Panzer IV Ausf D
DML Dragon PLATZ Line
Dragon has introduced a new Panzer IV Ausf D under their PLATZ label. PLATZ is the Japanese distributor of the Dragon line. This 1/35 scale offering gives modelers a simpler build by significantly lowering the parts count while preserving the level of detail expected on modern kits. Slide molding technology allows Dragon to add detail to the kits using fewer parts than earlier kits. This results in some sub assemblies molded as one part.
In a era where exciting new armor kits are coming to market with 1000+ parts the PLATZ kits should attract lots of attention for those of us looking for good detail with a smaller investment in time and parts cleanup. Many will have their own opinion on the topic of high parts count kits, but I hope everyone will agree it's good for modelers to have options.
The Panzer IV was in production in many forms throughout WWII. Originally deployed to support infantry as well as other tanks in reducing enemy strong points with its larger main gun it became the foundation for many variants. The Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. D was an enhancement to prior marks with thicker side and rear armor. A distinguishing feature of the Ausf. D is the stepped armor in front of the driver. The drivers armor plate is slightly ahead of the radio operators. According to the Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, there were 229 Ausf. D's produced between October 1939 and May 1941. These tanks saw combat in France, the Balkans, Africa and the USSR. Markings for this kit are from two units engaged in the Balkans campaign during 1941.
Dragon has perhaps more experience than any manufacturer kitting the Panzer IV in all its variants. One Japanese reviewer counted 36 boxings or re-boxings. What's new about this kit is the approach to reducing the number of kit parts. This kit has 175 parts. To put that into perspective, when Dragon introduced its Ausf. E 3-in-1 kit in 2005 the kit had 604 parts in grey plastic, 23 clear, 310 individual track links, 129 etched parts along with a metal barrel and other assorted goodies...for a parts count of well over 1,000.
The PLATZ kit of the Ausf. D is has 5 sprues. There is a fully molded hull tub; not a new feature with their Panzer IV kits but with some suspension parts already modeled on. Some turret and fender detail is already molded on. Tracks are of single length DS type. No photo etch parts are included. The barrel is molded as one part. No turret stowage bin is provided but if you like the way the early commanders cupola stands chimney- like off the turret you won't care. All hatches can be posed open or closed.
The side of the kit box indicates that a Bergepanzer Tiger I will be the next announced in the PLATZ line.
Below is a good example comparing how Dragon treats the assembly of the suspension and road wheels on their earlier kits. The first image is of the direction sheet for the suspension parts and road wheels for the Ausf. F 3-in-1 kit #6264 introduced in 2005.
Now this next image represents how Dragon takes the PLATZ concept and molds the suspension arm as two parts and road wheels as one part. The reduction in the number of parts is dramatic. Again there are benefits to both design strategies but the PLATZ will reduce parts clean up and building time
Here are the road wheels on the new kit. Detail is very good right down to the lettering on the rubber tires.
The fenders on the PLATZ kit have some detail already molded on. Reminiscent of the storage bins molded onto the fenders of Dragon's older T-72 kits; I leave it up to the modeler to decide if these molded on features are acceptable. Overall I'm impressed with rivets on the front fenders and no-slip patterns.
The muffler is one part with a minor seam to sand off.
The tools are on a sprue common with many Dragon's kits.
Notice how the upper hull has openings for the hatches. The lower hull consolidates parts from past releases as one with no noticeable loss of detail.
Turret assembly starts with one part. There is no gun breech or interior detail provided so you'll likely close the hatches or pose figures from one of the several aftermarket figure sets available representing Panzer IV crews.
The tracks are very nice. A nice feature are the hollowed out guide horns (the spare track run provided for mounting on the hull does not). There is a very small bit of flash noticeable on the track pins.
Markings are provided for two vehicles. After the Norway campaign the solid white crosses were no longer used and the national markings were standardized like those below.
Highly Recommended Pending Build for Beginner to Advanced builders.
I am looking forward to more announcements from Dragon in the PLATZ line. If you are looking for a quick build of a classic tank between your super detailing projects this kits deserves consideration.
Thanks goes out to DML Dragon for this review kit.
Reviewed by Mark Norman
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