by: Cody K [ ]
The Panzer IV medium tank was the workhorse AFV of the Wehrmacht and produced throughout the war, with over 8500 built, second only to the Stug III. With its long service history it had seen many upgrades and variants, with extra armor, up gunning as well as simplifications to ease production.
The Ausf. G is an up-armored version of the Ausf. F. Early Gs mount the same 7.5cm KwK 40/L43 of the earlier F2, and from 1943 March upgraded to the longer KwK 40/L48. Additional armor on the front superstructure and hull could be welded or bolted on, and cupola are reinforced as well. Ausf. Gs started a series of simplifications which included the deletion of front superstructure periscope ports, signal ports for the driver hatches, side fender’s steps, turret vision port and smoke candle rack. Spare road wheel storage are added, and the introduction of Schürzen and appliqué armor to counter the threat of Soviet anti-tank projectiles.
For the past decade Dragon models has had the best Panzer IVs in the market and the company kitted almost all variants. With Border Models seemingly mounting a challenge with its new ausf G, I thought I’d build review one of the Dragon’s in my stash that is not yet reviewed on Armorama, the kit #6594 Ausf.G Apr - May 1943 Production. This is around the mid-late period of the run, with many changes such as more widespread deployment of Schürzen, which is included in the box. Ausf Gs are manufactured by Krupp, Vomag and Nibelungenwerke with the majority by the former 2, and this kit includes parts to account for the slight differences between the two. Although instructions only indicated the welded armored, parts are included for the bolted armor if you want to go that route.
The kit has their typical sharp molding with no flash. With almost 600 parts and a lot of spares, let's take a look at the sprues.
Sprue A is the common Panzer IV wheels, suspension and hull details.
Sprue B is the turret details, including the gun breech.
This is sprue E where you only use the stowage bin and mantlet. One of the most "wasteful" ever.
Sprue E is the regular Panzer IV armor surfaces, including extra welded armor.
Sprue G is the common Panzer IV turret details.
Sprue H, another common Panzer IV sprue, contains miscellaneous details.
Sprue C is the OVMs and an alternative spare wheel bracket.
Sprue N are the Ausf G parts, sprue M has the new cupola.
Sprue P has more Ausf G parts, and T has the appliqué armor and support brackets.
Sprue S is the side fenders and support brackets for Schürzen.
The kit also contains clear parts, decals, Schürzen in steel plates and a small PE fret. I got a version of the kit with Magic tracks and DS tracks.
Decals has markings for 10 vehicles.
Having built many Dragon Panzer IVs before I recommend building up the kit in a certain sequence to obtain the best fit. The fit on the “canonical” kits such as their Ausf F1 are really good, but on kits where Dragon add bits and parts it is more tricky. With many build reviews of Dragon Panzer IVs I’ll try something different and build the kit out of instruction order and instead in a more enjoyable and less error-prone order.
I first built up the lower hull without the suspension, putting together the lower front armor, the glacis and the back plates. Often the side parts E8 and E9 don’t exactly fit the lower front E4, leaving a small gap on one of the sides, if you glue the latter first. So glue E8 first, then attach E4, and then E9 afterwards for an almost perfect fit. Be sure to drill out the holes if you want to attach extra armor. I also recommend building up the armor parts A8, A9 and A10 together in a subassembly first and then add the whole to the front drive unit. The back plate is relatively trouble free. You can also build the muffler at this point but I usually leave them removable for painting and rusting. Dragon’s muffler exhaust H20 is a bit thick so you can thin down the cylinder walls with a Dremel.
Then I worked on the upper hull. The fit of engine bay doors H21 and H22 are very snug so make sure you have it all patted down. The exhaust bays of the Ausf G use the new sprue P for a new style, but the fit is very tight and you almost have to force the parts together. Next I built the walls of the upper hull. I recommend fitting the front wall N2 first to make sure you get the top weld seam fitting perfectly with the superstructure, and then you can get a very good fit afterwards for the left and right plates N6 and N13. I left the upper rear part H19 off.
Then I worked on side fenders. The main challenge of all the Panzer IVs are the back mud guards H52 and H53, so I only attached the front mud guards P16 and P17 as subassemblies. The fit is almost perfect here but it’s not easy to get there, I recommend fitting the front mud guard parts P16 and P17 first to the side fenders, then glue the peripheral parts P7 and P8. You usually get a seam here, so run some quick setting glue on it and position the piece until the seam is gone. With the quick setting glue you get styrene goo oozed out and you’d get no seams.
After that you fit the fenders to the lower hull. This is the most important step on fitting the tank, particularly the rear mud guards. I find that the fenders are a bit too short and the back, so I trimmed the fitting slots a bit until the rear of the fender can fit perfectly to the hull.
