Dragon 6560 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Late w/Zimmerit Für Military Vehicles Plastikbausätze
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H w/Zimmerit
Manufacturer: Dragon models
Material: Styrene & photo-etch
Serial Number: 6560
It's been some time since the release of the Dragon Panzer IV Ausf.H, and therefore it's probably about time we had a version with Zimmerit already moulded in-situ! Enter kit 6560 from Dragon!
As all Axis fans will know...and most Allied fans too, since it's quoted just before almost any mention of the Panzer IV...the Panzer IV was the backbone of the German Armed forces...with over eight and a half thousand being manufactured. They were manufactured from late 1937 until the end of the war...the only tank to be manufactured from start to finish. Of course, the final version of the vehicle was a very different one to that produced in 1937 as a result of various alterations made to the tank in an attempt to keep it effective. The Ausf.H version first appearing in April 1943 and being manufactured until July 1944, with a total of three thousand seven hundred and seventy four being produced, making it the most numerous of all the Panzer IV versions and also placing late production variants firmly in the time-line for having factory applied Zimmerit, which was discontinued in September 1944.
It's another of those very full boxes, which usually means there's a lot destined for the spares box...and such is the case with this one. There are in fact, twelve large sprues, five medium ones, and eight small ones, of which one is transparent. A separate lower hull and turret shell are included, with a small bag of other parts such as the curved rear turret schurzen, various parts for the main gun and mantlet, and the turret stowage bin. There's one of those terribly useful wire tow ropes included...two sheets of individual aluminium schurzen, a small number of individual track links for using as spares on the fender, and a pair of DS100 tan-coloured vinyl tracks. There's also of course, a decal sheet and photo-etched fret.
The kit is, of course, more or less the same kit as 6300, which was released just over twelve months ago, with the necessary extra parts to replace those that would have a Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating on them. These new parts are all contained on three new sprues, and on a small separate part representing part of the gun mantlet/sleeve.
Construction is conventional too, beginning with the assembly of the running gear onto the lower hull. The lower hull has no Zimmerit coating. The Drive sprockets provided are of the open-faced welded type, whilst we're provided with a choice of idler wheels between the welded tubular type and the later cast type. If you choose to use the later cast type then there are two photo-etched inserts provided to be sandwiched between the two halves of the wheel. Although this type were supposedly fitted to Late production Ausf.H's, most of the photographs I've turned up seemed to be fitted with the tubular type, but at least we're offered the choice...consult your referecnes. We're again given a choice when it comes to thereturn rollers. Both types offered are of the steel type, with the rubber ones being discontinued earlier, but the spoked steel ones were first used before being discontinued themselves in favour of the non-spoked type. Both types are provided.
When we move around to the rear wall of the lower hull, which is itself provided as a separate part, the wall is provided as one piece, with Zimmerit detail provided on its lower half beneath the flange, and a separate part being provided to fit onto the upper half, again with zimmerit detail. The only reason for this seems to be the complexity of the detail moulded into its surface. The front wall armour is also detailed with Zimmerit and fits over the part that is moulded integrally with the lower hull.
Each of the suspension bogies are of the 'Smart Series' type, i.e. reduced parts number but the detail is still there, with each of the bogies still able to be articulated slightly for use in diorama's etc. Each of the roadwheels carries the slightly altered 'Continentau' logo that can be altered easily to read 'Continental' if you prefer. The hubcaps that are provided separately are of the later armoured type, with the six bolts around the recessed rim. As mentioned earlier, the tracks included in the kit are of the flexible vinyl type. I actually prefer the individual link type, but at least these vinyl ones can be cemented using normal styrene cement.
The fenders supplied with the kit are detailed with tread pattern on both sides, and have numerous locating holes for the various on-vehicle tools etc., so if you decide to replace all the tool clamps with photo-etched ones (not supplied) then these will have to be filled...a simple job with stretched sprue. Both the front and rear hinged mudflaps are provided as new parts with Zimmerit coating.
The instructions at this point detail the construction of the sidewalls of the fighting compartment if you're intending to fit schurzen, or not to fit the schurzen. These sidewalls are not supplied with Zimmerit coating, and I've not been able to find out definitively whether or not they should have had one? The choice as to whether or not to fit the schurzen has to be made at this point, in order that the correct locating holes can be opened up in each of the walls, for the supporting brackets to be fitted later. There are also slightly different arrangements of stowed equipment dependent on which vehicle from the illustrated schemes you're modelling. For example, Tactical number '837' requires a few locating holes to be filled so that the stowed tow cable brackets can be fitted.
As for internal detail...there's not much, but if you position a crew member or two deliberately in the way, then there's probably enough. We're given a full breech assembly for the main gun, hull machine gun and detail on the internal surfaces of all the hatches of course. There are some puzzling details, like the extractor fan for the inside roof of the turret. It's a beautifully detailed moulding, but there isn't any way anybody is ever going to see it?
There's an MG 34 mount provided for the Commander's cupola, which wasn't found on some late production H's, but your references may indicate it's use so it's nice to have it. The turret schurzen is provided in plastic, including all of its brackets. The two-door gates that this schurzen had for access to the turret hatches are provided as separate gates for modelling opened or, as a one-piece part to model closed. The brackets provided for mounting all the schurzen, including the hull schurzen, are actually moulded quite thinly, and although probably not to scale, it's not that far off, so it's probably a good choice to have these in plastic instead of photo-etch, since I've made these brackets from photo-etch before, and although they can look good, they can be a nightmare once they start breaking, plus they bring with them all sorts of problems in trying to achieve the correct angles.
The hull schurzen is provided as press out individual aluminium sheets. Some late H's had a cut-out on the first small schurzen over the drive sprocket, but this option isn't provided, although it wouldn't be too much trouble to carefully cut a piece out to make your own according to references.