Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Dragon Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E "3-in-1"(6264)


Dragon Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E "3-in-1" (6264)

by Frank De Sisto

1/35-scale styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 633 styrene plastic parts (including 23 clear and 23 for one “Gen2” figure), two bags of “handed” styrene “Magic Tracks”, three photo-etched brass frets, three DS-100 parts, one turned aluminum and two turned brass parts, four formed brass parts, ten formed wire parts, one piece of metal cable, ten decal marking schemes and ten pages of instructions in 18 steps.

It is very difficult not to get excited about this kit. Because, despite the updates on the DML web site and the occasional update on this site by Tom Cockle (which can erode the “surprise” factor somewhat), once I held the parts in my hands, I knew for certain that this kit is simply stunning. For those of us who thought (and rightly so, in my opinion) that the DML Tiger Is and the 8.8cm FlaK36 were “something else”, this kit is clearly a step above even them.

One of the things that struck me was the attention to details in places that will not be readily visible when the model is completely assembled. For instance, the underside of the turret is not simply a flat plate with a big circular hole in it and a pair of tabs to keep it in place on the hull roof. It is detailed and includes a toothed ring, which in reality would engage the turret traverse gear-box mechanism (which is also included). The entire assembly is then attached to the hull floor by the turret basket floor much like the prototype (more on the turret’s interior later). In another departure, the undersides of both sets of fenders (that’s correct, two sets, but more on them later) are not moonscapes of knock-out pin marks. Instead, they are completely detailed with framing, bolt heads and the “reverse side” of the non-skid pattern seen on the top surfaces. And, there’s not a pin mark in sight. There is detail behind the final drive assemblies that will be hidden after assembly, but which will be useful if depicting the panzer undergoing maintenance, or in a destroyed configuration. Another small point is the fuel filler caps as seen on the hull side. They are separate and can be shown open. Rather conventional, right? What’s notable here is that DML also provides properly-shaped fairings (with pipe detail) over the openings, on the inside of the hull.

The turret interior is nearly all there, except for the small storage boxes, the fume extractor fan, some fittings and conduits, etc. The gun breech for the 7.5cm KwK is very nicely done and is not simply “blocks and tubes”. It boasts a separate sliding breech block, telescopic sight, co-axial MG34 and mount, recoil guard, internal mounts and spent shell bag. To this can be mounted either a plastic gun tube (with rifling at the bore) or a turned aluminum gun tube. All of the view-ports can be shown opened or closed and have clear inserts as well as hinge details. The commander’s cupola also has interior details including clear parts for the vision blocks. There is a multi-part traverse mechanism (including gear-box and hand-wheels) for the gunner as well as seats for all three turret crew members. Finally, the circular floor plate is attached with various frames and has a non-skid pattern. The only other interior details consist of a very nicely rendered radio operator’s MG34, which is complete with inner mounting plate, sight, head pad and grips. There is an ammunition bag given but it is not mentioned in the instructions. This kind of treatment of the interior is risky on DML’s part because despite what they have given in this area, some modelers may be critical because they may feel the designers should have gone further.

All hatches are separate including the two types of engine deck doors (standard and “Tropen”, with the latter featuring etched brass details for their insides), cupola split-hatch (and split view-port covers), radio operator and driver’s hatch (featuring separate signal-port flaps) and the final drive access hatches. Curiously, the main transmission access hatch is molded in place. All hull view-ports are separate and feature clear parts for the vision blocks. The driver’s visor is movable, but there is no clear part for the glass block, which is rather curious considering the extensive use of such things elsewhere. The main hull rear plate also features a separate access plate as well as a filler port cover. The turret has separate side doors, side and front view-ports and a separate signal-port flap. Incidentally, there are no knock-out pin marks on any surfaces of these hatches. Another nice touch is tiny photo-etched tear-drop-shaped covers for the key-holes for many of the hatches, which can be positioned any way the modeler chooses.

