German Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf C
7.5cm Sd.Kfz.161

Tristar Kit No. 35017
1:35 Scale

First Look Review by Terry Ashley

Tristar are about to release their second Panzer IV kit in the form of the earlier Ausf. C which is a first in injected plastic kits and is labeled "Limited Edition" so it would be an idea to order early. Those familiar with the type will know it is not just a few tweaks of the previous Panzer IV Ausf.D (kit #35015) to get an Ausf.C as there are considerable differences between the two and thankfully Tristar with the assistance of technical adviser Thomas Jentz have pretty well nailed it detail wise.

The kit consists of 764 parts in light beige plastic plus another 204 individual track links with about 140 from the previous Ausf.D kit not used here. There is also 5 parts in clear plastic added and a small etched fret with about 60 pieces, a length of copper cable for the steel tow cable plus the decal and instruction sheets.

The standard of moulding is again excellent with very few if any pin marks on exposed places after assembly with excellent surface details of bolt and screw heads, weld seams and engraved panel lines plus some extremely small parts such as bolt heads for the armoured final drive covers and wing nuts on the tool clips.

There is no excessive flash on any of the parts as was reported by some with the Ausf.D kit although both the Ausf.D kits I have didn’t have this either. The only cleanup needed is the usual moulding seams on the parts with this being a little prominent on some but is easy to deal with and the usual care with the small parts.

Some of the major kit alterations are the inclusion of fully workable 38cm tracks links (more on this later), redesigned return rollers with separate rubber sections as per the road wheels, new early style idler wheels, plus new hull and turret parts applicable to the Ausf.C


I covered the suspension bogies and wheels in detail with the review of set #35014 and the same parts are provided in this kit with the appropriate early style road wheel hub caps included.

The driver sprockets are the same again in two parts with the outer and inner discs having very well defined details on both sides and feature excellent surface details but take care when cutting from the sprues not to take too much off the teeth attached to the sprues.

The idler wheels from the Ausf.D are still included which are made up of five parts each with the inner and outer disc to form the lip around the wheel rims as on late Ausf.Cs and Ausf.Ds. Also included are two new idler wheels in two halves that feature the fine ribbing that goes right to the edge of the outer wheel rim as was the case with the Ausf.B and early Ausf.C idlers and shows Tristar have done their homework on this feature. There are photos of both types of idlers on the Ausf.C (not mixed) so check your references on which is more applicable with most early Cs using the new wheels supplied.

The other update is the retooled return support roller which now has separate outer wheel hubs and separate rubber tyre sections with the “Continental” embossing as per the road wheels. The definition of the hubs is deeper and better defined on these new parts but there was a mould seam around the outer shoulder of the rubber section that you will have to remove, all very easy.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub is again made up of the floor section with separate side panels with two inner bulkhead cross members (parts E1) to help keep everything square plus a separate rear hull plate.

The lower floor is from the Ausf.D kit but the side panels are new with revised bolt head arrangements and the early swivel type fuel filler cap covers on the left side.
The suspension dampers were different on the Ausf.C with a just a simple damper on the first and fourth bogie units and this is depicted on the new parts with the two dampers per side supplied as separate parts.

The rear hull panel is also new with the Ausf.C layout and there is also an additional appliqué armour panel for the lower hull front to represent the increase in armour from 15mm to 30mm to which are fitted the early style tow shackles from the previous kit still applicable here.

The surface details on these parts are again excellent with very good panel and bolt head details on the underside and equally good details on the side and rear panels with the fuel filler covers well defined.

The final drive housings are again superbly detailed with separate front and rear armoured covers with more very small bolt heads to be added to the covers. These bolt heads have to firstly be cut with a sharp blade from the sprues parts (E4) and positioned around the covers, there are small indentations to indicate the locations to ensure you space the bolts correctly. This will take a fair bit of work to cut off and glue all these bolt heads and it has been done this way to ensure good definition on the final assembly given the constraints of injection moulding which would have seen the bolts malformed if they were moulded in place on the covers.

Fitting the lower hull floor and side panels can be made easier by first gluing the inner bulkheads (parts E1) in place and let dry completely to give a good firm locating point for the side panels. The panels then fitted quite well but there were some minor gaps along the lower join which can be filled with additional liquid cement as they are quite fine. The front and back lower hull sections should be firmly held in place with tape until the glues dries for a solid fit.

The rear hull panel was then fitted to form the full lower tub and the fit was good with only some very minor gaps that could again be filled with additional liquid cement.

Upper Hull:
The upper hull is again basically a shell that includes the top plate and forward fenders with the side and front superstructure panels as separate parts to allow for good detail definition. The surface details on the hull top includes recessed screw heads around the hull and around the crew hatch openings, this area is especially well done and includes the raided bullet turret guards.

The upper hull is a complete new moulding that includes the straight front driver’s plate and angled engine deck side panels with the earlier simplified exhaust louvers. The separate driver’s plate and superstructure sides are also new parts with the forward vision ports on the side panels being the earlier simple slot type with clear inner vision blocks and frames so you can show these open if you wish.

The fit of the front plate and superstructure side panels will need some minor trimming for a good fit, this is only minor and test fitting along the way will determine the amount needed.

The crew hatches have nice weld seams and latch details with the inner handle as a separate part while the front plate again has the two part driver’s armoured visor with upper rain shield included plus the simple visor cover and separate pistol port on the right side. The pistol port can be fixed on the open position if you wish and the visor also has the inner clear block and supports to show the cover open.

The forward sections of fenders are attached to the hull moulding and include subtle tread plate pattern on the top surfaces but are bare underneath which probably would be hard to see on the finished kit in any case. The forward folding fender sections are separate with nice hinge details and separate inside securing spring (in plastic of course).

