By 1943, Adolf Hitler and his commanding officers were quite aware of the huge tank losses suffered in the previous years, mostly while fighting in the Soviet Union. To hopefully increase the overall production of tanks, at the start of 1943, Adolf Hitler appointed Albert Speer, the German Minister of Armament, to supervise the entire war production. At that time, other tank projects, such as the Tiger and Panther, were underway. These inevitably affected the production of other vehicles, including the Panzer IV. Speer soon informed Hitler that an increase in production was only possible if it focused on the Panzer IV and StuG III. Attempts to increase production showed some results. For example, Nibelungwerke increased its Panzer IV output by 20 vehicles per month during March 1943. On the other hand, problems with the deliveries of necessary parts were becoming an ever-present threat to the German tank program, which would only worsen as the years passed.
In March, General Oberst Heinz Guderian, the Inspector General of the Armoured Troops, informed Hitler that the Panzer division’s strength could be reinforced only by focusing on the production of Panzer IV tanks. In addition, he argued that the Panzer IV had to remain in production for the next two years. While Hitler agreed, this decision would often be ignored and bypassed, reducing the Panzer IV production in favour of anti-tank and assault gun versions based on its chassis. Considerable resources also developed and produced the larger Tiger and Panther tanks.
The Panzer IV's further development led to the Ausf's introduction. H version. There is a common misconception about the difference between it and the previous Ausf. G, which is commonly attributed to the barrel length. The latter built Ausf. Gs received the same L/48 long gun as employed on the Ausf.H. These two tank versions were the same, to the point one may even ask why even bother giving a new designation.
Most of the surface is detailed to a high standard
The Panzer Ausf.H was produced by Krupp, Vomag, and Nibelungenwerke. Over 100 companies of various sizes would be included in its overall production. Huge production orders were given to Krupp and Vomag to produce 1,400 tanks each, and Nibelungenwerke a further 1,900. Despite being heavily involved in the Panzer IV production, Krupp produced only 381 Ausf. H vehicles by December 1943. During 1943, Krupp was somewhat chaotic due to constant changes in production orders.
Vomag Panzer IV H:
The Panzer IV was originally intended to be used only on a limited scale, so initially, Krupp was its sole manufacturer. Before the Polish campaign, only 217 Panzer IVs had been produced: 35 Ausf. A; 42 Ausf. B; and 140 Ausf. C in 1941, production was extended to Vogtländische Maschinenfabrik ("VOMAG") (located in the city of Plauen) and the Nibelungenwerk in the Austrian city of St. Valentin.
The box is a cardboard tray which is quite robust with a thinner cardboard lid with some amazing artwork, 1 large comprehensive instruction booklet, 55 Light and mid-grey sprues, plus 22 light grey sprues for tracks, 1 large photo etch and 1 medium 1 clear sprue 1 decal sheet for 3 options.
Upon opening the box, I cannot believe how they managed to fit all this plastic inside!
The build begins with the interior in the lower part of the hull and is mainly involving the start of the interior, The bottom part of the inside of the hull carries a lot of detail which is quite fascinating, to say the least with inspection covers to allow some work to the engine for lubrication and minor repair work. A belly escape hatch that sits under the radio operator’s position which I can’t imagine too many tankers being able to extract themselves from that hatch in a hurry! In fairness, the detail level throughout this part of the build is to a high standard and clearly shows the amount of work that has gone into these newly tooled kits.
Another point to note is the fact that there, of course, are a few different options for you during the build these are not the best within the instruction, this tank has a full engine in detail to go with the full interior which will need to be painted as you go along. The engine detail itself is very nice and will make a stunning visual point especially if leads and pipes are fitted.
Not too sure you will be able to see it all once the hull and turret are finished unless you were to cut out parts for viewing purposes, that said sometimes when you cut out portions of the lower hull the side of the turret is done the right way, could give you some extra points in competition may be enough to earn gold rather than silver!
The upper deck of the hull is full of detail and has many panels to place onto it some of these I would recommend a couple of dry fits first, honestly the detail is one of the best I have seen on this series of tanks. As well as on the outside, being, a full interior which then adds more detail inside which includes the machine gun and gives more of an insight into just how cramped it is inside a tank when fully loaded, the machine gun armoured ball detail was accurate, and the detail of the three inspection hatches, the main one being inspection hatch for steering unit then the left and right hatches with air intake for steering and brake.
The turret of this tank is full of detail and contains numerous parts, to coin a phrase of my colleague Darren Baker “the turret of this model is a busy area” I believe that the version of the panzer IV that he reviewed is a non-interior! The section of the build for the turret starts on page 30 and ends on page 38 it looks stunning and I only hope it is a superb fit of all the parts that the real Panzer IV would have.
The turret ring is where it starts
I have never seen so many parts for a turret in many years of model building and reviewing I honestly have not come across so many parts, I am not criticizing this far from it, and I am relishing the chance to build this one into a diorama where after a lot of thought I want to be able to show some of the interior’s detail without cutting sections of the tank out. So have decided to use this tank with another MiniArt kit 35359 WERKSTATTKRAFTWAGEN TYP-03-30, plus some more figures.
So back to the turret build the main gun elevation drive and cog and chain in the photo etch, the gun mantlet’s casting looks so good. The roof and side hatches of the turret have been provided separately, and so can be shown open or closed which gives a partial view into the interior. Moving to the outside of the turret, you have a single-piece barrel, which reduces the amount of cleanup required. The Commander’s Cupola is nicely replicated along with clear periscope lenses.
Finishing options for this version are as follows
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. H Vomag Early production May 1943 Pz. Rgt.35, 4th Pz. Division Soviet Union Orel Direction, August 1943
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. H Vomag Early production May 1943 Pz. Rgt. 2, 16th Panzer Division
Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. H Vomag Early Production May 1943 Undefined Unit Soviet Union, Winter 1943/1944
My first comment must be how the hell did they get that much plastic in a box I am still pondering that one after taking it all out and trying to get it all back in the box. So, we go back to the question off does a full interior make things more complicated. I love the interior kits, but I know plenty of people that not so happy with them and think it is a waste as you can’t see all of it. I don’t agree with a little bit of a modellers licence, I am planning a diorama of The Panzer IV Vomag along with another MiniArt kit 35359 WERKSTATTKRAFTWAGEN TYP-03-30, plus some more figures, where I am hoping to be able to show at least 50% of the detail.
So back to the kit in question, I think that MiniArt is one of those companies that hopefully will keep innovating and bring out even more kits that are full of new and better details this has proved to be the case over the last few years. Another point here that is certainly worth mentioning is that MiniArt, ICM, MasterBox and many other model companies have been in the middle of a War with Russia and still have been producing fantastic kits for that alone I take my hat off to all the model's companies in Ukraine.
I believe that this kit will be of interest to many modellers and is worth a look and build