Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Mid Production (August-September 1944) - Smart Kit
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6556; Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Mid Production (August-September 1944) - Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||1,089 parts (717 in grey styrene, 288 “Magic Track” links, 58 etched brass, 15 clear styrene, 10 etched nickel, 1 twisted steel wire)|
|Price:||Retail price US$49.95|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Wide release of a J with choice of either early or late exhaust systems; includes AA MG|
|Disadvantages:||Still comess with “Magic Track” links; no zimmerit paste|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all German and Panzer IV fans|
Hot on the heels of the somewhat lukewarm cyber-hobby.com Pzkw. IV Ausf. J Early Production limited release kit (No. 43 - No. 6549) DML has now released a more widely accepted and better known variant of the Pkzw. IV Ausf. J. Essentially this kit differs from the first release by including the later “flammenvernichter” (flame suppressor) twin exhausts, adds the later style return rollers (with four per side still in the kit), the close in defense weapon, and the later antiaircraft/commander’s machine gun. It also provides the mesh floors for the rear “schurtzen” to turn it into a de facto bustle rack. This adds another 48 parts to the earlier kit but retains nearly all of the parts from it.
As I noted in the previous kit review this kit has a new upper hull core and details as well as a new turret shell with the representative modifications. The kit retains the the complete “Schuertzen” stand-off plate arrangement from the H, using the same system from the StuG III and Sturmpanzer IV kits with etched nickel plates for the track runs and a set of plastic moldings for the turret. These are credibly thin and also permit posing the side doors in the open position for access to the turret. But this kit now provides the later “blind” hatches for the turret as to the best of my knowledge they were dropped when the “Schuertzen” became factory standard.
Construction remains the same. However, as the tanks evolved so do the kits and there are a lot of parts which need to be drilled out for specific options; alas, as usual, DML rams the directions into a single multi-fold sheet and the word “busy” does not begin to describe them. You will need to look them over several times BEFORE starting the kit to check what has to be drilled out and for what options.
As with the earlier kits this kit has another new hull pan which is complete less the stern plates, separate final drives, and much of the surface detail simulates screw or bolt holes; it also has an applique lower glacis plate. Drivers now consist of only four parts; the separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now nine piece affairs without separate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hull as well.
The upper hull again consists of a deck and framework with applique sides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. Note that the sides of the upper hull (parts E21 and E28) need to have holes drilled in them in Step 8 for the “Schuertzen” brackets. As this is a transitional model you have a choice between the early model muffler with a central tube section and six add-on parts to complete it along with a “slide molded” exhaust pipe or “Slide Molded” late flame suppressors.
All ports and hatches are separate parts so they can be posed open. While no interior components for the lower hull are yet present, the hull still provides a rudimentary firewall for the engine compartment, and the various vents and louvers are also posable either open or closed. The bow also comes with a well-done machine gun and ball mount. Note that all ports have clear styrene inserts as well.
The turret is relatively conventional in its parts breakdown, but the KwK 40 is unique. The barrel is nearly complete in regard to length, being trapped between the recoil cylinders at the rear and slid through the armored recoil cover and barrel jacket before having the muzzle brake installed; this is only in styrene, but a metal part could be provided later in an upgrade set. The new commander’s cupola now consists of 22 parts and also a mount is provided for the AA MG-34 machine gun which is included. Other than the gun and cupola there is still only a minimal interior for the turret, however.
Etched brass is kept to a minimum and only covers items such as the engine air intake louvers, the inner guides of the idler wheels, some small brackets, and the flaps for the engine air intakes on the sides of the rear deck. As noted it is not the same as provided in the cyber-hobby.com kit and comes with the “floor” mesh for the turret “schurtzen”.
Tracks are the “Magic Track” snap-together-then-cement type, and modelers are advised to recall that when facing the head card the left side track links are on the left and right are on the right. So far no DS plastic tracks have been provided in any Pzkw. IV kit. As I have stated before there is nothing wrong with the “Magic Track” links other than they are tedious to assemble, and the DS ones are now more popular with modelers who do not want to spend several hours making up the tracks or trying to figure out how to paint them (as DS ones can be painted off the model and installed later).
Four finishing options are provided along with a targeted set of Cartograf decals: “Lustmolch” (Lecher), Pz.Abt. 115, 15th Panzergrenadier Division, Champs, Belgium 1944 (tricolor with black crosses); Pz.Abt. 2111, 111th Panzer Brigade, Eastern France 1944 (two color stripe pattern, red 111); Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1944 (“ambush” scheme, black 721); and French 1er Groupe Mobile de Reconnaissance, FFI, St. Nazaire 1945 (tri-color, “Ile de France”). There has been a considerable amount of argument about “Lustmolch” on the Internet as to whether or not it had zimmerit (consensus appears to be yes) and the later exhaust system (consensus appears to be maybe). I do not have sufficient information on that vehicle to provide any assistance. However, as these tanks were built during the period when zimmerit was phased out some photos show them with it and some without, so I suggest getting good photo references for a specific vehicle.
Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Overall this is a nice kit but note that DML left themselves “wiggle room” for two more variants – the Late or Final Production J with simplified design features (such as three return rollers) and the version with mesh “schurtzen”.
A 37x2 Pzkw. IV Generic drivers, idlers and return rollers
A 81x2 Pzkw. IV Generic road wheels and bogies
B 17 Brummbaer - front glacis details
B 44 Pzkw. IV Generic turret base and details, gun breech
C 35 Pzkw. IV Ausf. J detail parts
D 49 Jadgpanzer IV/70 - flammenvernichter exhausts, return rollers
E 43 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H turret details and applique
G 46 Brummbaer - side brackets and Schuertzen mounts
G 29 Turret and hull ports
H 57 Engine deck and details
J 7 German Generic Jack
J 8 MG-34 machine gun
J1 1 Pzkw. IV Ausf. J upper hull core
J2 1 Pzkw. IV Ausf. J turret shell
K 2 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H fenders
K 10 German Generic Antenna and tail light set
L 17 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H turret Schuertzen
L 8 Pzkw. IV spare road wheels
L 144 “Magic Track” left side
M 24 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H cupola
M 15 clear styrene
N 25 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H Schuertzen hangers and mounts
P 33 Pzkw. IV Ausf. H engine grilles and vents
Q 6 Spare track links
R 8 Three muzzle brake styles
R 144 “Magic Track” right side
X 1 Lower hull pan
Z 1 Twisted metal wire
MA 58 Etched brass
MB 5 Etched nickel shields
MC 5 Etched nickel shields
TG 3 Close-in defense weapon
WC 7 German Generic Weapons - MG-34
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.