Dragon Panzer IV E
by: Vinnie Branigan
For an in the box review of this kit by Pawel Krupowicz please look under reviews.
The initial reports of the kit were everything we all expected. People have been anticipating its release for a long time, and Tom Cockle over at Missing Lynx has been treating us all to previews and teasers since he was a consultant for Dragon in the design of the kit. Early reports from people who had received the kit were complimentary, and it looked like Tom and Dragon had outdone themselves and produced something of a masterpiece....as far as styrene injection kits went. Were they justified? Well, yes. With a few qualifiers.
The kit is supplied as a 3 in 1, but the differences between the 3 versions offered are minimal, mainly being the arrangement or absence of additional armour around the upper hull. The 3 versions offered are;
1. Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. E Early Version
2. Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. E Late Version
3. Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. E DAK
I decided to build the DAK version, mainly because then I could use the additional armour on the front upper hull.
There are lots of little ‘extras’ in this kit. I’ll mention all of them as I continue with the build, even though I found I didn’t use a lot of them, partially from choice, and partially, as we’ll see, for other reasons.
This stage deals with the construction of the rear hull and running gear. First things first......two hulls are supplied, one with the additional armour and one without so make sure you use the correct one for the version you choose to depeict!
I have never, ever, seen bogey’s like these. They are quite simply, stunning! The detail is so sharply rendered, the parts breakdown so elegantly designed. The rear idlers each have a photo etched ‘face’. The road wheels each have a separate tyre, that has a very tiny manufacturers logo on one side. This means you have to be careful when placing the tyres on the road wheels that you have them facing the correct way! Bacxk to those bogeys.....they are beautifully designed. Although elegant in their design, they are complicated to build....I found myself needing a helping hand here, but once constructed, and if you have been sparing with the cement, they actually work the way the real ones would have done! And independently. For modellers that like to place their models in diorama settings the advantages to this are obvious.
Be careful here, as a small exploded view within this construction stage shows the option to use either A16 or A27. Tom Cockle has said that he asked Dragon to ‘grey out’ part A16 on the instructions since he believes that they were not used in this version. So use A27. This stage also shows fixing of the rear idler support, but it’s probably best to leave this off at this stage, since it can be rotated to take up any slack in the tracks later. You can also leave off the tyres until later, since that way they can be painted separately. Note also that there is a moulding seam around each tyre that was actually there on the original so need not be sanded off! It just depends on how worn you like your tyres to appear!
stages 2 to 6
Fixing of the running gear to the lower hull, along with the rear hull and smoke generator. And engine grills.
Construction of these provided no difficulties, although it is worth noting here that on the inside of the hull there is a locating ring moulded on that helps to locate the turret later. Only it doesn’t. It’s in the wrong place where it is, bang in the middle. The turret is correctly offset to the left, but for some reason Dragon has moulded this ring centrally. You can safely remove it, it makes no difference later on, but will prove a major problem if you leave it where it is. I removed it and left part F36 out. The construction of the drive housings was amazing! The possibilities for dioramas involving maintenance crews and damaged tanks are incredible! There is detail moulded on the inside of the drive housings....AND...the gear wheels inside the housings are faithfully reproduced, so you can see what I mean about dioramas! The detail in this area of the kit is breathtaking!
Dragon provide two different types of armoured guard for the drive housing, and if you choose to use the one piece guards be prepared to use what are probably some of the smallest injection moulded parts you have ever seen. The conical bolts which have to be added are tiny!
The smoke generator for the rear of the tank can be modelled either open or closed, and five tiny photo etched ‘chains’ are supplied, which need only be fitted when modelled open as they will not be seen if modelled closed. I don’t think this is correct for the DAK version, although I’m not sure, but it looked so good I had to put it on mine!
For fitting the engine slats to the inside of the upper hull, I advise you strongly to dry fit more than once, and then do it again. There is supposed to be a problem with a small gap here, but after fitting mine I was more than happy with their apearance.
stages 7 to 9
The hull deck!
The tank was really starting to look the part now! Construction in these stages begins with the front of the fighting compartment. Dragon supply all the vision blocks, periscopes etc, as clear parts, and they all fit exactly as intended by Dragon. The layout of the rear deck over the engines is different dependent on which version you are depicting, so careful attention to the instruction sheet here! There are some beautiful photo etch parts for fitting under the engine slats, again, different dependent on version. In stage 8 you have to decide which additional armour pieces to use, and some of the upper hull walls will need holes drilling to accommodate these, so please read through the instructions carefully!
The front Machine gun is gorgeous, and even comes with a spent ammunition bag, which is not mentioned on the instructions so don’t forget to use it! All hatches can be depicted open or closed, and show appropriate detail on their inner faces, but remember, apart from the turret, there is very little in the way of internal detail present, so it might be better to have the lower hull ‘buttoned’ up. It will come in handy for all the aftermarket engines and transmissions that will inevitably appear though!
