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Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit

Academy 1/35 Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2018 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13516 Primary Media Styrene
Pros New tooling Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $59.00

First Look

Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit
Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit
Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit
Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit
Panzer IV Ausf.H mid-production Kit

The Panzer IV series was developed in the early 1930s as the next step in the evolution of German armor. Where the Panzer I and II were light tanks that spearheaded the early Blitzkrieg, the Panzer III series was envisioned as the tank fighter while the Panzer IV was to be the infantry support tank, initially armed with the 75mm L/24 main gun. When the push into the Soviet Union began, the early Panzers were soon to be outgunned by Soviet armor. While the Panzer III and Panzer IV were both up-armored, the smaller turret ring of the Panzer III limited the firepower upgrades that could be applied to that series. The Panzer IV featured a larger turret ring that could accommodate the continued growth of turret and main gun. While the Panther was intended to replace the Panzer IV, the latter remained in production and in service through the end of the war.

Here is an impressive addition to Academy's line-up. This is their new-tool Panzer IV kit, this first release representing the mid-production H-model. This kit follows along the same design philosophy as other recent releases like the M1A2 Abrams series and K2 MBT. Molded in tan styrene, this kit is presented on nine parts trees (duplicate trees not shown). The hull and turret surfaces are not molded with Zimmerit, so earlier versions of the tank will be no-doubt forthcoming, but given that this version did have Zimmerit applied, Academy has found an innovative way to represent the textured surfaces without the use of any putties or other such materials. Included in the kit are a set of resin-printed decals produced by DEF. These decals have the texture of the Zimmerit and they are applied like any waterslide decals. Experienced armor modelers have seen resin-printed decals like these before, but it is nice to see Academy make good use of this option as well.

Among the features and options presented in this kit:

  • All new-tooled parts
  • Color-coded instructions (blue-gray for current parts being assembled, white for completed subassemblies, gray for optional parts choices
  • Multi-part lower hull which provides greater strength and surface details
  • Lower hull has no holes for motorization
  • New upper hull with anti-slip surfaces molded into the top surfaces (appears to be in the correct areas)
  • Hull uses overlays to capture the specific details of the version represented in the kit
  • Detailed suspension and roadwheels on lower hull
  • Rubber (vinyl) track runs
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Side skirts can be made removable
  • Choice of main gun muzzle brake
  • Detailed stowage and pioneering tools on hull
  • Detailed turret
  • MG mount on commander's turret

Color profiles and decals for three subjects are included:

  • 615, 12 SS Panzer Div 'Hitlerjugend', Normandy, 1944
  • 618, 12 SS Panzer Div 'Hitlerjugend', Normandy, 1944
  • 635, 12 SS Panzer Div 'Hitlerjugend', Normandy, 1944

Some notes to consider:

  • The instructions for the Zimmerit decals are provided at the end of the assembly steps. I would suggest becoming acquainted with them first so you can decide whether to apply the decals before parts assembly so you can avoid adding small subassemblies that will be in the way of the Zimmerit
  • The hatches are all positionable, so if you have one of the many Panzer IV crew figure sets out there, this will make a great kit to use them
  • The turret side hatches are positionable, but the doors in the turret shield armor are not. They are molded separately, but they are molded closed. It wouldn't take much effort to position them open
  • The overall layout of this kit is excellent though there are a number of tiny parts, especially the side skirt hangars that mount to the insides of the skirts. For this reason, we list this kit recommended for experienced modelers
  • For those who may want aftermarket options, while this is a new kit on the market, there are detail sets on the market for the various Panzer IV kits produced by other manufacturers available

Academy did an impressive job with this first release, and given the unused parts leftover, we'll be seeing other Panzer IV variants coming our way in the near future. If you're looking for a handy reference for the Panzer IV series, may I suggest David Doyle's Panzerkampfwagen IV title.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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