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Armor/AFV: Axis - WWII
Armor and ground forces of the Axis forces during World War II.
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Trumpeter Geschutzwagen IVb
wbill76
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Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2008 - 04:20 PM UTC
As a follow-on to my In-Box Review, here's the build log to go with it.



Work started with this kit where it normally does, with Step 1, however this kit's Step 1 doesn't start with the usual road wheels, sprockets, idlers, etc. but rather jumps right in on the lower hull. There are several sub-assembly steps that need to be done as part of this step. The bump stops need to be constructed from 2 separate parts as one sub-assembly and the front tow pintles are a 3 part sub-assembly as well.



The suspension elements come next and are 5 part assemblies for each one. The instructions spread this over both Steps 1 and 2, with Step 1 dealing with the left side and Step 2 with the right side. I went ahead and built the assemblies for both sides at the same time. I didn't realize until after I'd built all 6 though that I'd made a big error.



The error was caused by the instructions. The parts call-out for the base of each suspension element that attaches to the hull in the pictures is the "standard" square type for the Pz IV but the parts number is for B17, which is the semi-circular type that's right for the Geschutzwagen IVb. I trusted the picture over the parts number and dutifully assembled everything with the standard square part...not realizing that in the same step diagram that shows them attaching to the hull, that the right semi-circular parts are shown there.



This meant tearing apart the previous assembly in a careful way as the circular end caps were still needed. This required some careful use of liquid glue and tweezers to deconstruct them and reassemble them with the correct semi-circular backings. As a side note, the "standard" assembly would've allowed the suspension to articulate but the semi-circular design is rigid with no movement. Too bad as the articulation was a neat feature that should have been carried over but wasn't.



Step 1 and 2 also install the four walls and flooring for the fighting compartment. I installed all of these parts together at the same time to get everything lined up properly and insure a square fit. The wood lattice piece for the front of the compartment fits into two grooves molded into the hull tub for a nice tight fit, a nice touch to keep everything aligned IMHO.





To round out Step 2, I installed all the suspension elements to both sides and assembled and installed the idler mounts as well. The final drive housings and sprocket mount arms were also installed with each final drive getting its 5 added bolts as individual parts. These come molded on a bar, B18, and I used a strip of blue painters tape and a #11 blade to carefully remove each bolt head which was then glued in place with a touch of liquid glue.



While only 2 steps completed today, they still covered a lot of ground.
PantherF
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 02:35 AM UTC
Looks great so far and I'll be watching this build with envy! Can't wait to get my own soon!
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 03:04 AM UTC
Bill, your subject choices are never very far away from my own. I was planning to buy this as well, but have learnt to wait on reviews and its paying off. Pity though, as the details look pretty good so far. Will be interesting to see it built, but will wait now to see what Dragon do (if they do), as the hull being 2cm too short and wrong road wheels are a bit much.
TankCarl
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 03:22 AM UTC
Have you decided to paint the interior now,and weather the floor lattice? Nice catch on the suspension mount fiasco.
PantherF
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 05:25 AM UTC
Found an actual picture of it while searching for material.



I'd say Trumpeter did a fair job on this one!
wbill76
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 05:26 AM UTC
Thanks Jeff, appreciate the comments.

Frank,

Some of the details are indeed impressive and others fall short, making it a mixed bag. I'm not 100% sure on the hull being too short, that depends on which plans you compare them against. The road wheels are most definitely wrong though as all Trumpeter did was take 2 of their Pz IV sprues from previous kits and tossed them in the box. That's why the wrong parts are available on the sprues (and in the instruction diagrams) to make the mistake I did with the suspension.

Carl,

I'm going to go ahead and install the rest of the fighting compartment interior with the ammo racks and charge boxes first and then will paint and weather it before adding the hull top. That way I've got clean contact surfaces to install them and only paint the surfaces that are visible.
wbill76
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 06:06 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Found an actual picture of it while searching for material.



I'd say Trumpeter did a fair job on this one!



Jeff, you sneaked that one in while I was posting. That's one of the 4 photos that are included in the Pz IV & Variants on a "factory fresh" unit.
PantherF
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 11:19 AM UTC
That's a really weird mistake they made on the suspension. Especially since it's all on the same page!! Good catch!

Can't wait to see more.
wbill76
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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008 - 04:06 PM UTC
Work continued on today with Step 3 which deals with the road wheels, sprockets, idlers, and return rollers. The sprockets and idlers went together without any major issues but not so with the road wheels. The issue I encountered had to do with the holes for the mount arms. In varying degrees, the holes were not centered in the hubs, the worst example is what you see below. Not all were this bad but most of them were slightly off center. Fortunately there's a couple of extras since the full road wheel set isn't used and the worst two I set off to the side, like the one below, for use on the spare wheels that mount to the rear of the hull since the problem won't matter there.



