Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:52 pm Post subject: DML #6300 Pzkpfw IV Ausf. H Late Production
The Pzkpfw IV carries the distinction of being one of the few vehicles to serve the entire duration of WW2 in the German army. It underwent several modifications as the war progressed and the Ausf H continued the development of the series armed with the L/48 7.5cm KwK 40 begun with the Ausf. G. Beginning in May 1943 and continuing until March 1944, approximately 2,320 H’s were produced with various features introduced at different points during the run. DML (Dragon) kit #6300 Pzkpfw. IV Ausf. H Late Production seeks to represent a vehicle with features introduced beginning in September 1943.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues packaged in clear bags with multiple sprues per bag, so care is needed when removing them to avoid damaging some of the more delicate parts. The standard “Dragon card” is also included which has the separate bags of Magic Tracks, PE fret, decals, Schurzen metal plates, and the braided steel wire secured to it. The kit consists of over 800 parts with a large number of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 22 sprues of light gray styrene
• 1 sprue of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 styrene turret half
• 2 styrene recoil housing barrel sleeves
• 1 braided steel wire
• 2 PE brass frets of 53 parts
• 2 aluminum sheets with 5 Schurzen plates each
• 2 bags each of handed Magic Tracks links
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
The kit bears the “Late Production” label that Dragon assigned as part of the usual “modeler’s convention” of trying to distinguish different variations in a vehicle’s production run via terms like “early”, “mid”, or “late”. While “late” can mean a lot of things to different people, this particular kit has features that began showing up in September 1943. The vehicle was also produced when zimmerit was applied, so that will also need to be added by the builder for complete accuracy sake. The key defining features for the September 1943 cutoff are the types of road wheels and the suspension elements included in the kit. The simplified wheel travel stops are included and the hubs are of the pressed variety. The kit also features the flat rear hull bottom seen only on later Hs and has the single 80mm thick hull driver’s plate that was introduced in June 1943.
Suspension and Tracks:
The kit suspension uses the now-common non-working simplified suspension of all the Pz IV Smart Kit family of kits. The road wheels provided have excellent rim and hub detail with lettering molded in and the correct style of pressed hubs appropriate for Hs produced starting in September 1943. Options are provided for two different types of steel return rollers, both of which are correct depending on your choice as some mix-and-match did occur between the types in H production. The cast sprockets are combined with the option of either the earlier-style tubular idler or the later-style cast idler which was introduced in October 1943, making either choice correct depending on your preference. The idler mount can be positioned to aid with determining track sag within reason, providing some flexibility with either the kit-supplied Magic tracks or AM sets. Two different styles of mount are provided and both were seen on Hs, so the choice is yours.
The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are handed and molded in different shades of grey to distinguish one side from the other and feature solid guide horns and the chevron ice cleats on their faces. Each link has small ejector pin marks on either side of the guide horn that will need to be dealt with and individual links may also have small amounts of flash requiring clean-up depending. 98-99 links are normal for Pz IVs while the instructions incorrectly call for 144 links per side, so be aware of this little snag. Additional links are provided to create the necessary spare track runs for the hull front and glacis, but not enough of either left or right to do all the spare tracks so some mixing and matching is called for.
Hull and Fenders:
The hull consists of a large single piece tub with excellent molded detail on the exterior including hull bottom detail for various access hatches and ports. The rear hull plate is a separate assembly and the large cylindrical exhaust is a multi-part effort complete with hollow exhaust pipe and weld bead detail on the cylinder. Two different styles of rear tow bracket are provided but this is a holdover from earlier kits as the only correct choice is the H27/H23/B9 combination.
The fender layout is correct for a factory-standard Ausf H and includes tools with molded-on clamps with hollow handles. The handles are a little thick in terms of in-scale appearance due to the limitations of styrene molding. The fenders have excellent tread pattern detail on both the upper and lower surfaces and PE or styrene options are provided for the air intake vent covers. PE or styrene options are also provided for the C-hook holders, the axe holder, and the front and rear fender braces, and two types of starter crank are included as well although only E4 is really appropriate for use. The instructions incorrectly suggest options for the rear Notek light in terms of either the rectangular or tubular style of light, only the tubular style is correct as it was introduced in October 1942 and the kit includes a clear part for the tube lens for added detail.
The upper hull assembles as a single module with a base frame for the superstructure and the side plates added as individual elements to create the overall “box” module for installation. If fitting the Schurzen, the side panels require sets of holes to be opened up to fit the rail support braces. The hull MG comes fully detailed with inner and outer detail that includes the sighting scope and ammo bag and a clear armored glass insert is provided for the driver’s visor. The hull glacis plate requires 5 holes to be opened up to fit the spare track run for that location and the option of either PE or styrene track mounts provided.
