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Kit, DML 6565, Flakpanzer IV Ausf.G Wirblewind Early Production w/Zimmerit

October 7 2012 at 3:16 PM
Frank V. De Sisto  (Login zappa93)
MODERATORS ONLY - Time on Target
from IP address 108.41.116.191


DRAGON MODELS LIMITED

Product Specifications.

6565, Flakpanzer IV Ausf.G Wirblewind Early Production w/Zimmerit Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 727 styrene parts (including 15 clear), two lengths of DS100 tracks, one length of braided metal wire, one photo-etched brass fret, four water-slide decal painting and markings options and eight pages of instructions in 21 steps, plus addendum.

Introduction.

The Flakpanzer IV mounting the 2cm Flakvierling 38 had a rather unusual pedigree, as it was designed and produced independently by a special Heer (army) unit, using refurbished Panzerkampfwagen IV chassis of various models. DMLs first foray into the Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind was based on the Ausf.H chassis, while the second was based on an Ausf.G chassis, but one without Zimmerit. Now, they have added Zimmerit panels, new markings and DS100 tracks to produce a replica of this particular sub-variant of this anti-aircraft tank.

As an unintended consequence of Dragons mix-and-match parts philosophy, there are quite a few leftover Zimmerit panels, many of which are suitable for a Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H gun tank. These include extra superstructure front and side panels, turret front plate and gun mantlet. Using these on a previously-purchased, non-Zimmerit Ausf.H kit will save the modeler considerable time and effort.

Readers should note that this report is based to a great degree on the report posted for kit 6342, previously seen here at MLs ToT.

Tracks.

The 40cm tracks included in this release feature closed guide horns and angled ice cleats on the face. They can be glued with standard styrene cements and will take paint very well.

Suspension System.

The road-wheels have separate hub-caps of the type initially introduced during production of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E. The wheels themselves are the widened type first introduced on the Ausf.F, which along with the 40cm tracks were able to handle the increased ground pressure resulting from the weight of the thickened armor compared to previous models of the standard gun tank. Each wheel/tire assembly is conventionally-molded in one piece per side and includes manufacturers logo and tire size information on the rubber rim. A total of 20 complete road-wheels are given, which leaves four extras for spare stowage. The bogies themselves are in multiple parts, including separate ends for the leaf springs, and a separate hub, which in turn attaches to a separate mount.

The final drive housings are four-part moldings and are appropriate for an Ausf.G. They include separate armored guards for the forward segment. The drive sprockets introduced on the Ausf.F are presented in a conventional manner with inner and outer halves. The return rollers provided have rubber tires on their rims and are conventionally-molded as inner and outer halves.

Separate, two-part bump stops are fitted to five stations on either of the hull sides, as are multi-part idler wheel axle adjustment housings; there are two choices here. Dont glue the axle in place until after the tracks have been fitted; this will help create proper sag, especially if the modeler replaces the kit tracks with individual link after-market items. The idler wheel is the welded-tube design, which features excellent weld bead details.

Hull.

This represents the configuration seen on the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G, to include the angled rear section that joins the stern plate. The hulls belly plate has the fairings between the bogie units molded in place. A multi-part slide-mold was used to render this part, so details have not been compromised. Rivets, bolts, panels, hatches and weld beads are all crisply-rendered, while there are separate fuel filler caps for the side wall. The final items are the parts for the hull side-wall seen behind the final drive housings. This part has been modified by the addition of Zimmerit on the side walls.

Modelers should note that there are three thick injection stubs on each rim of the hull side walls. These must be removed or the fenders will not fit. This is not mentioned in the instructions, although the drawing in that particular step shows the items in question as having already been removed. A separate internal bulkhead is fitted between the fighting compartment and engine compartment. It has proper detail and well-represents the actual item. Other detail items include the floor-mounted fuel tanks, a three-part base for the 2cm Flakvierling 38, a forward bulkhead/brace and two more internal braces.

On the bow, a separate plate is provided to which the front tow points are attached, along with their separate pins and bars to hold spare track links. The Zusatzpanzerung (appliqué armor) plate for the bow is the bolted type and it now has Zimmerit. Holes must be opened up on the main plate to properly fit these options. Another bow plate, with Zimmerit is also in the box. The brackets for mounting spare track links on the glacis plate are also given as styrene or etched brass parts. The glacis plate also has Zimmerit as do the brake access hatch lids and armored guards. On the stern, the hull rear plate is composed of several parts and through the use of a slide-mold, has properly rendered bolt heads where the upper and lower sections were joined together. These also have Zimmerit as appropriate. A fender support bracket is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly.

