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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2006 Manufacturer DML/
Subject Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6297 Primary Media 1,255 parts (747 in grey styrene, 288 "Magic Track" links, 180 etched brass, 29 clear styrene, 6 preformed steel wire, 2 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum, 2 twisted steel wire)
Pros Still another variant of a rarely modeled early war Panzer; details both inside and out on most parts, including the fenders; new parts for specific model Cons Relatively low distribution planned ("boutique" kit)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45

First Look

DML was originally formed as an offshoot of a Hong Kong hobby shop to provide kits that nobody else was producing. They have now spun off as a subsidiary to produce what would have to termed "boutique" kits – ones without a great deal of draw overall but of interest to a select group of modelers, and one which fills a niche in many of the better collections. This is the latest kit in their series, which is why it sports two different kit numbers (06 and 6297.)

The Pzkw.IV Ausf.B (also called the 2 serie Begleitwagen [BW] Sd.Kfz.161) was in production from April to September 1938. and only a relative handful were produced – 42. It made a number of improvements to the Ausf. A, namely adding a new six-speed transmission, heavier frontal armor (30mm), one-piece hatches for the driver and radio operator/bow gunner, and a straight, single-piece upper glacis. Numbers were too small to have any major impact on German forces or tactics, but they did continue in service until about 1943 when attrition and being worn out basically removed them from the inventory.

This kit basically plays off the latest version of the Pzkw.IV, the Ausf.D kit, and makes corresponding changes to the hull and details.

59 parts are completely new, mostly dealing with the specific features found on the Pzkw.IV Ausf.B that differ from the previous D model kits. This concentrates on the turret and the front section of the upper hull. A new upper hull with the one-piece hatches and straight upper glacis plate is provided, along with the internal mantelet gun mount and fittings for the turret.

The rest of the model is similar to the D kit. As before, the model has a wealth of detail. A pretty substantial basic turret interior and basket are included, and all hatches are separate pieces with interior detailing. The cupola now consists of an amazing 30 parts with options to display the visors either open or closed, as well as the hatches open or closed. All small details such as pistol ports and access hatches are separate and may be assembled open or closed. As is now pretty common on DML kits, you have a choice of a "slide molded" styrene barrel or a turned aluminum one. Both appear to come with rifling.

The running gear is no less detailed. For example, the drivers assemble nearly in the same manner as the original: core sections, toothed rings with 12 separate bolts each, and caps and spindles – each one requires 31 parts and a LOT of patience. Bogie assemblies still consist of 18 parts each. The same "Magic Track" with 144 links per side of snap-together tracks are provided, but as I noted with that kit they are "handed" with the pin heads on the inside and the "keepers" on the outside. They are bagged separately but you will have to use a magnifier to tell which side is which. A jig for setting "droop" is also included. One-piece "slide molded" idlers are again included, as well as the normal two-piece kind.

Only a single hull is provided, which is correct; the B did not have any options as built. The drivers appear to me at first glance to be about the right height – e.g. the sprocket faces (not the tops of the teeth) look to be level with the tops of the return rollers.

As with nearly all DML kits, you have the option of using styrene parts for all assemblies or replacing many of them with etched brass. The main ones where most modelers will probably opt for the latter are the louvers and slats on the rear engine deck, which replicate the earlier pattern of the B with a choice of either styrene or etched brass for the "blades" in the side louvers.

As there is only one version of this kit, the typically busy DML directions are not as confusing as those with the "three in one" kit of the D.

A total of four different vehicles – all in Panzergrau with no camouflage illustrated – are offered in the finishing instructions. Your choices are either the 8th Company, 1st Panzer Regiment, 1st Panzer Division, Poland 1939; 4th Company, 1st Panzer Regiment, 1st Panzer Division, France 1940; 6th Company, 19th Panzer Regiment, 12th Panzer Division, Russia 1942; or 6th Company, 3rd Panzer Regiment, 2nd Panzer Division, the Balkans 1941. This is a "targeted" decal sheet so the numbers all come preformatted, and no "number jungle" is provided with the kit.

Overall this is another lovely kit, but as noted it is the "boutique" version and Panzer IV fans who want one will have to scramble.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.