Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:21 pm Post subject: DML #6363 Pzkpfw IV Ausf G LAH Kharkov 1943
Reflecting the lessons learned from combat on the Russian Front in 1941, the decision was made to up-gun the Pz.Kpfw IV to incorporate a KwK 40 L/43 7.5cm main gun and create the first of the long-gun Pz. IVs. While the true “first” long-guns are known as Ausf F2s (or early Gs), the majority of tanks outfitted with this gun carried the designation Ausf. G and saw service in the Balkans, North Africa, and on the Eastern Front beginning in mid-to-late 1942 and onward. DML (Dragon) has released their kit #6363 under the designation “LAH Division Kharkov 1943” as a follow-on to their previous release of kit #6360, the Pz.Kpfw. IV F2 (G), and incorporates many of those features into this “Smart Kit” release to accurately represent a production Ausf G as opposed to the “early” Gs/F2s with the single baffle muzzle brake.
The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box and features over 740 parts consisting of the following:
• 14 sprues molded in gray styrene
• 1 sprue in clear styrene
• 1 hull tub
• 1 turret top half
• 2 bags of Magic Track 40cm handed individual links (108 L, 108 R)
• 1 fret of PE
• 1 300mm length of braided wire
• 1 “off the sprue” gun barrel sleeve in gray styrene
The kit also includes a black-and-white exploded diagram style instruction sheet featuring 19 assembly steps and 2 ½ pages of finishing guide with views for 5 different vehicle schemes. The decal sheet, printed by Cartograf, includes markings for the following vehicles and units:
• 1. Pz.Gren.Div., “LAH”, 1943 in whitewash, Red 205
• 1.Pz.Gren.Div., “LAH”, 1943 in whitewash, Red 215
• 3.Pz.Rgt. “Totenkopf”, Kharkov 1943 in Panzer Gray
• Pz.Rgt.GD, Pz.Gren.Div. “Grossdeutschland”, Russia 1943-44 in whitewash
• 1.Pz.Div., Greece, 1943 in plain Dunkelgelb
As a “Smart Kit”, the kit design and molding are up to the expected standards from DML with all parts crisply molded with fine detail represented using slide-mold technology on many of the parts. Many of the sprues are carried over from the Pz IV F2 release however only a very small number of parts are marked as “not for use” on the instruction sheet.
The lower hull consists of a slide-molded tub with the underside armored suspension covers molded in place with fine bolt detail on the sides and undersides. The kit suspension has been simplified in terms of the number of parts vs. the older “Super Kit” releases with the road wheels and the rubber rims incorporated back into single pieces. The rubber rims have the familiar “Continentau” molded in and the wheels retain separate hub caps for greater detail. The Ausf G style outer sprocket face is included with very nice bolt detail and definition on both inner and outer surfaces. As a result of the parts simplification, the individual suspension elements are no longer workable and are fixed in place but still retain high detail on the springs and housings.
Options are also provided for two different types of rear hull plate, one with and one without the circular cooling access port, so check your references on which to use. The kit features the correct square auxiliary muffler/exhaust for the turret traverse motor and provides 3 different style options for the rear towing bracket. The main muffler is a 7-part assembly with the exhaust pipe as a separate hollowed out piece.
The kit is designed with all of the upper hull elements separate from each other in terms of glacis, hull sides, hull front, fenders, and the hull top/engine deck all being individual parts or sub-assemblies. The glacis plate allows for the option of fitting a spare track holder rack to it by opening up 5 holes on the underside if desired. The parts for the spare track run incorporate a special set of links on sprue F that have mount pins molded to them to ease with the alignment and the option of using either styrene or PE parts for the actual holders is included.
The hull sides include the option of posing the side vision ports either open or closed and clear styrene parts are provided for the armored glass blocks with grey styrene parts for their hinge frames. The fenders are provided with tread plate patterns molded on both the upper and lower surfaces and mount holes or points provided for the various pioneer tools and on-vehicle equipment. All of the tools are provided with molded on clamps which include the handle portion as hollow squares, an improvement that’s not quite to the level of PE handles but close and the jack comes as a multi-part assembly with styrene clamps. Optional PE parts are provided for the louvers on the underside of the engine deck and the air intakes for the hull sides provide the option of either styrene or PE parts for their covers. A 300mm length of braided wire and slide-molded cable ends are provided to construct the two towing cables, each 150mm in length, with a placement diagram included in the instructions on how to place them on the rear hull holders. The kit also includes two different styles of cleaning rods/holders with either the sponge rod on the top or the bottom and different style of clamps.
The front hull includes the added 30mm armor plates common to the Ausf G. and the now familiar fully detailed tank variant MG34 is included in this kit as is a clear styrene part for the armored glass block on the driver’s vision port. The hatches for both the driver and the radio operator feature details on both sides to allow for them to be posed open or closed and are free of ejector marks. No other interior detail is provided in the kit however aside from the MG34 for this area.
The turret is provided with top and bottom halves with the bottom half featuring turret ring detail and designed to friction fit to the lower hull only. The turret is a “simplified” turret design accurate for the Ausf G and has well defined screw detail on the turret roof and weld seams all around where appropriate. The turret front plate features the single vision port for the gunner and a clear styrene armored glass block part is included with the option of posing the port open to show off this detail. The mantlet includes the option of positioning the main gun sleeve with the two screw heads on either the top or bottom and also includes two different options for the coaxial armored machine gun sleeve, one with the MG34 barrel molded in and one without for those who might wish to add an after-market brass barrel in place of the kit part. The main gun barrel is provided as a one-piece slide molded part with a slight seam on the top and bottom that will require careful sanding to deal with and the characteristic double-baffle muzzle brake is provided in three slide-molded parts. Care will be needed to insure you fit the barrel through the recoil housing and sleeve before attaching the brake as the barrel will only fit one way through the sleeve due to the breech design.
The turret interior features some basic details in the form of the gun breech and recoil guards but does not have a spent shell basket or other interior details aside from a commander’s seat and an exhaust fan for the turret roof. The interior sides of the crew turret hatches do provide some very nice detail definition that incorporates clear styrene parts for the vision blocks but the rest of the interior is bare.
The commander’s cupola on the other hand features a very nicely detailed arrangement that includes clear styrene parts for the armored glass blocks and excellent detail on the split hatches both interior and exterior. The kit includes parts to pose the exterior armored cupola vision covers in either the open or closed positions. Rounding out the turret details, the kit also includes optional styrene parts to mount the turret side smoke grenade launchers if desired. It’s worth noting that on the finishing guide that the LAH vehicles do not feature this while the other three do, so check your references as this was a common feature fitted to most, but not all, G’s depending.
The kit possesses an outstanding level of detail and all of the key features that distinguish an Ausf G. are incorporated into the various parts. The kit provides many options for finishing beyond just the stated “LAH” scheme on the box art, so don’t be fooled by the name into thinking this is just a single-vehicle kit. The quality of the molding is superb and the amount of PE is kept to the bare minimum in keeping with the “Smart Kit” approach without sacrificing detail.
A Build Log is available to evaluate the fit and assembly.