It's been a while now since the latest round of Panzer IV's hit the shelves around the world, from both of the major manufacturers involved. Through no fault of the manufacturer, but more due to the limitations of the injection moulding process, there are certain parts on these vehicles better represented by the use of photo etch. This offers a better scale thickness for certain parts, and can also allow the modeller to represent battle damage, or in certain cases it can be better detailed. This new set from Eduard is intended for the Tristar Panzer IV Ausf.B, which is a great kit in itself, but can still be improved by the use of photo etch.
The set consists of just one average-sized Eduard photo etched fret, and four sides of the usual clear Eduard instructions. I've used a lot of Eduard sets in the past, and for this set there does seem to a lot indicated for removal on the instructions.
The first thing Eduard would have us do is to start removing bit and pieces from the Tristar kit. A word of warning though, make absolutely sure of each part you want to install before you start shaving bits off the Tristar kit! As with most photo etched sets, there will be some parts you decide not to use for one reason or another, and you don't want to go shaving bits of unless you're sure that those bits will be the ones you decide to use.
Most of the parts slated for immediate removal are locating lugs etc., for things such as on-vehicle tools, although you also have to remove the hinge and pin for the front mud flaps. These are of course, totally replaced by Eduard, and can be made to work if you so wish. There is also a new horn for the left track guard, and fuel filler cap and retaining chain for the rear wall.
For the inside of the driver's and co-driver's hatches we're offered replacement handles and locking hasps, and of course all the tool clamps and fire extinguisher bracket can be replaced, although this will mean careful removal of all the moulded on clamps unless you can source a new set from somewhere. For the Jack block all we're given is a new handle, as the bracket for this is already supplied as photo etch by Tristar.
Curiously, Eduard offer instructions to replace the radio antennae..........with wire that's not supplied in the set. Of course the brackets for the antennae trough are supplied, which look immeasurably better than the kit ones, as do the brackets for the spare track links and jack.
For the rear of the vehicle, there are some small retaining chains, something I always try and replace with actual chain, as it's one area where the photo etch manufacturers continue to try with, but in my opinion, they haven't managed anything too convincing yet! The exhaust muffler gets four completely new wrap-around brackets, as well as the supporting brackets beneath it. the exhaust for the traverse motor also gets new brackets, and of course the rear Notek convoy light is replaced, and a cove is included so that it can be modelled in any driving configuration. There is a rear reflector for the right track guard, and lastly, we are offered a handle for the cupola hatch, the bracket for the turret stowage bin, and handles and vision block surrounds for the turret side hatches.
Being contained on one fret, this is a simple upgrade solution for your Panzer IV Ausf.B. Little of what it contains is specific to the Ausf.B though, so might well be worth buying for other marks. For the price it's being offered at, it is an improvement and so I can recommend it.
A fairly simple set from Eduard contained on a single fret, which offers some improvements over the kit parts, and therfore offers value for money and ease of installation.