by: Russ Amott [ ]
introductionThe Jagdpanzer IV was developed from a request in 1942 for a new anti-tank platform that was fully armored and could carry a gun powerful enough to engage enemy armored vehicles. Through 1943 the design progressed, with the vehicle based on a Panzer IV chassis, to mount the 7.5cm gun of 70 caliber length in a sloped, armored body, providing a low profile. General Heinz Guderian was opposed to construction of the vehicle as it would interfere with Panzer IV production, and the StuG III, armed with the 7.5cm L48 was already proving a sufficiently capable vehicle. Hitler was shown the prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV, officially named the Sturmgeshutz neuer Art mit 7.5cm PaK L48 auf Fahrgestell PzKpfw IV (Sd.Kfz 162), or Jagdpanzer E39 because it mounted the L48 gun from the StuG, and enthusiastically approved it, ordering that production of the Panzer IV should be stopped and production shifted to the new Jagdpanzer IV vehicle.
General Guderian was able to keep regular Pz. IV production running while the Jagdpanzer IV went into production in January 1944. Initially it was armed with the 7.5cm PaK 39 L48 as the intended PaK 42 L70 was not available. Finally, in August of 1944, the first variants with the L70 gun installed rolled off the assembly line at Vomag. The vehicle was extremely front-heavy and on soft ground the Jagdpanzer IV would tend to weave back and forth in a waddling motion, earning the vehicle the name "Guderian Ente" or "Guderian's Duck." The nose-heavy attitude would also cause the front end to dip and could drive the long barreled gun into the ground, so a travel lock was developed for the gun to keep it up. The front road wheels would often shed their rubber tires because of the increased weight, so later production vehicles featured all steel road wheels in the first and second positions. The first production of the L70 variant ran from August into September 1944, with Zimmerit applied and featuring four return rollers and single large exhaust on the rear. In September, production was changed to the Pz. IV ausf. J hull, with three return rollers and twin exhaust stacks on the rear.
The Jagdpanzer IV L70 was an effective anti tank platform because of the powerful, long range gun and very low profile, slightly less than 2 meters. However, the gun could traverse only 10 degrees left and right, requiring the entire vehicle to be moved to aim effectively. At close range it was extremely vulnerable because of its lack of maneuverability.
Production of the Jagdpanzer IV was approximately 2000 vehicles, with the first 784, produced by Vomag, being armed with the L48 gun. Vomag produced an addition 940 vehicles with the L70 gun, and Alkett, producing a similar design but with different upper hull, produced 278. It is not known how many vehicles Vomag produced of the L70 with the four return roller configuration, but production ran at about 103 vehicles per month.
Dragon have previously released the Jagdpanzer IV L70 in late production variants and have now released this August 1944 version with the four return rollers and the added feature of molded on zimmerit anti mine paste.
contentsThe large, top opening box features artwork by Chang Heum of a Jagdpanzer IV L70 in Hungary, heading into action, travel lock folded down. Inside the box are thirteen sprues, a rear engine deck and lower hull tub molded in gray styrene, two clear parts sprues, a small photoetch fret and two bags of magic tracks (handed, with the left hand tracks molded in darker gray). Some of the sprues are from earlier releases, either Pz. IV or Jagdpanzer IV kits. Roughly half the parts included are marked not for use. As this is a smart kit format, the etch fret is very basic.
parts review"A" sprue, x2, consists of two separate sprue sections containing the running gear assemblies. The road wheels have the small weld beads visible and good bolt head detail, drive sprockets are in two sections to allow for maximum detail on both sides and idlers to be used with this kit are the welded tube style.
"B" sprue has upper hull and engine deck details. Tools have molded-on clamps. Again, bolt head detail is very clear. There are several parts that are not for use, being replaced with new Zimmerit-coated sections.
"C" sprue has schurzen, which is very thinly molded, all sections joined in one piece, hangers for the schurzen, firewall, radio with rack and ventilation fan. Detail on the radio is very crisp and will look very nice if left visible.
"D" sprue, cast caps for the suspension arms, steel return rollers (3 pair) and mounting bracket for the suspension arms.
"F" sprue, track guards, again thinly molded and with upper and lower bolt detail.
"G" sprue, with main gun, featuring near complete breech assembly, hollowed-out muzzle with rifling present and superstructure roof. When assembled the gun is fully moveable.
"H" sprue, with muffler and rear trailer hitch.
"J" and "K" sprue, antenna and multi-part jack. "TG" is the bomb thrower and port.
"L" sprue, with Zimmerit-coated hull sections, hatches and gun housing. The Zimmerit is very nicely done, with some bare patches to simulate chipped/damaged sections.
"M" and "P" are clear parts sprues with sights and periscopes.
"S", "T" and "U" ar the lower hull tub, upper hull and rear engine deck. Zimmerit coating on the hull tub and upper hull section and gun mantlet are again done very nicely. Detail is very good.
