by: Kevin Brant [ ]
HistoryThe Panzer IV was the idea of General Heinz Guderian, designed to be a support tank for use against anti-tank guns and fortifications. Initial thought was to deploy one company of heavy tanks (Panzer IV), with 3 companies of medium tanks (Panzer III). The first variant manufactured in 1936, the Ausfuhrung A, was equipped with a KwK 37 L/24 75mm low-velocity tank gun, designed to fire high explosive shells that could penetrate 43mm of armor at 430 meters. It was thinly armored with 14.5mm of frontal armor and 20mm on the turret, and only 35 were built. While the Ausf.B and C versions followed quickly, the Ausf.A still saw action in Poland and France.
ModelAfter a long line of Panzer IVs from Dragon Models, they have finally delivered the first variant of this illustrious warrior of WW2. The kit is part of the Dragon’s Smart Kits line, meaning a well detailed tank, and Dragon does not disappoint. Upon receiving the kit I was a little surprised at the size and weight of the box. Opening the kit, I knew why: it is packed with sprues. The first sight is the detail taped to the typical Dragon card, including Smart Track, photo-etch, clear plastic, wire, and decals. The kit has numerous parts, too many to count, spread over 13 sprues, as well as the lower hull and turret separate. There are also two PE frets, clear plastic for view ports, and a length of wire for the tow cable.
Inspection of the kit shows the usual clean and crisp molding we have come to expect from Dragon. I found very little to no flash, and only a couple of ejector marks - most will be covered upon building of the kit. The size and weight of the kit are due to numerous unused parts on the sprues, looking at the sprue layout in the instructions, it looks to be almost half the parts in the box will not be used, thus a lot of parts for your spares box.
The surface detail is very well done, including the rivets. Most hatches are separately molded, most with interior detail, allowing the builder to leave hatches open. The kit does come with interior detail for the turret, including gun breech, commander’s seat and turret floor. While this is nice, some open hatches will allow you see past this. And the basket for shells has an ejector mark right in the inside center, which looks to be a challenge to fill and sand. The view ports are all clear plastic, and will require some fine masking skills prior to paint.
There is plenty of exterior detail, including all tie downs done with photo-etched. I should note that most of the PE parts are small to very small, thus some care will need to be taken here. The PE extends to the brilliant-looking idler wheels, very well molded and well detailed. The same goes for the drive sprockets, the level of molding and detail is impressive, but looks like a daunting task to assemble. The road wheels come with the rubber wheel molded separately, and with two options. This should make painting a breeze. As for the track, well the great-looking, time consuming, Dragon Magic Track is included.
IntructionsThe instructions are printed on a single folded piece of paper, with each page measuring about 8.5” x 14”. The instructions look to be the typical Dragon, with some steps looking very busy, lots of call-outs for building subassemblies, and as for accuracy of the instructions, I will let you know during my build blog. The construction of the kit is split among 13 steps, with some call-out detail assemblies. I won’t go into a long break down of the steps, as they follow the typical model tank construction flow, starting with the running gear, followed by the lower hull detail, moving to the upper hull then turret.
paint and markingsThere are several paint call-outs as you move through the steps, referencing Aqueous, Mr. Colour, and Model Master colors. The instructions include marking options for 10 tanks, almost a third of all Ausf.A’s built. The paint scheme is German Grey with Red Brown blotches for all options. As for markings, the decals are very well done, and look to be in register.
accuracyAs for accuracy of the Panzer IV Ausf.A from Dragon, from what few images I can find online, it seems to match. I found a few images labeled Ausf.A, but the vehicle had different idler wheels and sprockets. I assumed it was from refitting of the vehicle, or an image of the Ausf.B mis-labeled.
conclusionOver all, I for one am not disappointed in the Panzer IV Ausf.A kit from Dragon. It looks to be well done, typical Dragon-quality molding and great-looking detail. My only drawbacks are the large number of unused parts in the box (Dragon could have saved a little money there I think), the complexity of some of the sub-assemblies (mainly the sprockets), and the size of the PE parts looks a little daunting. I would definitely recommend this kit to Panzer IV fans, and anyone looking for a quality model.