At the end of the stage the fenders are shown be fixed to the upper hull. Firstly, Dragon supply two sets of fenders, one set with holes for locating all the tools with moulded on clamps, and one set without the holes for those of you that would like to use the photo etched clamps and fitting that are also supplied. If you feel confident about using tiny photo etched parts then use the fenders without holes, the PE clamps really stand out and look great! Both sets of fenders have the tread plate pattern moulded underneath too! I would seriously consider not joining the fenders to the lower hull at this stage though, as even a small mis-alignment could create major fit problems later.
stages 10 & 11
This is basically all photo etch! It’s where you get to spend a good few hours bending brass (if you have chosen this option). If you do choose to go down this road, then you should be aware that I found a few problems. Now some of these could be due to something I did wrong. I think they’re faults in the kit, even though they’re only tiny things that can easily be put right.
Firstly, the headlights. You are given the option of replacing the conduit to these with PE parts. Don’t. The styrene parts are the correct profile, PE would be too ‘flat’. As far as all the PE replacement clamps go, I had problems with the jack clamps, which I think are too short. I just cannot see how they can be made to fit around the jack. I ended up making some replacement ones from an old PE fret. I decided not to use the PE step for the fender, although it looks as though it will work OK. The type of clamp that has the ‘U’ shaped handle I replaced with Eduard clamps, as the Dragon ones build in much the same way as the Aber ones, and I just find these too difficult to build properly. I experienced the same problem of the PE being too short with the clamps for the towing clevis. I actually gave up on these and used the ones with the moulded on clamps.
In stage 11 I lined the antennae trough with foil, since it was impossible to remove some pin marks inside it. Eventually I decided to model the antennae down anyway so it wouldn’t have mattered. I did give up on attaching the shovel though....there just wasn’t any room for it! The spare track holders made up for it though, they look absolutely great. Also in stage 11 there are two small pre-bent wires to be fitted at the rear of each fender. I’m no Panzer IV expert and I have no idea what these actually are. I fitted them, and much later on when joining the hull deck to the lower hull I sort of guessed their purpose, they actually clip around the towing hooks on the lower hull. They proved so strong and ‘springy’ I actually ended up removing them!
stages 12 to 15
Here we begin constructing the turret and main gun. Construction begins with the cupola, which yes you’ve guessed it, is beautiful again! You have got to leave this open, the detail of the periscopes is amazing and will look fantastic once painted. You are given the option of having the periscopes open or closed. Next comes the turret bin. Again this can be modelled opened or closed, and if it is to be modelled open then you can add some PE parts supplied to make it look the business! Dragon are really thinking out of the box with all the options they are including to aid the modeller who likes to depict his model ‘doing something’. There are some very nice PE hasps supplied for the bin, but again, I found I could not attach the small padlocks because the hasps themselves were not long enough.
Stage 13 continues with building the turret suspended floor, which is basic but is enough to allow you to raise the hatches. Stage 14 & 15 begin the construction of the gun, and you have the option of using the styrene or aluminium barrel supplied. When constructing the gun, you will find it easier if you firstly attach F30 to F12, and also place F10 over the mantlet, F22 before placing F12.
stages 16 to 18
Finishing off the turret and building those tracks!
The grab handles on the turret roof are supplied as pre-bent wire....a nice touch by Dragon. These stages mainly deal with attaching small fixtures and fitting to the outside of the turret. Again, there is detail moulded on the inside of the hatches, although I have to say their fit was not entirely positive and needed a bit of ‘fiddling’ with. The instructions also show the placing of some spare track links on the glacis plate, although Dragon don’t include any sort of brackets for fixing these? The placement of part D19 is also wrong on the instructions, and to see exactly how this is fitted you should look at the illustration of the finished vehicle in the ‘Markings’ section.
Now we come to those tracks! They are arguably the best tracks Dragon have ever produced...with the possible exception of the 251 series tracks. The guide horn is moulded correctly with the hole, something I’ve not seen done on a kit-supplied injection moulded set of tracks before. Take note, they are not workable though. There is an upper run former supplied to obtain the correct ‘sag’ of the tracks, and this system worked well. I attached all the road wheels and the idler, although I left this adjustable, and fitted the drive wheel at the same time as the tracks, making sure everything was the right way round! The tracks are left and right-handed so pay attention to the instructions and take your time!
There you have it. Dragons latest offering. I have a lot of things over form the build, some of which may get used when I get around to painting it. These include the ‘Generation 2’ General Guderian figure, which looks fantastic, some Jerry cans with PE inserts to represent the seams, a DS plastic Cactus, some brass shells and an awful lot of tools!
This kit is an engineering feat. It is a miniature replica of a Panzer IV, not a model. It’s quite simply stunning. It is not a kit for a beginner though, since at times it can be hard work, but enjoyable none the less.
My Thanks to Dragon for the review sample.