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  1. Hello folks, a little while since I last posted a WIP, I've been having a little breather after finishing the last one. Looking through my stash of Miniart kits ( I still have a lot), I decided to have a go at this one. "`Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. H, 3rd SS-Div. "Totenkopf", Eastern Front, Ukraine, Autumn 1943. This particular version appears to have been produced in August 1943, just at the start when Germany decided to add Zimmerit to their tanks. So I have to decide whether or not to do Zimmerit on it. It still could be too early to have it on, but then again.....At the moment, I think I will unless anyone can advise otherwise. My next build after this one is going to be a Miniart Stug III with interior which is about the same period as this one and my thoughts were to try Zimmerit on this one in case things go south rather than do it on the Stug after I've gone to all the trouble doing all the inside. So really this is a kind of an experiment model for me, hopefully it will turn out ok. I'm going to have all the hatches closed as I'm not interested in the insides. Miniart do actually add quite a lot of the internals even in this version for those who wish to have figures and have hatches open, which is good. I'll just have a load of parts going into the spare box instead. I've also got the option to add side skirts if I wish, I'll decide about that later on and will also have the schurzen in place. Here is the box art.... There are four versions to choose from, this is the one that I'm going to attempt to make, which will be from the 3rd SS-Div. "Totenkopf", Eastern Front, Ukraine, Autumn 1943. So to start things off I've started to work on the hull first, here's a photo of the pieces that make up the basic hull structure. No one piece hull here..... After gluing the firewall to the base plate the side plates all fit very nicely together.... That's the start, more bits and pieces are needed to added to the hull so I'll be back when I have more to show.... all the best Ed
  2. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G Mid – Kharkov, 1943 (BT-033) 1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support tank with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through several successive variants including enhancements such as a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer, high-velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm round. The new gun was a direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that shocked the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it, and didn’t like the way their shots were prone to ricocheting off the sloped glacis. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the Allied bombers took their toll. The Kit This kit is billed as a new tooling, however it shares a few sprues for the running gear with other kits in the Border range that are also based upon the Panzer IV chassis, so if you have one of their kits, you might recognise them. The kit arrives in a top-opening box, and inside are ten sprues and a hull part in grey styrene, two frets of Photo-Etch (PE), a length of braided wire, a tiny sheet of decals, and the instruction booklet printed in colour on glossy paper that has colour profiles on the rear pages. Detail is good and up with the best Panzer IV kits, bringing link-and-length tracks, substantial PE parts, some personalisation equipment, and a full depiction of the suspension and running gear. Before the main build begins, the optional parts that are included on the sprues are made up, including two buckets with PE handles, two pairs of road wheels without tyres, two three-grip Jerry cans, and a 10-link run of individual track links. Main construction begins with the lower hull, which is slide-moulded with plenty of detail on all external surfaces, and includes the cooling vents with added PE vanes on the sides of the engine compartment, simplifying the build a little, with the option of adding an armoured cover on each side, as evidenced by a nearby 3D rendered scrap diagram. The side panels are glued over the grilles at the rear, vision slots are added on the sidewalls further forward, and even at this early stage, a set of optional barrel-cleaning rods and jack block are applied to begin the invasion of the pioneer tools. Suspension bump-stops and other components are added to the sides, making up sixteen sets of paired road wheels that slide onto the twin bogies, handed to each side. Eight paired return rollers, three-part drive sprockets and two-part idler wheels are also made up and installed along with the two final drive housings at the front of the hull, which have armoured arcs added around the front, covered in bolts. The rear bulkhead with idler axle mounts, towing point, and large multi-part exhaust are assembled and fitted on the rear of the hull along with the upper overhang, which in the instructions have been forgotten, but should be simple to figure out, ignoring the blank area where the missing (or invisible) step should be. Oopsie! We all make mistakes though, so we can’t be too harsh on them. The instructions go out of phase a little here, starting with building the fenders, which offers a choice of equipment including a well-detailed jack, lights, track tools, fire extinguisher and other pioneer tools, plus triangular supports along the length, and the option of either PE or styrene front fenders, the former adding more detail and scale thickness than styrene can achieve. They are shown being installed in the next step, with the step after detailing the lower glacis being installed along with the ten track links on a long bracket, plus a pair of towing shackles. The tracks are present in this and subsequent steps until they are installed for real in step 16. Meantime, the upper hull with the engine deck moulded-in, and two forward hatches added is mated with the lower hull, followed by the upper glacis plate and the usual transmission inspection hatches and armoured cowls, which have another seven optional track links applied, attached to the centre panel by several small brackets that would have been welded to the surface. This and the vertical panel with the bow machine gun stub pushed through the ball-mount and armoured kugelblende on the right, and the driver’s armoured vision slot on the left. This leads us to the actual installation of the tracks, which are of the link-and-length variety, offering the modeller a simplified variation on independent links, whilst easing the task of obtaining the correct sag, particularly to the upper run, which has substantial sag moulded-in, a conspicuous feature of this tank’s track system. Eight individual links are installed around the drive sprocket along with a short diagonal length then three more individual links, with a similar process carried out at the rear, but with one lower link transferred to fit around the idler wheel, and an extra link moulded into the diagonal section. Detail is excellent, with just a few small ejector-pin marks on the insides of the longer lengths that you can hide if you think they’ll be seen through the muck and grime of weathering. Sixteen bolt heads can be found on the runners of sprue F, and these are added to the suspension under the hull according to a scrap diagram nearby, so make sure you have a steady hand for the task, and it might be wise to do this early in the build before any details are added. The fenders go on next, adding mudflaps to the rear ends, with optional PE replacements that add more detail and scale thickness, creating an open-topped box on the left side that accommodates two pairs of road wheels with tyres. On the right side, an aerial with stowage slot and more pioneer tools are installed along with your choice of styrene or PE rear fenders. The majority of the turret is moulded as a single part plus separate cheek panels and some detail parts including mushroom vents added, which then has the clamshell side hatches and overhangs installed, with separate frames, and periscopes in the larger of the two doors, one pair per side. Two pistol-ports with separate hinges are added at the sides of the rear, separated by a four-part styrene bustle stowage box that is augmented by five PE strips around the edges. Despite this being an exterior-only kit, there is a replication of much of the gun’s breech in the turret, the recuperator tubes clamping around the rear of the one-part styrene barrel, taking care to choose the correct one, as there are three choices of differing lengths dotted around the sprues. The barrel shroud is inserted into the wide fairing that surrounds the recuperators, which is made from two parts, making the protective frame around the rear of the breech from three parts, and the breech block from a respectable five parts. The mantlet is assembled from seven parts that includes the pivots, with a choice of two styles of coax machine gun, including a vision port on a hinge on the left side of the barrel, which is pushed through the three holes in the mantlet, fitting the breech block and frame to the rear, then gluing that into position in the front of the turret. The commander’s cupola is moulded as a torus, into which the five vision ports are slotted, with a choice of open or closed ports by swapping one for the other. The top plate locks them in place, and a hatch is fitted in the centre to finish it off so that it can be inserted into the roof of the turret, closing the lower turret by adding the minimalist floor with turret ring moulded in. The turret fits on the hull as a drop-in unit with no bayonet lugs holding it down, and the final act is to make and install the three-tube smoke grenade launchers on the cheeks of the turret, each one built from bracket, two-part fittings, three tubes and plugs for each one. The last diagram is 3D rendered, and shows where the various extras such as the tarpaulins, boxes and buckets can be mounted on the model. Markings There are four decal options on the small sheet, each one having its own page with five views, but no details of where or when the vehicles served during WWII. From the box you can build one of the following: Decals are printed anonymously in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion There are many Panzer IV kits on the market, but any producer worth their salt will have their own range, because they continue to sell well. Border’s range is well-detailed and expanding every month, and should build up into a creditable model of this important German tank from WWII. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Hello folks, I have just completed my build of a Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. H Vomag. This Is another model that I have completed from Miniart, which I found to be a brilliant model to make. I also wanted to do a base and do a winter scene. At first I wasn't sure whether to just do a blanket of snow and add the tank to it but the more I started building the base I realised that I wanted to do a melted snow scene with a bit of mud. The figures I have used were from Panzer Art for the tank crew and Alpine for the foot soldier. Here's a tour around the tank.... That's it I hope you like it... Here's a link to the WIP https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235122411-pzkpfwiv-ausf-h-vomag-miniart-35302-finished/ all the best Ed
  4. "The Mule" (Late Autumn Ost Front) Hey All. I just finished a repaint of the Border Models Panzer IV J late. This was my first Border model and I have to say, it was pretty awesome. Not perfect, but well detailed and for a Panzer IV, relatively stress free. Anyone who's built a P4 knows they can be quite complex. This was my first J model and I think it's one of the coolest looking vehicles in the German army. It just looks so "tank". I had actually finished this last year and painted and weathered and just wasn't happy with it. So, I decided like any good modeler to redo it. Truth be told, I really like repaints. Sometimes you work so hard and long on the build and then immediately paint and weather and you just get burnt out. Letting it sit and fester for some time or even years, waiting for re-inspiration allows you some new perspective and time for exploring options as you're not as worn out from the build process. Anyway, I gave it a quick once over with some primer and then base coated it in my standard mahogany color for shadows. It was going to be tri-camo and then white wash, so undercoating wasn't too important. The build was mainly out of the box and then later jazzed up with several accoutrements, bits and bobs. This of course was the fun part. I also outfitted it with T-Rex Ostketten tracks, which were a giant pain in the butt and very, very, very delicate. In fact I believe I had to use TWO batches of the tracks to complete as so many were broken OTB and broke during assembly. I'm not sure they were my favorite tracks, but so few options for metal now, that 3D and resin are taking over. Not sure how I feel about that. Now, NOTE--Yes, the ostketten tracks were on J's. Now the bracket for the Schurtzen really needs to be set up in the OUT position so they can get on, BUT of course, there is no option for that and although I could have scratched them, to be honest I didn't know they needed to be like that till after the build and it just wasn't worth it. So, I improvised and damaged one as though it was bent out of shape to fit (entirely plausible) and second, i fashioned my own schurtzen. Why the heck not. These Panzer IV's were the most used tanks in the German army. They of course were also the major "homes" for many tankers and used extensively for everything. Hence the "mule" moniker. I added every type of P4 tracks I had. Obviously, crews wanted to "up armor" whenever they could. I weathered them more gaudy and rusty with flash rust than I usually would to make them pop. It goes well with the Eduard PE leaves, which are just awesome, although a tad large for the scale. But, they still work. I imagined this tank in late Autumn in the Ost front where snow would often come very early. Hence the haphazardly painted white wash the crew did with minimal paint and time. I mainly used oils for this after some basic hairspray chipping. I had fun with the barrel and the weathering. That's all my friends. I could say more, but it's too early for a beer. Enjoy and comments and criticisms welcome. I'll defriend you, but criticize all you like. 😘 COMPLETED MODELS: Panzer IV J, STUG III G, Panther G, STUG III B , Type IX U-Boat