The large exhaust muffler, first introduced with the Ausf.F, is in several parts, some slide-molded. The opening for the turret traverse motor exhaust pipe and mount for the muffler has been properly covered over, since the Flakpanzer turret was traversed by hand. As mentioned up top, there are two tow pintle variations. The final items back there are the separate tow hooks for each hull side wall.

Track-Guards and OVM.

The track-guards are superbly detailed on both sides and havent a single knock-out pin mark on any surface. The front and rear mud flaps are separate items and can be positioned up or down. They come from a slide mold so details visible on their sides are in place; separate springs are seen at the rear. However, if folded up, each mud-flap has several prominent ejector pin marks that will have to be filled, since those will be readily visible. Fillets and several small detail parts complete each assembly. Again, new mud-flaps with Zimmerit are provided.

OVM items mounted on the track-guards include a multi-part slide-molded jack, pry-bars, starter crank, fire extinguisher, spare antenna case and S-shaped tow hooks. A beautifully-rendered spare wheel tray, made from a slide-mold carries two spare road-wheels. Convoy distance-keeping lamps and reflectors with etched brass details are provided, as is a multi-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek black-out driving head-lamp.

Superstructure.

The superstructure front plate represents the type that was 50mm thick and includes a separate ball mount for the MG34 as well as a drivers visor; the latter features a separate cover that can be glued in place in the desired position. Some internal details are given such as a clear view-port block and a fairly complete, multi-part Gen2 MG34, which includes a pre-bored muzzle. The two-part bolted Zusatzpanzerung (appliqué armor) plate is then fitted; it has Zimmerit. There is also a 50mm front plate with Zimmerit, so the modeler can go that route if desired.

The superstructure sides include subtle weld bead details, separate lift hooks, a mounting bracket for the spare gun tube cases and openings for the view-port flaps; these of course have Zimmerit. Panels without the view-ports are also provided; they also have Zimmerit. The view-port flaps are separate parts and include clear parts for the glass blocks as well as working hinges. The port side features an armored cover for a vent opening as well as the jack block. The starboard side features mounts for spare tracks and a shovel can be stowed there.

Separate drivers and radio operators hatch lids are given; these retain integrally-molded internal latches. The single-piece superstructure roof plate is characterized by five-sided hatch lid splash guards and stepped turret ring guard. It also features separate engine deck access hatch lids, each with an etched brass or styrene part for the internal baffles. The small box seen over the radiator filler cap is a separate part. The flaps that covered the engine air cooling intake louvers can be made from styrene or etched brass parts and they include separate tiny fasteners. The antenna base seen on the rear corner of the port side of the later Ausf.G chassis, along with its associated rod antenna, is also given. Unique to the Flakpanzer IV are a pair of multi-part lockers that held two spare 2cm gun tubes each. These can be left closed, or opened up to reveal separate inserts for the stored gun tubes.

The rear superstructure plate features crisp details with molded-on fan clutch access cap and Zimmerit. Parts are provided to make tow cables from braided metal wire and styrene end-loops; the latter have the holes to insert the cable already in place due to the use of slide molds. These attach to the upper rear plate using separate L-shaped hooks.

Turret.

The two main armor sections for the turret shell come from a slide-mold and have exceptionally-thin side walls. These rather flimsy parts are protected in the box by being encased in clear plastic, which is a nice touch on the part of the manufacturer. Two separate parts make up the turret ring race, both of which have some very fine detail such as bolt heads, roller bearings and traversing gear teeth. There is a separate flap for the gunners sight, which can be modeled opened or closed. Fine weld bead detail is present as is the small cut-out seen near the gunners sight to provide clearance. Multi-part 2cm ammunition racks each feature four 2cm magazines; a total of eight per rack are needed. The final items are two-part loaders seats. The only main visible items missing are the turret crews intercom box and its associated wiring.

2cm Flakvierling 38.

The gun tube/receiver group of each of the four individual weapons are single parts, produced using a slide mold. This allows for an open receiver as well as pre-drilled muzzle. The muzzles flash suppressors have the proper cooling slots and perforations, while the receiver covers are separate two-part affairs. Separate recoil buffers are also provided, as are the proper 20-round ammunition magazines. The two mounting plates for the four gun tubes are also based on a slide-molded core, which includes the small curved splinter shield sections molded in place, complete with openings for the gun tubes. The guns can elevate on the mount, which itself can be rotated through a full 360-degrees. The gunner is provided with the pendulum and telescopic sights. His hand-wheel controls are there as are the parts that connect the sight to the mount, as well as a gun mount travel lock.

