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Jagdpanzer IV A-O

DML 1/35 Jagdpanzer IV A-O Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review March 2005 Manufacturer DML
Subject Jagdpanzer IV A-O Scale 1/35
Kit Number 9059 Primary Media 643 parts (556 in grey styrene, 82 etched brass, 4 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum barrel)
Pros Relook at an older kit with new parts and new techniques; brass schurzen shields Cons Wan color schemes may not appeal to all German fans; brass schurzen shields
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $28-34

First Look

Prior to the Second World War every country building armor soon figured out that light vehicles have to, by default, carry only light guns if they will be carried high and have to rotate in all directions to provide firepower, Heavier weapons would upset the center of gravity, throw off the balance of the weapon, or worst of all, flip the vehicle over if fired. As a result, few vehicles were "overgunned" by design. (Overgunning causes the vehicle to literally leap backwards when fired, causing all sorts of mayhem to the crew and innards of the vehicle; the last bad case of it was the US M551 Sheridan, which would literally pull its first three road wheel sets off the ground if fired with an HE projectile.)

The solution was to mount a big gun low in the vehicle and eliminate the turret, placing the gun in either an open barbette mounting or a casemate. The Germans chose both routes during the war, but as the war progressed decided on the latter for their antitank guns as it provided better protection for the crew.

The Sturmgeschuetz III and IV series were used frequently as antitank weapons, primarily as the later models carried the very effective PaK 40 L/48 antitank gun and could deal with almost all Allied tanks. But the StuG weapons were not heavily armored, and the solution was a dedicated antitank gun with heavier (and ballistically shaped) armor protection on the more flexible Panzer IV chassis.

The result was the Jadgpanzer IV series of antitank guns, and this version, the Jagdpanzer IV O-series, was the first pre-production series of the vehicle. While the concept was successful and the vehicle was ordered into production (and some 804 being completed) only a handful of the O-series were produced before the design was changed. The main difference was that the O-serie had a rounded casemate section formed by bending, which was both more expensive and not as ballistically resistant. The result was a change to a steeply angled three-part section with a simpler design.

DML has now produced a kit of the A-O model as part of their "Imperial" series, which has been reserved for short-run kits of low-production vehicles over the years. This kit is derived from their older Jagdpanzer IV/70 kits, but has two brand-new sprues and one modified sprue as well as " mix and match" from the DML Panzer III and IV kits. The model uses all of DML's latest "Slide Molding" technique on these sprues, as well as borrow a trick from Academy and include casting numbers molded onto the sprue runners for diehard detail fans. (These have to be removed with a scalpel or single-edged razor blade, as a point of warning.) The kit also includes two MG 42 machine guns with positionable loading gates so that the breeches may be shown in the open position.

In general it follows the normal DML parts breakdown with 240 single-link track shoes and four sprues of road wheels and bogie assemblies. The other parts provide some options (e.g. styrene or turned aluminum barrel) or a lot better detailing (I seem to recall when German jacks consisted of one skinny part in a kit; this one has a jack of six parts and looks like it could lift a bogie set.)

While most modelers are learning to live with single-link track (by default) the brass "Schurzen" armor shields on this kit will be either a love'em or hate'em arrangement. Each shield requires the attachment of four mounting straps (brass) and a set of bolt heads (brass) per side. Out of 82 parts the directions show you using 80 (I suppose they provide two extra bolt heads for the heavy-breathers among us...breathe wrong and these suckers will fly off into oblivion before you can mount them.)

Painting schemes and markings are included for two vehicles: an operational vehicle with the Panzer Lehr Division in the wan three-color scheme used in late 1944 (light tan, light green and light brown) and one in overall Panzerbraun at the training school with a title slug to that effect (Schulungsfahrzeug).

Overall this is an interesting vehicle due to the unique shape of its casemate, and one to complete some collections.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.