The kit is quite outstanding in a number of areas with some new features and the refinement of other techniques seen in recent kits but also there a numerous detail errors that have come to light after closer examination. The box as we have become accustomed from Dragon is packed with many items in different media and again offers some parts in plastic or metal depending on your preference and the 3 in 1 options are the original Ausf.E configuration, the Later type with added hull armour and the “Tropen” engine deck doors to represent any of the approximately 10 DAK versions so converted.
The kit contains 604 parts in light grey plastic, 23 in clear plastic, 310 individual “Magic Tracks” in grey plastic, 3 in DS100 vinyl with 129 etched parts on three frets, 3 turned metal parts and 15 other assorted metal parts plus two decal sheets and the large fold out instruction sheet for a total part count over the 1000 mark.
The standard of plastic moulded is superb with virtually no pin ejector marks to be seen after the parts are assembled, this is again due to Dragon’s extensive use of small knockout ‘nodes’ on most of the parts. This does require a bit more cleanup of the parts and care with the smaller parts where the nodes are sometimes larger than the part but the end result is very clean and blemish free parts so the little extra effort is worth it. Those few pin marks present are quite shallow and easy to remove and as mentioned are there aren’t many in any case.
The quality of the etched parts is also very good and on a par with contemporary etched sets with clean etchings and the usual engraved bend lines to help in the process. There are also some pre-formed brass metal parts and the turned barrel and 75mm shells are also cleanly machined.
The most prominent of the errors is the drive sprockets which are positioned
about 2mm too low on the hull, the angles of the turret front plate are slightly
off and the position of the glacis inspection hatches slightly too far back.
Others include the open intake on the right hull superstructure that isn't applicable to the Ausf.E and a number of smaller details.
All of the above issues and more have been addressed in the new Panzer IV Ausf.E "Vorpanzer" (kit #6301) which has over 40 alterations and corrections from the parts in this kit.
The issues will be mentioned during the updated review below and you can also see comparisons of the old and new parts with the review of the "Vorpanzer" kit.
Starting from the ground up you actually get two complete lower hull tubs with the floor and two sides which have small triangular braces on the inside to ensure the walls remain square, which they are on both my hulls. The front plate and three rear plate panels are separate parts for better detail definition with the fit of these panels being spot on with my samples without any warping or filling required.
One hull is the “standard” configuration of the early Ausf.Es while the second includes the add-on armour panels on the hull sides for the later Es and the fact Dragon gives you two hulls and not just the additional panels is quite impressive.
Detail on the hulls is excellent and includes the underside panel and bolt
head details with separate side channels between the suspension bogie mountings
to ensure good detail definition while on the inside is a small pedestal
mount for the turret basket we will get to later.
The side walls have the return roller support posts, idler wheel support brackets and final drive mounting plate detail plus a separate front section with part of the final drive mounting and also the small rivet heads on the inside hull overhand. There is a small join line when this part is fitted but will mostly be covered when the final drive housings are attached.
The final drive housings are separate parts for good detail definition and also include internal detail with a couple of attachments and final drive cog and it’s a pity this is hidden when assembled but offers to opportunity for an nice maintenance diorama. There are alternate front drive guards, one in two sections with the bolt heads attached but results in a join line to be filled and the other guard in one piece with the six small bolts as separate parts that will test your eyesight when removing from the sprues and attaching to the guards. But as mentioned this assembly is positioned 2mm too low on the hull resulting it the track runs dipping between the drive sprocket and first return roller when it should be a straight run.
Along the left hull side are two separate fuel filler cap doors which can be shown open if you wish and on the inside are the fuel filler receptacle detail so there is something to be seen if the doors are open and is a feature not included on any other plastic Panzer IV kit I am aware of.
At the front are the early style tow shackles made up of four parts each with separate securing pins and etched chains for the final detail touch. Moving to the back are separate idler mountings made up of eight parts each that also require careful handling during assembly but have excellent detail definition once fitted. There are also separate exhaust mountings with the main exhaust pipe being a single hollow tube from slide moulds with separate end caps to completely eliminate any join lines.