  5. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Nibelungenwerk Late Prod, Sept-Oct 1943 (35346) 1:35 via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support tank with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through several successive variants including enhancements such as a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high-velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm round. The new gun was a direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that shocked the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it, and didn’t like the way their shots were prone to ricocheting off the sloped glacis. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the Allied bombers took their toll. The Kit This is another new boxing of the recently tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an exterior kit with enough detail included to keep most modeller happily beavering away at their hobby for a good while. The kit arrives in a top-opening box, and inside are forty-two sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included and the level of detail is excellent, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the shell of the lower hull, which is made up on a main floor with cross-braces, sidewalls and bulkheads, then the lower glacis around the location of the transmission and final drive, transmission access hatches being fitted into the apertures before installation. The final drive housing, towing eyes with PE retention chains, suspension bump-stops, return roller cones and fuel filler caps are glued into place on the hull sides, and two lengths of track made up to be attached to the glacis plates, held in place by PE clamps and a length of your own rod on the top side, and a bracket on the lower glacis. The upper hull is created in a similar manner to the lower, with the top deck accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay area is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. The rear bulkhead is detailed with armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. The fenders can now be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, both of which are covered in a delicate tread-plate pattern where appropriate. At the front the bow machine gun barrel is inserted from the outside, together with the armoured slot for the driver, and at the rear, shutters for the radiator louvres, covers, front hatches with handles, along with the jack-block in its bracket that has another PE chain, or the empty bracket showing the lightening holes if you choose. A radio antenna and base are mounted on the rear left of the upper on a bracket moulded into one of the radiator covers, which has another filler cap and grab handle nearby. The hull halves can be joined now, which involves adding the PE cooling louvres and side-mounted air filters that are attached to the hull sides with input trunk disappearing within the engine compartment, not to be confused with the exhaust round the back, and building up the detailed jack for later integration on the fenders with the rest of the pioneer tools. Under the hull, armoured plates are fitted around the various suspension parts on both sides to protect against mines, and explosives we’d now call IEDs. The big towing eye and its supports are applied to the bottom of the rear bulkhead, with the option of an alternative simplified towing eye, and after fitting another full-width plate, the big exhaust muffler is attached to the rear, made from a combination of shaped styrene parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern, with more spare track links taking up some place on the left of the rear bulkhead. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, spanner, shovel, the afore mentioned jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box that are held in place by a rod, with spanners strapped to the sides. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional empty mounts for missing tools. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, track-tools, a choice of two fittings for the axe, plus some styrene springs and PE brackets to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogies with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oiler reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, a choice of two-part drive sprockets and eight paired return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links, and each link has three sprue gates that are small, easy to nip off and clean up, so the runs shouldn’t take too long to make up, although it won’t be a five minute job because there are a lot of parts. There are 101 links per track run, and the result is fabulously detailed, having a cast steel texture and some fine raised and recessed textures and features, particularly on the grousers. All decal options have schürzen fitted, and first you must add the styrene brackets on each side along with the brackets to support them, the pairs of triangular shapes on the top of the rails allow the hooking on of the schürzen panels, which consist of five PE panels per side, with diagonally tapered front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground and being ripped off. Each panel has a set of handles that slot over the triangular parts of the rails, plus longer handles that are fixed below them, presumably to help the crews to man-handle them. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigours of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely. Use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment and a drop-seat are fixed. The internal mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet, as is a vision block and its armoured cover. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech. The turret roof is detailed with bracketry and an extractor fan, then has the other facets added, and outer mushroom cover over the fan included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches, well-detailed vision blocks, plus handles, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit, that would be especially useful in an emergency, but those doors are also a weak-point of the turret’s design. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear periscopes around it, and a choice of open or closed outer shields holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of cushioned pads cover the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, covered by a single circular hatch with three latches glued into the underside in open or closed versions, hinging rearwards rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch, reducing the part count for the over-stretched factories. A PE blade-sight is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base and an optional MG34 gun on pintle-mount on top, and the bustle basket with optional open lid added to the rear. The gun has a choice of two types of flattened faceted sleeve made up, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of two styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet section with the sleeve slotting into the front is applied along with a choice of two coax installations, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, plus the muzzle-brake having the same feature. The turret has curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, and bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing, so remember not to invert the model once completed. The remaining two steps show some personalisation between the different decal options, starting with three short lengths of spare track on the vertical glacis panel in between the bow machine gun and driver’s slot. The third decal option is the only one that uses the MG34 on the commander’s cupola, which is shown being fitted along with the length of link between the material magazine bag that hangs down from the mount. Markings There are three decal options included on the sheet, and all are wearing late war schemes with red-brown and green camouflage over a base coat of dunkelgelb, or dark yellow in English. From the box you can build one of the following: II./Pz-Lehr.Rgt.130, 130.Panzer-Lehr-Division, Hungary, Outskirts of Budapest, March 1944 II./Pz.Rgt.25, 7.Panzer-Division, Eastern Front, Belarus, Summer 1944 7./Pz-Rgt.3, 3.Panzer-Division ‘Totenkopf’, Warsaw Uprising, 1944 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a well-detailed exterior kit that should keep you occupied for a good number of hours. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some turret hatches open won’t leave your viewers looking at a totally empty space if you omit crew figures. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Hello everyone, hope everyone is well. Onto a new project, for this one I have decided to build a Panzer IV Ausf H Vomag, early production June 1943 from Miniart. I bought two different versions of this model in a sale last year, for once I'm not doing an interior build, so this will make a nice change. The last Panzer iv I built was a Dragon one about 10 years ago, so it will be interesting to see how this one turns out. As normal the kit is full of parts and the detail looks very impressive. There are five different colour schemes to choose from and the one that I will be building will be the same as the box art which is the Pz.Rgt. 35, 4.Pz Div. Ukraine, Kovel District. Spring 1944. I shall be building this straight out the box, the only additions will be figures and some tow ropes that I will need to make. Here are some art photo's... So the first part of the assembly is constructing the hull. No one piece hulls here, these are the bits that make up the hull... This is the hull after assembly, all the parts fit beautifully together, I hope this is the trend for the future of this build.... I've never made a snow scene before, so this is one of the reasons why I picked this colour scheme and a chance to do something different. I started to look for suitable figures to put into this tank and there are quite a few really good one's. I've been looking at "Alpine" and "Valkyrie" figures which are really nice, but the ones that I have chosen are from "Panzer Art" with winter clothing.... These are the figures, very nicely detailed.... It's nice to have a spare set of heads, I noticed on the photo that the Commanders head, which is the third from the left has a couple of pin holes above his left eyebrow which will need filling. Also you get a pistol holster and a set of binoculars and there are headbands for the headphones. Those will interesting to trim from all of those gates, I'll have endless fun with those.🤣 I think they have been taking lessons from Miniart to see how many gates they can put in as short a space as possible. The figures themselves look really nice, so I'm looking forward to doing those when the time comes... Next up is to continue with the hull, the glacis plate has several components to be built into it like the hatches etc, then the instructions get you to start building up the tracks. I think I'll do a few short sets at a time in between building the rest of the tank, It's less onerous doing it that way... That's all for now, I'll be back when I have more to show... All the best Ed
  7. First, this is only the second kit I've ever built and painted. The first was a Tamiya Panzer II and painted in dunkelgrau and dry brushed and it wasn't great. So I watched a few YouTube vids, bought some more paints and set about this basic Panzer IV as an OOB build as a typical Ausf D from France 1940. Not sure the Tamiya decals are right for that though but still. The kit was assembled in subsections and all brush painted as I don't own an airbrush. First thing learnt is that my sight is just not good enough for detail as the photos have shown all sorts of mistakes I never saw. So I shall have to invest in something to remedy that. First step was a wash of Vallejo grey primer followed by thin washes of lightened Revell anthracite. I did a couple of further very pale grey washes to upper surfaces but I don't think that actually helped much. Tried chipping with pale grey then dark grey infill but it looks pretty lame to be honest. Exhaust silencers were washed and dabbed with rusty brown shades. Decals on and the wheels, tools etc painted off the kit. Then a quick spray (rattle can!) of Humbrol satin varnish. Next was a thin mix of dirty brown oil colours for a pin wash. Maybe its me but that just didn't show much after all the later stuff, so perhaps it was too thin. After that was an (oil) dot filter of blue/green and light buff which just seemed to result in awful turquoise streaks. This took forever to dry. So, a further dot filter of brown/black and darker buff oil paint. Even when painted out its still left steaks which seem more zebra that dirt stains. Ah well. After 10 years (ok 5 days) that was dry so the kit got a Humbrol matt varnish spray and the tools and other bits were added. The S hooks repeatedly fell off and that is why they now look odd. Undercarriage areas had a application of Vallejo European Mud which, with hindsight, is much too thick. Then I had some fun with Vallejo pigments brushed on dry and set with thinners. The burnt umber worked great but the pale dust just seemed to disappear once the thinners was dabbed on. There was swearing. Rubbery tracks were treated with various grey and brown washes none of which seemed to improve them much but the final drybrush of acrylic matt steel helped. So there you go. My second kit. Ever. With a brush. I've learnt lots and realised it will take a while to improve the techniques. And I need a better way of seeing what I'm doing. And its really true that less is more. I haven't got as far as painting any crew members yet but I'll need more colours (and some practice) first. Anyhoo, feel free to suggest some areas for improvement or tell me I should take up knitting instead. I've got a Panzer I lined up next and that will be in Panzer grey too so I'd be interested to know if there is a better way to age & weather grey than what I attempted.
