Tag Archives: panzer IV

1/35 Zvezda Panzer IV (Sd.Kf.z 161/2) ausf H. part 2

The work on the interior is commencing. It has been a couple of years since I touched this model. (Somewhat disheartening to have all-plastic models come out with full interiors – pnz IV by Miniart, Tiger I by RFM, Tiger II by Takom…) In fact this post was first written before I even built my Takom and RFM Panthers

The Tank Workshop parts designed for the Tamiya kit fit quite well into the Zvezda model; I did use the plastic parts of the base model wherever I could. (The turret basket, gun breach, etc.)

Note to self: I got carried away at the assembly steps: it’s much more difficult to paint and weather the transmission and the instrument panel once you installed them. Oh well.

I cut a hole where one of the inspection hatches were, and I also cut away part of the hull over the driver; I wanted to expose the driver’s compartment a bit better than the driver’s hatch would have allowed it. I do not plan similarly cutting up the turret, since it has two large doors on the sides. I think I overdid the cuts- I will have to find some way out of this hole I dug myself into.

I’m a bit disappointed with TW’s ammo racks; they are just featureless boxes with no ammunition provided. (This just demonstrates how much more detail newer kits provide by default… see Takom’s and RFM’s new Panther with full interior with the DML Panther I’ve built -but not yet finished- with TW’s interior.)

The Zvezda kit was clearly not designed with interior in mind; the mudguards are given as a single part with the two mudguards connected by plastic rods. The front one had to be removed since it was quite out of place with the driver’s compartment exposed. (And the transmission was in the way.)

The other problem I ran in was a serious fit issue: the mudguards/top hull/bottom hull parts do not fit well together. The fit of the top of the hull and the left mudguard is not good: if you position the mudguard so that its surface texture corresponds to the top of the hull (there is a groove for the hull on the mudguard), the front part will be about 2mm to the right. (There is a hole on the front armor plate for the headlight’s cable, and the cable is molded onto the mudguard. They just do not fit; the cable is directly over the inspection hatch instead of over the hole by the inspection hatch.) Apart from that, there’s a 2mm gap between the upper hull and lower hull on the front.

So that’s a big screwup. As I modified the model a bit I’m not entirely sure if these issues exist with the model, or these are the results of my meddling, but honestly I think they are not my doing. This really held up the build – I lost quite a lot of my enthusiasm.

I finished the front of the turret with the main gun and the coaxial machine gun; will have to check a few reference books on what else is missing from the turret interior. TW’s set comes with a lot of water canteens and ammunition pouches, but there are other details, such as cables, extra viewing blocks, etc., that will need to be added.

Since the interior is finished -well, details are still missing- I’ve primed everything with Vallejo’s German grey primer, and then sprayed a few light coats of Tamiya white followed by Hannant’s German tank interior color. (I quite liked the paint, by the way. It went on reasonably well, and was easy to use.)

Once it was done I painted the floor of the fighting compartment and the turret basket in a steel color (reference was a youtube video), and painted the transmission in a grey-blue color. I’m not sure if there was one correct color; I’ve seen photos with dark grey, blue-grey, green (!), and the cream color the rest of the interior was painted with. Since it gives the model some visual interest I’ve decided to go with the blueish one. After some weathering (washes, chips painted on and some pigments) I’ve added the front plate and the mudguard to the model. This is where it stands now. I will need to add the hull machine gun, vision blocks, ammunition, cables and other small details to the interior, and then I can finally move onto the exterior of the tank. I just realized I misplaced the gun barrel, so I will have to order a metal replacement. It’s a shame, really, because the kit part is perfectly suitable. (This build is looking like a cursed one… not one of those models you feel joy tackling.)

1/35 Zvezda Panzer IV (Sd.Kf.z 161/2) ausf H. part 1

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I have built Dragon’s offering of the Pnz. IV., so obviously I was curious what Zvezda came up with. They come from two very different philosophies: DML crams in as much detail as they can with PE, individual links, metal barrels, and the whole nine yard in a highly complex, high-tech kit. This comes with a higher price tag and a much higher part count. Zvezda, on the other hand, goes for a more budget option for both time and money with their newer kits. They provide good detail for a much lower part number and much lower price. The build is much faster and simpler; the price you pay for this is a couple of compromises in construction and options. In short: this is a perfect model if you don’t want to spend too much money or too much time on a build, or if you are only getting into “serious” building and don’t want to bother with PE and individual tracks yet. It seems like Zvezda spotted a gap in the present market: good quality, cheap and easy to build models. With the present trend of expensive, highly complex kits, newcomers to the hobby (who are usually young and have no income on their own) are usually left out of the equation; it seems like Zvezda’s offerings might make it easier for them to stay in the hobby.

Zvezda’s offering is a bit strange in one respect: the side skirts have very nicely textured Zimmerit, however the hull lacks it completely. This leaves the model builder with two choices: either apply Zimmerit to the whole of the tank, or buy/fabricate new side-skirts without the coating. I chose to go with the latter as I personally don’t really like the look of Zimmerit. (If you decide to dress the hull up, there are alternatives: PE, resin or even home-made one using putty.)

Overall the model is quite accurate as far as I could determine, with some issues of the drive-wheel. There is little flash on the parts (the only case I found was on the drive wheel), and the detail is quite good. The weld seams are reproduced very well, the lettering on the rubber rims of the road wheels is visible (although not as sharp as on the DML and newer Trumpeter models), and the no-slip surface of the mudguards is very well done. The Zimmerit pattern on the side skirts is reproduced very well; the problem is that now you have to apply Zimmerit to the hull if you plan to use them. Another issue is not specific to the Zvezda model: the side skirts are given as one unit, all the armour plates moulded as one part. If you wish to depict them in a more realistic position, you will have to separate the different plates (shouldn’t be a problem). The thickness is quite out-of-scale, too, but once assembled it should not really be that apparent.

 

Since I have a Tank Workshop interior for the PnzIV ausf H I decided to build it with this kit. I was planning to get a DML offering, but facing another 1000+ part build was just too much. The Tamiya kit is showing its age, so Zvezda it is. (I wanted to avoid the problems of the Tamiya model: rubber tracks, detail, gun barrel- all issues that would require aftermarket products.) Because the interior set is designed for the Tamiya kit sometimes the fit is not the best. The interior set itself is OK, but there are more detailed options out there -Verlinden’s for example. With the current bonanza of full-interior kits, resin sets became somewhat of a last-ditch option.

Since the turret basket and the gun is actually quite nice in the Zvezda kit, I am using the plastic parts instead of the resin; most of the Tank Workshop set goes into the hull instead.

The ammo storage is quite rudimentary: just pieces of rectangular resin. The driver’s and radio operator’s station is quite well detailed; the problem is that the transmission is largely hidden by the model’s upper front plate. None of the front hatches can be opened; I think I might try to cut open the large middle hatch.

The radios’ backs are also featureless; these were placed into a metal rack, which should be visible when you look at the back of the radios. Thought about fabricating something, but then I just skipped this part.

The transmission is actually quite nice; can’t wait to see it painted and weathered.

Well, this is it so far… next step: finishing up the interior, painting and weathering it. Keep tuned in.

Panzer IV Schmalturm conversion (Revell-CMK)

 

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.