The smaller axillary exhaust pipe is also made up of separate sections that also don’t have join seams to deal with plus smaller hull fittings with etched chains for the tow shackles for a final touch. The rear hull section has been shortened by 2mm on the “Vorpanzer” kit along with the idler mounting brackets plus other smaller detail alterations.
The drive sprockets have incorrect bolt head positioning around the sprocket but include the bolt head details on the outer spoked sprocket and the inside solid sprockets for simple but nicely detailed parts, with this detail again being corrected on the “Vorpanzer” kit.
There are two alternate idler wheels provided, one set of ‘conventional’ wheels with inner and outer wheel discs and separate hub cap with nice detail but due to the moulding constraints don’t have the finer details such as the lip around the outer rim and also there is the join seam where the two halves meet to contend with.
The alternate idler wheel provided is in one piece and is quite an impressive piece of slide moulding with the detail on both inner and outer disc being very clean and crisp without any cleanup required with additional etched discs for both sides that represent well the outer lip and main rib face with the separate hub cap finishing off two very impressive idler wheels and makes the decision on which idler to use very easy.
Moving to the suspension bogies, the detail continues with each bogie made
up of nine parts and are workable once assembled like the original. The main
hull bogie mounting bracket has the correct bolt head details for the Ausf.E
and also has separate under hull brackets with excellent end detail added
using slide moulds and while it will be difficult to see this under hull
detail with the model sitting on the ground the level of detail is impressive.
The main suspension arm has a two part mounting bracket with nice leaf spring
detail but there is a small moulding seam down the middle the springs to
be removed and there are alternate end fittings for the arms.
Assembling the bogies is straight forward with the main suspension arm and inner support arm fitted to the bogie mount (without glue) and the outer support arm lightly glued to the inner support arm with the whole assembly held in place by fitting the circular outer securing disc. The resulting assembly articulates freely like the original and the bogie units fit perfectly to the hull locating toughs for secure assemblies with two part bump stops also added for each bogie unit.
Added to the bogie units are the two road wheels which are equally impressive
with the wheels having separate rubber tyre sections which have been moulded
individually with just a single small sprue attachment point on the inside
that is hidden once fitted to the wheel. The tyre section includes the small
raised rib around the centre so don’t be tempted to remove this thinking
it is a kit mould line and there is also the fine “Continentau” embossing
on the side wall, note the spelling of “Continental” to get
around any licensing issues but the embossing is so small this won’t
be noticed after assembly.
You may think the bogies are remarkable similar to those in the recent Tristar Panzer IV D kit but the reason is the suspension bogies on Panzer IVs are fairly simple and basic units and as both kits have depicted the bogie components correctly to incorporate movement they are obviously going to “look” the same.
The return roller rubber section is too thick resulting in the wheel being too big and this again has been addressed in the “Vorpanzer” kit.
These are individually moulded “magic tracks” for the 36cm (38cm track pins) early links that are cleanly moulded apart from two small pin ejector marks on the inside of each link and some very minor cleanup needed on a few of the guide pins. The guide pins also have the lightening holes included and are designed to be simply glued together. These are also left and right handed tracks that come in separate plastic bags and are also provided in a slightly different shaded grey plastic to help tell them apart but make sure you don't mix these up.
Included with the kit is an assembly jig with the track sag between the return rollers for assembling the track runs that allow you to fit the links together and add to the running gear after drying. Take care when using the jig as the tracks have the guide teeth in the middle and the jig sits on one side of the pin so make sure the links sit square with each other as you glue them together. I found using the jig helped assemble the track runs considerably and once the curved section was dry fitted perfectly around the drive sprocket teeth.
The main hull top panel is in one flat piece without any warping on my sample and has cut-outs for the front crew doors, engine deck doors and turret ring which is moulded as per the original with the bolted turret ring included. Also incorporated are nice surface details of flush screws and raised bullet splash guards around the hatches and turret but this is slightly oversized and there is nice hinge details on the hatches and engine deck. Added to this are separate superstructure side walls and front stepped plate driver’s plate with the side walls having separate visor covers and three parts clear plastic visors on the inside which can be seen if the top hatches are left open.