I made the corrections as best I could using a circular needle file to get the holes as centered as possible, enlarging them a bit in the process. This produces some "play" when they were test-fit on the suspension arms so I will have to be very careful when it comes time to install them that they all sit level. The hub caps were installed as well to round out the step.



Step 4 calls for the construction and installation of the ammo racks and charge boxes. These go together smoothly but the installation of the racks is a bit vague. There are locater holes provided for the charge boxes and judging from later installation diagrams and the pic on the side of the box top, the ammo racks need to sit flush up against the hull sides, so they were installed accordingly. This step also calls for the installation of the running gear but I left that off for now, only installing the return roller hubs.



Steps 5 and 6 deal with the track construction and installation, that will come later so these were skipped for now. Step 7 adds the brake hatches and the transmission access panel as well as the front Notek light to the glacis. The slot for the post and base of the Notek light is too small and as I was test fitting it using a pair of tweezers, I suffered a freakish accident where the post had just enough tension on it that it catapulted into oblivion. I heard it land somewhere on my paint and tool shelf but 30 minutes of fruitless searching turned up nothing, so I instead went to the spares bin and scrounged a PE base and a post from an old Pz I build and pressed them into service. The glacis was then installed to the front of the hull where the fit was quite good, only a little finger pressure needed at the front to get a solid join all around.



Next up is the upper hull assembly and installation, based on what I've seen so far I think I may go ahead and install that before painting the interior since everything will remain fairly accessible and I can get a solid join on all mating surfaces before painting.
wbill76
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Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2008 - 03:24 PM UTC
Work started off by addressing the area of the weld seams for the upper hull. Trumpeter, for some reason, elected to mold these as recessed weld lines when in fact they should be flush or slightly proud. To correct this, I used several lengths of 0.6mm diameter styrene rod and liquid glue to fill in the recessed trenches. The rod was carefully shaved down and then the weld pattern added by first applying some liquid glue to soften it and the scoring it with the tip of a round needle file.





With that taken care of, I moved on to Step 9 which adds the left and right fenders. Before committing to glue, I dry-fit the fenders along with the upper hull to make sure everything lined up correctly. I recommend actually gluing the upper hull in place first and then adding the fenders after to avoid drooping. The contact surface isn't that large with the lower hull and being "trapped" with the upper hull will make it easier to avoid this. I installed everything per the instructions order though just to see how it would work out.



The upper hull was quickly added in Step 10 along with the fender braces provided as PE items. The kit contains an error here in that the braces provided don't match the correct layout direction for both sides. The kit does have the braces staggered correctly as on the actual vehicle but the left side bracket tabs should all face forward while the right side brackets should all face rearward. Due to the way that Trumpeter created the PE pieces, this isn't possible. I achieved the next best thing by mixing and matching between the two different sides. The biggest area of concern are the middle brackets as their placement is crucial to avoid problems with the circular bulge in the upper hull for the turret ring. Since the rearmost brackets needed to attach to the hull, I left them off until the air vents were added in Step 11. The PE brackets are also just a touch too short vs. the molded in styrene mount points, resulting in a 1 mm gap when they are butted up against the hull as they should be.





This step also adds the front headlights and siren as well as the rear reflectors for the mud flaps. The square tabs on the front half of the head lights needed to be sanded down to match up with the backs as did the square tabs that insert into the fenders. Ditto for the reflectors, this is something that as I progressed through the build I noticed happening with consistency, the locator pins/tabs often aren't a good match for their corresponding installation points and require sanding or trimming to fit depending. The rear of the headlights and siren also had very prominent sink marks that needed to be puttied and sanded. I'll add the missing wiring later on prior to painting, I want to do that towards the end for handling reasons.



Moving on to Step 11 (which strangely isn't marked as a Step on the instructions but is there between Step 10 and 12), this focused on the rear hull details. The two vents were added along with their PE screens. The fit of the vents to the rear hull is good at the top but there's a slight gap that results on the inner sides that required some putty work to fill. The rear Notek light is also added here but judging by the reference photos, the kit designed mount point is wrong. It has the light mounting behind the angle fender bracket when in fact it should be integrated into it. No doubt this is a result of the choice to have PE bracket supports but it's another added inaccuracy on the detail level to this kit.

