This offering from MiniArt is the latest of their Panzer IVs. The model arrives in a thin cardboard tray, with a card lid. Inside the parts for the model are in a single plastic bag, with the clear elements in an additional bag and a card envelope containing 2 photo etched frets and a decal sheet. An examination of the mouldings reveals no areas of concern as regards moulding quality. Access for removal of parts is good, and the gates between the sprue and the parts is of a reasonable size. Due to MiniArt having released a large quantity of Panzer IV’s it does make finding the part you want a little difficult due to the large number of sprues.
Due to the large number of Panzer IVs released and the option of full interior kits, the lower hull of the model is made up of various different panels that have both exterior and internal detail. The fire wall between the engine and crew compartments is provided and serves an important purpose within the model, as it helps align parts correctly orientates and help support the upper decks as you add them. Anyone who has built one of these Panzer IVs will know that both the added and moulded on detail provide a really high level of detail that is hard to better. The only thing that I could possibly question is weather all aspects are perfectly accurate for the finishing options that this provides due to the very wide range of details on the panzer IV family, and taking into account that written reference maybe accurate for one very specific tank rather than all. Due to the releases having options of an interior, all of the hatches can be shown open and this means that the modeller can decide exactly how they wish to display their finished model.
I believe that the H model of the Panzer IV was the pinnacle of its evolution due to the J model being simplified for production and saving materials. The track guards are as with everything else nicely detailed, but do not have a huge amount of support and so I would recommend that the upper hull be readied for application at the same time you add the mud guards as it gives them more positive support and aides in the correct orientation. The various tools that are positioned around the vehicle have a mix of moulded on clamp detail and photo etch additional detail. I believe that a combination of plastic and photo etch offers the best level of detail while keeping construction as easy as possible. Those who remember the workable lamps in the Dragon kits of old will know exactly what I mean.
Moving to the suspension units for this release, you have some element of movement possible enabling you to show your model sat reasonably accurately on any terrain that you choose. Wheel detail is of a high standard, with the tyres element of the model having the manufacturers mark on them. The underside elements of the suspension are also especially well detailed, being added on parts. The track links for this release are individually moulded, but are not workable. The detail on them is very good, but consideration will need to be given during the assembly of them depending on the surface you wish to display your model.The additional Shurzen plate armour down the sides of the hull is provided in photo etch as are the hanger brackets. The mounts attached on to the front of the vehicle are plastic mouldings and is something that I like, due to its ease of construction than if an alternative material was used.
The turret of the model due to the internal option provides a lot of internal detail, which means that having the hatches open is a distinct possibility as you can see so much inside. I believe that everything with the exception of the cradle are radio equipment is present. I could think of a number of crews offered by MiniArt and others that would make this turret very appealing. The Commander’s Cupola is again another particularly well detailed parts of the model with all of the detail both in and out well replicated. The storage bin on the rear of the turret also has the ability to have the hatch open to place some goodies of your own choice to make the model uniquely your. The gun mantlet is well designed and has a very good representation of the machine gun muzzle. The main barrel of the tank is a single piece moulding that I like, with the muzzle brake being a multi part assembly that mimics the approach taken with metal turned barrels and so a high representation. The Schürzen around the turret is plastic is this case, but is again well represented and has the option of the side access plates open or closed depending on what you have chosen to do with the hatches.
MiniArt has provided 3 finishing options for this release:
II./Pz-Lehr.Rgt.130,130.Panzer-Lehr-Division, Hungary, Outskirts of Budapest, March 1944
II./Pz rgt. 25, 7.Panzer-Division, Eastern Front, Belarus, Summer 1944
VII./Pz Rgt.3, 3.Panzer-Division “Totenkopf”, Warsaw Uprising, 1944
This release from MiniArt of their latest 1/35th Panzer IV Ausf.H is another great example of the tank that was the armoured workforce of the German military. While the Tigers and Panther tend to get all of the glory, it is this vehicle that did the work and this offering offers everything that you need in the box, with the possible exception that I would like to add chain rather than photo etch chain. I also commend MiniArt for providing 3 specific finishing options for the model.