The etch fret has engine louvers, rear reflector, hatch lip and small hull detail. There are 10 pieces total.
The decal sheet is small with only basic markings. The decals are Cartograff, very thin and clear.
instructionsThe instructions are line drawings in fold-out style. The drawings are clear, with small drop boxes for sub assemblies on the side. Assembly is covered in 18 steps. The instructions are not overcrowded with detail and are fairly easy to follow. Total parts usage in the kit is fairly low and assembly is relatively fast.
decalsThere are four different vehicles depicted as finishing options. First is Pz.Jg.ABt "Heeresgruppe Mitte", Warsaw 1944, with a red brown disruptive scheme over dark yellow base, schurzen installed. Second is 9 Pz. div "Hohenstaufen", Hungary 1945, red brown and olive green disruptive pattern over a dark yellow base, schurzen installed. Third is Pz.Jg.ABt, Pz.Div "Feldherrnhalle", Budapest, 1945, olive green disruptive pattern over dark yellow base, with whitewash applied in a disruptive pattern over that, schurzen not installed. The last pattern is of the well documented unidentified unit, 1945, which saw action on all fronts, in dark yellow overall, no schurzen installed. A paint guide is provided at the beginning of the instructions with colors called out for GSI Creos Aqueous hobby and Mr. Color lines and Model Master enamel paints.
the buildI followed construction of the kit as closely to the instructions as possible, keeping the build “out of box”.
Step 1 covers assembly of the road wheels, drive sprocket and idler and the return rollers. The idler used is the welded tubular steel type. There are a total of 20 road wheels, leaving you with four extra. The instructions state to use parts D18 and D19 as the return rollers. There are 6 total provided in the kit, but the vehicle depicted uses four per side for 8 total. As such, you will have to choose from parts marked not for use. After looking at photos, it appeared to me that parts A13 and A14 would work, so I went with those.
Step 2 is the assembly of the rear hull plate. You have to open up four holes to attach the earlier style muffler, although the two vertical exhaust stacks are included in the kit. They are not appropriate for this hull version. The multi-part muffler is nicely done, but I chose to further drill out the exhaust pipe to render a better scale thickness.
Step 3 attaches parts to the hull tub. There are 6 pour tabs that need to be removed from the top edge of the hull sides. The small access port, parts A18 and A17, doesn’t fit. Use parts A18 and A19 instead. Also, the lower section for the trailer hitch should be part B64.
Steps 4 and 5 are the hull front, bumper stops and firewall with radio. The escape hatch is also visible on the inner hull floor, so if you want to leave the hatches open and add some super-detailing, there is room and a decent starting point. I didn't add the rear idler tension arms as I will wait until the tracks are ready to go on.
Step 6 adds the suspension arms and running gear. I left all wheels off until I am ready to paint, but did test fit everything.
Step 7 adds the track guards and tracks. Again, I held off on assembly of the tracks until painting. Also, I did not add the spring at the rear of the track guards and the Notek headlamp and rear light tube to prevent them from being knocked off during assembly.
Steps 8 and 9 assemble the rear engine deck and add all the tools. I did add the two spare road wheels but held off on the other tools until painting. You can choose either plastic or etch inner louvers for the engine. Step 10 adds the side air intakes.
Steps 11 and 12 are the assembly of the main gun. The breech is fairly complete and assembly is straight-forward. There is a small gear part that is marked not to glue and will allow the gun to elevate easily. It takes some care but can be done. A bracket for a hull MG is included, but no gun. The gun port is closed over but the detail is visible from the inside. This goes into an inner hull front section that is installed in step 13. The gun is then inserted into the upper hull section and in step 14 is attached to the outer gun housing. The mantlet slips over the barrel and a small locking tab, L17, attaches to the gun at the tip of the mantlet for the travel lock. The part is tiny and I of course promptly dropped it and lost it. The completed assembly provides for a much busier interior.
Steps 15-17 cover assembly of the hatches and attachment of hatches and other parts to the roof of the fighting compartment. Several parts are optional, depending upon whether you leave the hatches open or not. There are three different options for mounting the spare antenna bracket.
Step 18 is final assembly, covering installation of the schurzen brackets. These have locator holes and pins that match up to each part and allow easier assembly as you can't mix them up. Again, I haven't glued the upper hull/fighting compartment area in place yet to allow for painting.
conclusionI was surprised at how easily this kit assembled. Aside from some very minor issues with the instructions, which were easily corrected, I had no problems. I did not that not all the etch parts are called out for use in the instructions. Also, I would have expected a hull top MG42 for anti aircraft and close defense use, and no tow cables are included. During assembly I noted there were no parts issues, no defects or sink marks, only slight flash that was easily removed, and good parts fit. The kit will allow for a very nice build out of box, and provide an excellent base for super detailing. The Smart Kit format is designed for simplification and ease of build, but kit contents are frequently very basic. The August production run was very limited, but as such the kit appears to be a good representation.
In conclusion I think this is a good kit and will make for an enjoyable build.