with in late production versions. The vehicle's side and turret were further protected by the addition of 5-millimetre (0.20 in) side-skirts and a turret skirt. During the Ausf. H's production run its rubber-tired return rollers were replaced with cast steel; the hull was fitted with triangular supports for the easily-damaged side-skirts. A hole in the roof, designed for a new close-support weapon, was plugged by an armored plate due to the shortage of machine guns. These modifications meant that the tank's weight jumped to 25 tonnes (27.56 short tons), reducing its speed,a situation not improved by the decision to adopt the Panzer III's six-speed SSG 77 transmission, which was inferior to that of earlier-model Panzer IVs.
Once again, Dragon adds to their growing catalogue of Panzer IV kits with this one of the late H version with late war zimmerit. This time, the zimmerit is not on every surface of the tank, but seems to be concentrated on the vertical or near vertical surfaces. The kit also includes photo etch side skirts for the wheels/treads and skirts around the turret as well. A real plus for this kit are the deformable styrene (DS) tracks, though some separate link pieces are provided for the front. There are new items for this kit as listed in the features below:
- Newly tooled one-piece 3-directional slide-molded turret for Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H
- New OVM arrangement on fenders
- Unique radial Zimmerit pattern replicates that on the real vehicle
- Turret roof rendered w/turret-skirt armor brackets
- Turret-skirt and side-skirt armor plates can be installed separately
- Gen2 MG34 w/gun mount
- Includes hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom
- Incorporates toothed turret ring inside turret
- Mantlet view port can be modeled open/closed
- Commander's cupola recreates structural details
- Cupola vision blocks can be assembled open/closed
- Brackets for side-skirt armor realistically detailed
- Fuel filler flap has open/closed option
- Idler wheels have detailed parts
- Rear antenna included
- One-piece DS tracks
- Mantlet guard can be removed and gun unloaded as on real vehincle
- Detailed gun muzzle brake
- Complete gun assembly w/full detail
- Finely detailed 7.5cm Kw.K.40 L/48 gun
- Gun sleeve w/delicate weld and bolt detail made from 3-directional slide molds
- Final-drive housing w/details on both sides
- Separate armored cover for final-drive housing
- Sprocket wheels w/breathtaking detail and multiple delicate parts
- Magic Tracks w/detail on both sides
Markings are provided for seven different tanks. All of them are in Panzer Yellow with either green or green and brown squiggles on the upper surfaces and sides. 2 Panzer Division at Normandy in 1944 accounts for three of the options. 19 Panzer Division and 3 Panzer Division at Warsaw in 1944 have two others, while the other two are on the Eastern Front with 3 Panzer Division and 5 Panzer Division respectively. You'll note that not all of the options include the side skirts.
This will make in to a very nice model. Dragon is known for its high level of detail and the results speak for themselves. If you are into German armor, seek this one out.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your favorite shop or on-line retailer.
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