There are two different lower hull pans, one with and one without appliqué armor panels. Either features complete access plate and bolt details on the belly. To either one is added the separate front and rear panels, with the rear panel featuring, for the first time, the proper bolt details on the separate strip that connected the superstructure to the hull (and which allowed for the complete removal of the engine deck in the field). There are two sets of fenders. One has locating holes for the set o f tools that contains molded-on clamps. The second set of fenders have no locating holes and are to be used if the modeler chooses the second tool set (with no molded-on clamps) and its accompanying photo-etched clamps and brackets. To either fender set is added separate front and rear mud flaps, as well as other details, such as a properly-depicted inner section as seen where the fender attached to the glacis plate.

The suspension system includes fully articulated bogie spring mounts (including variations in some of the fittings), separate fairings for the mounting brackets, separate bump-stops and crisply molded return roller mounts. The road wheels themselves are each multi-part assemblies, featuring a wheel rim, hub and tire. The hard styrene tires have a mold seam on their outer edges (which, despite what contest judges think, are CORRECT for a new tire!), and have sprue attachment points inside the rims. This eases clean-up considerably and will still leave the aforementioned tire seam intact. It also makes painting the tires a snap since this can be done before they are mounted onto the wheel rims. Returning to the “destroyed panzer” scenario touched upon earlier, the tires can be left off to depict burned-away rubber. The transmission final drive housings are particularly well-done and feature internal details as do the sections of the hull behind them. There are two styles of armored guards for the final drives. One is in two pieces and features conical bolts. The other is a single part to which separate (and tiny!) conical bolts are to be added. The drive sprockets are the non-dished type and can be used only with the narrow 38cm tracks (Friulmodel ATL-02 tracks fit perfectly, BTW). The rear idler wheel includes separate mounts and small details and can be adjusted for track sag. The rear idlers themselves come in two versions. One is a conventional two-piece design to which is added a hub and etched brass details, while the other is molded as one piece from a slide mold (to which the previously-mentioned parts are added). The tracks themselves are the early 38cm type with smooth faces and open guide teeth. They are “handed”, so don’t simply open the two bags and throw everything in a pile prior to assembly! Check the instructions carefully. They require no clean-up of attachment points, but they do have very small knock-out pin marks. These can probably be ignored as they are very subtle. There is also a frame to assemble them which is shaped to permit track sag to be depicted over the return rollers.

There are two sets of tools, one with and one without molded-on clamps and brackets. The “bare” tools are to be used with etched brass clamps (three parts each…ouch!) and brackets, while the other set can simply be cleaned-up and glued on to the appropriate fenders. The vehicle jack can be depicted in use since its “foot” can be extended. The tow cables are braided wire that comes pre-weathered and fits into pre-bored end loops. These are hung on plastic or formed wire brackets. There are spare road wheels and formed-wire hangers, as well as a peculiar kind of three-wheel tray as seen on some panzers belonging to the 7.PD on the Ostfront (see markings comments). Other accessories include three jerry cans with etched brass centers. I have noted comments on some DGs regarding these not fitting together properly. Well, mine do, but the edges of the etched parts extend too far, especially around the top edge (the handles won’t fit) and the bottom edge (the etched part does not conform to the indented can bottoms). Other accessories include two complete 7.5cm rounds and a multi-part cactus made of DS-100 soft styrene.

There is a single “Gen-2” (Generation 2) figure included. He is made up of 23 hard styrene plastic parts and several etched brass parts (for medals and shoulder boards). He depicts a general officer, in fact a Field Marshal, complete with the baton signifying his office. The figure actually bears a resemblance to “Schnell Heinz” Guderion, a nice touch! His long coat has excellent undercut details, which are depicted by using several parts for the tails as well as his collar. The head is in two parts with a separate cap, there are two pairs of boots, the hands are separate and the sleeves have hollowed-out ends to properly depict the cuffs. At over two-dozen parts, this is a fine little model in its own right.