  8. Hi fellow modelists! Didn't make it by the end of the year, but here we are by the end of the new years first month. Build Log is here: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235108547-panzer-iv-ausfb/ Cheers! Kristjan
  9. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Vomag Mid Prod. July 1943 Interior Kit (35305) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tigers and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer to an extent from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, costly and time-consuming to build. The type went through several enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer, high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak-40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the ferocious recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to their first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they met it in battle. The Ausf.H was the penultimate mainstream variant of the Panzer IV, and was made from mid ’43 until early 1944 with over 2,300 made, some of which were manufactured at the Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. The Vomag factory was producing more along with Krupp, but by the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV in its final Ausf.J form, and all factories were bombed heavily, choking off production as the war drew to a close. The Kit This is a new boxing of the newly tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an Interior kit, which extends to the full hull, with a great deal of detail included that should keep any modeller happy and beavering away at their hobby. The kit arrives in a heavily loaded top-opening box, and inside are sixty-seven sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is exceptional, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the interior, which is made up on a main floor with bulkheads, copious ammo stores with shells, then a complete, superbly detailed Maybach HL 120 TRM engine. The engine is begun by putting together the transmission and final drive units, which is at the front of the hull next to the driver, with a set of instruments fitted to the top. This is inserted into the interior with the drive-shaft, and the driver’s seat is assembled along with the foot and hand controls, plus a worrying amount (from his point of view) of shells behind his area, plus another three ready-round boxes layered on top of various positions around the turret base. A ring of tread-plate defines the location where the turret basket will sit, and various other components are arranged around a simple seat for the radio operator/bow gunner, then the engine is assembled from its various shaped segments, topped off with the rocker covers and oil filler caps. A lot of ancillaries are added, including tons of drive-belts, engine bearers, exhaust manifolds, dynamo and pipework. It all fits snugly into the engine compartment section of the interior to await boxing in by the hull sides. The highly detailed brake-assembly for each drive sprocket is a drum-shaped affair that comprises a substantial number of parts, some of which are PE, and really does look the part, fitted to the inside of each hull wall flanking the two crew seats, with more small equipment boxes and a fire extinguisher fitted nearby, then the exterior face of each side is detailed with the final drive housing, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps before they are glued into place on the hull sides, with the lower glacis plate helping keep them perpendicular to the floor. Back in the engine compartment, the empty spaces around the Maybach engine are filled with airbox, fuel tank and large radiator panels that are set in the compartment at an angle, as demonstrated by the scrap diagram. The rear bulkhead closes-in the final side of the compartment, and this is festooned with detail with a choice of armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot with PE chain keeping the cover captive to the vehicle. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the twin exhausts are attached to their exits, made from a combination of styrene and PE parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The sides of the hull have a series of armoured panels fixed to the underside to protect the suspension mechanism, then the fenders can be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, with a delicate tread-plate pattern moulded-in where appropriate. The rest of the lower glacis plate with hatches for final drive and transmission access is made up with detail inside and out, plus an optional hatch for the central transmission unit. The final drive hatches can be posed open if you wish to expose those attractive assemblies within, of use in a maintenance diorama scenario. As if the tank wasn’t already carrying enough ammunition, more stores are made up and fitted into the inside of the hull around the sides of the turret well for easy access. The rounds are painted in one of three shell types, with decals to improve the detail further. The addition of a cross-brace between the two hull sides with oil can and fire extinguisher strapped on completes the lower hull for now. The upper hull is constructed in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front there is a choice of thick armour panels for different decal options, the breech of the bow machine gun is created as a sub-assembly, and set aside while the hatches and the barrel of the MG are fitted in the kugelblende, mostly from the outside, together with the armoured covers for the radiator louvres, hatch levers and lifting hooks, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The driver’s armoured vision port cover and the ball-mount for the gun complete the exterior work for now, and the assembly is flipped over to detail the inside, which includes a highly detailed set of radio gear that has a painting guide next to it. The bow gun’s breech and aiming mechanism are inserted into the back of the ball-mount, and the clear interior section of the driver’s port is also inserted along with the operating cams for the armoured cover. Another fire extinguisher is attached to the wall by the driver’s position too. Flipping the assembly again and it is time to add the interior louvres to the radiator exits, which are PE parts and can be inserted in the open or closed positions, with a change in how they are fitted. The hull halves can be joined now, involving making up the pair of twin fans that cool the radiators within the engine compartment using movable slatted louvres to adjust cooling as necessary, and these two sub-assemblies are mated before the panels are glued in place with a choice of open or closed louvres. The twin-tube air intake box is stuck to the right side of the hull, and a set of four towing cables, made from styrene eyes, and your own braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Two runs of spare tracks are made up to be attached to the upper and lower glacis areas, using the jig that is supplied to create them, and fitting them to the armour on brackets for the upper section, and a long bar mount for the lower section. We’ll cover the tracks in detail further down. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box, and few more track-links. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional PE mounts. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of three axes, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus multi-part idler, two-part drive sprockets and a choice of five different styles of return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and then… once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place, and have a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. You can relax to an extent now, but there’s a bit of PE wrangling ahead if you are using the PE schurzen (side skirts) on your model. First you must add the styrene brackets and supports on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which has a set of square holes in the sides to latch onto the tabs on the sides of the supports. There are five panels per side, with diagonal front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigours of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely, so use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while, and one of more could have been lost after being hooked up on the scenery. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech, then the basket is made up from the circular tread-plated floor with tubular suspension struts and other equipment, seats, immediate ready-rounds and spare dump-bags for the coax. It is glued into the turret base, which then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with exhaust fans and a choice of two outer armoured covers included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of pads cover the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, lifting and rotating round the pivot to open, rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base that can accept an optional MG34 on a mount with cloth ammo bag, and the turret can now be closed with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up with a choice of lower section, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of four styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet fixes to the front of the turret, with the sleeve slotting into the front, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, and the muzzle-brake having the same feature, plus a choice of two muzzles for the coax machine gun. The bustle stowage box is formed from a hollow body with a choice of open or closed lid, with the open variant having stiffening ribs moulded-in for detail. The turret has curved metal schurzen panels applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches, and a group of additional PE parts dotted around the panels. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings Five decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a variety of schemes that are appropriate for later war tanks, based on a coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow), and any camouflage or distemper laid over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: III./Pz.Rgt.24, 24 Pz.Div. Italy, Summer 1943 III./Pz.Rgt.24, 24 Pz.Div. Italy, Summer 1943 III./Pz.Rgt.24, 24 Pz.Div. Eastern Front, Winter 1943-44 130. Panzer-Lehr-Division, Normandy, May 1944 & 21. Panzer Division, Normandy, 1944 Pz.Rgt. 100, 21.Pz.Div. Caen, July 1944 (Ex-tank 130. Panzer-Lehr-Division) Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one on many newly tooled and well-detailed panzer IV kits from MiniArt that should keep you occupied for a good quantity of modelling time, resuming productions after a short delay due to external events conspiring to delay things. Careful painting will bring it to life, and there is plenty of detail that will be visible even after weathering. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Some of you may have already noticed a Pz.IV hull lurking at background on the Matilda photos. Well, here it is. The kit is Tristar's Panzer IV Ausf.B. some of the things to add are the PE fenders and the basic set by Aber. I also have Modelkasten early 38cm tracks to use and an aluminum barrel is on its way as well. Assembling the hull is tricky to say the least. large thin details are somewhat warped and there are no exact location points to be guided of. I started slow gluing it together segment by segment, on a glass sheet under the gentle weight to ensure the hull to be as straight as possible. the rear wall was the least collaborate and needed some filling at the bottom edge. Hull assembled, the next thing to deal with was to correct the brackets that support the idler's tensioning system. Tristar has depicted these the later type beginning of Ausf.D. Ausf A/B/C had these different however. I didn't have any clear photo of the bracket though, so the rivets there are pretty much the way as Dragon has these on their early Pz.IV hull. Front tow eyelets were replaced by details left over from some Dragon kit - Seemed a bit more accurate to me and I had these on hand anyway. One of the things that bothers me about this kit is the loose fit of the wheels. Haven't touched the roadwheels yet, but both the sprocket and the Idler sit quite loosely, return rollers being the worst with a half mill larger diameter hole to fit in. Otherwise the kit seems to go together quite nicely so far. Cheers! Kristjan
  11. Sturmpanzer IV Brummbär Mid-version (A1376) 1:35 Airfix The Sturmpanzer 43, or Brummbär as it was generally known by the Allies (the Germans called it StuPa, a portmanteau of the official name), was an infantry support tank that was developed from the Panzer IV, removing the turret and upper hull, then replacing it with a fixed casemate that sported a 155mm Skoda designed cannon. It could carry 38 rounds with separate bagged charges, and for self-defence it mounted an MG34 machine gun on the top hatch with spare rounds dotted around inside the hull in boxes. Around 300 of the type were built overall, and they performed adequately once the bugs were ironed out. The initial production was overweight, which led to common failings that were addressed in the second batch, which were based upon Ausf.H hulls and were lighter than their predecessors, going on largely unchanged into the next batch, with the final batch standing out thanks to its redesigned casemate and gun mount, as well as the use of a later engine that also powered the Ausf.J Panzer IV, plus the commander’s cupola from the StuG. Like many German AFVs of the period, they were factory coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine paste that gave it a corrugated finish that was prominent, although over-rated as a deterrent to the planting of magnetic mines, which the Soviets used much less than it was imagined by the Nazis. Once this was realised, factory application stopped in September 1944, and in the field a month later. The Kit This is another of Airfix’s reboxings of an Academy AFV kit, which they have been using to broaden their range now that they are into 1:35 armour to give them the time to develop their own kits. It represents a mid-phase of production, and was initially released in 2020 by Academy, so it is a modern kit that is well-detailed. One detail that is absent however is moulded-in Zimmerit, so if you plan on depicting a Zimmerit-coated vehicle you’ll need to apply your own using whatever means you feel will work. The kit arrives in one of Airfix’s modern red-themed boxes, and inside are eight sand-coloured sprues and a solitary casemate part, two black flexible plastic tracks, a length of braided cord, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options at the rear of the booklet. Construction begins with the use of a drill, using it to open up holes in ten of the parts on the outer surface, which will be used later in the build. The lower hull is made up by plugging two inner bulkheads into sockets in the floor, then adding rear bulkhead and sides, the latter are also socketed into the two bulkheads. The front of the floor curves up and is augmented with a detail layer, with two more parts at the sides to support the front of the final drive housings. At the rear another skin is used to detail the lower half of the bulkhead, then the glacis plate is fixed over the top at the front of the vehicle. If you’ve ever built a Panzer.IV, you’ll recognise the twin swingarm structure that supports the road wheels, with four suspension units down the sides of the hull, a final drive housing at the front, and a combined tension/idler wheel at the rear next to a pair of oversize towing hooks. The wheels are made up in pairs with a separate hub, as are the return rollers, then drive sprocket and idler wheels are built up and slipped over the stub axles at each end of the swingarms. Once the glue on the wheels is dry, the two flexible tracks can be glued into place using a small amount of super glue (CA), after slipping the wings on the final link through the corresponding hole in the other end, toughening the joint over the usual pin method. The topside is begun by putting together the basic gun breech from two parts that fit on a slide, then are bracketed by the trunnions, and the ball mount is slotted onto the front of the assembly, with a gun tube slipped inside. The Brummbär had limited traverse of around 15o to each side, and this is achieved in the kit by mounting the pivot on a small base that is pinned to a cross-brace that fixes onto supports moulded-into the hull sides. The glacis is detailed with towing shackles, spare track links that have a separate run of guide-horns, and some armoured protections for the final drive covers. At the rear, the engine deck surface is made from two parts, and underneath are the cooling louvers and the rear sections of the fenders on which they rest. The completed assembly is dropped over the rear of the hull, and a bulkhead with two supports and a pair of cross-braces are