jumps back into the desert war with their newest 1/35 version of the venerable Panzer IV. This newest model is a Smart Kit edition of a Panzer IV, Ausf. D, Afrika Korps tropical version, kit no. 6779. The kit depicts a vehicle from the 1941 Libyan Desert fighting.
This kit is what is now becoming standard operating practice for Dragon Models
of using mostly off the shelf sprues from earlier versions of the same vehicle, this is no different. What it means for you as the modeler is that something in the neighborhood of 1/3 of the parts on the sprues are marked as “not for use” and will help to fill up your spare parts bin. What you get is the following:
- 19 sprues in various sizes of Dragon Models light grey plastic
- 2 sprues of clear plastic
- 1 separate hull tub
- 1 separate turret shell
- 1 photo-etched fret
- 1 set of DS tracks
- 1 set of decals from Cartograf
- 1 set of instructions
Like most Dragon Models
kits once you open the hefty slip top cover of the box you are confronted with a box stuffed full of plastic. A quick word about the box top art; another superb Ron Volstad piece that shows a Pz. IV satisfyingly crunching a British flimsy while artillery bursts uncomfortably close along with a burning truck in the near background.
The instructions are the typical Dragon Models
fold out 10 panel style that begins with running gear and the very nice one piece hull. With being a Smart Kit it means that the construction of the suspension bogies, idlers, drive sprockets, etc. will be simplified and a much easier task. Not to say that detail has been short changed, because it has not; sprockets, idlers, bogies, are all still multi-part affairs that look very nice. The final drives are still a bit over engineered to my liking but if you are planning a diorama and want one of these removed you still get lots of great detail inside and out of these particular pieces. Of course the tires are embossed with the famous “Continentau” logo just waiting for your fresh editing blade.
No Magic Track in this kit, instead you get the one piece DS 38cm tracks, not much to say about the DS tracks that hasn’t already been said, you either love them or hate them! One issue that I did note with the set in my review sample, I am starting to see tiny bits of flash around the moldings which could be an issue for some modelers. It doesn’t actually mar the tracks in any real way it just gives a bit of a ‘fuzzy’ look in some areas, almost like a slightly out of focus photograph (which is normally what I get with my low end digital camera!).
Construction continues to follow a standard Dragon Models
path through the remainder of the kit. Upper hull with all the fittings and details you need for a tropical version. If you are not planning on opening up hull crew hatches you can speed up construction by eliminating the need to build up the majority of the hull machine gun, vision blocks, binocular periscope, or interior hatch details; plus you add even more into the spare parts bin!
The fenders are well rendered with tread pattern depicted on both top and underside surfaces but no locating holes for the on board tool suite. It’s the tools that are provided that are the biggest disappointment in the kit. Dragon Models
has you shave off all the locating pins from the underside of the tools but the tools themselves are the old style without clasps. Not only are there no clasps in plastic, but none are provided in PE either. Dragon Models
has an off the shelf tool sprue for the Pz.IV (I have a sprue C from the last Wirbelwind kit they produced that has most of what you need with clasps so it is available) that could have easily been added to the kit so I don’t understand this very real step backwards in quality. What it means is that you will probably want to scrounge around for either an after-market set of PE clamps or a set of Dragon Models
plastic or PE from an earlier build to do this kit justice. With the tools being such a prominent feature of any Panzer IV model I am left scratching my head as to why Dragon Models
would find this an effective move?
There are a couple of bright spots in regards to the fenders; the jack is really nice with a more than adequate set of PE clamps and the crew access step which has been done up PE. You do get newly tooled antennae as well.
The turret is the next area to tackle and is quite nice in my opinion. The turret comes fairly complete with a decent interior should you chose to open up things. Inside you get the turret turntable floor, traversing mechanism, crew seats, and a set of fully functioning and detailed vision ports. The gun, with a rifled barrel, comes with a decent breech, spent shell casing basket, and sight. While your turret may not be 100% complete inside it does provide a decent start that will give a good dose of ‘busy’ inside.
The commander’s cupola seems almost a small kit in its own right; twenty pieces go into the well detailed piece. The rest of the turret exterior is also nicely detailed, many different fittings that look to all be well done; signal ports, bullet splash guards, rain gutters, and periscope hatches all look well rendered. The rear turret bin is well rendered, four separate parts and can be modeled in either the open or closed position. The clasps for the lid are molded in place, but at least they are there.
The rear hull is sufficiently busy with the dual mufflers, idler mounts made from eight parts, separate access panels, and towing pintle and support. The rear upper hull is also well done with multiple parts going into the air intakes which should look very nice should you chose to have the air intake access panels open.
Markings are provided for six different vehicles although all are from the Libyan Desert in 1941. Five are from the 5th Panzer Regiment with one from the 8th Panzer Regiment. The paint schemes all show color keys that appear to be a green brown with a sketchy camouflage overspray of field gray. However, the box art shows this a bit differently with all the vehicles in desert yellow, some with the field gray still peeking through to break up the vehicle a bit better.
There are a whole lot of folks who will really like this kit simply because it is modern tooling of an Afrika Korps vehicle. Make no mistake; the kit will build up into a very nice replica of the Panzer IV D with lots of nice features that will provide a great palette for painting and weathering and for that Dragon Models
should be praised. Perhaps I am being a bit nit-picky here but I was a little disappointed in the end result; the poor tools really bother me as better moldings could have easily been included. The lesser issue with the flash on the DS tracks while not a deal breaker by any means is just enough to take away that crisp look I have seen in the past. Perhaps in the future Dragon Models
will include both DS and MagicTrack as a normal procedure in their kits, now wouldn’t that be a welcome addition for almost all modelers to have a choice? How about it Dragon Models