by: Jan Etal [ ]
This reviewer returned to the hobby only a little over two years ago after an extended absence. To say that I was more than mildly surprised at how many advances had occurred in the quality of moulding in 1/72 scale kits is an understatement. My first introduction to photo etch (PE) was with a simpler Dragon kit and I was intimidated enough to feel it was beyond my current and future abilities. As with all things in life, the passage of time and acquisition of new skills eventually had me try my hand at limited use of photo etch parts.
I have seen a number of model builds where the use of aftermarket P.E. sets has greatly enhanced an otherwise simple plastic kit. The fact that many manufacturers now seem to regard Braille scale as a legitimate scale and are providing P.E. sets for it is extremely uplifting for those of us that prefer that scale.
E.T. Model provides photo etch sets to Braille scale modelers as well as 1/35 scale. One of their latest sets (E72-007) is for the Dragon Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1 (#7321) and is part of their 1/72 Military Miniature vehicle Upgrade Series. This member of the WWII German Series is the subject of this review.
As with most PE sets, this one comes in a flat package with the frets and instructions enclosed in a plastic bag. There are three rather extensive frets of parts. Fret ‘A’ is labeled “Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1” and holds no less than 81 numbered parts for the turret and hull details. Fret ‘B’ bears the name “WWII German Pz. Kpfw. IV Fenders” and, as the name implies, is composed of 37 parts that primarily make up the fenders as well as additional parts for the hull. The final fret ‘C’, “WWII German Tool & Holders,” has 59 individual and sets of parts and provides holders for existing kit tool parts as well as complete multi part alternates for some tools such as shovels and the vehicle jack. A two-sided single sheet of instructions rounds out the included materials.
The frets are positively teaming with parts, and the pieces that join the parts to the fret are amongst the thinnest I have yet seen. One should also be forewarned that the distance between the parts on the frets is minimal and will require extreme care when removing them. All three frets total 177 numbered sections but in several cases multiple parts are referenced by one number. As an example, part number 55 references no less than 15 individual tool holders or clasps while others can reference half a dozen or more parts. The total number of individual parts to be placed will easily exceed 200.
The instructions show subassemblies of parts with some subassemblies requiring the joining of as many as a dozen parts. These subassemblies are each referenced by a letter or letter number combination. There are 33 of these subassemblies (A-Z, A1-A7). As an example, subassembly ‘V’ involves 14 parts that construct the vehicle jack that can be used to replace the Dragon kits plastic jack, part A15. Subassembly A3 both enhances the rear turret storage box (kit part A3) and replaces the box cover (A10) with a multi part photo etch one. Eleven individual PE parts are involved in the storage box enhancement.
As with many simpler, kit included, photo etch sets, the removal of some moulded on plastic details may be required. In a few cases this set will also require you to replace kit parts with somewhat scratch built alternatives. Subassembly ‘G’ that replaces kit part C16 requires you to use a plastic rod 1.5 mm X 4.5 mm as the base for the PE that creates the replacement part.
Another extremely intriguing feature of this set is that all the turret hatches can be replaced by multi part PE alternatives that function. The turret cupola hatches have a two part hinge mechanism that after bending created an operable hinge. The turret side hatches require the use of a brass rod of 0.4 mm X 12 mm to act as the pin between the hinges on the hatch and turret mounted ones. With the front mud guards a PE part on the ‘A’ fret is used as a rod for their hinges.
While the Dragon Panzer IV F1, kit 7321, is quite functional and will build into a fine representation of its intended subject, this PE set could make it a breathtaking “show stopper.” That being said, I cannot wonder whether sets of the intricacy of this one may appeal to only a limited audience. The sheer number of parts and the skills that may be required to use them will undoubtedly be beyond the abilities of the majority of us.
After all the previous observations, E.T. Models E72-007 Panzer F1 enhancement set is undoubtedly superb, intriguing and by no small measure intimidating. It should be mentioned that one need not use all the included parts. Even a subset of one-third of the larger ones would add a fair degree of detail to an already fine model. While this set was specifically made for Dragons’ Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1, many of the components available in the set could also be employed on other 1/72 scale Panzer IV variants. It is a beautiful set and I recommend it with the aforementioned caveats.