added, together with conical parts that represent the inner ends of the idler axles. The centre towing shackle is made next, and the exhaust exit pipes and their armoured protectors are inserted into holes in the bulkhead, to be joined by the muffler that is made from two halves, then has the two end-caps and the exit pipe added, secured to the bulkhead by a number of pins. The angular casemate is assembled from two large parts, and has the sighting periscope and binoculars inserted from within, then outside the MG34 projecting through the front of the roof hatch is made up, with the rear portion of the hatch laid flat over the hatch. Another hatch with clamshell doors is detailed with grab-handles and installed on the back wall, then the binocular hatch and a mushroom vent are added to the roof. The sides have a few small parts added, and the gun port has a chunky riveted ring around it, after which the front half of the fenders and their angled mudguards are fixed to the underside. That assembly then joins the engine deck on the lower hull, with the driver’s hatch and enclosure fitted into the aperture in the front of the casemate, with a large vision port on the top, a single headlight, and the first of the pioneer tools on the right fender. The jack block and pry-bar are fixed on the left fender, and a number of small parts get added to the engine deck, and the tow rope is made from the included thread and a pair of styrene towing eyes, both cut to 115mm long. The jack goes on the right front fender, and on the right rear the twin cylinder air filtering system is assembled and slotted onto the fender, plugging into holes in the back of the casemate. The Notek convoy light on the left rear fender and two tubular racks are added to the rear bulkhead, with two pairs of roadwheels placed in each rack. More small parts including fender braces, fire extinguisher, aerial base and a large flat box are dotted around, and the final act is to add the two-part Schürzen rails, with the triangular brackets pointing skyward, which is only appropriate for the first decal option. Markings There are the standard two decal options on the sheet, both substantially different in terms of camouflage, but sharing a base of dunkelgelb (dark yellow). From the box you can build one of the following: Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217, Falaise Pocket, Aug. 1944 Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216, Rome Area, Italy, Jun. 1944 The decals are well-printed, although the white and black are a little off-centre in the vertical on my example, but that can be fixed easily with a sharp knife and steady hand. AFV markings were hand-painted or stencilled for the most part anyway, so weren’t always perfect. The instructions remind you about adding Zimmerit to the surface of your model before painting, as previously mentioned. Conclusion A nice reboxing of the Academy kit, and with some interesting markings options. The lack of Zimmerit may put some off, but with a little skill and patience or aftermarket you can make that happen, or you can just ignore it and build it without for the fun of it. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Nibelungenwerk Mid. Pro. Aug 1943 (35337) 1: 35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it, and didn’t like the way their shots just bounced off that sloped glacis. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerke, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the Allied bombers took their toll. The Kit This is a new boxing of the recently tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an exterior kit with enough detail included to keep most modeller happily beavering away at their hobby for a good while. The kit arrives in a top-opening box, and inside are fifty-three sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is excellent, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the shell of the lower hull, which is made up on a main floor with cross-braces, sidewalls and bulkheads, then the lower glacis over where the transmission and final drive are situated, doors being fitted into the apertures before installation. The final drive housing, towing eyes, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps are glued into place on the hull sides, and two lengths of track made up to be attached to the glacis plates, held in place by clamps on the top side, and a rod on the front. The rear bulkhead is detailed with armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. The fenders can now be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, both of which are covered in a delicate tread-plate pattern where appropriate. The upper hull is created in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay area is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front the bow machine gun barrel is inserted from the outside, together with the armoured shutters for the radiator louvers, PE covers, front hatches, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The hull halves can be joined now, which involves adding the cooling louvers and side-mounted air filters that are attached to the hull sides with input trunk disappearing within the engine compartment, not to be confused with the exhaust round the back. Underneath various armoured plates are fitted around the various suspension parts on both sides. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the big exhaust muffler is attached to the rear, made from a combination of shaped styrene parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, spanner, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional empty mounts for missing tools. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of two fittings for the axe, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. Three more short lengths of track are made up and applied to the vertical section of the glacis plate between its features, held in place by PE brackets. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, a choice of two-part drive sprockets and eight paired return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place which resulted in a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Three decal options have schurzen fitted, which has by now dictated which fenders you glued to the hull sides, so it’s too late to change your mind now. First you must add the styrene brackets on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which consist of five PE panels per side, with diagonally chopped front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground and being ripped off. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely. Use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech. The turret base then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with an exhaust fan and outer armoured cover included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of cushioned pads covers the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, hinging open rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base and an optional MG34 gun on pintle-mount on top, and the basket with optional open lid added to the rear. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of three styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet section with the sleeve slotting into the front is applied along with a choice of two coax installations, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, plus the muzzle-brake having the same feature. Another length of track is applied to the front of mantlet for extra protection later, which might explain why there are a lot more than 22 track sprues, this time however sourced from a traditional sprue. The turret has curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches. Lastly, a flat PE appliqué armour panel is fitted to the front of the roof on a number of PE brackets to give it a slight stand-off from the armour underneath, and to clear the brackets for the turret schurzen. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings Four decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a variety of schemes that are appropriate for late war tanks, from monotone vehicles to highly camouflaged vehicles over the standard base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element. From the box you can build one of the following: 3rd SS-Pz.Div. “Totenkopf” Eastern Front, Ukraine, Autumn 1943 20th Pz.Dv., Eastern Front, Belarus, Winter 1943-44 12th Pz.Div., Eastern Front, Summer 1944 16th Pz.Div., Eastern Front, Ukraine, Winter 1943-44 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a well-detailed exterior kit that should keep you occupied for a good number of hours. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some turret hatches open won’t leave your viewers looking at a totally empty space if you omit crew figures. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. German Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf J Medium Tank Trumpeter 1:16 History The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf J was the last version of the Panzer IV medium tank to enter production before the end of the Second World War. By the time it entered production in the summer of 1944 the Panzer IV had declined in importance as a battle tank, and so of the three factories that had produced the Ausf H only Nibelungenwerke produced the Ausf J, while Krupp concentrated on the StuG IV and Vomag on the JadgPanzer IV. Despite this a total of 1,758 Panzer IV Ausf Js were produced, along with 278 chassis for the Panzer IV/70(A) and 142 for the Brummbär. The main change made to the Ausf J was the removal of the electric turret traverse and its associated auxiliary engine. To compensate for this a dual speed hand-traverse was installed. The space saved was used to fit an auxiliary fuel tank, which added 30 miles to the Panzer IV’s cross country range. The Ausf J also saw the addition of a Nahverteidigungswaffe (Close defence weapon), capable of firing either smoke or high explosive grenades to defend the tank against very short range infantry attacks. During the production run of the Ausf J the pistol ports were removed from the turret rear and side doors, thicker armour was added to the turret and superstructure roof, on some tanks wire-mesh skirting replaced the solid armour skirts on the sides of the tank (to save weight), and in December 1944 the number of return rollers was reduced from four to three (to speed up production). By the time the Ausf J entered production the Panzer IV had passed its heyday. The Panther had replaced it as the best German medium tank, and Nibelungenwerke’s production of the Panzer IV Ausf J was not enough to replace combat losses. As a result in November 1944 the number of Panzer IVs in each company was cut down to 17, 14 or even to 10. By the end of the year the eight panzer divisions involved in the Ardennes offensive had 259 Panzer IVs but 399 Panthers. Despite this the Panzer IV fought on to the end of the war. The Model Naturally, being a 1:16 scale kit, you’d expect it to come in quite a big box, and although not quite as big as Trumpeters King Tiger of the same scale, the box is still the size of medium suitcase, complete with carrying handle. Inside the hinged lid you’ll come across four other boxes, each one filled with sprues of styrene and other media. In total, (including all the smaller sprues), there are seventy five sprues, plus the separate inner floor, upper hull, lower hull, turret, turret side screens and bustle storage bin, all of medium grey styrene, three of which have aluminium panels integral to the moulded parts, one sprue of clear styrene, five sheets of etched brass, four metal springs, two metal axles, a turned aluminium barrel a length of brass wire, 228 individual track links and two quite large decal sheets. The large number of sprues, and consequently, the number of parts is due to the fact that this kit includes a full, and I mean FULL interior. The mouldings are superb, with crisp, clear detail throughout, no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are a lot of moulding pips which will impede cleaning the parts up a bit. There doesn’t appear to be much that the aftermarket can add, unless they can find a kitchen sink to throw at it. In fact the only parts I can see that do need to be added are the ancillary drive belt and the pipework around the engine bay. The idea of the aluminium mesh for the Schürzen being added to the moulds so that their frames are moulded to the metal parts is genius and really looks the part. Even with a cursory eye, this looks like it will be a superb kit to while away the winter months, it may take you that long just to go through all the parts, (did I say that there is a lot in this kit?). So, where the heck do you start with one of these monster kits, well, in this case it’s with the engine. The block, which is moulded in two halves is joined together, and then fitted out with the two heads, each of which is made up from eight parts, followed by several brackets and fittings. The three piece supercharger is fitted to the right hand side whilst on the left is the generator unit also made up from three parts, followed by the two piece magneto fitted to the top of the engine along with a hoisting eye. There as a toothed flywheel attached to the rear of the engine, and fitted with a universal joint. The three piece air inlet is fitted to the top of the engine and connected by a pipe to the supercharger. The ancillary drives are then attached followed by the eight piece exhaust manifold. Before the gearbox assembly can begin, the fuel tank is built up from the base section, which is moulded such that includes the front and rear faces, to which the end plates, top plate and two support brackets are fitted. The gear box is moulded in two halves, which when joined together is fitted with the gear links, end plate and cooling fan. Now this is where my knowledge of tank engine systems comes unstuck, to the end of the gearbox, a six piece unit that looks like a turbocharger and includes a long pipe is fitted. The gearbox assembly is then fitted out with the instrument box, with the instrument supplied as a decal, the gear stick, front end plate, which has a two piece fan unit attached and finished off with a small bracket at the front. The single piece floor is fitted with the box like turret base unit on which the turret pinion and chequer plate floor is attached. The batteries fit onto the floor, in the cut-out section of the box structure. The rear cross beam is then fitted, followed by the drivers steering columns and three ammunition lockers. Each locker consists of a single piece section, which is moulded to include the back, base and sides of the locker. Into this part three shelves of PE are fitted, each with their edges bent to shape. There is a full complement of shells included and each shell/cartridge is moulded as a single part, onto which the PE base is glued. Each locker contains eight shells, which when fitted the locker lid and front are attached, although these may be left off or open to show off the shells. The firewall between the fighting compartment and the engine bay is fitted out with a number of brackets and fittings before being glued into place. The drivers and front machine gunners seats, each made from three parts are glued to the front cross beam, whilst the drivers pedals are also glued into their respective positions. Behind them a low end plate is glued to the turret mounting structure, followed by the fuel tank assembly to the left hand side of the engine bay. The engine assembly can now be fitted to the engine bay, whilst the gearbox assembly is fitted to the front of the vehicle, between the driver and machine gunner via to support rails. The engine and gearbox are then connected by the drive shaft which needs to be slid through the turret support structure. Before fitting the floor assembly to the lower hull, the then tabs on the top of the hull sides need to be trimmed off and the floor glued into place. Work now begins on the idler wheels and their fittings with each of the four wheels being fitted with their inner rims. Each of their axles are made up from five parts before the inner wheel is attached, along with its associated hub cap and outer wheel. The completed assembly is then attached to the separate rear hull panel. The two exhausts are then assembled, each from five styrene parts and one PE part. These are then also attached to the rear panel along with two cross plates the five piece towing hitch, and two angled brackets. The completed rear plate is then attached to the lower hull, followed by three return roller axles per side. Returning to the interior for a bit, the two brake drums for the sprocket wheels are assembled. Each brake drum consists of seventeen parts which includes the pads, drive shafts, cooling ducts and control levers. Back to the external parts, on the left hand side, either side of the middle return roller, the two small refuelling hatches are glued into place. There are four bump