Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:41 pm Post subject: DML #6315 Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1(F)
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 F was the last variant in the series to mount the short barrel 7.5cm L/24 KwK 37. Beginning in May 1941 and continuing until February 1942 approximately 470 Fs were produced before the design converted over to the longer KwK 40 L/43 7.5cm weapon and given the designation of F2 to distinguish them from the short-barrel Fs which were re-designated F1s for parts maintenance and supply clarification. F1s saw combat in North Africa and on the Eastern Front in large numbers well into 1943. DML (Dragon) kit #6315 Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1 (F) seeks to represent a short-barrel armed vehicle with features suitable for any point in the production run.
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, clear parts sprue, hull MG sprue, and the braided steel wire secured to it. The kit consists of over 690 parts with a small number of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 17 sprues of light gray styrene
• 1 sprue of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 styrene turret half
• 1 braided steel wire
• 1 PE brass fret of 15 parts
• 2 bags each of handed Magic Tracks links
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
Many features that were present on the Ausf D and E were changed in the F, making it a truly stand-alone variant in addition to being the last one armed with the original short-barrel 7.5cm weapon. The driver’s plate armor was increased to 50mm and converted to a straight plate complete with a brand new hull-MG “Kugelblende 50” mount and driver’s visor to accommodate the increased thickness. The suspension was standardized on the 40cm-wide track design, cooling vents were added to the brake access hatches, the rear engine deck hatch cooling slats originally introduced as a “Tropen” feature were standardized as a production feature, the rear muffler exhausts for both the main engine and turret traverse motor were redesigned, and splash guards were deleted from the hull and turret side vision ports. The turret mantlet and front plate armor were increased to 50mm and the turret rear to 30mm, the side hatch grab handles were changed to a bent angle, the curved rain shields replaced with simple rectangular designs, and the rear turret stowage bin added as a standard feature. DML’s kit captures all of these important visual detail differences and sets the F1 apart from the previous “Super Kit” releases that dealt with the Ausf C, D, and E.
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 and return rollers provided have excellent rim and hub detail with lettering molded in and the correct style of hubs seen on all F1s throughout the production run. The wider 40-cm sprockets are combined with the welded tubular idler and 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.
The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are handed and molded in different shades of gray to distinguish one side from the other and feature hollow guide horns and the recessed gaps on their faces appropriate for F1s. 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 links per side are called out in the instructions with plenty of spares provided beyond that.
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. The new square turret traverse auxiliary motor exhaust is also provided and has its pipe molded solid, so a little work with a pin vise is in order there.
The fender layout is correct for a factory-standard Ausf F1 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 front and rear fender braces options are provided for fitting the front headlights with either blackout covers or clear lenses. Optional parts including a PE flip cover for the rear Notek are provided to allow that light to be shown in either normal or blackout mode depending on your choice.
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. The side vision ports can be posed in either the open or closed positions and clear parts are provided for their armored glass blocks for added detail. 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 some molded on locater marks for spare track holders seen on later variants to be removed with a sharp knife blade.
The engine deck includes PE or styrene options for the sliding cooling covers depending on your preference and provides the added option of deck hatches without the cooling cutouts included. This allows great flexibility as F1s produced early-on in the production run didn’t receive these unless they were designated as “Tropen” vehicles, so check your references for the vehicle you wish to model to ensure you make the right choice. 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 hollow muzzle and rifling detail included and two different styles of barrel sleeve end cap provided, both of which are correct for the F1, so the choice is yours. The gun includes a detailed breech assembly with recoil guards and a spent shell catcher basket. That, along with the commander’s seat, is all of the turret interior detail provided. Options are provided for the coaxial MG mount with the MG in place or empty if you prefer to mount your own MG barrel. Clear armored glass blocks are included for the front armored view ports and the option of posing them in either the open or closed position is also available.
The commander’s cupola is highly detailed with both interior and exterior detail on the split hatches 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. PE or styrene options are provided for the commander’s bore sight indicator as well.
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. Optional parts, D12, are provided to add the antenna insulator added to the turret bin to prevent shorting out the radio aerial later on in the F1 production cycle, a nice touch/option depending on the vehicle you’re looking to model.
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 18 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 10 possibilities:
• PzRgt 31, 5 PzDiv, Russia 1942 dark yellow stripes over panzer gray
• 3/PzRgt 35, 4 PzDiv, Russia 1942 red-brown stripes over dark yellow
• 4/PzRgt 31, 5 PzDiv, Eastern Front 1942 winter whitewash
• 8/PzRgt 36, 14 PzDiv, Eastern Front 1941 overall panzer gray
• 3/PzRgt 21, 20 PzDiv, Eastern Front 1943, three tone scheme
• Unidentified Unit, Kursk 1943, panzer gray stripes over dark yellow
• PzGren Div “Grossdeutschland”, Voronezh 1942, panzer gray stripes over dark yellow
• Major Szalimov’s Battalion, Leningrad Front 1942 dark green w/ Soviet markings
• 4/PzRgt 5, 21 PzDiv, Libya 1942 *monotone scheme
• 8/PzRgt 8, 15 PzDiv, Libya 1942 *monotone scheme
*No color or pattern is called out specifically in the markings guide, however vehicles sent to North Africa should have received a “Tropen” scheme of 2/3 RAL 8000 and 1/3 RAL 7008 prior to shipment. The decals provided for the Libya vehicles include DAK palm-tree markings but the swastika emblems are multi-part decals that require careful assembly to recreate.
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 is highly detailed. There are a large number of markings options provided that reflects the long-lived and varied service of the F1s in various theaters and the options are there to produce a vehicle at any point in the nearly year-long production run. Highly recommended for the Pz IV fan looking to model one of the last of the short-barrel variants.