by: Russ Amott [ ]
The Panzer IV was the German workhorse tank of WWII, being in production from the beginning of the war until the end in a series of different production models. The Ausf. G variant was an improvement over the previous Ausf. F with the addition of a long barreled 7.5cm main gun, initially the KwK 40 L/43 with a single baffle muzzle break, new mantlet, internal travel lock and cradle and an improved gun sight. In addition to the 50mm thick front armor plate, a 30mm applique armor plate was welded or bolted to the front. In March 1943 schurzen armor plate was added to the turret and hung from the hull sides and in April 1943 a new 7.5cm KwK 40 L/48 with improved double baffle muzzle break was installed on the tank. The commander's hatch was changed to a single round piece and the cupola armor was improved.
During the battle of Kurst, the Pazner IV was the numerically most important tank Germany had. Information from Wikipedia.
Zvezda has come out with a Panzer IV Ausf. G kit representing a tank from April 1943 construction, with turret and hull schurzen, late 7.5cm L/48 gun and the single piece commander's hatch. The box art features a tank in tri color camouflage from the battle of Kursk.
The box is top opening, with a second cardboard box with a flap cover inside, protecting the contents-Zvezda offers very sturdy protection in their kits. Inside the box the different sprues are packaged in clear plastic pouches, lower hull separate, and a small decal sheet carefully packaged. The instructions are in booklet form, stapled so they don't scatter, printed in black and white. A sprue map is included, which is nice and some of the sprues are not lettered. The instructions are line drawings with options indicated with a question mark in a grey circle. Total construction is called out in 28 steps. A separate painting sheet is provided with two full color profiles. The first is that featured on the box art, a tank from the 20th panzer division, Kursk, 1943, in a base coat of dark yellow with green and brown camouflage applied. Tank number is 301. The second tank is from the 5th company, 1st panzer division, Kursk, summer 1943. Base is dark yellow with an overspray pattern of green. Tank number is 528. A paint color chart is provided with numbers provided for Zvezda and Tamiya paint brands.
Detail of the individual sprues is generally good. Flash is minimal. There are some sink marks present, mainly on smaller details. Most annoying is on each of the open armored vision covers on the commander's cupola. There are no mismolded parts or short shots in my sample. The plastic is tan colored and somewhat hard and some of the sprue gates are thicker, especially on small parts, so care will be needed to remove them from the sprue.
Some parts show an impressive level of fine detail, such as the crown nuts on the final drives. Bold heads are well depicted. Some lettering is present on the tires but is faint and difficult to read. Casting marks are present on some parts as well. In other areas, detail is very basic, as if the team began to get tired or cut some corners to get the kit into production. A partial interior is provided, including a partial gun breech, but no breech block is included. There is enough detail to leave the hatch open and include a couple of figures and more can be added by scratch building, which would make a nice effect.
The tracks are link and length and are very nicely detailed and fine in appearance. Extra single piece links are provided to be used as spares mounted to the tank. The tow cable is a single piece and lacks detail.
I determined to use the build to show off most of the detail in the kit. Construction was from the box, following the kit instructions. The first step gives you the first option with two different lower hull sections provided. I spent some time evaluating them and it appears one may be slightly thicker than the other. Part A-16 has what appears to be a beveled weld while part A-37 has a step weld present. Both seemed to fit the same. The front tow brackets mount to this part and it is then applied to the hull tub. The rear hull is built up with frame parts, towing pintle, idler adjustment and auxiliary exhaust and also attached to the hull tub. An insert for the bottom and the hull plate sections for the final drive complete the first 3 steps.
Steps four and five add return roller mounts, suspension bump stops, final drive covers, fuel caps and deck plate for the transmission. Suspension arms have a separate end cap for the leaf springs. The armored covers for the final drives are in three parts and didn't fit right per the instructions. I ended up fiddling with the parts and swapping sides for the center section to get things to line up properly. I have read about this issue from builds of previous Zvezda Pz. IV releases.
Steps 6 and 7 add the road wheels, return rollers, drive sprocket and idlers. Detail is nice but as mentioned the lettering on the wheels is too faint and hard to see. The front road wheel is molded with the seam and sprue attachment down the center of the wheel. The rear wheel is molded with the seam and sprue attachment point on the wheel edge. As a result, the rear wheel looks thicker in tire width, though it will be hard to see. The link and length tracks look very nice and go together well but the top run sag doesn't seem to line up specifically with the return rollers.
I paused and painted the lower hull at this point, using Tamiya dark yellow with a few drops of NATO brown. I painted the track guard separately as well.
