Dragon started their series of Panzer IV's with the Ausf.E, which unfortunately came in for some criticism, although it was still a superb kit. Dragon answered their critics with the release of the Panzer IV 'Vorpanzer', the version that had additional spaced armour. They seemed to have corrected all of the major faults with that release, and quickly followed it up with the release of the Ausf.D, which included extra sprues which backdated it to the earlier mark. This version again goes back one more mark, this time to the Ausf.C. However, unlike kit number 6265, the Ausf.D, this one is not marketed as a '3 in 1' kit.
It's as you would expect. Another of those kits from Dragon that once open, it's extremely difficult to get the lid back on! We are given the ubiquitous Dragon 'card' with all the 'goodies' on, which include 3 brass photo-etch frets, 3 small sprues of transparent styrene, a metal tow rope, 4 towing eyelets, 2 idler wheels, a cupola, and a good decal sheet by Cartograf. Also attached to the card are two small bags containing right-hand and left-hand track links, and another with the tyres for the roadwheels.
Also in the box, are of course 18 sprues in Dragon's light grey styrene, a separate turret, and a hull.
There is also a small black vac-formed tray containing an aluminium barrel, 2 brass shells, 2 wire grab handles, 4 wires for lights, and a brass shovel bracket.
As you would expect, all the parts look to be immaculately moulded, with no flash present at all on the parts I examined.
Since Dragon make the best use of their moulds as they possibly can, then we benefit from all the extra parts destined for the spares box, and this issue continues this trend, with large numbers of parts being indicated on the instruction sheet as being 'Not for use'.
Sprues A, D, E, F, H, B, J, Q, S, L, U, and PE frets MC and MA are the same as in the Ausf.D release. The review of which can be found here: Panzer IV Ausf.D Review
Obviously there are differences with this kit however, which allow it to be built as the Ausf. C. Firstly, the hull roof, is in this kit, supplied on an entirely new sprue, W. This is to allow for the older straight front hull plate, but there are also other differences introduced by Dragon in this completely new tooling. New screw heads and join lines have appeared, and the angle of the hull walls above the engine intakes has been increased too. To allow for all this, also included on the sprue are various other newly tooled parts.
Firstly, the hull.... which is a newly tooled one, and there are new additional parts for the fuel filler caps, as well as new parts for the suspension shock absorbers of which there are only two on either side compared to the 4 either side on the Ausf.D. The brackets for these are now already moulded directly onto the hull. The rear hull plate is new, with better defined detail, and obviously the hull front, as mentioned earlier is new, and since it's straight, all it's associated hardware is new too, such as the driver's visor and the co-driver's.
As you can see from the photographs, the detail is incredible, from the fully working leaf sprung suspension bogey's, to the 'Continental' logo on the separate roadwheel tyres!
The turret has also benefited from a re-tooling, with better detail on the roof, and two new hatches to allow for the earlier style of vision ports. We are again treated to a choice of using the on vehicle tools with or without photo-etched clamps, and for this purpose there are two sets of fenders again supplied. One set with locating holes, the other without. Both sets still display detail on the underside, which is a nice touch. As with the Ausf.D, the option is still there to display the vehicle in a diorama setting with the drive sprockets completely dis-assembled, Dragon supplying tiny styrene bolts and two drive sprocket sets. We are also offered detail inside the drive housing, should you wish to display this having maintenance performed on it, with all the appropriate gears inside it.
There is a new sprue Y, which holds a newly-tooled internal mantlet assembly, which was change to an external one on the later Ausf.D The wishbone shaped antennae deflector is still shown fitted, although this was only fitted to later versions of the C, although it was retro-fitted in a lot of cases, so is still correct, however, the instructions would still have you fit the starter crank to the right fender, whereas it should be on the left on the Ausf.C, along with the spare track link bracket. There is also, correctly, no turret stowage bin fitted to the Ausf.C.
Again we are offered a styrene KwK37 L24 barrel with rifling, or an aluminium one without. It would be a real step forward if Dragon could somehow produce an aluminium barrel with rifling!
All Ausf. C's were supplied in panzer grey, and Dragon offer 4 versions of it. They also however offer 2 re-painted versions, one in dark yellow and one with wide green stripes, both of which were present at Normandy in 1944.
Another brilliant addition to the range. We'll soon be able to build a complete range of Panzer IV's at this rate, you could even produce a B from this kit with very litle work. Dragon continue to improve and re-tool their moulds in response to modeller's desires, and each time they do, they have a winner. Very highly recommended.
My thanks to Dragon
for the review sample