Racks for the spare 2cm ammunition magazines that are attached to the mount are given as two multi-part assemblies. I found it easier to get things to line-up by fitting parts G-13 to parts G-12, prior to fitting G-12 to parts A-31 and A-32. Parts A-55 and A-56 should be used instead of parts A-38 and A-39. In addition, part D-25 is not shown being fitted, but it must get attached to the assembly made using parts A55 and A-56. This is not shown in the instructions, and if left un-done, the mount will not properly seat in the turret. Part A-40 should be fitted from the inside of parts A-17 and A-18; the instructions are un-clear on this point. The remaining parts consist of the spent shell collection bin in etched brass, which is fitted after the gun is installed in the turret.

Molding, Fit and Engineering.

Molding overall is excellent, as is the fit of parts. There are a few ejector pin marks that may need attention, not counting the tracks. Flash is non-existent, while mold part seams are subtle and easily dealt with. Weld bead and recessed screw head detail is especially noteworthy, as is the use of slide-molds for enhanced detail or ease of construction. I found that I had to slightly enlarge the hole that resulted in fitting part A-10 to parts A-17 and A-18. These parts fit around the axle that elevates the guns and if not attended to, there will be a considerable gap between them.

Accuracy.

As far as accuracy is concerned, the kit matches drawings in Panzer Tracts No.12-1 to well within acceptable limits. In essence, DML and its consultants have done a fine job. The only sins are of omission; specifically, more ammunition magazines would have been welcome.

Instructions.

The instructions are well-drawn and logically presented. This is DML, so the modeler should still proceed with care.

Decals and Markings Information.

Water-slide decals for three different Flakanzer are provided by Cartograf of Italy. They are in perfect register, have crisp, sharp edges and excellent color saturation. Three are from un-identified units. The fourth scheme is for vehicle 03 belonging to s.Pz.Jg.Abt.654 as seen in the Ardennes.

Conclusion.

DML continues to work at completing the entire Pz.Kpfw.IV family, as well as variations of several sub-types. While there is a certain tendency to inundate the market with variations of the Pz.Kpfw.IV in order to spread development costs, there is certainly a plus side here. Simply put, the modeler will continue to have an expanding number of choices when it comes to making a purchase. Adding Zimmerit makes this an appealing subject, to be sure.

Frank V. De Sisto

References consulted for this review included (but were not limited to) the following books:

1. Panzer IV and Its Variants; Spielberger Series Vol. IV, Schiffer, by W.J. Spielberger.
2. Panzerkampfwagen IV and its Variants 1935-1945, Book 2; Schiffer by W.J. Spielberger, T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
4. Panzerkampfwagen IV, Grosstraktor to Panzerbefehlswagen IV; Panzer Tracts No.4, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
5. FlaK Selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer, Sd.Kfz.10/4 to 8.8cm FlaK auf VFW; Panzer Tracts No.12, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
6. Flakpanzerkampfwagen; Panzer Tracts No.12-1, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
7. Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind (Sd.Kfz.161/4) & Ostwind; Nuts & Bolts Vol.13, by D.Terlisten.
8. Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind (Sd.Kfz.161/4), Ostwind & Kugelblitz; Nuts & Bolts Vol.25, by D. Terlisten, H. Duske, L. Lecocq & J. Rue.
9. Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.G, H and J 1942-45, Osprey New Vanguard 39, by T. Jentz, H. Doyle & T. Bryan.
10. Panzerkampfwagen IV; Achtung Panzer No.3.
11. Pz.Kpfw.IV; Sturm & Drang No.4.
12. Pz.Kpfw.IV in Action; Squadron Armor No.12, by B. Culver & D. Greer.
13. Panzer IV; Squadron 6081, by K. Hjermstad, D. Greer & E. Cumpain.
14. Sd.Kfz.161, Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G/H/J; Trojca, by W. Trojca & F14.
15. Modelling the Late Panzerkampfwagen IV; Osprey Modelling 38, by T. Cockle & G. Edmundson.
16. Panzer IV, The Wehrmachts Armoured Fist; AFV Collection No.2, AF Editions, by C.C. Jurado & L.M. Franco.
17. Panzerkampfwagen IV in Combat; Wehrmacht Special No.4006, Tankograd, by M. Zöllner.
18. Panzerkampfwagen III and IV, 1939-45; Concord 7065, by T. Cockle & D. Jameson.

Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.

DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.

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