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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Krupp-Grusonwerk (35330) Mid Prod. AUG-SEP 1943 Interior Kit 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd


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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Krupp-Grusonwerk (35330)

Mid Prod. AUG-SEP 1943 Interior Kit

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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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.  Production of the Pazner IV took place at the Krupp Grusonwerk plant even though it was heavily bombed by the allies. Lack of labour and resources being a major limiting factor in production. 

 

 

The Kit

This is now the sixth 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 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. This kit represents a mid production variant with the solid side skirts.

 

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Construction begins with the interior, which is made up on a main floor with bulkheads, ammo stores, then a complete Maybach 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.  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 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.

 

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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.

 

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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 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 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.  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.  The turret can now be closed up with the lifting hooks each made up of two parts.

 

The gun has a sleeve made up with a lower section, 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.  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.  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.  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.

 

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Markings

Four options are provided on the decal e sheet, and they have a wide variety of schemes that are appropriate for mid war tanks, from winter distemper to  camouflaged vehicles with a base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front. Autumn 1943
  • 12 Pz.Rgt, 20 Panzer Division, Eastern Front Autumn 1943
  • 16 Panzer Division, Eastern Front Winter 1943-44
  • 8 Company, 2 Battalion 29 Pz.Rgt 12 Panzer Division, Bialystok, Poland July 1944.

 

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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 just how tight things were in there.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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