Steps 8 and 10 are assembly of the track guards and some fittings, and attachment to the lower hull. The track guards are molded as a single part with two cross bars that help stabilize the parts. I had a hard time getting the track guard part to fit until I cut the center cross bars.
Steps 9 and 11 attach the sides of the upper hull to the hull top and add the engine covers and vents, bullet splash guards for the hull hatches. The side vision ports are still included and nicely detailed bases for the tie down hooks are added as well. The upper hull, engine vents and front hull glacis are then added. The driver's visor includes a clear part for the glass and some molded on detail, with the upper portion of the armored visor as a separate part. The hull MG is movable but the barrel extends farther than appears correct.
Step 13 adds some tools to the track guards, antenna trough and armored covers for the hull engine intakes. The jack is fairly detailed but somewhat soft in appearance. The axe head is tapered on top and bottom-a very minor detail but not one I have seen before.
Steps 14 and 15 add more tools and details to the track guards and hull and hatches for the driver and radio operator. The muffler is two main parts with a separate mounting bracket. No welds are present.
Steps 16 and 17 add the muffler, tow cable (which I worked over, removing excess plastic to expose more cable) and the brackets and mounting bar for the hull schurzen. Headlights include molded on cable detail from the bases but no lens insert is included.
The hull is now complete.
Steps 18, 19 and 20 add external details to the turret, including turret vent, rain guard and hinges for the side hatches, mantlet and gun breech. The breech is not complete and particularly, the breech block is not included, but it does add some detail to an otherwise empty shell.
Steps 21 and 22 are construction of the turret basket with the loader, gunner and commander seats. The basket base has some basic anti-skid texturing included. Fit of the upper turret shell to the mantlet and base wasn't great and I had to fill some small gaps and sand and trim a bit.
Step 23 adds the turret side hatches, handles, more tie down hooks and the turret basket. Hinges on the basket are very basic and the basket is molded closed.
Step 24 is the gun base with two options. First includes the side brace and the second does not but has better bolt detail. There is an option for the coaxial MG, wit either a molded in barrel or a hollow tube that allows for a full MG to be inserted from inside. Like the hull mount, the gun extends much further than it should before it locks into place. I trimmed the barrel length to get it to match the molded in piece.
Step 25 adds that assembly to the mantlet and also adds the rear turret schurzen and smoke dischargers. Most of the small smoke grenades, parts B3, had sink marks on the visible surface.
Step 26 and 26 is the assembly of the commander's cupola and adding it to the turret, along with the turret schurzen. As mentioned previously, the open armored covers for the cupola all had sink marks, and the part is so fragile that no matter what I tried to remove them from the sprue they broke, so I went with the closed covers. The barrel is a single piece with only a minor seam and separate baffle, insert and end cap. Detail is good. Rather than add the turret schurzen part by part is shown in the instructions I did it all together to get things to line up properly.
Step 28 simply places the completed turret into the hull. It is a press fit with no locking tabs. The hull schurzen is fitted and the antenna attached and assembly is complete. The hull schurzen is molded as a single piece, beveled on the edges to look thinner. Separate sections would have looked better but I am keeping this out of the box.
I painted the turret and upper hull the same as I had with the lower hull and then went over some areas with a lightened mix. I then experimented with the green camouflage pattern. It took 3 tries to get a mix that worked for the pattern but had some struggles with tip dry. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to paint the camouflage in the field, in a hurry, with the tank commander yelling to get it done, don't worry about what can be seen from where he is standing, yes, fine turn the turret so he can get the engine deck better and so on. Then a simple wash of raw umber oil paint was applied and decals put on. Decals were very thin and with a little Micro-Sol and Micro-Set went on with no trouble. A flat coat and another wash took away the shine. I then experimented by mixing different shades of pastels, adding some thinner and using the airbrush to splatter the mix onto the model. The last coat had just a touch of red but that quickly dominated the color to the point that it is all that can be seen. I then went over the pastels, brushing things down. I didn't do any chipping as I figured tanks at Kursk likely didn't last long enough to show much wear.
Overall, the kit has been an easy build and I am sure there are aftermarket solutions to add details that modelers may want. My focus of this review has been on the box contents and how they go together and hopefully this gives a good idea. In comparison, this kit would appear to fall in the middle, detail wise, in comparison with the other Panzer IV kits on the market. Not a bad place to be, especially as it can be had for considerably less than many other kits. Prices currently in the US are around $47, though I imagine this is likely due to current overseas shipping rates due to the COVID pandemic. It appears to be less expensive in Europe where ground transportation is uninterrupted. Figures, stowage and other details can be added to make a very nicely finished product.