Dragon 1/35 PzKfpw IV Ausf.D mit 7.5cm KwK 40 L/43 (6330)

History

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D was the fourth production version of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and saw the first increase in the thickness of the side and rear armour. The 15mm armour of the Ausf A-C was replaced by 20mm armour.

The original order for 200 4th Series BW and 48 5th Series BW tanks was placed in January 1938, but production did not get underway until October 1939, and it took Krupp nineteen months to complete the order. Of the 248 tanks ordered 229 were completed as Panzer IVs, while the remaining chassis were used to produce two self-propelled guns, sixteen bridge laying tanks and one ammunition carrier.

In 1941 one of the Ausf Ds was also used to test the 5cm KwK39 L/60 gun, in one of the first attempts to provide the Panzer IV with more firepower.

The Ausf D saw a return to the superstructure layout of the Ausf A, with the driver’s position on the left stepped ahead of the radio operator’s position. The hull mounted machine gun originally installed on the Ausf A and removed on the B and C was also replaced.

The Ausf D also saw the internal mantlet for the 7.5cm KwK gun of the earlier models replaced with an external mantlet to reduce the danger from bullet splash (where either fragments or melted remains of an incoming shell entered the turret past the mantlet).

Late Ausf Ds were produced with 30mm armour plates bolted and welded to the front of the superstructure and hull, and 20mm plates bolted to the sides.

The production of the Ausf D meant that by May 1940 every tank detachment could have a medium tank company of between six and eleven Panzer IVs, and on 10 May 1940 the Panzer divisions that were to take part in the campaign in the west were equipped with 280 Panzer IV Ausf A-Ds. The Ausf D served in France, the Balkans, Africa and Russia, remaining in combat until the last survivors were destroyed early in 1944. A number of Ausf Ds were withdrawn from the front line in 1943, rearmed with longer 7.5cm KwK L/48 guns and used for training purposes.

The Kit

There is a tremendous amount of plastic in this kit! This is due in no small part to the fact that a lot of it isn’t actually used to build the kit. The first page of the instructions, as usual, includes a parts map of all the included sprues and there are a lot of parts marked out in blue.  With so many versions already introduced by Dragon, it makes sense to issue an earlier sprue, instead of re-tooling it, even if only a few parts are actually required for this build.

The kit builds up in the conventional manner, starting with the lower hull provided separately and moulded with the bolted on armour already in place. The suspension provided in the kit for use is that one from the ‘Smart Kit’ series and therefore relatively simple to assemble, although most of the parts necessary for the more complicated ‘Super kit’ suspension is included, even the tire-less roadwheels,  but unfortunately not the separate tires themselves, which is a shame. We do get all the necessary parts however, for the inner workings of the drive housings which is so cool. So if you want to show these disassembled in a diorama setting then you can.

The tracks themselves are provided as ‘Magic Tracks’, in two small poly bags with a cardboard header. The tracks are handed and provided in two different shades of grey to prevent mishaps when installing them. Note that ‘Magic Tracks’ does not mean that they are working tracks…or even that they will click together. It merely means that they shouldn’t require any clean up, but can be assembled straight from the bag. In practice this depends on how fussy you are. I’ve often had to shave a tiny, very feint injector pin mark from each link, and also wipe one side of each guide horn with some fine sandpaper!

The turret schurzen retro-fitted to this version are supplied as a separate rear curved section, with separate doors giving access to the turret hatches, and front side sections. The brackets to support these onto the turret are also supplied as plastic parts, and are moulded extremely finely. From a personal point of view, I like having these supplied as plastic instead of PE which would have been more obvious. Building them from PE parts would have left them extremely fragile and prone to bending, whilst building them from moulded plastic means the angles etc., are pre-set and should prove more easily assembled. To ensure everything lines up correctly, the schurzen doors for access to the turret are provided in two versions, closed or in two halves for opened or increased detail. The modeller chooses. There’s also a length of metal tow rope included with pre-drilled towing eyelets.

Overall this kit has some wonderful detail, and went together with no problem, I added some PE Parts that were in my “stash”,because my humongous hands keep losing those fine little beauties. I really love working on this kit and recommend it highly. Yes Sir,I surely do. My next step is going to be that awesome turret. I know I will have a problem with those teenie tiny PE latches on the rear storage bin,oh well.

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