by: Tom Moon [ ]
There were 35 Pz IV Ausf Bís built and accepted between November 1937 and June 1938. There were numerous changes and improvement as with all new tanks, experience gained on the battlefield dictated most of these. One of the changes was the addition of the smoke candles on the rear exhaust muffler in August 1938. The Notek night marching device was added in the spring of 1940, the add-on armor in February 1941. The sprues have the Notek light, but it was not listed as an option in the instructions. The smoke candles that were added about a year earlier than the add-on armor are not included in the kit. About the same time as the add-on armor the antenna deflector was added too to the 7.5cm KwK barrel, again the deflector is on the sprues but nothing in the instructions about it.
The first choice you have is the drive sprocket. You can use the one with molded on bolts, or add the bolts yourself. The first instruction error occurs when the suspension swing arms show A7 for one side and A8 in brackets for the other side. They need to be reversed.
Continuing into step two you will find instruction errors again, the main hull X1 has 6 molding tabs along the top edge, three per side. The instruction picture shows them gone, but nothing in the instructions says to remove them. You will need to remove them as the upper hull will not fit with them in place. Rear plate W20 has two locating holes for braces, and nowhere in the instructions you are shown what to install into these locating holes. After reviewing the instructions from a Dragon Pz IV Ausf C kit I found that parts D5 and D6 are to be installed here. To double check, I used Walter Spielbergerís Pz IV and its Variants 1935-1945 Book 2 and found that the Ausf A did have these braces and Dragon just left them off the instructions.
In step 3 the idler wheel axle D31 is shown to be installed. I suggest that you glue the axle to the idler wheel, but leave the subassembly off of the model till you install the tracks as you can adjust the position of the idler wheel to get the desired sag with the tracks. The next problem encountered was the mounting of the bogie to the hull. The instruction picture of the hull shows a locating hole for the bogie locating pin to fit into, but the actual hull has a slot instead of the hole and this slot is too low for the bogie pin. So I had to drill a new hole higher up on the hull to allow the bogie to sit properly. You donít need to fill the old slot as the bogie will cover it completely. Normally I leave off the road wheels till much later in the build so as to ease the painting and weathering of the suspension. I did so this time, but when I went to add the road wheels I discovered that either the bogie axle was too small or the road wheelsí hole was too big, the fit was very loose and it took 3 days of fiddling and gluing to get them in place with sufficient strength to not come loose when the tracks were installed. This step also shows the building of the vision blocks. However, there is no option to show the visor outer plate in the open position and the interior is so bare you would not like to leave the hatches open, so one would get a very limited look at these two vision blocks.
In Step 4 you can build the driverís periscope in either the open or closed position. However, your only option in step 14 is to show the driverís armored visor in the closed position, and there is nothing inside the tank here that would allow you to show the driverís hatch open unless you filled it with aftermarket or scratch built interior. The instructions do not show machine gun parts J30 (loading latch) and J27 (head padding) being installed. They are necessary for a complete gun, but if you leave all the hatches closed, no one would know the difference. I also left off the two tow cable storage pins till much later in the build. My experience has been these will be broken off when handling the model during the rest of the build.
In step 5 and 6 there were no issues with the build or instructions other than you are given the option to show the hatches open or closed. With no interior, I left them closed.
In step 7 you can add the miscellaneous tools to the left side of the tank. Typically I leave these off for easier painting and weathering of both the tools and the fender. The fire extinguisher H12 does not look like the one depicted in the instructions. The headlights H28 has the electrical wire going down to the hull, but it is too short; you may want to replace that with wire to show it going all the way down to the hull. The barrel cleaning rods H2 have two location pins, but the hull does not have two corresponding locating holes, just some locating ribs. You can either drill two holes or cut off the pins and mount the rods. The subassembly of the track tightener and crew step is basically all photo etch. There is no plastic equivalent. It was a real bear to get it correct and to stay attached to the hull and fender.
In step 8 you can add the miscellaneous tools to the right side of the tank. Typically I leave these off for easier painting and weathering of both the tools and the fender. The headlights H34 has the electrical wire going down to the hull, but it is too short; you may want to replace that with wire to show it going all the way down to the hull. If the antenna storage trough is placed according to the locating ribs molded onto the hull the antenna will not fit into the trough. If you want the antenna down you will need to slide the trough towards the rear about 1mm. The photo etch brackets (MA14 & MA15) for the jack are too small. If you fold them at the fold marks the jack cannot fit into the bracket without spreading the two vertical bars too far apart for the hinge to attach to one side and mate up with the other side. There are no plastic equivalent parts. I just left the jack off the model.
In steps 9 and 10 you build the gun and the turret. You have the option of leaving the commanderís hatch open or closed. Here if you drop a commander figure into the turret that would obscure the view to the bare interior so you could leave the hatch open.
In step 11 you build the turret basket and turning mechanism. Here the instructions show two locating holes for the turning mechanism to fit into, but the holes are not in part G20 (turret bottom plate). I clipped the pins off and glued the mechanism in by sight.
In step 12 you are instructed to build two more vision blocks, but the outside armored visors only can be shown in the closed position. And the two side hatches are built closed, so you canít see into that area anyway.
In step 13 the instructions show the DS tracks already installed. There are no instructions as to how to build the tracks. This is what I do with DS tracks, you will need to cut off the two part number tabs 100R = Y2 on the instruction sheet, and 100L = Y1.
I tried something new this time, before gluing the ends together, I masked off the ends where they meet to be glued. I then painted the entire track run and did some preliminary weathering. Then I glued the ends together and let them set over night. Then I did some touch up painting, especially around the ends which were masked and some glue oozed out when pressed together. I then used a #6 HobbyTrax form to transform the round tracks to ones that have a little sag and are in the basic shape of the tracks when mounted. I then mounted the tracks using the idler wheel to adjust the tension to get the proper amount of sag.
In step 14 the add-on armor plate MB7 will not fit unless you remove part of the original hatch hinges.
There are tow cable ends on the sprues, but nothing in the instructions to show how to build one and where it would be installed.
The only suggested painting is an overall German Panzer Grey. The instructions imply that the two exhaust mufflers are to be painted some other color than Panzer Grey, but there is no color indicated. A basic rust and burnt metal were what I used.