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Shar2

German Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf J Medium Tank. 1:16

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German Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf J Medium Tank
Trumpeter 1:16

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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?).


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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
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Hello Santa you listening ive be a good boy :heart:

A wonderful centre piece in any collection

Gd review buddy

D

Just what I was thinking! :lol: If I were to build just one 1:16 kit, this wold be it.

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It's a sight to behold alright. I picked over the boxes before it went off with Dave, and there's some lovely detail, and like the Radio Times of yore, I can't believe there's so much in it! :lol:

Isn't there a Panzerbefehlswagen IV next in the works? :Tasty:

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This is a beast of a model...

When I fall back in love with German armour :wub: after building some 1/72 German bombers, a Trumpeter 2cm flakvierling and trailler, Tamyia Famo, trailer and a Hummel to add on then THIS will be my next project :cyclops:

Hopefully it will be less than £200, lots of etch and some better decals, and I should have retired..hooray

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