German Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D/Tauch
7.5cm Sd.Kfz.161 4.u.5/B.W

Tristar Kit No. 35023
1:35 Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

In preparation for Operation Sealion, 42 Panzer Iv Ausf.Ds (and some Pz.IIIs and StuGs IIIs) were converted to Tauchpanzer ("diving tank") with all openings such as the Commander's cupola, gun mantlet and machine gun mount covered with rubber sheeting and the turret ring protected by inflatable rubber ring while the exhausts were fitted with non-return valves.

Air was supplied via a flexible 18-meter hose held on the surface by a buoy and they could submerge to a depth of about 15 meters with the maximum underwater speed about 3 mph. With the cancellation of Operation Sealion some were used by the 18th Panzer Regiment during the River Bug crossing in Operation Barbarossa.

The kit:
Tristar have discontinued their previous kit of the Panzer IV Ausf.D (kit #35015) and replaced it with this kit which has some updated and corrected parts from the first kit and can be built as a standard Ausf.D as well as the Tauchpanzer.  
This makes it clear which kit has the updated parts taking any guess work out of knowing what you are buying rather than just added updated parts but leaving the kit number the same.

This “new” kit uses the basic parts from kit #35015 with additional Tauch parts as well as numerous updates as mentioned and consists of approx. 850 parts in light beige plastic including 108 for the individual track links. There is also a small etched fret and 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.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub is 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 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 caps well defined.

Assembling the hull tub is straightforward with good precise fit of the parts and providing you take the usual care the join seam is virtually non existent.

The suspension dampers are added to the side panels as well as 16 small bolt heads to the insides on the bogie mounting plates under the hull, that’s attention to detail if you ever saw it.

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.

On the rear hull panel is a five part engine muffler with separate support brackets as well as another three parts for the auxiliary turret traverse engine muffler plus separate rear mud flaps and tail lights. Fitted above the muffler is the early style smoke candle rack made up of nine parts with the fine chains on each candle included on the etched fret. 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.

Additional Tauch parts include the non-return valves for the main and auxiliary exhaust pipe outlets that replace the normal muffler and exhaust pipes without any alterations to the kit proper required.

I covered the suspension bogies and wheels in detail with the review of set #35014 with the only thing to note is that just the parts applicable to the Ausf.D are included as well as some wheel hub caps from the later types.

The driver sprockets are 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 are made up of five parts each with the inner and outer disc and separate inner and outer rims which when fitted together give very good detail definition to the skeletal idlers of the Ausf.D. A small plastic collar is trapped between the two idler halves that later is glued to the idler axle and you will need to use glue sparingly if your want the wheels to rotate after assembly.

These are new early 36cm individual link tracks but unlike the previous 38cm tracks these are designed to be workable with very small locating pins and corresponding locating holes on each link as well as very good details including open guide teeth and well defined end pins. There is left and right handed track so take care these are not mixed up during assembly.

There is some cleanup of the sprue attachment scars before assembly which is done by slipping the locating pin of one link into the next link locating hole and using a pair of fine tweezers clip the other pin into place. Care is needed as the locating pins are very small and fairly easy to damage if not handled with care, and the assembled links tend to come apart unless again handled carefully.

The track runs don't articulate that freely link some aftermarket tracks but do allow you to achieve the track sag easily when fitting to the model but some joins will require gluing if the pin is damaged and it may be an idea to lightly glue all the links once fitted to the kit to ensure they don't come apart later.

I found these tracks are easier to assemble than the previous no working tracks designed just to be glued together making the task of assembling the individual links a little easier to handle.

Upper Hull:
There are actually tow upper hulls provided, the original for the standard Ausf.D and new hull for the Tauch version which has improved definition on the flush screw and other details. Both are basically a shell with 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 plus raided bullet turret guards.

The fender tread plate has been re-done on the original hull to the more common style with this even better defined on the new hull which although labeled for the Tauch version could be used for the standard Ausf.D as the surface details are better. The rear fenders sections are separate parts with added bolt head detail to the separate inner fender fillets.

The engine deck doors are both separate with more good flush screw head and latch details as well as a separate grab handle with the hull and hatch hinges correctly orientated and the fit of the engine deck doors is better than on the previous kit with just some very minor trimming inside the hinges on the large door required.

