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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G Mid – Kharkov, 1943 (BT-033) 1:35


Mike

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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G Mid – Kharkov, 1943 (BT-033)

1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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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

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