I began test-fitting and assembling the major components, beginning with the lower hull along with the front and rear panels. With basic cleaning techniques they fit together perfectly. The superstructure is rather more complex since the roof, side, front and rear panels are all separate parts. Again, with care and using basic techniques, there were no fit problems. Fitting the side appliqué panels requires the opening of a couple of holes on each main panel, as well as the removal of the lifting hook mounts. The appliqué panel then fit perfectly. The turret bottom and front panel fit to the main shell with no problems, but the two side doors required that the turret opening be slightly tweaked so they’d fit more precisely in the closed position. In other areas, the hatches and ports fitted neatly into position after proper clean-up. The suspension bogies are a bit tricky, especially when it comes to putting the cap over the articulating arms. Just be patient and go slow.

There are some places in the instructions that may be cause for concern. In a kit as complex and challenging as this, the instructions will require constant perusal. If I were to improve anything in this box, the instructions are the prime candidate. Perhaps breaking things down into a few more discrete steps would do the trick. Regardless, the modeler should beware of the following:

Step 5. Carefully follow the assembly sequence for parts B5, 11, 21, 20 and 3, as well as B4, 12, 19 (times two) and 2. These are the fairings on the belly, in between the suspension bogie units; they are all slightly different.

Step 14. Be careful when following the order of assembly of the parts as they are drawn. DO NOT fit part F30 until after F22. DO NOT fit part F12 until after part F10.

Step 15. There is no positive location for the turret’s co-axial MG34. This may cause it to protrude either too far or not far enough, from the mantlet. Check the fit as you go.

To check for dimensional and detail accuracy I compared the major components to the drawings in Panzer Tracts No.4, by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle. In all areas, the kit matched quite well. This includes such things as screw-head patterns, length and width of the main parts, as well as door, hatch, and wheel sizes. In short, everything appears to be properly configured and to be situated where it belongs. Another thing that I had questioned recently when reviewing the DML Tiger (P), was the size of the turret-bustle storage locker. The item in that kit, as well as the same item in the Tamiya Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H and Ausf.J kits, was smaller than depicted in Mr. Doyle’s scale drawings. The item in this kit matches his drawings dimensionally. So, does this mean we finally have a properly-sized storage locker, or did those pesky Germans produce two different types?

There are a total of ten marking options specifically called out in the instructions, but since the decal sheet is quite extensive, perusal of references will probably allow for more variations. The decals by Cartograf are in register, have sharp details and excellent color saturation. The decals provide markings for the following specific panzers:

• Panzer “64”, 20.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1941.
• Panzer “65”, 20.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1941.
• Panzer “814”, 1.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1941.
• Panzer “22”, 22.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1942.
• Panzer “11”, 11.Panzer-Division, Balkans, 1941.
• Panzer “4”, 8.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1941.
• Panzer “421”, 7.Panzer-Division, Ostfront, 1941.
• Panzer “411”, 5.Leichte-Division, Tobruk, 1941.
• Panzer “8”, 15.Panzer Division, Sidi Rezegh, 1941.
• Panzer “4”, 15.Panzer Division, Sidi Rezegh, 1941.

The markings schemes that I had references for are correct, but the colors for panzers in North Africa should consist of the two-tone scheme, gelbbraun RAL 8000 and graugruen RAL 7008. This was the official “Tropen” scheme in effect from March of 1941 until March of 1942, according to recent research by Jentz and Doyle. In addition, panzer number “8”, of the 15.PD has a rack holding four jerry cans on the starboard side, next to the antenna storage channel. Do not mount the individual spare track links in this position if building this particular panzer.

Note that as part of this review I had intended to provide some in-progress photos. But, since Tom Cockle has already done so on this site’s “Constructive Comments” DG (check them out!), mine would be of little use. It should also be noted that DML has recently used knowledgeable modelers as consultants in their projects. Mr. Cockle and Gary Edmundson, both contributors to this site, have been “in” on this project. Because of that collaboration, we modelers have a superior product; THANKS gents!

In the final analysis, despite a few very minor glitches in the instructions (modelers always test fit FIRST, right?) this is a remarkable effort. It is certainly a challenging kit and is probably not for beginners as it is very complex. This is a “modeler’s” model, for sure!

Highly recommended.

Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.

DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.