The front crew hatches have nice weld seams and latch details with the inner handle as a separate part with the hull top hatch surrounds having excellent detail with the raised guard the correct profile.

There are two alternate front stepped plates provided, again the original for the standard Ausf.D and the new one for the Tauch version with the raised frame around the machine gun port and two alternate port covers and separate covered MG barrel.
This allows you to depict the model in fully submersible configuration or with the sealing covers removed just leaving the raised MG port frame as commonly seen.
There is also the cover for the driver’s vision port if depicting the model in full Tauch configuration although this isn’t shown fitted in available photos of the Tauchpanzer.

The basic plate has excellent weld seams and machine gun mounting details with a separate MG barrel which has the muzzle hollowed out with movable ball mount, although there are no interior parts for the MG. The driver’s visor has the two armoured visor flaps and upper cover as separate parts and can be attached in any position from full open to closed.

The forward sections of fenders are attached to the hull moulding and include as mentioned subtle tread plate pattern on the top surfaces but are bare underneath. The forward folding fender sections are separate with nice hinge details and separate inside securing spring (in plastic of course).

The glacis is also a separate plate with the separate brake access hatches with again subtle weld seams and separate central access panel; this has been re-positioned further forward in the correct position correcting one of the detail issues with the first kit. The plate sits lower in the opening than the original but should sit flush with the glacis and some minor trimming may be needed to fit this better.
Also provided are the small securing latches for the brake access hatches which are exclusive to the Tauchpanzer for added detail.

On the front plate are four part tow shackles with separate retaining pin for excellent detail definition and include fine etched pin securing chain.

Along the side panels are separate visor flaps which have additional inner brackets and clear vision blocks allowing you to show the visors open if you wish along with very small two part lifting hooks as well as the air cleaner outlet on the right rear moulded hollow for excellent definition with etched cover for the Tauchpanzer.

The two part rear engine air inlet/outlet grills have separate etched flap covers that can be fitted open or closed as you wish as well as sheet metal covers (in plastic) for the Tauch version with the correct rib pattern included. Also included is a small intake/filter (part I-18, I-19) mounted on the left rear intake louvers, the purpose of this fitting is unknown but it's good it is included in the kit as it is visible in photos of Tauchpanzers. Another Tauchpanzer fitting included is a small half moon bracket (part I-33) mounted centrally on the left side of the hull, the purpose of this is again unknown but can be seen clearly in photographs and shows the attention to detail in the kit.


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 on others, these will test your eyesight but to help with attaching these they can be glued in place while still attached to the small sprue and then cut off with a sharp model knife once dry.

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 a two part 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 Tauchpanzers carried a wooden beam on the right rear fender and the brackets for this is included in the kit but you have to provide you own wooden beam as indicated in the instruction and a section of balsa wood beam would do the job nicely. While I don’t have exact dimensions of the beam, from photos it is approximately 90mm long x 8mm x 4mm in 1:35 scale, but this may vary.

The copper cable included is used for the coiled tow cable on the rear hull panel with separate end shackles provided and as the wire is soft it can easily be bent to the required contours.

The Turret:
The turret shell has a separate roof panel, crew hatches and drum cupola and has excellent surface details such as rivet heads around the hatch openings and visors as well as 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 inside and visor flaps on the outside with separate latches on the inside.

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.

According to documentation the cupola of the Tauchpanzer had a water proof fabric cover similar to the mantlet when configured for submerging but this isn’t included in the kit but I haven’t seen any photos with this cupola cover actually fitted while there are numerous with the mantlet cover in place but its inclusion would have finished off the kit nicely.

On the standard Ausf.D front plate there are separate visor flaps and three part gun mantlet with excellent weld seam and flush screw head details plus a choice of barrels with and without the aerial deflector retaining clip as well as alternate gun collars and a single barrel muzzle section. The muzzle and two barrels are completely hollowed out for excellent definition and to finish off is a two part co-axial machine gun and armoured cover again with hollowed out 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 sort of negated the advantage of the one piece mounding.

For the Tauch version there is a new front plate and alternate waterproof fabric covers with different contours on the cover and a separate covered gun and housing, this has a fairly large moulding seam along the sides which should actually remain as the fabric cover had a seam in this position.
You will have to blend in the join between the mantlet cover and covered barrel and using thick plastic cement applied to the join could do the job but a thin strip of filler may be needed?