Then I put the upper and lower hulls together. On this Ausf G I have a pretty big seam between the glacis plate and the front part N2 with extra armor. I tried to run a little glue and press the two pieces together but the seam was still there, so some filling will be required. Press down the rest of the upper hull and run quick setting. The back is the trickiest, since we left off part H19 we have a chance to glue the exhaust bay properly to the lower hull and adjust. After you are happy with the fit and the glue sets, you can finally glue H19 on, and you can now get a perfect fit by applying pressure and running glue along the seam. If you took care of the fit earlier in the rear when you attach the side fenders, you should have no problem putting on the rear mud guards now.
Next we move onto the turret. After a lot of failures I realized the best way to get perfect fit for the turret is the glue the upper and lower turret together first, then the front and mantlet. It is much harder to have lower turret fit well to the other two. If you cover up your tank there are no reasons to build the gun breech, but the assembly is quite simple so I often do it. I made subassemblies for the gun and mantlet. In particular B11, B12 and B34 can be glued to N5 independently, which gives you more control and eventually very flush fit for B11 and B12 so that it looks like one piece, and less chance for accidentally gluing B34 which would prevent your barrel from elevating.
The reinforced cupola on the Ausf G is new on sprue M. I almost always do the “open” configuration for these since they look more interesting, but the windows subassemblies are a bit of a hassle to keep anchored to M10 (don’t anchor them to M3 as the diagram suggested), and if you don’t take care of them it’ll be some acrobatics to fit part M3. So make sure the windows stay on M10 with a little glue, dry, and then assemble M3. Attach the five M7 parts afterwards.
This kit gives you the option of longer barrel B42 of the L48 or the shorter E20 of the L43. The shorter variant is for the early Gs. The new recoil housing part N14 is pretty awesome slide-moulded one piece rather than the older 2-piece assembly, which is awesome. For the mantlet assembly I attached N5 to the pivots B11 and B12 to B34 as a subassembly and made sure B34 can move. I also thinned the walls of the smoke discharger G2 further, although AM discharger would also look very awesome here. The lift hooks A53 and A50 are some of the smallest assemblies of the kit, I remove A53 from the sprue but not A50 so that I only have one rather than two tiny parts to work with.
Now we’re back to the more mundane running gears. There are a few tricks you can speed the assembly up. First off on the suspension springs, the A11 A12 assembly is a bit difficult to handle with my fat fingers, so I left A12 on the sprue and attach sanded A11 to it.
Next, the return rollers are also quite small to handle and sand. You can leave all the A2s on the sprue (don’t cut the middle linkages either), and cut all A3s off the sprue BUT leave them attached to each other. That way you can assemble the two rows together. Moreover the completed rows of four make it much easier to handle and sand, you can sand the tire seams out until the end and detach each tire one by one.
The road wheels consist of 3 parts, the cap A1, and the outer and inner wheels A19 and A18. I first attach A1 to A18, and I find it easier to clip A1 off, position them onto A18 and have it fit before running Tamiya extra thin.
After the glue dried a bit, I clipped the sprue tree’s protrusions around A18 and clipped the whole 10 wheels of A18 sprue tree out. I then applied regular Tamiya glue on all 10 of the A19s and slapped the A18s onto it. I thought this was pretty cool but not really sure whether it’s a huge time saving.
With the basic tank finished I started working on the Schürzen and appliqué armor. The latter in particular is often tricky on panzers because I wanted to leave them detached for painting, and yet easily re-attachable when I’m finished. There are 6 arms holding up the armor, and I decided to attach the front 4 arms to the frontal armor and have the rear arms attached to the turret. The protective ring around the cupola makes it very difficult to attach the arm post-painting. Schürzen are relatively straightforward
The DS tracks are fine on this kit, although my box came with Magic tracks that I’m likely to use for the final product.
There isn’t a lot of PE on this kit so I attached it at the end, the more difficult ones are the small track brackets on the glacis plate. The fender support PE replaces the kit part H5 and requires a bit of folding and sanding off the kit mount, but not too difficult and looks better than the thicker styrene.
Finally I test fitted the Schürzen. These are steel plates, I found that just by twisting the plate parts breaks off pretty easily and cleanly from the outer plate. This is the easier type of installation unlike the later Ausf. Hs and Js with hooks and brackets, sp it’s a breeze to get them mounted.
Finally I have the OVM off the vehicle for painting. With the Schürzen it’s very difficult to paint them on vehicle. The tool clamps are ok, but I’ll replace them with PE handles later.
Touted as the best Panzer IV G kit, this Dragon 6594 kit has enough parts for you to build many variants all throughout its production. The kit can be built into a very detailed vehicle OOB, and the much maligned Dragon instructions are mostly correct in this kit. There is little not to like with this kit, unlike some of the other variants with rather tricky Schürzen installations for example. Fit is very good, but not perfect. I can already see from the sprue shots how the Border Model kit addressed some of these issues by molding some of the parts together with fancier design to avoid these, but not having build it yet I will withhold judgement. This kit is highly recommended for intermediate to experienced modeler. Beginner modelers may find some of the fit quite difficult to achieve.