World War Two Germany was known for its large assortment of FlaK Panzers and self-propelled guns (SPGs). This is rightly so, as the latter half of the war saw a constant barrage by the Allies from the air, giving anti-aircraft protection a top priority for the German armored forces. The Ostwind
("east wind") was a direct follow on to the quad-mount Wirbelwind
("whirlwind") in an attempt to increase firepower. A single, more powerful 3.7cm FlaK43/1 L/60 replaced the four 20mm FlaK array inside a similar Keksdose
("cookie tin") turret used in the Wirbelwind. The turret was redesigned, making it longer in order to accommodate the new gun, plus the turret ring was enlarged.
A prototype was completed by early Summer of 1944, and August, an order for 100 vehicles was placed. By war's end, only only 43 more vehicles were completed (36 converted from existing Panzer IV's and 7 new production vehicles). All work was carried out by Ostbau Werke in Sagan, Silesia.
Now Dragon has released a new Ostwind kit, the logical next step in the series, and comes out over a year after their Wirbelwind release.
In the box
So what is in the box? Well if you have seen one later-tool Dragon Panzer IV, you pretty much have seen them all… including all of these sprues. In typical Dragon fashion, the box is crammed full of sprues from the late Panzer IV H, J, and L/70 kits. I am not going to bother going into detail over the various common Panzer IV Ausf. H J parts, as reviews of both kits can be found here on Armorama.
What you do get are the following:
Magic Track indy links (late type, closed tooth, ice cleat)
1 PE fret
Overall detail is excellent, and it is an easy, albeit long build, but still simpler than Dragon's earlier Panzer IV kits. It does give a very detailed base for the Ostwind.
Common Panzer IV Sprues:
(A)-Pzkw. IV Late drivers, idlers and return rollers
(A)-Pzkw. IV Late road wheels and bogies
(C) turret parts-- Pzkw. IV Ausf. J
(G) more turret parts, smoke grenade launchers
(H) engine deck
(E) OVM, turret components --Pzkw. IV Ausf. H
(J) MG-34 machine gun
(J) German jack
(K) top hull deck
(K) antenna, blackout taillights armor
(L) spare road wheels
(N) Pzkw. IV
(P) Pzkw. IV Ausf. H
(Q) spare track links
(R) Clear styrene
(Y) Lower hull pan
Other Sprues from previous kits:
(B) glacis, suspension elements –Brummbaer
(D) return rollers from Jagdpanzer IV/70
(D) hull interior, turret race from Wirbelwind
New Sprues for Ostwind:
(B) turret base, seats, basic fittings
(Q) 3.7 cm Flak 43 gun
(Z) Ostwind - turret halves
The turret is of course done with Dragon’s "razor edge" molding, and is excellent, scaling-out exactly to the plans published in Panzer Tracts No.12
, and is cast in two parts vertically. This eliminates any tricky joint, and is completely camouflaged by the outstanding weld beads. This system worked very well on the Wirblewind, and I anticipate no issues on this turret either. Dragon's turret also has the shot deflectors on the forward lower edge of the turret shell, something Trumpeter forgot on their version.
The FlaK 43 is also all new tooling, with a very nice slide-molded barrel. The muzzle break still does not have perforations, but these could be drilled out - or just replace the barrel with one of the many on the market now. Etch is provided for the shell basket, and from the look of the instructions, will be a very detailed gun. It has already started making its appearance in other kits.
Hatches and Rings-- Issues
Now I dive into these issues with the knowledge that 1.) the vehicle was mostly built on a hodgepodge of existing Panzer IV hulls; and 2.) there was not very many made. Having said that, I will still not excuse Dragon for seeming to just get "close enough," but of not going the extra steps. "What am I speaking of?" you ask.
First, what is in the box "could have" existed, as it could represent one of the earlier converted Panzer IVs. The issue is mainly with the hatch placement: after the trial of the prototype, it was discovered that the radio operator’s hatch was difficult to open when the turret was in certain positions. To help alleviate this, production models were to have the hatch moved forward in line with the driver's hatch. This modification is reflected in the various published drawings.
However, Dragon provides only a standard Panzer IV Late top deck (which even has the cutouts for the Schürzen
brackets!) What is interesting is that Dragon knew about the hatch differences… it is reflected in one of the CAD drawings on the publicity poster! So, somewhere along the line, Dragon decided it wasn’t worth it to tool up a new deck, and decided to include a standard deck from previously-released kits. This conclusion is reinforced by other CAD drawings on the poster showing the incorrect offset hatches.
The second item is the turret ring: Dragon provided the same ring that was in the Wirbelwind, which is a standard Panzer IV ring. However, it should be a larger one, in some texts suggesting it was from a Tiger I. Of course, a new-tooled upper deck would also address the ring issue. Again, the poster touts "turret ring accurately produced." Well, maybe not quite.
With these issues, out of the box the model should represent the early trial version Ostwind
. However, the early versions were most likely (as seen in photos) done on Panzer IV G hulls w/ Zimmerit. They for sure would not have the "Late" style idler, nor the vertical exhaust stacks of the late Ausf. J series. Those features would have most likely appeared on late production vehicles without Zimmerit.
So, for me, I am going to look at moving the hatch forward, and ignore the turret ring problem. This will at least give me a late production vehicle, and allow me to use most of the parts as they come in the kit.
So just as with the Wirbelwind when it was first released, Dragon should be thanked for providing this variant. But again, they have taken shortcuts and given us a model out of the box that isn’t quite what it should be. The issues with the Wirbelwind were easily fixed by stealing some parts; however, this Ostwind will require some surgery. I imagine that we may see a Cyberhobby or follow-up release with an "early" Ostwind using one of the Zimmerit hulls and early Panzer IV features. Unfortunately, I doubt we may see a retooled upper deck with the hatches in the correct location, so surgery may always remain the option to model this variant accurately. Regardless, I am still excited to get to work on this and add an Ostwind to the Flak collection. The kit would also be a great candidate for a Panzer 46’ project!
Our thanks to Dragon USA for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.
•Jentz, Thomas L. & Doyle, Hilary Louis, Panzer Tracts No.12 - Flak Selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer - Sd.Kfz.10/4 to 8.8 cm Flak auf VFW
(Darlington Productions, 1998).
•Rottman, Gordon, Armor at War #7022 — German Self-Propelled Guns: Self-Propelled Artillery, Anti-Tank, and Anti-Aircraft Guns
, (Concord Publications, 2005).
Reviews of Dragon Late model Panzer IVs:
Dragon 6556 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. J Mid. Production
Dragon 6575 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J Latest Production