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Shar2

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D/Tauch. 1:35

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Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D/Tauch
HobbyBoss 1:35


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History
The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV), commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a German medium tank developed in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161.
Designed as an infantry support tank, the Panzer IV was not originally intended to engage enemy armour—that role being allocated to the Panzer III. However, with the inadequacy of the Panzer III becoming apparent and in the face of Soviet T-34 tanks, the Panzer IV soon assumed the original role of its increasingly vulnerable cousin. The most widely manufactured and deployed, fully turreted German tank of the Second World War (not including Germany's main assault gun) at some 8,500 examples, the Panzer IV was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, including the Sturmgeschütz IV assault gun, Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer, the Wirbelwind self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, and the Brummbär self-propelled gun.

The Panzer IV saw service in all combat theatres involving Germany and was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war, with over 8,800 produced between 1936 and 1945. Upgrades and design modifications, intended to counter new threats, extended its service life. Generally, these involved increasing the Panzer IV's armour protection or upgrading its weapons, although during the last months of the war, with Germany's pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included simplifications to speed up the manufacturing process.

After manufacturing 35 tanks of the A version, in 1937 production moved to the Ausf. B. Improvements included the replacement of the original engine with the more powerful 300 PS (220.65 kW) Maybach HL 120TR, and the transmission with the new SSG 75 transmission, with six forward gears and one reverse gear. Despite a weight increase to 16 t (18 short tons), this improved the tank's speed to 39 kilometres per hour (24 mph). The glacis plate was augmented to a maximum thickness of 30 millimeters (1.18 in), and the hull-mounted machine gun was replaced by a covered pistol port. Forty-two Panzer IV Ausf. Bs were manufactured before the introduction of the Ausf. C in 1938. This saw the turret armour increased to 30 mm (1.18 in), which brought the tank's weight to 18.14 t (20.00 short tons). After assembling 40 Ausf. Cs, starting with chassis number 80341, the engine was replaced with the improved HL 120TRM. The last of the 140 Ausf. Cs was produced in August 1939, and production changed to the Ausf. D; this variant, of which 248 vehicles were produced, reintroduced the hull machine gun and changed the turret's internal gun mantlet to an external one. Again, protection was upgraded, this time by increasing side armour to 20 mm (0.79 in). As the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 came to an end, it was decided to scale up production of the Panzer IV, which was adopted for general use on 27 September 1939 as the Sonderkraftfahrzeug 161 (Sd.Kfz. 161). The Ausf D is the subject of this particular kit and one of the approximately 200 Panzer IIIs and IVs that were converted to be able to snorkel through rivers and lakes.

The Model
Having acquired the Tristar moulds around this time last year Trumpeters sister company Hobbyboss have finally started re-releasing the old Tristar kits. The first one arriving at BM Towers being the Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D/Tauch along with three others which will be reviewed in due course. Originally released by Tristar in 2006 the kit introduced new parts to the 2003 release of the Panzer IV Ausf C. The Tristar kit was pretty well received and although requiring a bit of care to build it was accurate with a very good fit of parts. Since Hobbyboss don’t seem to have altered the sprues in any way, (some sprues still have the Tristar name on them), the same should be able to be said of this release. The instructions are also the same, and whilst the modeller is able to effectively build four versions of the tank, the way the instructions are written, means that the modeller has to be very careful to use the correct parts for the particular version they choose. The four versions are;

  • Panzer IV Ausf D – unconverted
  • Panzer IV Ausf D Tauch – Combat mode
  • Panzer IV Ausf D Tauch – Preparing to wade
  • Panzer IV Ausf D Tauch – Fully prepared to wade

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Even the box art is the same as the Tristar packaging with the colour artists impression surrounded by a yellow boarder. As it is, all the parts are beautifully moulded, with the sprues and separate lower hull and turret in a sandy yellow styrene. There are forty eight sprues in total, if you include all the smaller sprues which are actually joined together. There are also three sprues of dark grey styrene for the track links, two of clear styrene, a medium sized sheet of etched brass, a length of copper wire and two decal sheets. There is no sign of flash anywhere, but there are quite a few moulding pips that will need to be cleaned up. This is definitely one of those kits where you’d be best to read the instructions beforehand and mark up the parts you are going to need to build up the particular version you intend to build.