The two crew hatches have details on both sides and no pin marks to contend
with as well as having separate signal port doors which can be shown open
if you wish and also separate latches on the inside for added detail but
these are very small parts and care will be needed when removing from the
sprues and in fitting.
The front plate has a separate two part driver’s visor with the folding top guard for the Ausf.E which is a little oversized as well as a fully detailed hull MG34 and mounting made up of six parts with later style barrel jacket and a fully movable ball mount if you are careful with the glue during assembly, the hull mounting is slightly undersized with these issues again being fixed in the “Vorpanzer” kit.
Assembly was straightforward but a little tricky due to the small parts which had quite large knock out nodes included, with part D38 the mounting plate having three very large nodes included that needed care to remove without damaging the detailed part and the movable ball mount needed patience when fitting together but the end result is a very well detailed assembly that can be seem though the top crew hatch.
The glacis has separate access doors but these are approx. 1mm too far back on the plate and will require re-positioning but have nice flush screw details around the central inspection hatch and as mentioned you are provided with the additional armour panels for the superstructure sides and front plates for the later versions with these simply fitting over the existing plates as per the original and shouldn’t pose any problems during assembly as no modifications are required to the kit parts.
There is the square intake on the right rear side of the superstructure
but this should not be there as it was only on earlier types and omitted
from the Ausf.E and later Pz.IVs.
The alternate “Tropen” engine deck doors have the raised louvers included in the outer doors with additional etched panels and louvers for the inside of the doors, but there was also a large double fan assembly fitting inside the larger door which would have to be added if you were showing this open.
The side fenders are also separate from the hull and feature excellent tread
plate pattern on the top and correspondingly indented pattern on the bottoms
of the fenders for some brilliant detail. Also included on the undersides
are bolt head details with the front and rear folding fender sections separate
parts to add as you wish.
There are actually two sets of fenders, both with the tread plate on both sides with one set having locating holes included for all the tools and equipment while the other set is without any locating holes for using etched tool clips and brackets with full sized plan views of the fenders in the instructions showing the location of the tools and equipment removing any guess work to their location and is another brilliant inclusion by Dragon.
Other details added to the hull include the front headlights which have separate lenses giving you the option of clear lenses or slit night driving covers with clear lens inserts. You also have the choice of using the plastic ducting or small sections of wire provided. The horn and NOTEC light are also provided which are nicely detailed as well as the rear tail light which also incorporates etched parts with the side mounted crew ladder being made from nine small etched parts and two short plastic steps for a very delicate but detailed assembly.
The rear side air intakes are made up of an intricate two part double layer
moulding which fits inside the upper hull with separate outer covers supplied
in plastic or individual etched sections to show raised or lowered as required
with some minute plastic wing nuts to hold in place that will require extreme
care when fitting but add further to the level of details in the kit.
You are provided with two sets of tools and equipment, one with the clips and brackets moulded on in the traditional manner and a set moulded without any clips allowing the use of the etched clips and brackets included on the etched frets that again add that extra bit of detail to the kit. The jack is noteworthy as it has a separate base section that can be extended as well as the etched mounting clips allowing this to be used in a maintenance diorama scene.
At the back of the hull is a very detailed smoke candle box made up of
seven plastic parts with additional etched chains attached to the upper cover
and also includes the armoured cover introduced on the Ausf.E.
On the upper rear hull plate are the steel cable mounting brackets provided in plastic or pre-formed stiff wire while the cable is supplied in braded wire and the end shackles have holes opened up with slide moulds allowing the cable to fit into the centre of the shackles for a good scale appearance.
The spare road wheel mounts on the side of the engine deck are provided in pre-bent wire and there are optional etched spare wheel bins along the hull side made from pre-formed metal parts and etched faces with soldering being the best option when assembling these.