stops fitted to each side, each unit consisting of four parts. The build then turns to the road wheels, with each of the sixteen wheels made up from inner and outer hubs and a separate tyre, the completed wheels are then paired up. Each of the twin axles are made up from eight parts, after which they are fitted with two of the road wheels and their central hubs, making eight units in total. The completed units are then attached to the lower hull. Whilst another ammunition locker, made up from six styrene parts and two PE parts, not including the twenty three styrene shells and their PE bases, and fitted to the interior just aft of the drivers seat. And the build goes on. The inner section of the drive wheel is fitted to the gear box cover via a centrally mounted pin, after which the outer sprocket is attached. With two of these assembled the can be fitted to the front of the lower hull. The front upper glacis plate is fitted with three hatches, plus their associated hinges and handles from the outside, whilst inside there are the drive and gunner hatch locking levers and the three piece accelerator pedal. The plate is then attached to the lower hull and fitted with seven spare track links, their connecting pins, plus the lockdown brackets and pins. The front plate that is sited beneath the glacis is also assembled, with two locking bars, latches and handle internally, whilst on the outside there is a support bar for another length of spare track, this time ten links long. When complete this is also added to the hull, followed by the three two part return rollers and the idler wheel mud scrapers. The main tracks can then be assembled, each of ninety-nine links and their connecting pins, and fitted to the model. We now move the track guards. The right hand guard is fitted with the front and rear mud flaps, the front one being fitted with one of the metal springs included in the kit, a support bracket, an axe, with PE clamps, a long pry bar, what looks like a starting handle, also with PE straps, four wing nuts and two five piece ammunition lockers, complete with three rounds apiece. These will actually be on the inside of the tank once the upper hull has been fitted over them. The large jack is assembled from eight parts and fitted to the guard with two clamps, whilst the large nut wrench is glued to the rear of the track guard, along with a larger spring which is affixed to the rear mudguard. Two more ammunition lockers are now assembled, each of five parts and filled with nine rounds each. These are then fitted to the left hand track guard, which is also fitted out with front and rear mud flaps and their associated springs, the wire cutters, plus its clamps, four piece fire extinguisher, two track clamps and their support cage, plus the six piece headlight. Each track guard is also fitted with six Schürzen brackets and a grab handle. The completed guards are then attached to the lower hull assembly. The large radiator unit is fitted to the engine bay and fitted with its filler cap, before construction moves to the upper front panels, (inner and outer), which includes the machine gun ball and outer cover, drivers three piece viewing port and the 12 piece MG-34 machine gun and mount. This is put to one side whilst the build moves to the engine cooling fan unit. The fan support structure is made up from five parts, whilst each of the fans consists of three parts. The two fans, one fitted to their support are joined by two multi part shafts. The front plate and fan unit are then fitted to the upper hull, along with the gun cleaning rods with their PE brackets, aerial base on the left rear quarter and a storage box, with its bracket and handle to the front left quarter. The two metal shafts in the kit are used to mount three spare track links each. These are then joined together vertically by to brackets. The radio sub-assemblies are then constructed, and these include plenty of PE and styrene parts to construct the frames before the three radio sets are added and finished off with a comprehensive set of decals. The upper hull section is now kitted out with the drivers and gunners hatches, complete with separate locking mechanisms, followed by the engine deck hatches, rear panel, completed with brass wire tow rope and associated clamps, a shovel, side lights, and the spare track links made earlier. Inside the upper hull the radio sub-assembly is fitted to the machine gunners side whilst at the rear, over what will be the engine bay, the two large vent structures are fitted along with their access doors. The upper hull can now be joined to the lower hull and it’s finally beginning to look like a tank. The outside of the hull is finished off with the fitting of the aerial, spare wheel rack, complete with two spare road wheels, which are made in the same way as the others constructed earlier in the build. The Schürzen support poles and associated braces are glued into position, followed by the Schürzen plates, (made in a similar fashion as the track guards), themselves, once they have been separated and fitted with their fixtures and fittings. The panels that fill the gaps between the large vertical panels and the hull are then attached. The hull assembly can be put to one side whilst the build moves onto the turret. The turret consists of a single piece upper section which is kitted out with the various lifting eyes, bracket plates, side hatches, their hinges and internal frame, grab handles, and internally mounted vent. The 75mm main gun can either be built using the styrene halves or the turned aluminium barrel Trumpeter have kindly provided. The barrel is fitted to the nine piece breech and slide through the three piece trunnion mount and two piece front plate. The breech is then further detailed with the fitting of the breech guard elevation arms and gears, plus the cartridge basket. The three piece mantlet is then slid over the barrel and glued to the internal section of the trunnion mount, followed by the four piece muzzle brake. Alongside the main gun is seven piece machine gun mounted co-axially on the right hand side, whilst on the left the four piece sight is attached. The lower turret section is the then fitted with the turret ring and both this and the gun sub-assembly is put to one side whilst construction moves to the turret floor. The turret floor is fitted with the three four piece support frames, one with the gunners seat, one with the loaders seat and one with the commanders seat. Three equipment boxes, a ready use ammunition box, made entirely form PE parts, and filled with four shells, are also fitted to the floor along with an odd pump like unit. The floor structure is then fitted to the lower turret section, whilst the gun assembly is fitted to the upper turret. Before joining the two, the turret rotating gear box, made up from eight parts, a secondary turret rotating unit, complete with handle, commanders upper seat, ranging instrument unit and two spare machine gun magazines need to be fitted around the turret ring. The outside of the turret is then fitted with the rear bustle stowage box, with two part lid, Schürzen support brackets, Schürzen panels, outer vent mushroom, and cupola ring are attached. The large commanders cupola is then assembled from upper and lower sections, five, two piece outer viewing ports and five six piece inner viewing ports, plus two head pads. The cupola is finished off with the fitting of the hatch surround, hatch and another MG34 complete with five piece mount, before being attached to the turret roof, after which the Schürzen doors, cupola mounted armour plate and turret mounted periscope are fitted , before the finished turret can be mounted onto the hull, completing the build. Decals The two, moderately sized decal sheets, one for the vehicle markings and one for the placards, instruments and stencils for both inside and outside of the vehicle plus the ammunition. They are very nicely printed. They appear to be in register, with good colour density and whilst the carrier film is respectably thin, you will need to prepare the surface well especially for the vehicle identification numbers. The colour chart provides schemes for four vehicles, three in standard dark green, red brown and sandy brown paint, whilst the fourth would have been the same before it was whitewashed. Unfortunately Trumpeter don’t give and information on which unit and where these vehicles fought, but I guess with a little bit of research the modeller should be able to find out. As it si the vehicle identification numbers are:- Black 615 Red 515 White 433 White 431 Conclusion Well, what can I say? This is a an amazing kit, with so much detail it will take many weeks if not months to build in a fashion it deserves. Now, being a premium kit, it does command a premium price, but if you break it down to pounds per hour, then I’m sure you will be getting your monies worth. I admit to not being an expert on the Panzer IV, but with the rather limited research I’ve done it does appear to be pretty accurate, although there are bound to be some more knowledgeable modeller out there who would be able to point out the finer faults. To me though it really looks the business and with a nice paint job, will look fantastic in any collection. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  14. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J Nibelungenwerk Mid Prod. Sep-Nov 1944 (35339) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to manufacture, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that unnerved the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they met it on the battlefield, and didn’t like the manner in which many of their shots just bounced off the sloped glacis of the T-34. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerke, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the practical home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the bombers took their toll. The Kit This is a new boxing of the recently tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt of a vehicle that was made at the famous Nibelungenwerk factory, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an Interior kit, which extends to the full hull, with a great deal of detail included that should keep any modeller happy and beavering away at their hobby for a long time. The kit arrives in a heavily loaded top-opening box, and inside are sixty-nine sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is exceptional, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the interior, which is made up on a main floor with bulkheads, ammo stores with individual rounds that have stencil decals for each one, then a complete Maybach HL 120 TRM engine in a cradle. The engine is begun by putting together the transmission and final drive units, which are positioned at the front of the hull next to the driver, with a set of instruments fitted to the top that have their own decals. This is inserted into the interior with the drive-shaft, and the driver’s seat is assembled along with the foot and hand controls, plus a worrying amount (from his point of view) of shells behind his area, plus another three ready-round boxes layered on top of various positions around the turret base. A ring of tread-plate defines the location where the turret basket will sit, and various other components are arranged around a simple seat for the radio operator/bow gunner, then the engine is assembled from its various shaped elements, topped off with the rocker covers, decals and oil filler caps. A lot of ancillaries are added, including tons of drive-belts, engine bearers, exhaust manifolds, turbocharger between the cylinder banks, dynamo and pipework. It all fits snugly into the engine compartment section of the interior to await boxing in by the hull sides. The highly detailed brake-assembly for each drive sprocket is a drum-shaped affair that comprises a substantial number of parts, some of which are PE, and it really does look the part, fitted to the inside of each hull wall flanking the two crew seats, with more small equipment boxes and a fire extinguisher fitted nearby, then the exterior face of each side is detailed with the final drive housing, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps before they are glued into place on the hull sides, with the lower glacis plate helping keep them perpendicular to the floor. Back in the engine compartment, the empty spaces around the Maybach engine are filled with airbox, fuel tank and large radiator panels that are set in the compartment at an angle, as demonstrated by the scrap diagram. The rear bulkhead closes-in the final side of the compartment, and this is festooned with detail including twin cylindrical exhausts, armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. Under the tank a plethora of mine protection in the shape of armoured plates that wrap around the suspension exits and the edges of the hull are applied, and up front the upper glacis with access hatches and their details are glued in place open to show off the detail, or closed at your whim, and both fenders are slotted into the sidewalls, attaching via the usual slot and peg method. A run of track links is pinned to the glacis plate with brackets, and another is made up and slung across the front of the lower glacis on a bracket in one of two variations. The addition of an internal cross-brace between the two hull sides with oil can and fire extinguisher strapped on stiffens the hull laterally, and more shells are stashed on trays to the sides of the turret, again with a painting guide and stencil decals, joined by a number of dump bags of ammo for the coax MG34, which completes the lower hull for now. The upper hull is constructed in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front the thick armour panel is glued in, the bow machine gun rear is created and set aside while the hatches and the barrel of the MG are fitted, mostly from the outside, together with the armoured covers for the radiator louvers, hatch levers and lifting hooks, plus the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The driver’s armoured vision port cover and the ball-mount for the gun complete the exterior work for now, and the assembly is flipped over to detail the inside, which includes a highly detailed set of radio gear that has a painting guide next to it. The afore-mentioned bow gun’s breech and aiming mechanism are inserted into the back of the ball-mount, and the forward side sections of the upper hull are detailed with gas mask canisters, vision ports, stowage boxes and levers for operating the ports. Flipping the assembly again and it is time to add the hatch covers and interior louvers to the radiator exits, which are delicate parts and can be inserted in the open or closed positions, with a change in how they are fitted. A pair of fans that cool the radiators within the engine compartment using movable slatted panels to adjust cooling as necessary, and these two sub-assemblies are mated before the panels are glued in place with a choice of open or closed louvers. A set of four towing cable eyes are attached to the exterior along the way, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, shovel, the well-detailed jack, a massive spanner, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides, and yet more track-links in a cage on the opposite side. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional PE mounts. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, track-spreaders, a choice of two axe installations, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there are still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, a choice of two-part drive sprockets and eight paired return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place which resulted in a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Two decal options have schurzen fitted, and first you must add the styrene and PE brackets on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, with small horizontal in-fill panels stopping things falling between them and the hull. There are three vertical mesh panels per side, with diagonal front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground and being ripped off, and these are prepped with additional PE stiffeners and styrene brackets to latch onto the bar mounts, with a simple tapered section added to the front when the main panels are in place. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely. Use your references and/or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech, then the basket is made up from the circular tread-plated floor with tubular suspension struts and other equipment, seats, immediate ready-rounds and spare dump-bags for the coax. It is glued into the turret base, which then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with an exhaust fan and outer armoured cover included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of cushioned pads covers the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, hinging open rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with an empty machine-gun ring around the base, and the turret can now be closed up with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts, and basket with optional open lid on the rear. