German Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.B
Tristar Kit No. 35021
1:35 Scale
First Look Review by Terry Ashley

This Panzer IV Ausf.B kit is the third Panzer IV kit from Tristar following the previous Panzer IV Ausf.D (kit #35015) and Ausf.C (kit #35017) and is basically the improved Ausf.C kit with additional backdated parts for the Ausf.B to make another attractive model from Tristar.

The kit consists of 691 parts in light beige plastic plus another 204 individual track links with many 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 and no excessive flash 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.

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 when hyandling the smaller parts.

Added to the Ausf.C parts is a new sprue (La) with the applicable Ausf.B parts, a revised etched fret and new decal sheet but as some of the parts included are from the original Ausf.D kit and are not applicable to the Ausf.B it is important to follow the instructions to use the correct parts, consigning the unused parts to the spares box.


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.

There is one update made to the suspension with new bogie mountings that feature the early Ausf.B style bolt heads around the bogie, this is a very subtle change and hard to see at first look.


The driver sprockets are again the same in two parts with the outer and inner discs having very well defined details on both sides and feature excellent surface details.

The revised idler wheels from the Ausf.C with two halves that feature the fine ribbing that goes right to the edge of the outer wheel rim should be used with the Ausf.B and the left over multi-part idlers for the Ausf.D again consigning to the spares box.

The retooled return support roller with separate outer wheel hubs and separate rubber tyre sections with the “Continental” embossing are also included and these are better defined than the original rollers but there is 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 side panels again feature the early swivel type fuel filler cap covers on the left side and the suspension dampers on the first and fourth bogie units are the correct type for the Ausf.B.

The rear hull panel has the correct Ausf.B 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 with these also including fine etched chain on the shackle pins.

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 and feature just the three bolts seen on these early covers as opposed to the six on the Ausf.C and D. 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 and if you are careful and firmly secure the front and rear joins while the glues dries any minor gaps along the lower join are kept to an absolute minimum. The front and back lower hull sections should also be firmly held in place with tape until the glues dries for a solid fit.

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 and includes the straight driver’s/radio operators plate of the Ausf.B. The surface details on the hull top includes recessed screw heads around the hull and around the crew hatch openings.

The straight driver’s/radio operators plate features the simple visor on the right side that includes inner clear parts and frame to show open if you wish and has the correct profile with open vision slot. The pistol port has a separate ‘cone’ cover that can be positioned in the open or closed position as desired along with the two driver’s visor blocks and upper rain shield.

The superstructure sides feature the Ausf.B type visors with raised lip around the vision slot but 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 with the correct rectangular shaped key holes and the bullet splash shields around the hatches have the correct profile contours.

The forward sections of fenders are attached to the hull moulding and include subtle dot 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 glacis plate has separate brake access hatches with circular key hole fittings 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 Ausf.D kit.

The engine deck doors are both separate with excellent flush screw head and latch details along with the correct round key hole fittings for the Ausf.B. There is a separate door 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 same excellent tread plate pattern and separate fender extensions and tail lights along with the earlier simplified air intake/outlet louvers.

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 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.C/D kit with the separate roof panel that includes the revised flush screw layout for the Ausf.B/C as well as new revised side crew hatches and visors again for the Ausf.B 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 with separate visor and pistol port fitting on the inside and no pin marks to contend with 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 correct Ausf.B type mantlet with inner shield with revised cut-out in the mantlet that addresses the minor contour issues with the Ausf.C mantlet and now matches photos and plans much better.

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 the simpler rod aerial deflector of the Ausf.B.

The barrel muzzle is hollowed out with basic rifling using slid moulds for excellent definition and to finish off there is the co-axial machine gun without armoured cover as applicable to the Ausf.B and all these subtle changes show the research gone into the kit.

Details on the rear turret 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 and a small bolted strip around the rear cupola base that will need careful bending into shape before fitting.

On the inside of the turret is a full basket/floor 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 have the conventional exploded view drawings which are fairly easy 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 six 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.

All the required parts for the Ausf.B have been included and this kit should be welcomed by early war fans. Just don’t be put off by the box art that has the incorrect visors on the superstructure sides, but the correct visors are included in the kit.

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 April 28, 2006

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