The Panzer IV series was the workhorse tank of WWII Germany, remaining in production through several models from before the war began until it ended May 9, 1945. It saw action in large numbers on all fronts. The Ausf. B variant was a pre-war production model of 42 vehicles manufactured at Krupp between 1937 and 1938. It was powered by a 12 cylinder Maybach HL 120TR engine with 300hp, an upgrade from the engine that powered the Ausf. A. The glacis armor plate was thickened to 30mm and the hull mounted machine gun port was covered over. It mounted a short barreled 7.5cm L24 cannon that fired primarily low velocity, high explosive shells. It was intended to be a support tank for infantry that would destroy enemy fortifications while enemy armor would be handled by the Panzer III.
The German Army experimented with a number of tools and options for their tanks for dealing with a variety of obstacles including water, barriers, and in the case of this subject, snow. The Schneeräumer system Schmidt was a snow moving device. Roughly translated as "snow pusher", it was intended to push the snow to the sides, under the tracks of the tank. This would clear the snow and allow the tank to maintain traction. Whether it was used in combat on the Panzer IV B is not verified, but similar devices were widely used on other vehicles, including half tracks.
The Panzer IV ausf. B saw combat service in Poland, France and the Soviet Union before it was pulled from front line service. It remained in reserve and training units. I have read that two were involved in the fighting following the Normandy invasion.
Several years ago, Cyber-Hobby released the Pz. IV Ausf B as a limited edition kit. Dragon has now re-released the kit as part of their '39-'45 series. This is not a smart kit release, containing an extended number of parts and photo-etch. For those who missed out when the kit was released before, this is a new opportunity to get it.
In looking over previous reviews of the Panzer IV series from Dragon, including the previous review of the Panzer IV ausf. B from Cyber-Hobby that was done here by Vinnie Branigan
, it is apparent that Dragon has taken the easy route and used the same sprues from previous releases, only adding parts that are needed for the earlier version. As such, many sprues in the previous ausf. D and ausf C releases are seen here again. The molds have probably been cleaned up and some details sharpened as all the sprues look clean and new. Half the alphabet is used identifying the sprue trees and roughly a third of the parts are marked not for use.
, X2, from the previous ausf. D and C releases, has a working suspension with optional drive sprockets on which you can add the bolts on your own or use pre-molded bolt heads. The bogie mountings are for the later C and D variants and my understanding is that they should have a different bolt head (see Terry Ashley's review of the Tristar Pz. IV B
at PMMS). One thing I really like here is that the tires on the road wheels are a separate part. This increases the parts count, but will make painting much easier. I wish this option was available on all tank road wheels.
, also from the previous releases, has the final drive system with inner gears, and hull fitting. There are multiple options for the final drive housing, with the kit instructions indicating to use those without any bolt heads, and attach 6 separate bolt heads to the part. Again, Terry Ashley indicates that only three bolt heads were present on the ausf. B. His list of references is far more extensive than mine.
, new for this kit, is the Schneeräumer system. The blade is thin and has nice bolt head detail. I have yet to see a photo of the actual vehicle so I can't comment on the accuracy, but it does look good.
is from the ausf C and D kits. The muffler, fender parts, and tow brackets - plus some small detail items - are used here. The fenders are an optional part as these have placement holes for the optional tools with molded-on clasps.
again is from the ausf C andD kits. Only the hull hatches, tow hooks, antenna guard and rear bolt strip are used.
, from the ausf. C and D kits, is the turret basket and main gun assembly. The 7.5cm gun has a pre-bored, rifled muzzle.
holds two sets of tools, one with molded on clamps, the other without. Also, three jerry cans, a jack, head lamp and tow cable ends.
, again from the ausf. C and D release, uses the turret base, ventilation fans for the engine, and some engine deck fittings.
are slide molded idler sprockets, an optional part but better detailed than the two halves you would otherwise assemble.
has clear parts for vision blocks, sights and headlight.
has the Commander's cupola present in most every Pz. III and IV kits. The 25-part assembly is intricate, but not difficult, and looks very nice when complete.
has small clear vision blocks.
, from the ausf. c and d, has fenders with no holes, for mounting tools with etch clamps. All fenders have top and bottom detail and are very thin.
is a slide-molded part for the cupola.
are separate tires for the road wheels, embossed with "Continentau".
has the upper hull, rear hull and fittings. Optional styrene air intake louvers are on this sprue. This was in the ausf. C kit as well.
is the lower hull. Well detailed on sides and bottom, bump stops are present on the first and fourth bogie positions.
, new to the ausf. B, is the revised inner mantlet, antenna guard and plate detail.
K and M parts
are the left and right side tracks. They are handed and colored light and dark gray.
Ma, MB, MC, MD and ME
are the photo-etch and metal accessories. MA is from the previous releases and has tool clamps and detail accessories, including the fold-down step on the side. MB is a set of etched engine air intake louvers and the metal insert for the jerry cans, as well as chains for the smoke launchers. MC provides four etched inserts for the idler wheels. ME has handles and cables, pre-formed, for the lights, and the cover for the shovel blade. MD is a turned aluminum barrel pre-bored, but without rifling, and two turned-brass rounds.
is a twisted wire for the tow cable.
Detailing on the parts is very crisp and well defined. I found no deformities or molding issues.
The instructions are line drawings with drop boxes showing sub assemblies. Sub assemblies are also indicated by letter. In step one, assembly of the rear light, part F is shown. This is not installed until the very last step, so keep this in mind. Total assembly is in 23 steps.
paint and markings
Paints are called out by color and number for GSI Creos aqueous hobby color and Mr. Color, as well as Testors Model Master paints.
Three specific vehicles are represented in the decals.
is from an unidentified unit, 1938, and shows the Schneeräumer system installed.
is from 8Kompanie/Pz.Rgt.1, 1st Panzer division, Poland 1939.
is from 4Kompanie/Pz.Rgt.1, 1st Panzer division, France, 1940.
All three vehicles are in overall Dark Gray.
This is a very complete kit with lots of detail. The parts count will make it somewhat challenging for less experienced modelers, but it should be well worth it.
Online prices varied for this kit, ranging from $54.00 up to over $80.00, all before shipping. As always, look for the best offer.
A Build Log
has been started in the forums.