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up after removing some small raised lines, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of four styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet section with the sleeve slotting into the front is applied along with a choice of two coax installations, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, then the muzzle-brake with the same feature. The turret has a bustle stowage box with optional open lid and internal details, and curved un-perforated metal schurzen are applied to the styrene brackets glued to the roof and sides, with gaps for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were ever in doubt, you get open or closed variants with PE latches. At the rear a pair of shaped PE mesh panels fit horizontally into the spaces between the bustle stowage and the schurzen, again stopping things from falling through. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings A generous six decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a wide variety of schemes that are appropriate for late war tanks, with not a monotone vehicle in sight, all having highly camouflaged surfaces over the standard base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow), some with the dotted Ambush scheme, one with a winter distemper scheme. From the box you can build one of the following: 6.Pz.Rgt. 3.Pz.Div. Poland, Autumn 1944. Variant 1 6.Pz.Rgt. 3.Pz.Div. Poland, Autumn 1944. With Toma Schützen Variant 2 1.Pz.Rgt. 1.Pz.Div. Hungary, November 1944 1.Pz.Rgt. 1.Pz.Div. Hungary, November 1944 With Toma Schützen II./Pz.Rgt.16, 116.Pz.Div. ‘Windhund’, Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 Unidentified Unit, Winter 1944/45 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one well-detailed kit that should keep you occupied for a good number of modelling hours. The complete interior is depicted with a splendid level of detail, which should allow even the most detail-focused modeller to build it out of the box. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some hatches open will show viewers just how claustrophobic going into war in these iron beasts would have been, and likely still is. Highly recommended. At time of writing, there’s a generous 20% discount on this kit at Creative Models, so click away! Review sample courtesy of
  15. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G Last/Ausf.H Early 2-in-1 (35333) Nibelungenwerk Prod. May-June 1943 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it, and didn’t like the way their shots just bounced off that sloped glacis. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerke, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the bombers took their toll. The Kit This is a new boxing of the newly tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an Interior kit, which extends to the full hull, with a great deal of detail included that should keep any modeller happy and beavering away at their hobby. The kit arrives in a heavily loaded top-opening box, and inside are seventy sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is exceptional, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the interior, which is made up on a main floor with bulkheads, ammo stores with individual rounds that have stencil decals for each one, then a complete Maybach HL 120 TRM engine in a cradle. The engine is begun by putting together the transmission and final drive units, which is at the front of the hull next to the driver, with a set of instruments fitted to the top that have their own decals. This is inserted into the interior with the drive-shaft, with the driver’s seat is assembled along with the foot and hand controls, plus a worrying amount (from his point of view) of shells behind his area, plus another three ready-round boxes layered on top of various positions around the turret base. A ring of tread-plate defines the location where the turret basket will sit, and various other components are arranged around a simple seat for the radio operator/bow gunner, then the engine is assembled from its various shaped elements, topped off with the rocker covers, decals and oil filler caps. A lot of ancillaries are added, including tons of drive-belts, engine bearers, exhaust manifolds, turbocharger between the cylinder banks, dynamo and pipework. It all fits snugly into the engine compartment section of the interior to await boxing in by the hull sides. The highly detailed brake-assembly for each drive sprocket is a drum-shaped affair that comprises a substantial number of parts, some of which are PE, and really does look the part, fitted to the inside of each hull wall flanking the two crew seats, with more small equipment boxes and a fire extinguisher fitted nearby, then the exterior face of each side is detailed with the final drive housing, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps before they are glued into place on the hull sides, with the lower glacis plate helping keep them perpendicular to the floor. Back in the engine compartment, the empty spaces around the Maybach engine are filled with airbox, fuel tank and large radiator panels that are set in the compartment at an angle, as demonstrated by the scrap diagram. The rear bulkhead closes-in the final side of the compartment, and this is festooned with detail including armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. Under the tank a plethora of mine protection in the shape of armoured plates that wrap around the suspension exits and the edges of the hull are applied, and up front the upper glacis with access hatches and their details are glued in place open to show off the detail, or closed at your whim, and a choice of fenders are slotted into the sidewalls, depending on which decal option you intend to portray. More shells are stashed on trays to the sides of the turret, again with a painting guide and stencil decals, joined by a number of dump bags of ammo for the AA MG34 on the commander’s cupola. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the big muffler is attached to the rear, made from a combination of styrene and PE straps. The addition of a cross-brace between the two hull sides with oil can and fire extinguisher strapped on completes the lower hull for now. The upper hull is constructed in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front the thick armour panel is glued in, the bow machine gun rear is created and set aside while the hatches and the barrel of the MG are fitted, mostly from the outside, together with the armoured covers for the radiator louvers, hatch levers and lifting hooks, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The driver’s armoured vision port cover and the ball-mount for the gun complete the exterior work for now, and the assembly is flipped over to detail the inside, which includes a highly detailed set of radio gear that has a painting guide next to it. The afore-mentioned bow gun’s breech and aiming mechanism are inserted into the back of the ball-mount, and the forward side sections of the upper hull are detailed with gas mask canisters, vision ports, stowage boxes and levers for the ports. Flipping the assembly again and it is time to add the hatch covers and interior louvers to the radiator exits, which are delicate parts and can be inserted in the open or closed positions, with a change in how they are fitted. A pair of fans that cool the radiators within the engine compartment using movable slatted panels to adjust cooling as necessary, and these two sub-assemblies are mated before the panels are glued in place with a choice of open or closed louvers. The twin tube air filtration system on the side of the fender is attached to the exterior along the way, plus a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Spare track sections are made up for the two facets of the glacis, and are held in place with small brackets on the upper section, and a long pair of C-shaped rods on the lower. You’ll also need an 11mm length of 0.4mm diameter wire for the track pin at one end of the upper run for authenticity. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, shovel, the well-detailed jack, a massive spanner, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides, and yet more track-links in a cage on the opposite side. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional PE mounts. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a choice of two types of track-spreaders, a choice of two axe installations, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, a choice of two-part drive sprockets and eight paired return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place which resulted in a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Three decal options have schurzen fitted, which has by now dictated which fenders you glued to the hull sides, so it’s too late to change your mind now. First you must add the styrene brackets on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which consist of five mesh panels per side, with diagonal front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground and being ripped off. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely. Use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech, then the basket is made up from the circular tread-plated floor with tubular suspension struts and other equipment, seats, immediate ready-rounds and spare dump-bags for the coax. It is glued into the turret base, which then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with an exhaust fan and outer armoured cover included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of cushioned pads cover the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, hinging open rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base, and the turret can now be closed up with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts, and basket with optional open lid on the rear. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of four styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet section with the sleeve slotting into the front is applied along with a choice of two coax installations, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, with the muzzle-brake having the same feature. Another length of track is applied to the front of the roof for extra protection, which might explain why there are a lot more than 22 track sprues, this time however using the single sprue that is separately wrapped. The turret has curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches. The commander’s MG34 is made up last with a separate breech, tubular mount and cloth dump bag full of ammo suspended from the mount, then linked to the ring around the cupola by a bracket. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings A generous six decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a wide variety of schemes that are appropriate for late war tanks, from monotone vehicles to highly camouflaged vehicles over the standard base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element. From the box you can build one of the following: Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G Pa.Rgt.3, Pz.Div. Eastern Front, Operation Citadel, Summer 1943 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G 16.Pz.Div. Italy, Aug-Sept 1943 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G 16.Pz.Div. Italy, Aug-Sept 1943 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H 1.SS-Pz.Div, LSSAH (Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler ) Italy, Summer 1943 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H 26.Pz.Div. Italy, Autumn 1943 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H 1.SS-Pz.Div, LSSAH (Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler ) Italy, Autumn 1943 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one well-detailed kit that should keep you occupied for a good number of hours. The complete interior is depicted with a splendid level of detail, which should allow all but the most detail-focused modeller to build it out of the box. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some hatches open will show viewers just how claustrophobic going into war in these iron beasts would have been, and likely still is. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.G/H/J In Combat German Medium Tank (9788366673182) Kagero Publishing via Casemate UK The vehicle that was to become the Panzer IV began life as a semi-secret rearmament project of the newly minted Nazi regime, and at the time it was intended to be a Platoon Leader’s tank, which was heavily armed and armoured to make way for the other lighter tanks such as the Pz.II and Pz.III when they encountered heavy resistance. Production began with the tank fitted with a short barrelled 75mm gun in 1937 as the Ausf.A. By the time war broke out in Western Europe, they were already using the Ausf.D, which needed appliqué armour during its service life to cope with the larger calibre rounds it was receiving by then. The Ausf.E took this and rolled it into a single plate of 50m frontal armour and an additional 20mm on the turret and sides. The Ausf.F saw armour increase again, but by then the gun was considered underpowered, so some later examples were fitted with the new long-barrelled gun from the factory, while others were retro-fitted later. In mid-1942 the Ausf.G was manufactured in substantial numbers, but it was seen as over-complicated, an issue that beset many of their projects, but that was intended to be remedied by the Ausf.H, the extension of which was also the goal of the last variant, the Ausf.J. By this time the home situation was getting worse, and it was paramount to run the production lines as fast and efficiently as possible in between devastating bombing raids. This new book from Kagero Publishing is the fourth in a series, this one from author Michał Kuchciak. The book is soft bound, and runs to 80 pages in a portrait-oriented form. The book initially concentrates on the development of the type through the early stages in a potted history of the variants that led to the later marks that are the actual subject of the book. The various chapters are laid out as follows: Bataillonführerwagen Versions armed with a short-barrelled 75mm gun Re-arming Panzerkampfwagen IV with long-barrel guns Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.F2/G (Sd.Kfz.161/1) Towards a simplified design – Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H (Sd.Kfz.161/2) Final version – Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J (Sd.Kfz.161/2) Organisation of Panzer units and brief combat history Camouflage and markings Export Conclusion Selected bibliography End notes Given the scope of the book, it is a fairly detailed overview of the type, with photos and drawings, plus several pages of profiles, plans and isometrics of the Ausf.J in various scales and some greyscale 3D cut-aways of the interior. In the latter half of the book, there are a lot of candid photos of the type in action, during downtime and maintenance in all kinds of weather, which will no doubt provoke some diorama ideas. A few useful tables are included too, especially table 5 near the back of the book that shows the various statistics and features of the three variants in a side-by-side “top-trumps” manner that shows the progression toward the ultimate Panzer IV. As a bonus, you will find a glossy A4 print of the cover artwork in landscape, focusing closely on the panzer in the foreground. Conclusion If you’re interested in the Panzer IV, this is an excellent book to broaden your knowledge and prime you for a potential deep-dive later into weightier tomes. Some great pictures and really nice profiles. Highly recommended. At time of writing, this book is currently on discount with casemate Review sample courtesy of