The engine deck includes PE or styrene options for the sliding cooling covers depending on your preference. The kit also includes braided steel wire and styrene ends to construct the tow cables for the rear with the option of fitting one or two cables with a called out length of 150mm per cable. Be aware that this length includes the styrene ends and test fit before committing or you will end up with too-short cables.
The turret is provided as a multi-part assembly consisting of the top half, base, and front plate that includes the main gun mantlet. The main gun can remain movable and the barrel is provided as a single piece with separate muzzle brake assembly. The instructions provide for four different options of muzzle brake but only one is really correct for the Ausf H time period for this vehicle, the R2/R6 combination. The gun includes a detailed breech assembly with recoil guards but does not include a spent shell catcher basket. Options are provided for the coaxial MG mount with the MG in place or empty if you prefer to mount your own MG barrel. The turret front plate has the slanted rain shield over the gunner’s sight molded on but a PE option is provided to replace it if you prefer it for scale-thickness. A clear armored glass block is provided for the front armored view port and the option of posing it in either the open or closed position.
The commander’s cupola is highly detailed with both interior and exterior detail on the one-piece hatch and the armored glass viewing ports. Clear parts are provided for the glass blocks and the shutters can be posed in either the open or closed positions individually just like on the actual vehicle. Separate latch handles are provided for the inside of the hatch for added detail if you display it open. The turret roof has the option of fitting a blanking plate for the opening for a close-in defense weapon (a feature planned for introduction at the very end of H production and the start of J production but delayed by supply disruptions) but requires three holes to be opened to fit it as called out in the instructions.
The turret side hatches can be posed open or closed and include clear glass parts for the armored view ports. A finely detailed multi-part rear turret bin is provided that includes detail on the lid underside should you choose to display it open and stuffed with crew gear. The kit also includes an MG34 and an anti-aircraft mount for mounting to the cupola rim. The mount is highly detailed and the MG34 has a molded hollow muzzle. Tanks were not equipped with a third MG for this purpose, the crews used either the hull MG or the turret coaxial MG with this mount, so if you do install the MG (versus say just the mount itself) in the AA mount, be sure you take advantage of the option to install the hollow coaxial sleeve without the MG or leave the hull MG un-installed for the best accuracy.
The Schurzen provided in the kit are the solid plate design that had been fitted to Pz IVs starting in 1943 and DML provides the side plates themselves as metal parts to accurately reflect the 5mm thickness in-scale while the turret plates and two different styles of side plate front extensions are provided in styrene with beveled edges. Two different styles of support rails are provided with one style having all triangular teeth and the other with the first two teeth with the points squared off. The first type is the more common but check your references if looking to build a specific vehicle. The kit also includes optional parts to mount only the base bolt plates for the side plates to the side hull as a nice added bonus since many crews didn’t fit the side plates due to their tendency to easily snag on obstacles or brush. Those base plates are provided in both styrene and PE options for even more variety.
The fenders have the lowest support braces molded on to avoid problems with lining up the plates correctly and the metal plates have locater marks etched into them for the styrene u-shaped brackets to insure they too are in the right places. The brackets represent only the standard width and do not include the wider option to space the plates to clear the wider Ostketten-type tracks as seen on the real vehicles, so be aware of that if you decide to use that type of AM track. The turret side plates also have optional parts to show the side hatch access doors in either the open or closed positions.
Special T34 Track Armor:
The kit includes 24 parts to construct short runs of T34 steel track that was often used by German crews as ad hoc additional armor for the hull and turret fronts. The parts provided include cut-outs for the turret armored port and gunner’s sight aperture and a handy diagram included to assemble and space the links required for the hull front areas. This arrangement is specific to a well documented photo of a Pz IV H somewhere on the Eastern Front and belonging to an unidentified unit, so be aware of that if you decide to build this particularly intriguing arrangement.
Instructions and Finishing Guide:
The kit instructions follow the standard DML mode of fold-out black and white exploded diagrams and sub-diagrams and consists of 19 steps for full assembly. The decal markings are printed by Cartograf and are clear and in-register. The Painting and Markings guide provides for the following 5 possibilities:
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943, three tone scheme w/ T34 track armor
• Unidentified Unit, Vistula River, Poland 1943, three tone scheme
• 3 PzDiv, Ukraine 1943, brown camo over dunkelgelb
• 2 PzDiv, Normandy 1944, three tone scheme
• 2 PzDiv, Normandy 1944, three tone scheme w/ white schurzen stencil #s
Dragon’s Pz IV line of Smart Kits is one of the best they’ve produced in my opinion and this kit is packed full of options and details. Care has to be taken with the instructions to choose the right options for accuracy of course but the kit is highly detailed and covers a wide range of the Ausf H production with the features included. Recommended for the Pz IV H fan looking to model a vehicle produced after Sept 1943 and before the early J features begin to make their appearance.