The step also adds the smoke grenade box and armored cover. The armored cover is provided as a PE piece with no option for styrene parts and it's a complicated endeavor to get it mounted. The piece is provided as a straight piece of brass with no bend lines etched into it yet it requires several 90 degree bends to form it into the proper shape. I eventually got it formed into the required shape but it took a lot of work to accomplish it.

Another element added in this step is the jack for the right side fender. The parts called out for in the instruction sheet are confusing as they all carry an N sprue designation but the numbers don't match to the parts on the N sprue. To add to the confusion, a complete alternate set of parts is provided on the M sprue to build another style of jack. Going by the reference photos, the M sprue parts are the correct type of jack to install so I ran with it instead of the confusing N sprue. The "foot" of the jack that faces to the rear had a horrible sink mark in it that almost went completely through the part. Some very careful putty work and sanding was needed to fix this and make it presentable.



Step 12 adds quite a bit of gear to the fenders but I left that off for now. The step also adds the two-part muffler and curved support brace/armored covering for the exhaust pipe. The two part muffler results in a prominent seam that I sanded down once the glue had set and the hollow exhaust point had to be carefully sanded/trimmed as it had some prominent flash to deal with. Mounting the muffler to the hull is a tricky step as it attaches only at one end via the curved support, part E47. E47 in turn attaches directly to the hull but its square mount tab was too big for the hole provided, requiring sanding to get it to fit properly. Once E47 had set, then the muffler was glued directly to it.

It's also worth noting at this point that the kit also leaves off the actual towing pintle for the lower hull, the L-shaped pin is not provided for in any shape or form. The rear mud flaps also have square-shaped indentations that I presume are meant to take parts to represent the hinges for the flaps but no parts are provided in the kit to accomplish this.



Step 13 deals with adding more on-board tools to the fenders so was skipped for the time being and I moved on to Step 14 which begins work on the turret. This step deals with the base of the turret and has 4 sub-assembly steps that need to be done first. One step constructs the gunner's chair out of 3 parts, 2 for the seat and a third that is the mount point to the turret ring. This part, C25, is shown incorrectly installed in the sub-assembly step as being parallel to the seat when in fact it should be perpendicular. If you install it parallel (which I did at first), when it comes time to mount it to the ring it's of course facing the wrong way.

The second sub-assembly is the radio, a two-part affair, and the square tab on the rear half is molded too deep to achieve a flush mating surface and needed to be sanded down. The third sub-assembly constructs the auxiliary turret rotating crank out of 3 parts, two halves and the crank wheel. The two halves need their seam sanded down and the wheel has to be carefully trimmed of its sprue attachment points to avoid damaging the circular portion. The fourth and final sub-assembly is the main turret rotating crank and consists of 8 parts.



The rest of the step deals with adding these sub-assemblies to the lower half of the turret. It also adds several additional parts and details, most of which required their mount tabs to be sanded, trimmed, or altered in some fashion to install properly. Two parts, C14 and D11, have large square tabs that match up to cut-outs in the lower hull but the cut-outs are much larger than the actual tabs, requiring putty to fill the rest of the space. Part E38, the base of the rear turret that the radio installs into, needed both of its square tabs heavily sanded to produce a good fit. As mentioned before, the fit of locating tabs is a constant issue to be dealt with and I often felt like Goldilocks when dealing with them....very rarely were they ever just right in terms of fit or alignment.



Next up will be the upper turret details and the main gun assembly.
Henk
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Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2008 - 04:36 PM UTC
Thanks for your very detailed blog Bill, lots of issues that a straight 'what's in the box' review would not have caught. I'm a bit disappointed with the sink marks, and those ill fitting locator pins. It seems that Trumpeter have rushed the kit, without the need to do so. Coupled with the hull size issue, and those wheels ( ) , I will have to think twice about buying this one. If the Hull is indeed to short, than even replacing the wheels with bigger (after-market) ones won't be an option.

Still looking forward to see you finishing this one though...

Henk
james84
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 12:11 AM UTC
Nice one!
Is it some sort of a shortened Pz.IV?
spongya
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MODELGEEK
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 02:02 AM UTC
Thanks for the photos. Interesting vehicle (it's on the "maybe" list). I wonder why Trumpeter did not include the driver's station from their bridgelayer version of the IV... Would have made sense.
Henk
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 02:34 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I wonder why Trumpeter did not include the driver's station from their bridgelayer version of the IV... Would have made sense.



Perhaps it does not fit in the shortened hull..

koenele
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 02:36 AM UTC
very clean!!
spongya
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 03:44 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I wonder why Trumpeter did not include the driver's station from their bridgelayer version of the IV... Would have made sense.



