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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E

DML 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E 3-in-1 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review September 2005 Manufacturer DML
Subject Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E 3-in-1 Kit Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6264 Primary Media 1,062 parts (541 in grey styrene, 288 "Magic Track" links, 187 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 10 preformed steel wire, 5 DS plastic, 4 preformed brass 2 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum, 2 twisted steel wire)
Pros Absolutely amazing kit of rarely modeled early war Panzer; details both inside and out on most parts, including the fenders, new figure of Guderian a bonus! Cons May be overlooked due to being relatively low production early war vehicle
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $34-$38

First Look

I have to admit, while not being a big fan of German armor (!) that I do have a soft spot for early war German armored vehicles. Tom Jentz frequently comments his favorite German tank was the Pzkw. III, but I have to say I always like the Pzkw. IV series.

Developed in the early 1930s as a close support tank – carrying what was then thought of as the best close support weapon, a 7.5 cm howitzer, the Germans managed to provide everything that the Soviets did in their T-28 medium tank in a much smaller and handier package. Given the cover designator "BW" or "Battalion commander's vehicle" the Pzkw. IV was produced in a number of short run series , each with commensurate improvements, between models.

The Pzkw. IV Ausf. E, which came out in September 1940 and was produced through April 1941, was one of the first models to take combat results into account. It was found early on that the Pzkw. IV was too thin-skinned to stand up to anybody's antitank guns, and with this tank it got an increase to 50mm on the bow plate and 20+30mm on the upper glacis, as well as a new visor for the driver to give him more protection. Hatches were countersunk against ricochet damage, and the turret rear was redesigned to incorporate the redesigned commander's cupola and eliminate potential shot traps or weak spots in the hull rear. Later, more applique armor protection was added to the lower hull sides and suspension units to protect against antitank guns and mines. A total of 206 chassis were built – 200 as battle tanks, 4 as prototype bridge launchers, and two more as experimental chassis.

This tank was followed into service by the improved F model, which became the first major production version of the Pzkw. IV and also the first one to mount a long 7.5 cm gun partway through the production run. The Ausf. E remained in service until early 1944 when the last of them were either worn out or lost in combat.

DML produced most of the Pzkw. III and IV versions in the late 1990s (I reviewed the Ausf. F1 in 1997 and the Ausf. J in 1998), which were good kits at the time if rough in some areas, but this kit marks a return to the IV series with a vengance. All of the molds are new from the ground up, and many of the components are clearly for use with other kits to follow. The model does permit the modeler to make any of three different Ausf. E versions – initial production, late production, or "Afrika Korps" version. Parts are provided for all three, including a first – two different hulls, one with applique armor and one without.

I must warn modelers that this is a VERY complex kit, and comes with a large number of options which are called out in the directions. As with all recent DML kits, many of the parts are redundant and offer the modeler the choice of either styrene parts or etched brass – DML is one of the few, if not the only, company to offer this; others either assume you will buy their sets aftermarket and replace kit parts, or give you no option but to use them from the start. Since a good number of modelers still are a bit leery of etched metal due to tales of vanishing parts or problems in attaching them, it gives the "retention challenged" (e.g. the guy who loses itty bitty parts!) modeler a fighting chance.

The kit also comes pre-section for detail fans who want an interior. All hatches are separate parts and some interior detail is included, including a very complete turret basket and 7.5 cm L/24 gun; this has a choice between a "slide molded" styrene barrel or a turned aluminum one. A very detailed 21 part commander's cupola is also included for the turret. There are other details here that need to be seen and appreciated (MIG fans will be happy!) such as the geared turret race.

The model just abounds with details. Each of the suspension bogies has 18 parts (19 with protective armor cover) with separate tires for painting. Safety chains are provided for the towing shackle mounts as they have separate pins too. Two sets of engine deck doors are provided (early/late model and Africa) along with etched inserts for those who wish them.

This detail takes a good jeweler's loupe to see – there are two DIFFERENT sets of "Magic Track" links, one for the left side and one for the right, as they replicate the different sides that the track pins are inserted from for holding the track together! Alas, DML did not identify which bag is which, so I hope you at least keep them on the correct sides! (Think hard on the types of judges at shows who are going to have to use an "IPMS Death Ray" – penlight – and 10x jeweler's loupe to check on that – payback can be fun!) (DML does tell you that the fastener side goes out and the smooth head goes in, as there is a "knocker" to keep them in place if the fastener fails. They don't identify which bag is which, though, so you have to sort it out.)

The last tidbit they include with this kit is a 23 part "Gen 2" styrene figure of Heinz Guderian. This is a very detailed figure with what appears to be one of the hallmarks of Gen 2, namely a separate face to make painting easier (e.g. paint it on the sprue.)

Markings and finishing directions are included for ten different vehicles: two early models from Panzer Regiment 21, 20th Panzer Division, in Russia (one winter in white, one summer in grey); five late production models with the 1st, 7th, 8th, 11, or 22nd Panzer Divisions in Russia; and three Afrika Korps ones, one from the 5th Light Division and two from the 15th Panzer Division, 1941.

Overall this is another stunner from DML, and having built the old Tamiya Pzkw. IV Ausf. D kit 27 years ago (1978 for those of you who need help adding!) this model is in a completely different league from that one.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.