Considering the number of basic variants produced (ten) and almost 8.000 production examples built between 1937 and 1945, it isn't surprising that the Sd. Kfz 161 Panzerkampfwagen IV is a popular subject for modelers. Just looking at the variants (and therefore the number of basic possibilities) add-in the theaters the vehicle was used in, and considering for a moment the variations (with Schurzen or without, with Zimmerit and without), it becomes apparent that this is a vehicle with many modeling possibilities...
Osprey's New book
Modelling the Late Panzerkampfwagen IV (Osprey Modelling 38) is written by two authors who (should) require little in the way of introduction - Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson. For those who require it, the book carries ISBN: 9781846031120The book will be published in September 2007.
As to the book itself, it follows the usual format - 80 pages with chapters on modeling techniques, reference material and a brief list of what's available in 1/35th scale kits, After-Market sets and accessories. However, as is usual in the Osprey Modelling Series of books, the core of the book lies in the projects. Four build-projects are presented which present four very-different vehicles varying from a 1942 Pz IV Ausf. F2 to the (last production variant) an Ausf. J in 1944. For those who are unfamiliar with the vehicle, the 'Later' production vehicles are considered to be those equipped with the long-barreled 7.5cm KwK L/43 to the L/48.
For this review it's perhaps better to assume that the reader is NOT familiar with the Osprey Modelling Series as I don't want to 'assume' anything.. As usual with this kind of review, i'll look at the chapters and give attention to one build-project in particular. The Chapter Headings (excluding the build projects): Introduction: Sensibly, the authors have made the assumption that the users of this book will have at least a basic working knowledge of the PzIV and they keep the notes on variants etc. to the minimum. Tools & Materials: Only covering three pages, this chapter deals with some of the specialized tools and materials used within the specific projects. Many of these items (logically enough!) have applications well beyond the scope of this book and serve as a useful enough suggestion for other projects. Gallery of other Panzer IV modelling projects: Three additional models are 'showcased' with a brief word as to what was the 'donor' kit, upgrades used, and the paint used for the effect acheived. The models are shown in the process of construction and as finished subjects. Museums and collections: A brief (one page), although interesting look, at some of the museums where actual examples of the PzIV can be seen. Three variants are listed (in relevance to the subject of this book) - Ausf. G, H & Js. Further Reading, Media and Websites: The majority of these three pages cover the many books on the PzIV available. Also mentioned are the principal websites. Available 1/35-scale Kits and Accessories: Again, pretty much self-explanatory. The authors have made some qualitative assesments (on what is a remarkably short list) and, due to continuing availability have listed OOP kits as well as currently available ones. A list of the more common AM sets is also provided. Color-Chips: Following on from the Index, a page is provided of color matches to eight of the commonly used RAL colors.
In this section, i'll take a closer look at the second of the four build-projects: Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. J, 11.Panzer-Division, Kotzing, Bavaria, 1945 This is categorized by the authors as at an Advanced level.
Basically, this takes the (new) Pz IV F2 by DML and combines it with the older TAMIYA Ausf J. Well, basically, but there is a lot more to it than that....
The project covers a variety of different techniques. There is an element of scratchbuilding in the form of the turret Schurzen and new exhaust tubes. Use of Photo-etch with replacement fenders, tool clamps etc. Modification of kit-parts with improved drive-sprockets and roadwheels along with substantial changes to the turret, front glacis plate and the addition of weld-seams. In other words, it's an extensive project and serves as a useful example of just how far one can go by combining products from several manufacturers along with one's own modeling skills to produce an accurate representation of the variant wanted.
I find these builds useful, not necessarily because of the subject, but more because of the applied techniques which are equally useful for a Sherman as for a T62...
The chapter list in full
Tools and materials
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. F2, Panzer-Regiment 8, 15.Panzer-Division, Deutsches Afrika Korps, 1942 *
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H 'Frühe' version, 4.Panzer-Division, Russia 1944 *
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. J, 11.Panzer-Division, Kotzing, Bavaria, 1945 *
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. J, 5.Panzer-Division, East Prussia, 1944 *
Gallery of other Panzer IV modelling projects
Museums and collections
Further reading, media and websites
Available 1/35-scale kits and accessories
(*) Indicates a specific Project
I do consider myself a real enthusiast of this series. However, much I like it, there are areas which still leave me with doubts. I clearly (and unquestioningly) accept that German subjects are the most widely-modeled, however, with the level of modeling presented in this (and the majority of the books in this series), it would be very welcome to see popular subjects from other nationalities entering more strongly into Osprey's lists. I also feel that, against the Tiger and Panther, the PzIV is a bit of a 'poor-relation' so, once again, in that respect, I warmly welcome this book.
A recurring theme in all the Reviews i've done on the Osprey Modelling Series is regarding 'pitch'. They are, in my opinion, far too complex in their content. The build-projects begin at (high) intermediate and go on to 'Advanced' and 'Master' level. There really is a need for the publisher to include (at least) one entry-level project in the future books of this series. However, to counter that, this along with the other books in the series, are a true mine of information regarding techniques and finishing. It's becoming a litany, but I genuinely feel that ALL modelers, no matter what their level of experience, could get something out of this book. That could be something as simple as painting tracks or the use of different materials or simply just a different approach to a particular problem. In that respect along with the very inspirational nature of the builds, I have no doubts in recommending this book...
The Pz IV is a very popular subject amongst modelers - more than anything due to the large number of good kits on the market. It's also popular due to it's widespread use - the often applied term 'Workhorse' is much more than a cliché...
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...