While never intended as the German main battle tank, the Panzer IV was the lead workhorse of the German Army. With well over 8000 built between 1936 and 1945, this versatile tank served in many variants. The initial lightly armoured Panzer IV was intended as a support tank, but through progression, became the backbone of the armour regiments. The Panzer IV Ausf.H, production starting in April 1943, was the second last variant of this tank to be built. Retaining the new long 7.5cm KwK L/48 from the Ausf.G, the Ausf.H saw an improvement in the reliability of the armour by manufacturing parts, specifically the glacis plate, as a single 80mm plate for improved strength. Other changes included the change of the return roller to cast steel, the addition of triangular supports for the schurzen, and the use of the Panzer III’s six-speed transmission. This variant was also one of the first tanks to have zimmerit applied at the factory.
has recently released this version of the Panzer IV Ausf.H in 1/35 scale, including the anti-magnetic zimmerit coating. While not the first Panzer IV Ausf.H from Dragon
, it is the first featuring molded on zimmerit.
The rather large box opens to a box just packed with plastic, some photo, etched, and track. In the box you will find the following:
- 25 sprues of grey plastic
- Upper Hull
- Lower Hull
- 1 sprue of clear plastic
- 3 fret of photo-etched (including side armour skirts)
- Metal Tow Cable
- 2 length of DS Track
- 14 pieces of Magic Track
And I hope you have plenty of room in your spares box, as a quick glance of the parts layout on the instruction sheets show you will only use about 50% of parts in the box. Looking at the sprues, I noticed some are labelled “Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H”, while most are labelled for “Pz.Kpfw.IV”, with a couple even marked “Brummbar”. You will need to take care during assembly, as some sprue letters are the same, and shown on the instructions in different colors when referred to.
The kit is molded to Dragon’s
usual standard, sharp detail, no flash, and with minimal molding seams to be cleaned. Being the first Ausf.H released with zimmerit, and being the main reason for the re-release of this this kit from Dragon
, I decided to look at the zimmerit first. The casting of the zimmerit is very well done, and looks to be to scale. There may be some questions as to the application of the zimmerit to the turret schurzen and not on the turret with the exception of the front plate and mantlet. After a little research, it seems that the first few or so production releases from the factory may have included the zimmerit on turret schurzen. I was only able to find a couple of pictures, but it did show that this configuration of the zimmerit did exist. It should be noted that the zimmerit on the vertical sides of the lower hull is missing, and this would be present on the actual vehicle.
Speaking schurzen, the kit does contain photo-etched parts for the hull shurzen, while the turret schurzen is cast in plastic. So there will be a difference in the thickness between the side skirts and the turret skirts.
There are couple of nice inclusions in this release, including the braided wire for the tow cable, clear plastic for view ports, and bits of photo-etched for a little extra detail. The kit does include what seems to be becoming a standard for Dragon
, the DS Track. While this may not appeal to all modeller, it is an easy option for some modellers who are afraid of the individual links. While the DS Track looks good, it does not have the same effect and level of detail as the individual links, i.e. Magic Track.
As for the rest of kit, it looks to be a great kit. As a lot of the parts are from previous releases of the Panzer IV, they have been tried and tested. According to my references there are very little visible differences between the Ausf.G and Ausf.H, being mostly internal. As for the accuracy of the kit, it does look to match the early production tanks.
The instructions are the typical Dragon
format, large folded paper, and printed clearly. As mentioned above, some sprue letters are duplicated, so the builder will need to take care during assembly to ensure they are using the right part from the right sprue. For duplicated sprue letters, they are printed in either black or blue, with a reference to the sprue on the first page.
There are also optional parts during assembly, so the builder will need to watch what version they are building. For example there are four different options for the muzzle break.
The construction of the kit is broken down into 21 steps, and shows clearly in most cases the assembly. Note that being Dragon
instructions, which are not always straight forward, remember to check parts for correct sides and dry fit often.
The flow of assembly is the standard, starting with lower hull and running gear, moving to the upper hull, then turret. There are some paint callouts, referring to Aqeuous, Mr. Colour, and Model Master paint colours.
The kit includes decals and paint options for eight different vehicles:
- HJ.Div Normandy 1944 – three color camouflage
- HJ.Div Normandy 1944 – three color camouflage, no side skirts
- HJ.Div Normandy 1944 – three color camouflage
- 8./Pz.Rgt.3, 2.Pz.Div. Normandy 1944 – three color camouflage
- Pz.Lehr.Rgt.130 Normandy 1944 – three color camouflage, no side skirts
- 20.Pz.Div 1943 – three color camouflage
- 20.Pz.Div 1943 – white wash
- Unidentified Unit 1943 – white wash
The decals look to be well printed and in register.
Overall this seems to be another great looking release from Dragon Models
, especially for those who prefer the molded on zimmerit. Being that this release contains mostly new parts for the zimmerit, experienced models who are not afraid of aftermarket zimmerit or applying it yourself could use one of the previous Ausf.H to achieve the desired configuration. I would recommend this kit for those modeller looking for a Panzer IV with molded on zimmerit, and it does look like a fun kit to build.