Academy - German Panzer IV Ausf. H Ver. MID
The Panzer IV family fought on every battlefield in Europe, North Africa, and the Eastern Front during World War II, and Academy has done a superb job in kitting this venerable member of the family, the Mid Version Ausf. H. As an added bonus, there are parts included to build an Ausf H Early or Ausf J, should the modeler prefer. According to Scalemates (https://www.scalemates.com/search.php?fkSECTION%5B%5D=Kits&q=%22Panzerkampfwagen+IV+%28Panzer+IV%29%22+1%3A35), both DEF Models and Eduard have come out with PE sets for Academy's kit, and there are literally hundreds of other AM kits, such as tracks, that will possibly work.
The instructions are clearly illustrated, with a couple of exceptions, and part placement is clear in each step. What I appreciated most was there were only one or two sub-steps in a few of the steps, except for the suspension, which had four. Now, having said that, the directions DO NOT differentiate between parts associated with the Mid-version Ausf H and the J, so it is important to have a good reference handy. Also, there are parts for the early Ausf H on the sprues, so make sure you know which version you want to build.
As mentioned in the First Look review, there are three manuals. Manual 1 starts with a diagram where holes need to be drilled for later addition of tools, spare track, brackets, etc. The only holes that are NOT needed for the Mid-version Ausf H are the two holes on the engine deck, part D8, just to the right of the left-hand engine grill.
The first step is gluing in two firewalls and the rear hull plate, along with the two hull sides. As noted in First Look, the hull sides have a number of knockout holes that will need to be filled and sanded. Since there are no interior parts, there is no need to paint the interior of the hull. Also, there is a gap along the side where when viewed through the hull top, and probably through the commander's hatch, the gap would be visible, requiring a filler sheet to hide that gap.
Step 2 is two parts: first part is attaching the front lower hull plate and the two final drive mounting plates, which are called out as part D6; however, based on the drawings in Panzer Tracts No. 4-3, Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H/Ausf. J, 1943 - 1945 (hereafter, PT 4-3), part D2 is the correct part for Mid version. The second part is a choice of two lower rear hull plates, where the idler adjustment mounts are. Again, based on PT 4-3, part G42 is the correct part.
Step 2, Part 1
Step 2, Part 2
Step 3 is building up the road wheel mounts, four on each side, attaching bump stops, the two final drives, bracing at the rear, by the idler mount, the idler axle, rear hooks, and the front glacis with brake access doors. There are two choices for bump stops; part H45, welded, is the correct choice.
Step 3 - final drive, first road wheel station
Step 3 - brake and transmission hatches
Step 4 is a little busy, with four sub-steps: building up the drive sprockets, return rollers(two choices), road wheels, idler wheels (two choices), and attaching them to their respective suspension points. For the Mid-version, use the steel return rollers, parts H60 and H61, for idlers, parts H66 and H67.
Step 5 is attaching the flexible "rubber-band" tracks. The instructions say to use instant glue. I could not get them to stick together, and I tried liquid and gel instant glue. I ended up stapling them together for this review build, since they'd be hidden behind the schurzen plates. I will replace them with after market tracks later on.
Step 6 is building up the rear fenders and attaching them to the engine deck, attaching the engine deck to the upper hull, and attaching the top driver/co-driver hatch plate (two choices, use part E10), the front upper hull with bow gun mount and driver's visor port, and two front fenders. Ignore the dark pre-shading on the parts ...
Step 7 is attaching the upper hull to the lower hull.
Step 8 is two parts: part one is attaching two triangular support brackets to the inside of the rear fenders, and part two is attaching the rear upper hull, a "shelf" support for the two exhaust systems, the two idler adjusters and L-shaped adjustment levers.
Step 9 is two parts: attaching the upper bolted support to the exhaust support shelf, tow cable hooks, and a small support bracket on the left rear fender. Part two is building up the tow cable with the provided string, and attaching three spare tracks to the upper left rear hull. The string was not easy to work with, but finally I was able to secure it in the tow cable loops with instant glue. I forgot to attach it for the photos. According to one on-line source, the three spare tracks on the upper rear hull were specific to just one factory, the Nibelungenwerk. I hesitate to state that as a firm fact, since PT 4-3 does not mention it.
Step 10 is two parts: part one is building up the main exhaust supports, and part two is building up the main and auxiliary exhaust systems, and attaching them to the rear hull.
Step 11 is two parts, and depicts the vehicle upside down for attaching the parts, which are the tow bracket and locking pin, and a support plate and tow pintle.
Step 12 is attaching to the right upper hull: a lifting hook, a track adjustment tool on the rear fender, the antenna trough and it's support bracket, rear fender spring, and two schurzen brackets which go behind the antenna trough. NOTE: the schurzen brackets are easily broken, but fortunately, can be glued together with CA and support the schurzen.
