by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
This is the third in the Panzer IV series released by Dragon, the first being the Panzer IV Ausf. E, which came in for some criticism from the modelling community, but was then much improved for the next release of the Panzer IV Ausf.E 'Vorpanzer', the version with the additional spaced armour. This kit continues this trend with additional sprues and re-tooled parts to backdate the Panzer IV to the Ausf. D.
As is usual the kit is immaculately presented. The Dragon 'card' holds all the usual 'goodies' you can expect when buying a kit of this calibre from Dragon. There are metal tow rope, pre-formed wire 'cables' for lights, an aluminium barrel, although some may prefer the styrene one supplied, as this displays rifling, wire holders for the spare wheels, and two beautifully turned brass shells. There are also two fairly large photo-etched frets, that contain tool clamps, various brackets and of course the engine louvres, and inserts for the jerry cans. Of course the fairly extensive decal sheet is also included.
Unlike the 'Vorpanzer' kit, this kit is issued as a 3 in 1 kit, the 3 possible to build versions, are the Pz.IV Ausf. D 'Production Version, the Pz.IV Ausf. D 'Add-on armour' Version, and the Pz.IV Ausf. D 'Tropical' version. As is usual, careful study of the instructions is necessary to ensure that the correct options are chosen! For example, production and DAK versions of the engine deck hatches are supplied along with PE inserts for underneath them.
As with the other two releases, the fenders are provided with and without holes for locating the tools, which means that there are also two versions of the tools supplied, with and without moulded on clamps. Should you choose to use the tools without moulded on clamps, then you can use the PE clamps supplied. There is also a very nice PE Mounting step supplied. The smoke candle rack has also been re-tooled although this wasn't present on all Ausf. D's, so it is possible to leave off, although it was retro-fitted to most of them. In fact, by careful use of references, it's possible to make a fairly unique model, for example, you could mix the hubcaps on the roadwheels with some from the Ausf. E (supplied) to represent field repairs.
There are approximately 12 sprues of Dragon's light grey styrene, and a few clear ones for things such as periscopes, although this number is meaningless really since there are so many small sprues, that may or not be attached to larger sprues, that it can be really difficult to count them individually! All the sprues found in the original 2 releases can be found, along with an additional sprue J that contains various panels along with a new glacis and turret ring... more on this later.
This kit contains all the original parts from the earlier release, as I've said, but they're the re-tooled ones for the 'Vorpanzer' kit, and a lot of them are not used in this kit, being replaced by items from the new sprue J. This means that there are enough parts to correct the Panzer IV Ausf.E original kit release. Even a hull, as there are two in this kit, one with the additional armour and one without..... both corrected in terms of drive sprocket placement.
the new sprue
Sprue J is completely new. On it you will find a new glacis plate, with the transmission and drive housings in the correct positions. There is a new wall to the turret stowage bin, so that it fit's the new turret, which was fitted to some late Ausf. D's, again more on this later. This sprue also holds two brand new rather nice inserts for beneath the engine grills, in the form of two fans and their coupling, which provides some interior detail should you wish to leave the right side engine deck open. The driver's interior periscope has also been remodelled, as has the armoured visor.
Various side hull panels are also included, along with a new rear panel, and of course the new turret ring and plate for the new turret. The brake access hatches are also included, being different from the flush mounted ones supplied in the Ausf.E kit.
The turret in this kit is completely new. Since the cupola projected out from the rear wall of the turret on the Ausf. D this has necessitated a new turret . There are also several other differences to the turret including the relocation of the lifting hooks to the rear wall, the rain guards being moulded on, rather than being supplied as separate parts. The right-side turret signal port has been reinstated, along with the earlier rectangular ventilation hatch in front of the earlier-style cupola. Both signal ports and the ventilation hatch itself can be modelled open or closed as they're supplied as separate parts.
As in the earlier two releases, it's possible to display the drive sproket housing in some state of dis-assembly, as the drive gear beneath the housing is supplied again. There the similarities between this and the earlier two kits ends. In this kit, the drive sprockets themselves can be displayed in bits! Both rear and front faces are supplied as two versions, one as normal with moulded on bolt detail, and the other without. So you could actually display the sprockets dis-assembled for maintenance. Separate bolts are supplied........ and no I'm not joking...... tiny styrene bolts! You will need a good magnifying lens for these!
MA25 on the instructions, which is the PE jack block bracket is actually part MA 43. Part MA43 (2) on the instructions, are actually not numbered on the fret but you'll find them next to MA45.
For the 'Production' version there are 5 options provided, all in panzer grey!
1. 3 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 3, 5.Panzer-Division, Balkans 1941
2. 4 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 7, 10 Panzer-Division, France 1940
3. 3 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 3, 2 Panzer-Division, France 1940
4. 3 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 11, 6 Panzer-Division, France 1940
5. 4 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 25, 7 Panzer-Division, Russia 1941
For the 'Add-On' armour version, we're given just two options in camouflage schemes of dark yellow with brown mottling:
1. 8 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 5, 21 Panzer-Division, Libya 1941
2. 4 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 5, 21 Panzer-Division, Libya 1941
For the 'Tropical' version we're offered 4 versions all in dark yellow:
1. 8 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 5, 5 leichte Division, Libya 1941 No. 813 & 811
3. 4 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 5, 21 Panzer-Division, Libya 1941
4. 4 Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 5, 15 Panzer-Division, Libya 1941
Dragon have outdone themselves and raised the bar again. Very highly recommended indeed. If you already have the original 2 release in the series, you can't not get this one, it's even better!
My Thanks to Dragon for the review sample