The Panzer IV was the workhorse of the German army in WWII. It was more widely-manufactured than any other Panzer variant, and was produced in a series of steadily improved versions, culminating in the "H" version (the "J" version which followed actually eliminated some of the features to simplify production.). Over 3,700 units of the Ausf. H version were produced, more than any other variant of the Panzer IV. It was armed with a KwK40 L48 75mm gun, two 7.92mm MG34 machine guns, and had improved armor, but weighed 1.5 tons more than the previous Ausf. G. Top speed for the Ausf. H was 38 km/h. The Ausf. H was produced from April 1943 to August 1944.
The Tamiya kit (#209 in their military miniatures series) represents the early production version of the Panzer IV Ausf. H. The box art shows a Panzer IV in three-tone camo with the Schürzen
(literally “skirts”) armor on the hull and turret sides. No Zimmerit coating is depicted on the tank. A commander figure in winter clothing is standing in the open hatch. Two other painting schemes are shown on the box sides.
The kit consists of 332 plastic parts, four vinyl bushings, two lengths of vinyl track and a piece of string for the tow cable. Inside the box, the sprues are packaged individually for protection, and are molded in a dark yellowish-colored plastic. I could see no flash or obvious problems with the parts. Seam lines are minimal, and should be easy to clean up. The plastic parts are on the following sprues:
“A" sprues: There are two of these, consisting of the suspension parts, with two types of drive sprocket included (one cast with solid spokes, and one welded with open spokes). The open-spoke sprockets appear to be the type most correct for this variant, with the solid spoke sprocket used in the initial production versions. Detailing on them appears to be good, although there are some small mold seams on the sides of the wheel spokes that will need attention. The final drive housing has casting texture and again shows good detail, as do the suspension units for the road wheels. Hub caps are separate, again to improve detail. Four vinyl bushings are provided to allow you to remove the drive sprockets for painting/transport.
"B" sprue: This contains the lower hull assembly, exhaust and air intakes, attachments for the hull Schürzen
, and a commander figure in summer dress. Exterior surface details are again good, with minimal mold seams. Casting texture and bolt heads are nicely-molded. The commander figure is well-detailed, but the mold seams on his body and arms appear heavier than on other parts of the kit. The head is separate and can be swapped out with an aftermarket part if you wish.
“C" sprue: This holds parts for the upper hull and turret. The hull top has the fenders attached, but Tamiya has an issue with sponsons, and has again left them open on this kit.
This means that if the hatches are left open, or you view the model from the side, you will see through the open hull, which can be distracting from an otherwise nice build. As with other sprues, details are generally nice. The hatch interiors have some detailing, and the gun has a complete breech, letting the modeler leave the turret hatches open and show the inside. The barrel is molded in two halves with a separate muzzle break, also in two halves. Hinges on the turret side hatches and the turret bin lid are basic and undefined. The exterior faces of the turret Schürzen
armor have bolt head detail, but the inside surfaces for the two side openings are basic, with a lever visible but no separation line or other inner detail for the two doors. The armor is thinner on the edges to show better scale thickness, but bulk up in the middle. All the brackets are included as well.
“D" sprue: This has the hull accessories such as tools, jack, tow cable ends, light and spare track, as well as the MG34 and mount. The jack stand has wood grain texture, and the other tools appear as nice as any set I've seen. The two spare track runs are different lengths.
"H" sprue: This holds alternate hull parts for the front and rear, as well as add-on armor for the hull front. It also includes alternate hatch doors, the side-mount air filters, the hull Schürzen
and some brackets, along with a separate commander figure in the reversible winter uniform. Seams on this figure aren't nearly as heavy, and the head is better-defined. Small bolts and brackets on the Schürzen
are nicely represented, but again the armor is thick in the middle. These hatches have interior details, too, allowing them to be shown open.
The hull is a separate part, with bottom detail, including separate plates and bolt heads. There are no ejector marks or other blemishes on the exterior surface. Two vinyl lengths of track are included, and are glue-able with regular model cement making them easy to work with. They have separate link details on both sides and are quite nice for this medium, but lack some of the detail found with individual track links. If you want/need greater detail, aftermarket link sets are available. A single length of string is included for the tow cable.
The instructions are clear and well-written. Optional parts are indicated for early or normal production versions, and detail painting of specific parts is called-out during the construction process. A list of paints needed is on the first page of the instructions, but of course only mention Tamiya colors. Tamiya instructions are, in my opinion, the clearest and easiest to follow of all the model makers.
Decals & painting
The instructions for painting and decaling show four different vehicles:
20th Panzer Division, Russia, Summer 1943 (three color camo of olive green and red brown over dark yellow, early version (This is the vehicle depicted on the box top)
2nd Panzer Division, 3rd Panzer Regiment, Russia, Summer 1943 (olive green over dark yellow, early version)
4th Panzer Division, 35th Panzer Regiment, Russia, Autumn 1943 (dark yellow, early version)
24th Panzer Division, 24th Panzer Regiment, Northern Italy, Autumn 1943 (dark yellow, normal version)
Tamiya kits have a reputation for ease of build. Construction of this kit should be fairly straight-forward. If you are less experienced as a modeler, it is an ideal kit to start with, and will turn out nicely. If you are more advanced, there are a variety of aftermarket products available to meet every skill level. I recommend this kit to any fan of the Panzer IV. The figures are a nice addition and add to your build options.
The Voyager Model Jumbo Series upgrade set for this kit can be found Here on Armorama
And Russ has also reviewed the replacement workable track links from Tristar which can be found Here