by: Mark [ ]
The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. B (Sd.Kfz. 161) was built in 1937. Krupp built a total of 42 tanks before switching production to the Ausf. C in 1938. The Ausf. B incorporated an upgraded engine (Maybach HL120TR), an upgraded SSG75 transmission and 30mm glacis armor plate (15mm everywhere else). The commander’s cupola was taken from the Panzer III Ausf. C. This increased the vehicle weight to 18t. The hull MG34 was replaced with a covered pistol port. The turret retained the coax MG34 with the 75mm KwK 37 L/24 low velocity gun.
What’s in the Box
The kit was originally released by Tristar in 2003. When Tristar folded, Trumpeter purchased the molds and is reissuing these kits under their Hobby Boss label. The box actually uses the original Tristar artwork. This version of the kit was released in 2015. I counted 731 parts on the part sprues, plus cable and PE fret. A total of 153 parts are not used in this kit. You also get 108 individual track links for left and right. That is just short of 800 total parts for assembly. The box is solid and does a good job protecting all the sprues.
The sprues still carry the Tristar label on them. All but one sprue, and the PE fret, is from the Tristar Panzer IV Ausf. C kit (80130). What is in the box:
42 labeled part sprues molded in beige
3 track sprues molded in gun metal
Upper hull molded in beige
Lower Hull molded in beige
1 PE Fret
1 Piece of copper wire for the tow cables
1 Decal sheet
1 12 page Instruction manual
Looking at the Kit
The quality of the styrene is good. There is little or no flash on any of the parts. Any ejector pin marks are located such that they shouldn’t be a problem once built.
Instructions – Standard Hobby Boss (Tristar) format, consisting of 12 pages of B&W drawings. The manual breaks down the assembly into 11 steps with the parts layout covering two pages and the painting/decal guide covering two pages, all done with B&W illustrations. You do need to pay close attention as many steps are very busy and it is easy to miss something.
Assembly starts with the drive train. One positive is that the “rubber” for the road wheels is a separate part. This makes painting much easier. The suspension consists of 7 separate parts. Here the confusion starts. There are three different suspension covers with no explanation on which one to use. You will need to check references to determine correct configuration, or just builder’s preference.
The two shrouds, on the drive sprocket covers, have you remove boltheads from a piece of sprue and glue in place, three on each. It would probably be easier to just take a piece of hex rod and cut to size.
You are provided with two types of return rollers. Again there is no explanation on which to use. So, you need to go back to your reference material.
The lower hull is assembled using six parts. You have the bottom, two sides, rear, and two cross supports. The cross supports should help keeping the tub square and rigid. You just need to pay close attention that everything is lined-up before the glue dries.
Next you add some of the detail parts to the lower hull. You are working with a lot of small parts in this step, so take your time.
Step 4 covers the transmission and brake access hatches first. A latch handle is included, but since there is zero interior included, no reason to display the hatches open. If you do add an aftermarket interior, then improved inner hatch details would be required. You are provided the option of installing the additional hull front glacis plate. This should not be an option. One of the changes, from the Ausf. A to Ausf. B, was the addition of a 30mm glacis plate. Part K2 should be installed.
In Step 5, you begin work on the upper hull. You are provided a couple of options with the front plate. The pistol port cover can be displayed open or closed, as can the visor. The same options are provided for the driver’s side vision port. You complete the upper hull with the hatches, engine compartment vents, and fenders. The front fenders are separate parts, so it will be easier to display them damaged or missing.
Step 6 has you assemble the tracks. The sprue attach points, for the links, are thicker than they should be. You will spend a fair amount of time cleaning up all the links required for assembling the tracks. The instructions call out 98 links per side. The real vehicle had 99 per side. There are separate left and right track links, so make sure you have the correct sprues for the side you are working on. You will probably need to add a few additional links to replicate the natural sag that should be there between the return rollers. It shows that the links should snap together. So, should be straight forward to add or remove links to get the look you want. If you want to use aftermarket tracks, based on the information I have found, they should be the 36cm early style.
Part K1 (Step 6) should be added as you installed the extra armor plate in Step 4. Part C50 is only used if the turret will not be installed. The step is completed by attaching the upper hull to the lower hull.
Step 7 deals with completing the rear hull. Next is the installation of the rear fenders, the engine and generator mufflers, as well as various handles and small parts. Again, you need to cut boltheads, from the sprue, for the engine muffler bracket detail.
Step 8 builds the complete turret assembly. This page is very busy and it’s easy to overlook something. Assembly starts with the inner main gun assembly. These parts are not overly detailed, and careful gluing of L5/6 to L3 is required to allow the main gun to pivot. You are provided with two main gun configurations. Again, there is no direction on which to use with which options. I have seen pictures of both configurations with the Ausf. B, so choose which ever you prefer. The coax MG34 is only represented by the barrel tip, not a full MG.
The turret basket includes all three seat positions, but no other details. The cupola can be assembled with the armor in the open or closed position. The remainder of the step adds the turret external parts. One issue to be aware of is attaching L16. You need to bend the part to conform around the cupola. As this is styrene, and not PE, it could break easily, so you will need to use your preferred method to soften the part first.
Steps 9 and 10 install all of the external tools on the fenders and hull. There are a lot of small parts and PE in these steps. It will be very easy to lose, or overlook, something.
The final step assembles and installs the smoke grenade rack and tow rope. The tow rope is copper wire with the eyelets on Sprue D. I haven’t test fitted the parts, but you may have to drill out the eyelets to get the wire to fit properly.
Decals – Options are provided for six different vehicles:
4/ Panzer Regiment 7, 10th Panzer Division, France 1940
5th Panzer Division, Poland 1940 (Should be 1939 to early 1940)
5th Panzer Division, France 1939-40 (was not in France in 1939)
1st Panzer Division, France 1940 (three versions)
Painting Guide – The guide provides paint callouts for Tamiya, Mr. Color and Aqueous Hobby Color. The instructions say to paint the overall tank in either German Gray (TAM XF63) or Tire Black Flat (AHC H77). The proper color is RAL 7021, Dunkelgrau. I’ve never seen a picture of a Pz. IV painted black. So, I’m not sure what they are trying to reference. At that time, all vehicles were painted German gray as the base color. For the Polish campaign, it is possible that the brown/gray camo scheme was used. For France, it was probably overall gray.