This is one weird-looking tank. As usual, the Germans were thinking the looniest ideas, trying to make a difference in the war, instead of doing, you know, the rational thing. (Well, rational people don’t start world wars, and most certainly do not engage in ethnic cleansing, or if they themselves do not take part in the above mentioned activities, do not work for people who do, so there’s that.)
Well, back to the tank. The PnzIV was already approaching the limits they could squeeze out of the chassis; the ausf J was an attempt to remedy this issue. The ausf H was already overstressed in several areas: it was, for example, so nose-heavy, the front suspensions were constantly under pressure. They simplified a lot of things (the turret traverse was manual only, they used all-steel return-rollers, changed the side-skirts into wire mesh, etc). The next “logical” step was to put the Schmalturm designed for the Panther onto this overstressed chassis to give it some extra firepower (kind of like a poor man’s Panther). Perhaps the turret-ring issue was not that big of a deal (the Schmalturm’s diameter is somewhat larger than the pnzIV turret’s), but the additional weight would have certainly made this tank immobile.
Anyway, it’s a cool looking tank; it looks like someone stuck a Darth Vader helmet on it. (It’s not my analogy. A popular WoT one.)
CMK makes a pretty cool little conversion set, which should be used with an ausf J model, but unfortunately, the only available ones are ausf Hs. You shall have to live with this, if you want to have a model of this tank.
The conversion is simple, the casting is nice (I like the turret armor’s texture), and you get some extras (like metal mudguards -only for the back side, though).
The side-skirt is made of wire mesh. Its role was to explode shaped-charge shells before they get to the side armor of the tank; this would decrease the efficiency of the molten copper jet that is supposed to melt its way through the armor, incinerating everyone inside. (Pleasant thoughts.)
The conversion uses some parts of the model’s side-skirts; I would have preferred to have the mounting brackets made of metal.
The build is a pleasant one; you build the chassis, and stick the turret on top.
First red-brown layer -it looks more red on the photo. It simulates the red-oxide primer for the metal. It will give some nice modulation to the subsequent layers.
Dunkelgelb. The photo is way too pale, but it IS yellow, I promise. I mixed quite a lot of tan to simulate the scale effect (colors look darker on smaller objects, so they need to be lightened to be realistic).
I used masking tape to mask the different colors; I chose the camo pattern from my premium tank in WoT.
I only wanted to do some light weathering; after all, this is a never built, hypothetical tank. Some filters, a little bit of scratching, a light pinwash, and some dust (pigments). I used a pencil on the edges of the model; this gives a metallic look for the tank.