Step 13 is building up the engine filter system and attaching it to the right hull side, along with the jack and shovel. Unfortunately, my photos of these two steps were out of focus. This is the end of Manual 1, now on to Manual 2!
Step 14 seemed to be a good time to start attaching the zimmerit. If I was building this kit again, I would attach the zimmerit to the part before attaching the part to the model. I was able to fit the zimmerit decals on with a minimum of problems, except for a couple of areas on the rear hull, but where they finally laid down. I was nervous about how long to leave the decals in the water, so I used a toothpick to gently nudge the decal now and then to make sure it wasn't in the water so long that the glue was diluted. I did use a decal setting solution for all of them, and had no problem. There was one decal, a short horizontal strip right over the driver's vision port, that would not lay down. Fortunately, there was a second one on the decal sheet that worked just fine. In this step, attach the driver and co-driver hatches, the cooling vents for the brake hatches (which get zimmerit), and the brackets for the two spare road wheels on the left side.
Step 15 is attaching the spare track on the front upper and lower hull, the spare road wheels, wire cutters, crow bar, wrench, and handle on the rear engine deck, and left rear fender spring. NOTE: the instructions show two handles, but according to PT 4-3, DO NOT use part H49. I left all but the fender spring and handle off until I could paint the vehicle, so no photo.
Step 16 is attaching the two front tow hooks and pintles, armored cover for the driver's visor, bow machine gun barrel, front lifting hook, jack block, gun cleaning rod set, long crow bar, rear convoy light, and engine deck inspection hatch. Step 17 is attaching schurzen brackets, front headlight, axe, track tension tool, C hooks, fire extinguisher, and rear antenna mount. Again, I left off all the tools until after painting.
Step 18 is attaching two long wooden boards (parts G17 and G18), which were intended to cut down on dust thrown up by the tracks and trapped by the side schurzen brackets. These have several knockout holes along their top surface that need to be filled and sanded. Next, attach the hull side schurzen support brackets with the triangular hanger points (G1 and G2).
Step 19 is attaching the side schurzen hanger handles to the plates, and then attaching it to the schurzen support brackets. These line up very nicely, although at some point while being handled, I managed to lose one of them on the end. The carpet monster must be fed. There are several knockout holes on the plates that need to be filled and sanded.
Step 20 is three parts: building up the gun mantlet, simple breech, and attaching the one piece gun barrel to the breech/mantlet construction. Next, attach the barrel sleeve, gunner viewport, co-axial machinegun (two choices - use part F21), and muzzle brake. NOTE: There are two choices for muzzle brake - use parts E46 and E29. During this step, I added the zimmerit where needed.
Step 21 is attaching the gun and mantlet assembly to the turret base, and then attaching the turret top to the base. Step 22 is attaching the turret sides to the turret. Step 23 is attaching the two rear lifting hooks to the turret. Step 24 is assembling the rear stowage bin and attaching to the turret rear. Step 25 is attaching the turret side doors. NOTE: these can be displayed open, but since there is no interior detail in the kit, they're glued in the closed position.
Steps 21 -25
Step 26 is attaching turret schurzen brackets, three on each side.
Step 27 is attaching rain shields and handles over the turret hatches, turret side hatch stops, front turret lifting hooks, and turret rear schurzen skirt. Step 28 is attaching the forward turret side schurzen skirts and hatches.
The zimmerit decal laid down without problem on the rounded rear turret skirt
There was a little difficulty laying the zimmerit decal down on the front triangular section
No problems here
Girl friend names and fire extinguisher decals went on without problem
Step 29 is attaching the commander's hatch to the cupola top, the cupola's five periscopes, either open or closed. There is no "glass" to insert into the open periscopes. Then attach the hatch to the cupola, and attach that to the turret top. Attach the turret ventilator. This is the last step in Manual 2.
Manual 3 has two steps - step 30 is to build up the anti-aircraft MG34 support, attach to the MG34, attach that assembly to the commander's cupola, and step 31 is attach the turret to the hull.
Balkenkruz and turret numbers laid down well with decal setting solution
Note the zimmerit detail shows up well after painting
PROS: Instructions are well-laid out, easy to follow. Parts have no flash, only six parts with knockout holes that have to be dealt with, and there were no fit issues. Zimmerit and vehicle decals look great and go on well. Color drawings are nicely done, showing camouflage patterns and decal placement.
CONS: There are no indications of why optional parts are offered, nor any guidance on which to use, so it is very important to have reliable references handy! No interior, no PE, no figure(s), rubber band tracks did not glue with CA liquid or gel. Chassis sides, hull schurzen skirts, and wooden boards all have knockout holes that have to be filled and sanded.
This kit provided me with many firsts - working with zimmerit; schurzen supports and skirts; and a three color paint scheme, all of which challenged me to improve my modeling skills, and really, that's what this hobby is all about - enjoying the research, the building, the detailing, and learning new skills.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Company for this review kit.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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