Perhaps it does not fit in the shortened hull..




Well, they can always modify the stuff (I'm no expert, but I think the transmission was the same, right? I don't think they developed a completely new transmission system for the shortened hull.
It does not matter, really. Just that smooth wall in the front of the fighting compartment does not look very good. You probably don't see much of it once finished, but still.
wbill76
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 05:06 AM UTC
Thanks Henk, there are a lot of things about the kit that feel rushed. The poor design on the locator tabs is one indication, the sink marks on prominent parts is another. From the test fits I've done with the provided wheels, adding or modifying the wheels to the right diameter dimensions will not be possible and have everything fit properly with the required clearance. That particuarly correction would be a serious undertaking for the AM arena.

Giacomo,

Appreciate the comments, the Geschutzwagen was indeed designed using a modified/shortened Pz IV hull. It's roughly the same length as a Pz I in fact as a result of the modifications.

Andras,

I'm inclined to agree with Henk on this one, the driver's area is substantially smaller on this one than with the normal Pz IV. I know the engine planned for this vehicle was different from the normal Pz IV engine, it's quite possible it had a different drive train and transmission as well. All Spielberger says is that it was equipped with the Maybach HL 66 engine for the test batches and that the production version was planned to use the Maybach HL 90 with 320 horsepower. I agree with you though that the forward bulkhead is awfully blank, granted most of it is invisible once the gun and turret are mounted, but it's still blank.

Koen,

Thanks for your comments as well!
biffa
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 05:39 AM UTC
coming along well Bill nice job on the fixes, to be honest there may be issues with the accuracy but i will probably still get one anyway, in the end it will look close enough for me
whittman181
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 08:24 AM UTC
Hi Bill,coming along nicely. Doesn't sound like a kit for a novice Are you going to be able to use the kit road wheels at all? Thanks , Bob
210cav
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 08:35 AM UTC
Bill-- great job. What type camera (make and model) are you using for the photos?
thanks
DJ
wbill76
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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 09:08 AM UTC
Ron,

Appreciate the comments, with some TLC it can still be built. Until DML releases theirs, it's the only one in styrene available.


Quoted Text

Hi Bill,coming along nicely. Doesn't sound like a kit for a novice Are you going to be able to use the kit road wheels at all? Thanks , Bob



Bob, it's got some issues, some can be dealt with while others just have to be lived with. The kit road wheels are just fine for use as Trumpeter designed it, it's just that the wheels themselves are not accurate for the vehicle. Trying to modify them to be accurate or use any eventual AM replacements would be problematic though as the suspension bogies are designed for the standard wheels. Probably not something the AM boys would be able to fix without providing an entirely new lower hull given the way it's designed.


Quoted Text

Bill-- great job. What type camera (make and model) are you using for the photos?
thanks
DJ



Appreciate the comments DJ. I use a Canon Rebel XTi with an EF-S 60mm Macro lens for all my photos. It's an SLR and I use the A-DEP settings for the most part.
210cav
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Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - 01:55 AM UTC
Bill- thanks, I have to get that type camera. The digital just is not providing the clarity needed.
thanks again
DJ
spongya
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Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - 02:18 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Bill- thanks, I have to get that type camera. The digital just is not providing the clarity needed.
thanks again
DJ



It's a digital camera. (A damn good one, actually.)

So back to the whole transmission thing. These Germans were crazy. In the middle of the war they spent resources to modify an existing design for one vehicle? It's a complete waste of time and resources they didn't have... No wonder they lost the war.
wbill76
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Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - 02:36 AM UTC
DJ, digital SLRs offer a lot more flexibility vs. point-and-shoot, just be aware that depending on the lens, they can be almost expensive as the camera itself. Well worth the investment though IMHO.

Andras,

That's one of the reasons they ultimately went with the Wespe as the design of choice. Already had the chassis and the gun and ended up being easier to produce in the quantities they needed. The first batch run for this vehicle was to be 10 vehicles but it was halted at 8 and sent out for field trials. Have to remember that this particular design competition (similar to that for the Dicker Max) was going on in 1941-42 when the outlook was much different in regards to the state of the war in general.

The Germans showed a tendency throughout though to produce a wide variety of vehicles instead of concentrating on a few proven designs...which makes things interesting for us as model builders but probably not the best utilization of available resources during war-time.
spongya
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MODELGEEK
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Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - 04:09 AM UTC
Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Without wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, it becomes a bit tedious after a while to assemble the same Sherman/IS-2 chassis for each variant. At least the Germans offer some variety. (Though I'm getting sick of the pnzIV lower chassis, truth be told.)