  17. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Vomag Early Prod. June 1943 (35302) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tigers and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer, high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak-40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the ferocious recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to their first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they met it in battle. The Ausf.H was the penultimate mainstream variant of the Pz.IV, and was made from mid ’43 until early 1944 with over 2,300 made, some of which were manufactured at the Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. The Vomag factory was producing more along with Krupp, but by the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV in its final Ausf.J form, and all factories were bombed heavily, choking off production as the war drew to a close. The Kit This is a new boxing of the recently tooled brand new model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, and depicts a short period of H production in June 1943 when vehicles of this early specification were being turned-out. It isn’t an Interior kit, but some parts of the interior are still included regardless, especially in the turret. The kit arrives in a top-opening box, and inside are fifty-two sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is excellent, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output over the last several years. Construction begins with the shell of the lower hull , which is made up on a main floor with cross-braces, sidewalls and bulkheads, then the lower glacis over where the transmission and final drive are situated, doors being fitted into the apertures before installation. The final drive housing, towing eyes, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps are glued into place on the hull sides, and two lengths of track made up to be attached to the glacis plates, held in place by clamps on the top side, and a double rod on the front. The rear bulkhead is detailed with armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. The fenders can now be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, both of which are covered in a delicate tread-plate pattern where appropriate. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the big exhaust muffler is attached to the rear, made from a combination of shaped styrene parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The sides of the hull have a series of armoured panels fixed to the underside to protect the suspension mechanism, then the fenders can be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, both covered in a delicate tread-plate pattern where appropriate. The rest of the lower glacis plate with hatches for final drive and transmission access is made up with detail on the exterior, plus hatches for the central transmission unit and final drive. The upper hull is created in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front there is a choice of welded or riveted armour panel for different decal options, then the bow machine gun barrel is inserted from the outside, together with the armoured shutters for the radiator louvers, PE covers, front hatches, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The hull halves can be joined now, which involves adding the cooling louvers and side-mounted air filters that are attached to the hull sides with input trunk disappearing within the engine compartment, not to be confused with the exhaust round the back. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, spanner, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional empty mounts for missing tools. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of two fittings for the axe, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there are still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. The outer casting with two axles that the swing-arms slot onto are then closed in by a cover. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcaps slide onto the axles, and a small oiler reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, two-part drive sprockets and eight pairs of return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and then you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guide horns uppermost. Then you cut one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place, and have a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use to avoid prematurely freezing them in a shape you may not want. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. With the track-runs done you can relax to an extent now, but there’s a bit of PE folding ahead if you are using the PE solid schurzen (side skirts) on your model. First you must add the styrene brackets on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, and an aerial slot with PE end-caps. There are five panels per side, with angled front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging in over rough ground. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, punctured by shells, damaged or even missing entirely, so use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which a drop-seat is fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech is glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech. The roof and sides are all joined to together, and side hatches are the clamshell type that can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of pads cover the interstices to reduce injuries, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, lifting and rotating round the pivot to open, rather than the earlier and more complex two-part clamshell hatch. The turret can now be closed up with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts, rain gutters over the hatches and grab handles on the edge of the roof. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up from a three-sided lower section with separate top, and the muzzle brake is fabricated from three parts, with the gun tube in the middle, and a choice of two coax MG surrounds all fixing to the outer mantlet cover. A machine gun ring, machine gun with mount and dump bag, and PE blade sight are fitted around the exterior of the turret along with support framing for the upper schurzen, and the bustle stowage box is formed from a hollow body and separate lid. The turret schurzen are curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that are by now glued to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches, and a group of additional PE parts such as latches dotted around the panels. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings Five decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a variety of schemes that are appropriate for later war tanks, from winter distemper and field camouflaged vehicles with a base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element. From the box you can build one of the following: Undefined Unit, before Operation Citadel, Summer 1943 Undefined Unit, Italy 1943 Pz.Rgt.35, 4.Pz.Div. Ukraine, Kovel District, Spring 1944 Undefined Unit, Ukraine, Kovel District, 1944 Pz.Rgt.24, 24 Pz.Div, Poland, late Summer 1944 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one on many newly tooled and well-detailed panzer IV kits from MiniArt that should keep you occupied for a good quantity of modelling time. Careful painting will bring it to life, and there is plenty of detail that will be visible even after weathering. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Pz.Beob.Wg.IV Ausf.J (35344) Late/Last Production 2 in 1 with Crew 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tigers and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak-40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the ferocious recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it. The Ausf.J was the last mainstream variant of the Pz.IV, and was made from 1944 until the end of the war with over 3,600 made, some of which were manufactured at the Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. Other factories initially making the type had been switched to produce other vehicles although the Vomag factory was still producing some quantity , but by the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production as the bombers took their toll. The Panzerbeobachtungswagen IV was designed as an fully armoured artillery observation tank, this had the same commander’s cupola at the StuG III, with seven periscopes instead of the vision slits of the normal Panzer IV, an additional radio mast at the right rear hull plate which included an armored housing, and relocation of an aerial to the Turret roof; with a rotating mount for a periscope located on the left side of the turret roof, and a seond inside the main hatch. 3 radio sets were introduced as well as plotting equipment, to make room for all of this the turret co-axial machine gun was removed. The Kit This is now the third boxing of the newly tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, and is brand new, unlike the first boxing which we looked at here this is not an interior kit though there is enough in there to see if you want to leave some hatches open. The kit has the option to build either an Ausf. J or the Beob Artillery Spotting Version. MiniArt have also included a set of German figures in winter uniform (which is their set 35021).. The kit arrives in a heavily loaded top-opening box, and inside are 27 sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, 2 clear sprues, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers; and a sprue for the figures. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later); there are 22 links of tracks with 4 sprues of track pins. The level of detail in this kit is exceptional, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output lately. Construction begins with the main hull of the tank. A few internal parts fit to the main floor then the front, sides an rear plates go on. The internal bulkhead for the engine compartments also needs to be installed. Appropriate hatches are added to the glacis plate along with a length of spare track (we will cover the tracks a bit later on). Then the exterior face of each side is detailed with the final drive housing, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps before they are glued into place. The rear bulkhead closes-in the final side of the compartment, and this is festooned with detail with a choice of armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot with PE chain keeping the cover captive to the vehicle. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the twin exhausts are attached to their exits, made from a combination of styrene and PE parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The sides of the hull have a series of armoured panels fixed to the underside to protect the suspension mechanism, then the fenders can be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, with a delicate tread-plate pattern moulded-in where appropriate. The upper hull is constructed in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels. At the front the thick armour panel is adjusted by removing some location markers for certain decal options, the driver’s armoured vision port cover and the ball-mount for the gun complete the exterior work for now. Flipping the assembly again and it is time to add the interior louvers to the radiator exits, which are PE parts and can be inserted in the open or closed positions, with a change in how they are fitted. The hull halves can be joined now, but the instructions confusingly show the top louvered panels in the engine deck as being fitted, when they’re not installed until the very end of the next step. This involves making up the pair of twin fans that cool the radiators within the engine compartment using movable slatted panels to adjust cooling as necessary, and these two sub-assemblies are mated before the panels are glued in place with a choice of open or closed louvers. A little tool box and some grab handles are attached to the exterior along the way. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides, and yet more track-links in a cage on the opposite side. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional PE mounts. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of three axes, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position, with optional steps welded to the sides. The two large rear aerials for the radio sets need adding to both side of the rear of the tank. The left one is a simple pole aerial, but the right has a more complex PE spread top; this aerial has its own armoured housing to fit to the rear of the tank. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus multi-part idler, two-part drive sprockets and a choice of five different styles of return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join. Then you can move on to those individual track links. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins. Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. A little glue to the tops of the pins will help to keep them in place, and have a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. when Mike made up the tracks for the earlier boxing he didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Track-runs done. You can relax to an extent now, but there’s a bit of PE folding ahead if you are using the PE mesh schurzen (side skirts) on your model. First you must add the styrene brackets and PE C-supports on each side, then the long tubular supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which has a set of horizontal PE panels with folded up edges between the brackets, with additional PE clips over the tabs. There are three mesh panels per side, with diagonal front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground. They are prepped with styrene brackets and PE edge strips before they are dropped into position on the tubular supports. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely, so use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring at the front a different mantlet is used for the different decal options as the co-axial gun was deleted for the observation tanks. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor and a full breech for the gun is supplied despite this not being an interior kit,. A seat is added to the rear of the turret ring and the gun sight to the side of the breech. It is glued into the turret base, which then has the other facets added to the roof panel. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with all round vision blocks. There is a mount inside for an SF14Z scissors periscope was fitted vehicle, along with an armoured periscope fitted to the turret roof. Such is Miniart's attention to detail that the commanders hatch has the separate cut out for the periscope including all latches and hinges. A large stowage bin is made up for the rear of the turret and an additional radio aerial attaches to the roof. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up with a choice of lower section, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of four styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. Your choice of mantlet then has the sleeve slotting into the front, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation; the muzzle-brake having the same feature. While the hull schurzen are mesh for lightness, the turret ones are solid. They have curved sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, there is a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches, and a group of additional PE parts dotted around the panels. The space between the bustle and the schurzen is filled at the top by two shaped sheets of mesh to protect against satchel charges or other explosives lodging there and damaging the fighting compartment or jamming the turret. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings A small decal sheets only gives the modeller minimal markings for 4 tanks. Unidentified Unit, Germany, early 1945 (winter camo) Unidentified Unit, Austria, Spring 1945 (3 colour camo) Unidentified Unit, Spring 1945 (3 colour camo) Unidentified Unit, Austria, May 1945 (overall gunklegelb) Crew A single sprue provides five crew members in winter dress. This is Miniart's set 35021 and as such up to their usual standard for figures. Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one well-detailed kit that should keep you occupied for a good quantity of modelling time. The lack of interior wont put modellers off, indeed some would prefer it this way, the crew will fill the hatches so any interior wont really need to be seen, or they can be closed. There is still enough detail in the turret to leave those hatches open without using the crew. The inclusion of the crew is a good touch from MiniArt to bring the tank to life. