by: Mike High [ ]
The Panzer Kampfwagen IV was designed as a medium infantry-support tank. Eventually the armor and main gun were improved so that the IV could take over the primary tank-fighting role of the Panzer III. Ultimately the IV became the most common German tank of WWII, with more than 9,000 produced from 1939-1945. There were a number of different versions of the IVs produced with roughly 1,687 of the Ausf. G being produced between 1942-1943.
The kit consists of 165 parts molded in light grey styrene, of which only two (2!) will be relegated to the parts bin, four photo etch parts, two DS tracks, and decals for five vehicles.
The instructions are well-printed and easily understood; if followed, they will yield a very clear sequence to the build.
Each bogie consists of five parts that are easily assembled and because of the separate hubs, will facilitate the painting of the rubber portion of the road wheels. There is a molding piece on the back of each hub that will need to be removed (with a little sanding required too). The first major visual option encountered is the choice of adding the spare track to the front of the hull. With the spares added, five parts are used; without, it uses six. Step 4 calls for minor surgery by removing two flat “brackets” that are molded on. Step 5 gives another option of adding spare track.
Step 5 also offers the only photo etch (PE) options; replacing the molded support brackets (no holes) with the PE replacements (two holes). Additionally, Dragon included PE "covers" for the fenders (parts MA1 & 2). I really don't believe that adding these two PE parts will make that much of a difference because the molded top surface is slightly rounded, while the PE is flat (is there an issue with a gap between the two?). Both PE parts have a small notch taken out of the rearward segment, whereas the kit only has one side with that notch.
Step 6 involves building the main gun. The only comment here is that there is a faint seam line running the length of the barrel. Light/careful scraping will correct this. Step 7 gives the builder the option of an open or closed hatch for the commander.
The tracks: love 'em or hate 'em, the Dragon Styrene tracks are nicely formed; however they are the closed guide horn type.
I do have one word of caution: because of the size, care will be needed when removing the parts from the sprues and cleaning up the minimal amount of seam lines.
painting & decals
Paint references are given for Mr. Colour, Aqueous Hobby Colour, and Model Master. The decal sheet includes markings for five vehicles:
1st Panzer (1943, Greece)
Groβdeutschland (1943-1944, Russia)
two for the "LAH” (both 1st Panzer Grenadier Division, 1943, location not indicated)
Totenkopf (1943, Kharkov) (see the "Painting & Markings" photo)
The decals are printed in near perfect register (to these aged eyes, they look great!). Unfortunately, white-on-white does not scan well, but the white numbers look equally great.
Like all of the Dragon 1/72nd Armor Pro kits, this one should build up into a very nice replica of an Early Panzer Kampfwagen IV Ausf. G. With well-molded parts, the DS tracks, and a little bit of PE, this should prove itself to be a nice and easy kit to build for a modeler, regardless of skill level. All in all, it should turn out to be an enjoyable build for a 1/72nd kit. Recommended.