Although the Dragon Panzer IV series of kits were and are known for having everything but the kitchen sink included, economics must have played a part in limiting the amount of photo etch Dragon could include and still retain a reasonable retail price. Given that, Eduard have now produced a photo etch set that goes some way towards reproducing more of the various parts of the vehicle in scale thickness.
What you get for your money are two reasonably sized frets of photo etch. The instructions are the usual Eduard type, of line drawings, with parts to be removed in red, parts to be filled in green etc., this time running to five sides, which should give you some idea of the complexity of the set.
Eduard have been criticized in the past for merely replicating what was on offer as photo etch already in the base kit, and that centered around Panzer IV's as well. So have they made the same mistake this time? Let's have a look.
The instructions begin with offering enhancements for the rear towing hooks in the form of two small buckle-shaped parts that were presumably to prevent anything that was shackled up from slipping free of the hook? We are also offered replacement front mudguards, which are a definite improvement over the kit parts, offering as they do, the opportunity to bend and damage to represent battle damage or just wear and tear. To fit these you do need to remove the moulded on hinges on the fenders, but this is easily done, and the new PE hinges from Eduard are easy to fold and install although they are a touch simplified. You'll have to supply your own wire too (0.3mm), since they can be made workable. Eduard also supply a set of small brackets should you wish to fit spare track-links to the glacis plate, and a strip bracket for the hull front for more spare track-links. There are a couple of tiny little parts for improving the springs that hold the front mudguards in place, as well as a new rainguard for over the driver's visor, which looks much better than the styrene one supplied in the kit.
Moving around the side of the vehicle, we're offered a new Jack block assembly, which replaces the PE parts that Dragon supply in the kit, although I have to say that I do prefer the Eduard version, in that it exhibits greater detail. There's a completely new Smoke candle rack which is a 100% improvement on the kit part, nice though that is, which only uses the smoke candles themselves from the kit, the rest, including the armoured cover all in PE, giving a far more realistic appearance. There are new brackets for the Notek rear convoy light, and reflector, but again, these are already supplied as PE in the kit, and to my eyes look exactly the same, so at least you have a couple of spares?
the rear mudflaps are supplied, so a big improvement there, along with their spring detail, as well as various chains and caps for the rear of the hull AND the angle iron seam that joins the rear hullplate, which looks far better than the kit part. Should you wish to, you can perform major surgery on the exhaust muffler and remove all those retaining straps to be replaced with Eduard ones, a 100% improvement should you choose to.
Now we come to the engine flaps over the louvered intakes. These form a major part of Eduard's set, and yet they are already supplied as PE by Dragon. So it comes down to which are more accurate? Or are they the same? I have to say that the Eduard ones do look slightly better, although there's not much to choose from. the only difference is in the small rectangle at the base of each flap, which I imagine forms the hinge, and is formed in the Eduard set by folding the rectangle over, whilst in the Dragon set, it's etched in. It is minuscule though.
Eduard have also thrown in a completely new set of tool clamps for all the various tools that are stowed on the Panzer IV...........as Dragon do already. More spares? They all look the same? It would be more understandable if they offered some improvement over the Dragon version, but most of them look identical.
A nice touch is the small stowage box for the right front fender, which being supplied as PE by Eduard can be left open and looks like scale thickness, with a couple of very nice handles and a latch. Eduard also supply PE for the pouring cap of the three Jerry cans supplied in the kit, although these are tiny and difficult to form, they do look good........ I wanted more to use with all my other Jerry cans.......... I hope they release these as a separate set? There are new brackets for the antennae trough, which are extremely useful, as the Dragon moulded on ones don't fit with the added side armour.
Lastly, there are the a few small pieces that enhance features on the inside of the vehicle and therefore are only of limited use. A very few small parts for the co-driver's machine gun, surrounds for the inside of the turret hatches, along with a couple of brackets for inside the turret.
I nearly forgot! Also included is the one thing I'd buy the set for even if it didn't include anything else! Hasps for the turret stowage bin! I'm afraid to say the Dragon ones are dreadful and refuse to fit at all. Having used the Eduard ones, they are the only ones I would consider using now, they build and fit like a dream! Coupled with the styrene padlocks from the Dragon kit, they really do look the business!
Eduard are certainly paying attention to people! This set is a definite improvement over their other Panzer IV sets. In the main, they try to avoid merely replicating what is already on offer as PE in the kit, and instead try to offer enhancements rather than just replacements. Well done Eduard! Highly recommended (especially the hasps!)
A photo etch upgrade solution that offers real value for money.