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Since there are four ways to build this kit I will just write up the build for the fully prepared vehicle. Construction begins with the assembly of the thirty two road wheels, each of which is fitted with separate tyres followed by the individual suspension units, which are assembled from seven parts, ensuring that the correct parts are used as they are handed. Two pairs of road wheels are then glued to each suspension unit. The drive gearbox covers are then built up from three main parts and nine separate bolt heads, the bolt heads being at the ends of the parts that look like shell cases. The four piece sprockets are then fitted to each drive unit. The idler wheels are each made up from five parts, whilst each return roller consist of two parts.

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The lower hull is assembled next, with the sides, bottom, and rear bulkhead all separate parts. The hull is strengthened with the fitting of two interior bulkheads, whilst the hull sides are fitted with the individual bump stops. The underside of the hull is detailed further with the fitting of sixteen bolt heads and four brackets. The sprocket, idler, return roller and road wheel assemblies are then glued into their respective positions. The upper hull section is then detailed with the fitting of the front /front inner mudguard plates side armour panels, and viewing ports. These are followed by the fitting of the driver and machine gunners hatches, multipart machine gun mounting and frontal armour plate. To the rear the engine deck hatches, side and rear panels are attached, along with their associated grab handles, fittings and the rear mounted shackle brackets. The upper hull is then glued to the lower hull assembly, whilst the tracks are each assembled from ninety six of the one hundred and eight provided for each side.

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Back at e rear of the hull, the mudflaps are fitted with the reflectors before being fitted to the rear of the fenders. Also at the rear, the two exhausts are assembled, each from four parts, before being fitted to the rear bulkhead. The main gun/mantle is made up from twenty two parts, as the kit includes the breech section and spent ammunition basket. The gun assembly is then fitted from the front to the turret, to which the upper turret plate is then fitted, along witht eh loaders hatch. The kit provides a simplistic turret floor, which is attached to the lower turret section by three legs, two of which are fitted with folding seats, whilst a third seat is fitted to the lower turret section. With the floor attached the commanders cupola is made up from fourteen parts, before being fitted to the rear of the turret. The rest of the turret hatches are then glued into position, along with the various details, such as grab handled, handrails, Schürzen rails, vision ports and eye bolts. The port fender is then fitted out with the gun cleaning rods, jack rest block, track tool, shackles, fire extinguisher, step and various pioneer tools. The starboard fender is fitted out with the main jack, more pioneer tools, spare track links and the brackets for a long square post, (this item is not included in the kit, nor are there any references to as to what it is made of). The towing cable is then assembled and fitted to the brackets on the rear bulkhead and the kit finished off with the fitting of the turret.

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Decals
The two small decal sheets are nicely printed, with good opacity and a nice thin carrier film. They provide the markings and unit ID codes/emblems for five different tanks, these being:-

  • Panzer IV Ausf D, of 2nd Panzer Division, Semols, 1940
  • Panzer IV Ausf D, No.933 of 9./Pz.Rgt 18, Russia 1941
  • Panzer IV Ausf D, No.632 of Pz.Rgt. 18, Russia 1941
  • Panzer IV Ausf D, No.342 of 3./PZ.Rgt. 18, Germany 1940
  • Panzer IV Ausf D, No.231 of 3./PZ.Rgt. 18, Germany 1940

The second decal sheet also has Panzer IV Ausf D No.No.321 included, but this vehicle is not mentioned on the painting guide.

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Conclusion
Whilst his is a very nice and interesting release, which when first produced by Tristar was pretty well received, it’s not without its problems. Not in the kit itself, but in the instructions. Great care will need to be exercised during the build, particularly in using the correct parts for the vehicle you wish to build. It’s also not one for the novice, but those modellers with a bit of experience behind them who should be able to produce a very nice model. Highly Recommended





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Review sample courtesy of
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