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Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E 'Vorpanzer'

DML 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E 'Vorpanzer' Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2006 Manufacturer DML
Subject Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E "Vorpanzer" Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6301 Primary Media 1,099 parts (582 in grey styrene, 288 "Magic Track" links, 187 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 10 preformed steel wire, 4 preformed brass 2 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum, 2 twisted steel wire)
Pros Another variant on the rarely modeled early war Panzer; details both inside and out on most parts, including the fenders, odd "assault armor" included Cons May be overlooked due to similarity with recent "3-in-1" kit
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $41.50

First Look

There are times when some of the kits really tend to stump me, and this is one of them. While it has some other history to relate, I must say I have never heard of Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks fitted with "cheek" armor for close assault (which is what the "Vorpanzer" or forward armor would seem to mean.) On the other hand, this is another nice version of the Ausf.E variant. (I get the feeling from the markings that they were actually "OPFOR" vehicles designed to simulate Soviet tanks but that's just a wild guess!)

The Pz.Kpfw.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 Pz.Kpfw.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 appliqué 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. (I again admit I have no idea of how many were fitted with the "cheek" armor.)

DML was stung by some harsh criticism of its Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E "Afrika Korps" kit (No. 6264) as some "experten" on the internet faulted it for dimensional errors and other problems. As a result, DML sent two of its Japanese researchers to Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Ordnance Museum to reverify their measurements from the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E in the museum's collection. This kit reflects any changes they felt had to be made, and therefore it sports some new parts – 166 of them. Note that most of them are either upgrades to previous parts or as in the case of the assault armor new and specific to this kit.

Again, as noted with the previous Ausf.E, I want to 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.)

Markings and finishing directions are included for five different vehicles: two from Pz.Ers.Abt.5, Germany, 1942; Pz.Ers.Abt.Nimes, 1942; Panzerregiment 31, Russia 1942; and one from Pz.Ers.Abt.4, Germany 1942; the first four are Panzer Grey and the last one is Panzerbraun.

Overall this is a nice kit if somewhat curious, but it should be popular as you can do up a good straight Ausf.E from it.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.