|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Panzerkampfwagen IV (Pz.Kpfw. IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161.
Designed as an infantry-support tank, the Panzer IV was not originally intended to engage enemy armor—that function was performed by the lighter Panzer III. However, with the flaws of pre-war doctrine becoming apparent and in the face of Soviet T-34 tanks, the Panzer IV soon assumed the tank-fighting role of its increasingly obsolescent cousin. The most widely manufactured and deployed German tank of the Second World War, the Panzer IV was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, including tank destroyers and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. Robust and reliable, it saw service in all combat theaters, and has the distinction of being the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war, with over 8,500 produced between 1936 and 1945. Upgrades and design modifications, often made in response to the appearance of new Allied tanks, extended its service life. Generally these involved increasing the Panzer IV's armor protection or upgrading its weapons, although during the last months of the war and with Germany's pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included retrograde measures to simplify and speed manufacture.
The Panzer IV was the most widely exported tank in German service, with around 300 sold to partners such as Finland, Spain and Bulgaria. After the war, the French and Spanish sold dozens of Panzer IVs to Syria, where they saw combat in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the course of WWII. The final version in the Pz.Kpfw. IV family was the Ausf.J This particular variant commenced production in June 1944, and a total of approximately 3125 were eventually manufactured. The Ausf.J succeeded the Ausf.H, and rather than being an enhanced version of the Ausf.H, the final design was actually simplified in an attempt to ease and speed up construction. Thus, the electric turret drive was deleted and an extra fuel tank was fitted in its place. Other distinguishing features include the absence of Zimmerit.
This one continues Dragon's run of super detailed and parts-intensive armor kits. With 680 parts this will take a bit to finish, but thanks to all that detail, including separate track links, you'll have a beauty when done. Some of the highlights of this kit are the new mesh side skirts. Dragon provides not only photo etch frames, but also sections of screen to attach to these items. The kit provides all the last production external clues that one would expect on this kit. This includes several new toolings made specifically for this variant.
The Dragon PR folks have everything spelled out for you below.
- Newly tooled side-skirt armor w/photo-etched parts produced in metal for scale thickness
- Newly tooled armor plates w/optional photo-etched or plastic spare-track bracket
- One-piece upper hull 2-side slide-molded w/new engine-deck design.
- New side-skirt armor plates can be installed separately
- New side fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Newly designed cupola vision blocks can be assembled open/closed
- Extended hull rear w/newly produced handles and hooks for Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J
- One-piece 3-directional slide-molded turret for Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J
- Brackets for side-skirt armor produced w/details
- Realistic return rollers included for Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J
- Turret roof rendered w/turret-skirt armor brackets
- Turret-skirt and side-skirts armor plates can be installed separately
- One-piece lower hull made from slidemolds
- Hull bottom fully detailed
- Injection-molded fenders made to thinnest possible dimensions
- Intricate 7.5cm Kw.K40 l/48 gun w/fine details
- Gun sleeve w/delicate weld and bolt detail made from 3-directional slide molds
- Mantlet guard can be removed and gun unloaded as on real vehicle
- Complete gun assembly w/full detail
- Detailed gun muzzle brake
- Stowage bin on turret can be assembled open/closed
- Turret-skirt door and turret-side door can be positioned open/closed
- Air-intake covers have option of injection or photo-etched parts
- Realistic double-layered air intake
- Flame dampening exhaust and reinforced tow bracket included
- Hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom w/toothed turret ring
- Hatches on engine-deck ventilation grill can be assembled open/closed
- Delicate OVM arrangement on fenders
- Rear antenna included
- Delicate ventilation cover w/great detail
- Driver's and radio operator's hatch can be assembled open/closed
- Hatches w/internal detail
- Idler whhels have intricate details
- Optional late style return roller's included
- Road wheels and suspension w/multiple components exhibit crisp detail
- Accurately details idler adjuster mountings
- Extendable jack w/separate parts
- Final-drive housing w/details on both sides
- Separate armored cover for final-drive housing
- Sprocket wheels w/breathtaking detail and multiple delicate parts
So here is yet another superbly done Dragon armor kit. For detail fans, this one will please. The end result of your efforts will be an outstanding replica of the last of the Panzer IVs.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your local shop or on-line retailer
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