There are some very small etched parts that will have you reaching for the magnifiers as well as the valiem with the most mind boggling being the small sliding covers for the latches on the engine deck doors and glacis inspection hatches and the inclusion of these parts really does show the lengths Dragon have gone with the detail on this kit.
The main turret shell incorporates the revised rear shape from the earlier D and new Commander’s cupola as well as having nice surface details of weld seams around the roof and rear plate plus the many flush screw heads on the turret roof. If you wanted to be very picky here it could be that the screw heads are little too indented but probably not that noticeable once painted but or more importance is the front turret plate angles which are slightly out in the lower angle and again this has been address in the “Vorpanzer” kit.
The top ventilator is in two parts and the signal port is again a separate part that can be shown open and the rear pistol port covers are also separate and can be shown in the open position if desired. The side visor covers are also separate parts with clear internal vision port parts and the side hatches have excellent details on both sides without any pin marks and the separate hinges can be make workable with careful gluing while the grab handles above the doors are provided in thin plastic or preformed wire for an excellent scale appearance. On the inside of the doors are clear inserts for the armoured glass and very small plastic latches that again will need careful handling. Above the doors are the rain channels with plastic and etched lip for a good thin look and the Commander’s visual sight in front of the cupola is also provided in plastic or etched metal depending on you preference.
The Commander’s cupola is the same multi part cupola included with
Dragon’s T-34-76 German Army (kit #6185). The cupola is made up of
three parts, the lower mounting plate that fits to the turret roof, the centre
section with cut-outs for the separate vision blocks and the top hatch ring
with the fit of the parts being superb. The internal vision blocks fit together
tightly holding each other in place while the 'W' lugs on the lower mounting
ring clips in place holding things together without glue, but of course you
would glue them together for a permanent fit and there are clear plastic
inserts for the vision blocks which have the alternate blocks for the open
or closed position.
The top hatch ring has three offset locating pins to ensure it is fitted with the correct orientation for a very detailed cupola and the two split hatches have nice details on both sides without any pin marks and can be glued open or closed.
The lower turret section is superb and is the first Panzer IV turret to
incorporate the upward hollowed out contours as well as including the traverse
teeth around the turret ring with the fit of the ring to the hull cut-out
being spot on without any noticeable lateral movement.
The fit of the lower turret part to the turret shell is perfect as is the fit of the turret front plate to the turret but before fitting this there is a basic interior to add.
This consists of the lower basket floor turntable section which has very nice tread plate pattern included and is attached to the turret ring by the three support arms. These fit snugly into the recesses around the turret ring and it is best to glue them here first and then line then up with the locating holes around the turntable base. A small lug attached to the underside of the turntable fits into the slots in the pedestal added to the hull tub earlier and holds the turret in place once fitted allowing it to traverse freely
Added to the support legs are two crew seats and the six part traverse mechanism with hand wheels is added to the front corner of the turret ring for a good basis to fully detail up the interior.
The gun and mantlet are very detailed with a choice of three part plastic barrel or one piece metal barrel, the plastic barrel has rifling included but this is a little over scale while the metal barrel has no rifling included but the muzzle is hollowed out. If you choose the metal barrel do not glue part F27 between the breech halves as the instructions are not clear on this, if fact the instructions are a little vague on the whole gun assembly as it is not clear where part F30 goes and it appears this could be left out altogether as it is not seen after assembly. There is also a separate breech block and lever on the breech block for added details.
The one piece mantlet and trunnion mount (part F22) has been moulded using
slide moulds allowing excellent details on the top and bottom without any
join seams to worry about. The mantlet cap (part F12) has excellent bolt
head and weld seam details but you should fit the gun shield (part F10) to
the mantlet before added the cap as it is difficult to add these the other
way around as indicated in the instructions. There is a choice of gun collar
with and without small notches around the end and the nicely rendered aerial
guard is attached to the small recess on the underside of the collar to allow
the correct alignment. I found it easier to assembly the mantlet/cap/shield
and collar while temporally fitted over the barrel to ensue they all line
The four part gun guard on the inside of the turret is a little tricky to assemble and this also includes a nicely rendered spent shell catcher an it’s best to assemble this and allow to dry completely before proceeding as the whole gun assembly and guard have to be fitted together at the one time to ensure the barrel lines up correctly through the mantlet.
