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Tristar 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D/TAUCH Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Images By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2006 Manufacturer Tristar
Subject Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D/TAUCH Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35023 Primary Media 991 parts (921 parts in tan styrene, 64 etched brass, 5 clear styrene, 1 length of twisted steel cable)
Pros Beautifully molded kit with state-of-the-art techniques; nearly all plastic kit provides the same type of resolution as some multimedia kits Cons Very, very complex structures are intricate and may frustrate some modelers; directions can be highly confusing as they offer start, interim and end variants in preparations for wading
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $55.00

First Look

Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Panzer IV

Considering how few German tanks were actually rigged up for snorkeling, with some figures showing only a few more than 200 Pzkw. III and IV tanks were so converted, they have really engendered a lot of interest from the model manufacturers, and this is now the second kit to come to the market of a 1/35 scale Pzkw. IV Ausf. D with the "Tauchpanzer" fittings.

Having previously seen and reviewed the Dragon/ ultimate "boutique" kit of this vehicle, I can compare the new Tristar one with it and comment on the new version.

Tristar has a totally different approach to how it breaks its kits down, but the end result – if carefully assembled – is a really super-accurate kit with no real need for putty or any gap-filling. Having assembled two of them recently, I must say their fit is impeccable and this kit from dry fitting seems little different. As a result, Tristar can produce in styrene what other manufacturers choose to produce in multimedia. Only the DML "Smart Kits" can give them a run for their money in this area.

Tristar tends to approach its kits with a view to the prototype: while they can obviously use slide molding (as this kit does) they prefer to use construction techniques that are close to the prototype. Thus, instead of a one-piece lower hull, this kit has a lower hull comprised of six parts – pan, two braces, two sides, and sternplate. All brackets are separate parts, and care must be taken in cutting them off the sprues and installing them due to their petite size (e.g. right puny.)

Here is where the directions get very confusing; while they call out the parts correctly, what they don't indicate very well is that the kit can be built four ways: stock Pzkw. IV Ausf. D; "Tauch" panzer in combat mode; "Tauch" preparing to wade; "Tauch" buttoned up for wading. These are numbered in small grey circles as 4, 1, 2, and 3 respectively. As a result, you had best have decided BEFORE starting which one you wish to build!

DML uses an 18-part bogie assembly, whereas Tristar's consist of 19 with a choice of three different bogie mounting bosses on the hull (S-9/10, S-16/17, or S-18/19 as they are also "handed.") They stay close to DML by providing individual bolt heads for the final drives, but these are molded onto tongue-shaped sprue addenda and must be carefully removed with a sharp knife or razor blade.

The tracks are similar to the DML "Magic Tracks" but are fixed to their sprues and have to be cut off and trimmed up. Note that this model comes with only 216 links (108 left, 108 right, with only 98 links per side called for in the directions) and not the extras found in the DML kit. Assembly is similar - gently snap them together and then glue once in position.

Then model has two different upper hull sections – A-1 for a standard IV D and I-1 for the "Tauch" version, which comes with mounting locations and components of the wading kit.

Note that while the kit comes with only a rudimentary interior for the turret (nicely done gun and seats) all hatches are optional position ones and if you have an after-market interior set it will permit display of that extra work.

DML solved the problem of the "buttoned-up" tank by using its trademark DS flexible plastic for the boots and covers for the "Tauch" version, but Tristar sticks to regular molded styrene fittings. This is relatively smooth and does not capture the same texture as the DML ones, but from what the kit shows these appear to be more of a hard-shell fixture and may be a different design. There are thus three different gun barrels for this turret (smooth, with guard, and covered for wading) but as for the two without covers, the directions do not explain the differences. One comes without the brush/antenna guard, which may be for the "Tauch" version with its equipment stowed.

There are different fittings for the exhaust as well, with simple "bubbler" type fittings for the tank when prepared for deep wading and a normal early Pzkw. IV when not rigged for wading. As with the DML one, no floating snorkel intake is included, and in the case of this kit there is only the base for the intake on the top of the turret (part B-26). (Admittedly modeling these tanks wading would be a bit of a challenge!)

The OVM mounts with a combination of molded on strapping as well as etched metal, which seems to make sense and unless you really enjoy annealing brass to bend it for straps most modelers will probably not complain. Overall the etched metal is kept to a minimum and provides mostly bits such as brackets, safety chains, and the eight folding flaps to close off the air flow through the sides of the engine deck.

One part which does not seem to be provided (and the directions say so) is a large rectangular beam on the right fender of the "Tauch" version. The directions don't explain it (e.g. is it wood or metal, or a case for something else) and I plead guilty to not having a reference to what its function would be. It appears to be like the unditching beams carried on Soviet tanks of the period, but could be a case or tube like that mounted on the DML kit.

The kit provides markings and finishing options for five different tanks, but surprisingly does not call out which ones are "Tauch" vehicles and which ones are not! The ones provided are for: 2nd Panzer Division, Semols 1940; 9th Company, 18th Panzer Regiment, Russia 1941; 18th Panzer Regiment, Russia 1941; 3rd Company, 18th Panzer Regiment, Germany 1940; and one unidentified tank. All are in solid Panzergrau from the directions.

Overall, this is another very lovely kit and the choice between the DML one and this kit is up to the modeler's tastes, for both are outstanding kits. If you do not like to mess around with photo etched metal and have no problem with itty bitty styrene parts, this would probably be the better choice.

Thanks to MRC for the review sample.

Sprue breakout:

  • A 15 Pzkw. IV upper hull
  • B 52 Turret details
  • C 60 Upper hull details
  • D 62 Tools and OVM
  • E 25x5 bolts and RP parts
  • E 2 hull braces
  • E 20x2 Small parts
  • F 1 belly pan
  • GP1 2 clear styrene
  • GP2 3 clear styrene
  • H 5 turret shell
  • I 38 Tauschpanzer upper hull and fittings
  • SG 72x3 track links
  • S1 62x2 Suspension bogies
  • S2 10x2 Drivers and idlers
  • W 32x4 Road wheels
  • Wb 8x4 Road wheels
  • Wc 4x4 Return Rollers
  • 1 twisted steel cable (called copper in directions)
  • PE 64 etched brass