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J Nibelungenwerk (35342) Late Prod. Jan-Feb 1945 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tigers and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak-40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the ferocious recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it. The Ausf.J was the last mainstream variant of the Pz.IV, and was made from 1944 until the end of the war with over 3,600 made, some of which were manufactured at the Nibelungenwerk, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. Other factories initially making the type had been switched to produce other vehicles although the Vomag factory was still producing some quantity , but by the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production as the bombers took their toll. The Kit This is the first boxing of the newly tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, and is brand new. It is an Interior kit, which extends to the full hull, with a great deal of detail included that should keep any modeller happy, beavering away at their hobby. The kit arrives in a heavily loaded top-opening box, and inside are sixty-eight sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and thick instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is exceptional, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the interior, which is made up on a main floor with bulkheads, ammo stores, then a complete Maybach HL 120 TRM engine. The engine is begun by putting together the transmission and final drive units, which is at the front of the hull next to the driver, with a set of instruments fitted to the top. This is inserted into the interior with the drive-shaft, with the driver’s seat is assembled along with the foot and hand controls, plus a worrying amount (from his point of view) of shells behind his area, plus another three ready-round boxes layered on top of various positions around the turret base. A ring of tread-plate defines the location where the turret basket will sit, and various other components are arranged around a simple seat for the radio operator/bow gunner, then the engine is assembled from its various shaped segments, topped off with the rocker covers and oil filler caps. A lot of ancillaries are added, including tons of drive-belts, engine bearers, exhaust manifolds, dynamo and pipework. It all fits snugly into the engine compartment section of the interior to await boxing in by the hull sides. The highly detailed brake-assembly for each drive sprocket is a drum-shaped affair that comprises a substantial number of parts, some of which are PE, and really does look the part, fitted to the inside of each hull wall flanking the two crew seats, with more small equipment boxes and a fire extinguisher fitted nearby, then the exterior face of each side is detailed with the final drive housing, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps before they are glued into place on the hull sides, with the lower glacis plate helping keep them perpendicular to the floor, and a length of track applied to the panel with a bracket holding them in place. Again, more on the tracks later. We’ll gloss over them for now. Back in the engine compartment, the empty spaces around the Maybach engine are filled with airbox, fuel tank and large radiator panels that are set in the compartment at an angle, as demonstrated by the scrap diagram. The rear bulkhead closes-in the final side of the compartment, and this is festooned with detail with a choice of armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot with PE chain keeping the cover captive to the vehicle. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the twin exhausts are attached to their exits, made from a combination of styrene and PE parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The sides of the hull have a series of armoured panels fixed to the underside to protect the suspension mechanism, then the fenders can be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, with a delicate tread-plate pattern moulded-in where appropriate. The rest of the lower glacis plate with hatches for final drive and transmission access is made up with detail inside and out, plus an optional hatch for the central transmission unit. The final drive hatches can be posed open if you wish to expose those attractive assemblies within, of use in a maintenance diorama scenario. Another length of tracks is made up to apply over the glacis plate, with small PE brackets holding it in place as it is glued in place at the front. As if the tank wasn’t already carrying enough ammunition, more stores are made up and fitted into the inside of the hull around the sides of the turret well for easy access. The rounds are painted in one of three shell types, with decals to improve the detail further. The addition of a cross-brace between the two hull sides with oil can and fire extinguisher strapped on completes the lower hull for now. The upper hull is constructed in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front the thick armour panel is adjusted by removing some location markers for certain decal options, the bow machine gun installation is created as a sub-assembly, and set aside while the hatches and the barrel of the MG are fitted, mostly from the outside, together with the armoured covers for the radiator louvers, hatch levers and lifting hooks, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The driver’s armoured vision port cover and the ball-mount for the gun complete the exterior work for now, and the assembly is flipped over to detail the inside, which includes a highly detailed set of radio gear that has a painting guide next to it. The bow gun’s breech and aiming mechanism are inserted into the back of the ball-mount, and the clear interior section of the driver’s port is also inserted along with the operating cams for the armoured cover. Another fire extinguisher is attached to the wall by the driver’s position too. Flipping the assembly again and it is time to add the interior louvers to the radiator exits, which are PE parts and can be inserted in the open or closed positions, with a change in how they are fitted. The hull halves can be joined now, but the instructions confusingly show the top louvered panels in the engine deck as being fitted, when they’re not installed until the very end of the next step. This involves making up the pair of twin fans that cool the radiators within the engine compartment using movable slatted panels to adjust cooling as necessary, and these two sub-assemblies are mated before the panels are glued in place with a choice of open or closed louvers. A little tool box and some grab handles are attached to the exterior along the way. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides, and yet more track-links in a cage on the opposite side. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional PE mounts. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of three axes, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position, with optional steps welded to the sides. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus multi-part idler, two-part drive sprockets and a choice of five different styles of return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and then… once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place, and have a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Track-runs done. You can relax to an extent now, but there’s a bit of PE folding ahead if you are using the PE mesh schurzen (side skirts) on your model. First you must add the styrene brackets and PE C-supports on each side, then the long tubular supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which has a set of horizontal PE panels with folded up edges between the brackets, with additional PE clips over the tabs. There are three mesh panels per side, with diagonal front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground. They are prepped with styrene brackets and PE edge strips before they are dropped into position on the tubular supports. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely, so use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech, then the basket is made up from the circular tread-plated floor with tubular suspension struts and other equipment, seats, immediate ready-rounds and spare dump-bags for the coax. It is glued into the turret base, which then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with exhaust fans and a choice of two outer armoured covers included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of pads cover the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, lifting and rotating round the pivot to open, rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base, and the turret can now be closed up with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up with a choice of lower section, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of four styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. A choice of two outer mantlet sections is offered, with the sleeve slotting into the front, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, with the muzzle-brake having the same feature. The bustle stowage box is formed from a hollow body with a choice of open or closed lid, with the open variant having stiffening ribs moulded-in for detail. While the hull schurzen are mesh for lightness, the turret has curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches, and a group of additional PE parts dotted around the panels. The space between the bustle and the schurzen is filled at the top by two shaped sheets of mesh to protect against satchel charges or other explosives lodging there and damaging the fighting compartment or jamming the turret. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings A generous five decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a wide variety of schemes that are appropriate for late war tanks, from winter distemper to highly camouflaged vehicles with a base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element. From the box you can build one of the following: 31 Pz.Rgt. 5 Pz.Div. Eastern Front, Prussia, March 1945 Unidentified Unit, Jedwabne, Poland, Spring 1945 Unidentified Unit, Germany, Spring 1945 Unidentified Unit, Germany, Spring 1945 11 Pz.Div., Germany, May 1945 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is one well-detailed kit that should keep you occupied for a good quantity of modelling time. The complete interior is depicted with a glorious level of detail, which should allow all but the most detail-focused modeller to build it out of the box. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some hatches open will show viewers just how claustrophobic going into war in these iron beasts would have been, and likely still is. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Well before I start getting nasty notices from Six I thought that I had better mark my place with my entry for this GB for which I will be building Zvezda's relatively new 1/35 Ausf E. Now I am not an avid armour builder so you will have to forgive me any newbie errors I make and also any stupid questions that I might ask, I will also be building her OOTB complete with any errors that the kit might have, no doubt there are some, with a view to possibly finishing it as a tank operated by the Afrika Korps or DAK as they are often referred. So without further ado here are the usual box and contents shots; Quite nice box art and underneath is a very sturdy cardboard box stuffed full of parts. Lots of bits in these target boxes aren't there! Thankfully for a novice like me there are link and length tracks rather than individual links. Anyway don't get your hopes up for a record breaking build as I have the small matter of a B-17 to get finished first. Anyway thanks for looking in and any comments and tips are gratefully received. Craig.
  21. Hi guys, Hope you are all well. I just finished my Panzerkampfwagen IV build. It's a Dragon kit No. 6779, quite a nice kit, except horrible DS tracks that I replaced anyway with Fruils and a few minor accuracy issues. Following my Pz IA build belonging to Panzer Reg 5, I decided to to the same with this one. I decided to go with a tank number 812, one of the first vehicles that arrived in Tripoli in March 1941. This is the initial vehicle, not a replacement one. It is interesting that I was not able to find any records about when this vehicle was lost (it seams that it survived Operation Crusader and stayed operational well into 1942, making it a true veteran). I had to do some changes to the original kit, some were made due to the accuracy issues (for example drive sprocket provided in the kit is Pz IV E one), some to match workshop and upgrade changes made on tank 812. It also seams that 812 was a veteran of French campaign and that there were some refitting happening after that: changed position of Notek light, missing aerial deflector, rearranged tools, etc.. I also scratch built rear stowage, which is specific only for initial batch of Pz IVs belonging to Panzer Reg 5 . I also added some additional details, like tool clamps and some small PE work here and there. I used a few AM items: Fruil's early 36cm tracks, Blackdog's stowage, Bronco's canisters, etc. It's painted with Mr.Color RAL 7021, and than with LifeColor Giallo Sabbia Chiaro. Weathering is a combination of Mig's nature effects and pigments. I used VMS metal tracks blackening fluid for the first time... it seams ok. And some isometric on white background. A little bit of details. Model with filter applied simulating Panchromatic film: And the real one... patchy painwork on the model is a little bit less vidible than original because dust reduced contrast a lot. Same tank before it was re-painted. Thanks for looking and thanks for the feedback. Cheers, Nenad
  22. This has been the most challenging and time consuming build yet. It was my first time working with schurzen and I wasn't too fond of it. I had many difficulties with this build and learned a lot while making it. I enjoyed the process but will be choosing something less fiddly for my next build, maybe an early Panther or something. I was planning on spraying some buff over the finished model to dull the decals down but only remembered after the pictures had already been taken. As always, all criticism and comment welcomed. Anyway here is the end result: Andy
  23. Another Wehrmacht AFV - this time their most numerous tank, used (and manufactured) from the first to the last day of WW2. Conceived as the "support" (i.e. infantry) tank, the Sd.Kfz.161 was initially armed with a 75mm howitzer that proved helpless against the armour of the British Matilda and Soviet T-34. Thus the later generation Pz.Kpfw. IVs (starting from Ausf.F2) were fitted with the long-barrel AT gun of the same calibre. Introduced in early 1942 the long-cannon Panzer IV became a dangerous adversary for the Allied tanks in North Africa and these four late variants (Ausf. F2, G, H and J) totalled for more than 7400 of some 8700 Panzer IVs built. Weighing about 25 tons they were powered with 300 BHP Maybach V12 petrol engine. The best 1/72 kit of the "late" Panzer IV on the market is the Russian Zvezda #5017 - the quite new (2018) tooling. There are 147 parts, crisply moulded and no sealing/sanding is necessary at all. Regrettably there's only one boxing available - the late (1944) Ausf.H "mit Schurzen". So as my idea was to have a Pz.Kpfw.IV in desert scheme (and Ausf. H manufactured from 1943 always featured the RAL7028 Dunkelgelb scheme) I had to retrograde the kit a little. Of course all skirt armour panels (and their support's numerous locating lugs) had to be omitted. Then the muzzle was shortened some 5.2mm (the Ausf.G had the KwK 40 L/43 gun whereas the one in Ausf.H was of KwK 40 L/48 type - 375mm longer) and the front sprocket wheels were modified (there were 12 spokes in Ausf.H). The hull side vison ports were added while the driver and gunner hatches were also backdated to the earlier shape. The antenna went from the rear left hull corner to the right hull side and the layout of several tools on the mudguards also had to be changed. Happily "my" Ausf.G was of the late type, thus the Zvezda-supplied single-piece commander's cupola hatch could be used intact. The well-known "red 7" belonged to the 8. Regiment of the famous Deutsche Afrika Korps 15. Panzer-Division. These 1942-production tanks sported the rare "late desert" camouflage of RAL8020 Sandbraun and RAL7027 Sandgrau - much lighter than the 1941 DAK scheme. The paints are (as always) brush-painted enamels: Humbrol 240 for Sandgrau and Airfix (yes, still alive after all these 50 years) M9 for the Sandbraun. Afterwards the Vallejo acrylic matt varnish was brush-applied overall. The digits are from the HobbyBoss Mi-4 helicopter, the Division red triangles came from the Unimodels Panzer III Ausf. J kit, while the black "ace of spades" emblems and red regiment emblems were brush-painted. The pictures are made by LG smartphone. Comments welcome. Cheers Michael
  24. I've recently just completed my first 1/35 tank, it was a Tamiya Tiger Ausf E (Pictures below). My dilemma is this, I am sitting at my computer screen looking at the Tamiya King Tiger (Production Turret) 1/35 and the Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf H 1/35 and I cannot decide which one to purchase. Any advice or nudge in the right direction would be much appreciated.
  25. Hi all, Very much a tank novice but would really like to build a Panzer IV (either F-2 or G) in DAK markings and wondered it is possible to use an Ausf H to model a G and what are the most noticeable modifications that would need to be done. I do actually have a model of an E (the new Zvezda kit) and wondered if that could become an F-2 with the addition of the longer barrel for the main gun and some thin plastic card for making the hull armour a little thicker in places. I only ask as it's a lot easier, and cheaper, to get hold of decent Ausf H kits than it is F-2's and G's. Many thanks in advance. Craig.
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