by: Ted Hayward [ ]
A new contender to the after-market photo-etch detail arena, Orange Hobby, is quickly gaining a reputation for offering upgrade sets for some of our favorite kits. This time, I am reviewing the one for Tamiya's Panzer IV Ausf. H/J in 1/35th scale. These sets will transform an older model into something comparable to modern releases. Also, it' s just fun to have a break away from building plastic kits, as these brass PE sets really provide a nice challenge.
This set includes 5 frets of photo-etched brass parts (including templates for bending the brackets to the required shapes), as well as more than enough tiny rivets, aka: bolts-- It's assumed that some will get lost.
I still don't own a fancy PE parts bending machine, and am making do with my trusty tweezers and steel ruler. Other than keen dexterity, that's all one really needs to assemble these sets. A very nice touch with this set is the inclusion on the frets of templates to help bend each bracket to its correct shape, an otherwise tricky feat! Such innovations make these sets accessible to a beginner tackling PE for the first time. If one is very brave, one could attempt construction using solder, but I have never needed anything more than the usual CA adhesive.
The result is a robust construction that will easily stand up to a bit of handling or aggressive weathering. One tip I can pass along is to first mark the position of the rails (parts C5) onto the skirts to determine the proper relative position of the skirt brackets (parts C6). I did also learn to first cement the attachment points (parts A1 and B15) to their locations before drilling the 0.3mm bolt holes. I found in the instructions that Part G7 is transposed with G6, but the directions were otherwise easy-to-follow. The turret skirt armor is complete with turret access "gates" on tiny hinges. If carefully made, the hinges are operational and the gates can be opened/closed, but I found this detail far too fiddly for my limited skills.
This new contender to the PE brass detail market offers update sets for some of our favorite kits. Intended to give a realistic scale thickness not possible in styrene plastic, these PE brass armor skirts can turn a less-than-modern kit into a show-winner. In a bid to save money during these uncertain economic times, I've been dusting-off and updating some of my older builds with these after-market sets. As you can see in the photo of the completed build, this set nicely upgraded my ancient Academy Panzer IV, making a ten dollar kit into the pride of my display case. The fit to both the Tamiya and Academy kits was perfect (not surprising, as the Academy Panzer IV is a copy of the Tamiya kit), with no modifications— except for drilling the .3 mm mounting holes for the "bolts." I can't claim to be any kind of expert on German armor, but the completed build certainly matches reference photos I have, and fits the Panzer IV kit perfectly. Also available is the turret skirt armor only (item G35-041), as a separate set.