Also included is the cover frame to add to the original front plate to depict a Tauchpanzer with the cover removed as seen in numerous photos.

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 while around the base of the turret is the Tauch sealing strip in the correct rounded profile with the small attachment brackets and matches available photos well.

On the inside of the turret is a full basket with three support arms and lower floor with added tread plate pattern that attach to the lower turret ring plus the commander’s and gunner’s seats and a seven part gun breech with rear guard and spent shell basket which has added texture from the plain part in the first kit with all this detail easily 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 as seen in a number of shots of destroyed Pz.IV.Ds.

These are conventional exploded view drawings that are quite easy to follow even with the large number of parts but some of the sequences showing the added Tauch details are a little confusing and careful study of the sequences before hand will lessen any problems.

There are a couple of minor errors in the instructions that should be noted;

  1. The instructions don't say to remove the middle stub on the rear of the bogie mounts.
  2. Also the part S-28 is mislabeled. It should be S-11. The picture is correct but not the part number.
  3. Part S-31, the idler axle is drawn with the wrong end facing out. The short arm should attach to the idler wheel and the long arm attaches to the hull.
  4. The decal call-outs in the instruction are printed with no numbers, a mistake by the printer and should be fixed for the next batch. (Thanks Lawrence).

The two small decal sheets are well printed with good colour register and thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image with the original sheet from kit #35015 plus an additional sheet with Tauchpanzer markings with the instructions showing markings for one standard Ausf.D and four Tauchpanzer Ds.
The colourful unit crests included on the sheet are very well done with the angler fish a good match with just the small eyes and nose missing from the skull marking which can easily be added.

The markings are for;

These markings from the original kit are still included but not shown in the instructions.


This is another superb rendition of the Panzer IV Ausf.D with the added details and corrections from the first kit making it even better. The additional Tauchpanzer details match available data very well except for the cupola cover and the choice of building a standard Panzer IV Ausf.D or the Tauchpanzer adds nice variety to the kit.

The details included on the parts are very fine and well executed although some are so fine they may cause the odd headache such as the bolt heads on the final drive covers and the incredible small wing nuts but the final effect is excellent and worth the effort.

Not included is the breather hose and buoy used when the tank is running submerged in case anyone wanted to get real adventurous and do a boxed underwater diorama. It should be noted that the breather hose and buoy were not used during operations in Russia but only in preparations for Operation Sealion, the same I suspect for the cupola cover according to the available photos of Pz.Rgt.18 Tauchpanzers in Russia.

Highly recommended.

Note: I will be updating the Panzer IV Ausf.D comparison review shortly to reflect the updated parts in this kit given it is replacing the discontinued kit used with that comparison.

The sprues
Click for larger image
Close new window to return to review


Panzer Tracts No.4
Panzerkampfwagen IV

Typical Panzer Tracts book with excellent technical descriptions and detailed coverage of the Panzer IV.


Achtung Panzer No.3
Panzer IV

Excellent detail coverage of the Panzer IV with the usual detail photos and drawings of all versions of the Panzer IV.


Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D Up-Gunned AFV Super Detail Photo Book Vol.1
Published by Model Art Co.Ltd.

56 pages, full colour, soft cover


Ground Power Magazine
#108 - 5/2003

Published by GALILEO Publishing

PzKpfw IV Ausf.A-D
(pages 5-75)

book Panzerkampfwagen IV
Medium Tank 1936-45

Osprey New Vanguard 28
ISBN: 1855328437

Panzer IV & Its Variants
Walter J. Spielberger

Schiffer Publishing
ISBN: 0887405150


PzKpfw IV Ausf.A to J
Tanks in Detail 1
Ian Allan Publishing.


PzKpfw IV
Squadron Signal Publications
Special #6081

The usual in action fare with photos and drawings of the Pz.IV versions


PzKpfw IV in action #2012
Squadron Signal Publications

The usual in action fare with photos and drawings of the Pz.IV versions

Tristar ShopThanks to CK Pat from the Tristar Shop for the review kit.

Page created October 8, 2006

Click Browsers BACK button to return to list
Home / Reviews / Vehicle Reviews / Tristar