The new revised glacis plate has separate brake access hatches that also included inside details as well as the subtle weld seams on the outside with the separate central access panel sitting flush with the revised glacis which fixes this minor issue with the previous kits.

The engine deck doors are both separate with more excellent flush screw head and latch details as well as a separate grab handle and the hatch hinges have the correct orientation but the fit of the engine deck doors will need some very minor trimming to get a precise fit but nothing excessive. The rear sections of fenders are also separate parts with excellent tread plate pattern and separate fender extensions and tail lights.

On the rear hull panel is a four part engine muffler with separate mounting brackets as well as another four parts for the auxiliary turret traverse engine muffler with the early style smoke candle rack made up of nine parts with etched fine chains on each candle fitted above the muffler. A separate join flange is provided for between the upper and lower rear hull panels again with nice bolt head details as a result while the two separate idler mounting brackets are especially well detailed with separate detail parts.

There are many smaller detail parts around the hull such as the headlights with separate clear plastic lenses and all the pioneer tools with finely moulded tool clips which are supplemented with etched parts for the clip latches and as mentioned some incredibly small plastic wing nuts that can be glued in place while still attached to the small sprue and then cut off with a sharp model knife once dry. There are the two very small lifting hooks on the side panels and well defined air cleaner outlet on the right side.

The jack has seven parts with another eight for the mounting brackets and clips for an excellent jack in plastic. On the left side is the delicate etched and plastic fold up step which is designed to be fitted in the up position but it wouldn’t be hard to lower this if desired and also a two part track tool. The jack block is in two parts with additional etched parts for the mounting brackets and securing strap that add nice details to the part.

The new 38cm tracks are individual link designed to be workable with each link having small pins and corresponding locating holes to simply be clipped together.
The detail on the links is very good with fine crisp details including open lightening holes in the guide teeth. The only cleanup needed is the sprue locating scar which is quite small if you are careful removing the links and some very minor excess plastic on some links.

Fitting the links together unfortunately didn’t go to plan as the links are finely moulded which means the location hole has quite thin walls. As a consequence if you just click the links together the pin will break though the wall leaving a gap so they won’t hold together. To get a round this I used a pair of tweezers to ‘flex’ the link out and around the pin fitting the hole over the pin.

Views of the new links, fitting the links together as per the text
and the assembled track run


This was quite tricky due to the finesse of the links and the slightest ‘nick’ in the locating hole wall was enough for the pin to slip out and the attrition rate was quite high while assembling a small run of links. With extreme care you should be able to assemble enough links to go around the drive sprocket and idler wheels but the remainder may have to be glued together to make the track runs. There is left and right handed track so take care these are not mixed up during assembly.

Also included is one sprue of the original non working links from the Ausf.D kit to use as spare track runs to use as required. These simply glue together but have very good details including open guide teeth.

The Turret:
The turret shell is from the previous Ausf.D kit but with a new separate roof panel with revised flush screw layout for the Ausf.C as well as new revised side crew hatches and visors again for the Ausf.C as plus the rain guard above the hatch openings and flush screwed bracket around the base of the cupola. The separate roof section has superbly rendered flush screws and the fit to the turret is excellent while the weld seams around the rear plate joins are again very well done.

The hatches have details on both sides and no pin marks to contend with plus added visors and separate latches on the inside and revised visor flaps on the outside.
The two part drum cupola has separate armoured flaps which can be fitted in the open or closed position and separate split hatches again without any pin marks and separate inner latches and head padding.

On the separate front plate are separate visor flaps and the new Ausf.C type mantlet with inner shield but the cut-out in the mantlet is a little off shape with the right side of the opening extending a bit too close to the edge of the mantlet and the angle of the upper opening not bevelled quite enough to match photos.

The recoil housing has additional flush screws included as these are now visible due to no outer gun shield. The weld seams and flush screw head details are very well done and there is a choice of barrels with and without the aerial deflector retaining clip as well as alternate gun collars and a single barrel muzzle section with rifling as well as a new one with muzzle cap included.

The barrel muzzle is hollowed out with basic rifling using slid moulds for excellent definition and to finish off is a new two part co-axial machine gun and armoured cover again with hollowed out slide mould muzzle. One small issue here was that even with the barrel sections moulded in one piece there was still a sizable moulding seam to be removed which will need care.

Details on the rear panel are very small lifting hooks and separate pistol port covers with the small lifting hooks also added to the front corners of the turret and will need care in fitting.

On the inside of the turret is a full basket with three support arms and lower floor which now includes tread plate pattern and the arms attach to the lower turret ring plus the commander’s and gunner’s seats. The seven part gun breech has a rear guard and spent shell basket to finish off the interior parts which can easily be seen if the side crew hatches are left open.

A separate optional hull top turret ring is provided which hides the notches that secure the turret and is a nice addition if you want to show the turret off during maintenance or as a result of battle damage.

These are now in a larger format making the conventional exploded view drawings easier to follow even with the large number of parts but as usual careful study of the sequences before hand will lessen any problems.

The small decal sheet is well printed with good colour register and thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image with markings for three vehicles all in overall Panzer Grey.

The markings are for;

Clear parts

Another excellent and well researched kit as you might expect with Thomas Jentz as the technical advisor. The details included on the parts are again very fine and well defined although some of the smaller parts such as the bolt heads on the final drive covers and the incredible small wing nuts will need special care but the final effect is excellent and worth the effort.

This kit should be very welcomed by early war fans as this period has been rather neglected compared to the later years.

Highly recommended.

The sprues
Click for larger image
Detail images
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Tristar ShopThanks to CK Pat from the Tristar Shop for the review kit.

Page created November 26, 2005

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