The front turret plate has the two roof supports added on the inside as well as the telescope sight on the left while there is a nicely detailed co-axial machine gun on the right side which has a well defined cooling jacket, separate ammo chute top with the muzzle hollowed out using slide moulds.
When fitting the assemblies together there are two lugs on either side of
the breech that fit into corresponding holes on the side of the guards that
ensure the barrel is inserted the correct distance through the outer mantlet/collar
assembly but when fitting the gun assembly to the turret front plate take
care not to use too much glue on the two side trunnion covers (parts G4)
to ensure the barrel will elevate after assembly.
One the outside of the front plate are the two vision port covers which have etched supports and can be shown open if you wish and the whole gun/front plate assembly should be attached to the upper turret before attaching the lower turret ring.
Another dimensional error see the co-axial MG positioned too low on the mantlet as this should be about 1.5mm higher about the gun centre line and once again this is altered in the “Vorpanzer” kit.
At the back is the turret basket introduced with later Ausf.Es and comes in four plastic parts with additional etched parts for the latches and padlocks, these have six parts and are quite intricate little assemblies and there are additional small attachment strips provided in plastic or etched for between the basket and turret.
Included is an walking Officer figure moulded in ‘normal' hard plastic and is a Gen2 figure with superb details included. There are 23 parts plus additional etched parts for the rank insignia and medals for this one figure without any weapons with just the upper body in two parts and separate legs, arms, hands, two part head and cap. There are also two pairs of boots, one with plain soles and one with hobnail details included. The figure actually wears two coats, one a buttoned up field gray greatcoat and the other and open waterproof overcoat with nine separate parts for the coat collars and lower flaps. Assembly was quite tricky as the instructions aren't clear on the sequence of attaching the coat sections but after a bit of trial and error fitting they finally went together. The fit of the body and coat parts is very good (after working out the sequence) and any minor gaps can be filled with normal plastic cement during assembly and overall this is a suburb figure with excellent anatomical details as well as the superb coat definition.
There is also a coupe of vinyl cacti to use in a desert setting and a set of three multi-part jerry cans with etched parts trapped between the outer halves for good definition on the can seams and two turned brass 75mm rounds to use as required.
The instructions are conventional exploded view drawings showing the sequences but due to the number of parts and some quite complex assemblies careful study of the instructions will needed. As mentioned above a couple of areas were not that clear and you should always test fit before gluing to ensure everything goes together as they should.
The two decal sheets are well printed with good colour register and quite thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image. The sheets have a good selection of turret numbers, unit and tac signs as well as various style of balkenkreuze for the ten marking options included in the instruction sheet, these are;
Simply a superb kit with innovative features and details wherever you look but not without several some quite large dimensional errors as well as numerous smaller issues most of which have been addressed in the new “Vorpanzer” kit.
The fact Dragon has made so many corrections to the kit is commendable but lets not forget the quite derogatory comments made on the Dragon site about the “nikpickers” when the many errors in the kit were first being highlighted and a little more care during development instead of trying to discredit people and rush kits out just to trump the opposition would benefit everyone involved.
That aside the kit is a generational step ahead of previous Panzer IV kits as are the excellent new Tristar Panzer IV kits.
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Panzer Tracts No.4
Typical Panzer Tracts book with excellent technical descriptions and detailed coverage of the Panzer IV.
Achtung Panzer No.3
Excellent detail coverage of the Panzer IV with the usual detail photos and drawings of all versions of the Panzer IV.
Medium Tank 1936-45
Osprey New Vanguard 28
Panzer IV & Its Variants
PzKpfw IV Ausf.A to J
The usual in action fare with photos and drawings of the Pz.IV versions
PzKpfw IV in action #2012
The usual in action fare with photos and drawings of the Pz.IV versions
Thanks to Dragon Model Ltd for the review kit.
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Page created September 29, 2005