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In-Box Review
135
Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J
Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J w/Zimmerit Fahrgestell Nr 92200
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by: Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

During the Second World War, the Panzerkampfwagen IV quickly became the mainstay of Germany’s panzer divisions. As most German armor modelers know, there are more variants of the Pz.Kpfw. IV than one can shake a stick at…often these variants would get modifications not to mention all of the vehicles designed and produced using the Mk IV chassis as its platform; the list is extensive to say the least. In an attempt to narrow the scope a little, let’s focus on one; the Panzerbefehlswagen IV Ausf. J (Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J). Filling a demand for a new command tank, in March of 1944 and ending in September, existing Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J’s were converted into what is known as the Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J. Out of the one hundred and five Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J’s created, only seventeen of these were produced from new tanks and these were released at the end of summer, 1944.

There are only a few minor exterior difference between the Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J and standard Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. J; most notably of these changes would be the addition antennas for the new radio equipment. First, a star antenna (Sternantenne D) for the Fu 8 radio, a 2m antenna for a Fu 5 radio and finally 1.4m antenna for a Fu 7 radio. The top steel plates to the turret were increased in thickness as well. These new Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J’s would have Zimmerit applied when they rolled off the line as this was just prior the practice of applying the antimagnetic coating being discontinued.

Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J w/Zimmerit Fahrgestell Nr 92200


Again we see Dragon Models revisiting their long lineage of Panzerkampfwagen IV’s to bring us their new Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J w/Zimmerit Fahrgestell Nr 92200 kit model number 6823. This, of course, is in an effort to fill in some gaps that exists in the large list of Pz. IV tank offerings already available to modelers. This kit is supplied in the standard slip-top box, and yes, as you figured, the box has been packed to the brim with both parts to build the specified model contained within as well as a rather large pile of parts slated for the spare parts bin. Of the six hundred and forty-four parts in the box, two hundred ninety-nine of these parts have been highlighted blue signifying their nonuse status.

Contents


• 24 - Grey styrene sprues
• 1 – Lower hull tub
• 1 – upper hull
• 1 – Turret casemate
• 1 – Clear styrene spue
• 2 – DS Tracks
• 1 – sheet of photo eth parts
• 1 – Sheet of decals
• 1 – Set of instructions

As you might figure, this kit is made up basically with parts from previously released kits from Dragon with a few alterations to create this specific vehicle. This only makes sense as Dragon has a created a solid base kit for the Pz. Kpfw. IV over the years and adding these gap-filler kits into the line of offerings is merely a matter of tossing a few standardized parts into a box with one or two parts to create the off-shoot. We see this with the inclusion of the standard “A” sprue containing the Pz. IV running gear, all of the road wheels, suspension, idlers and sprockets as well as a number of sprue marked with the generic “Pz.IV” and have been seen in all previous releases of late model Pz. Kpfw IV’s. The suspension provided is of the non-working variety and the detail remains consistently pleasant with crisp molding of the road wheels, idlers and sprockets and build up nicely to and will provide a decent base to the static model

Moving up from the suspension I took a look at the hull tub. I know someone out there might be able to help correct me if I am wrong here, but this appears to be one of the first times we are seeing a Pz. IV hull with the Zimmerit actually molded into it. I did look through many of the Pz. IV reviews and listing from the past few years, and other than Jagdpanzer IV L/48 I actually reviewed for Amrorama not too long ago, none of the tanks that have Zimmerit applied to them, have hulls with the Zimmerit molded directly to it. Often we will see some sort of “new tooling” comment on the Dragon website letting us know what is actually new in the kit, but there was no mention, only that the kit is basically the Ausf. H version with a few extra parts tossed inside the box. The “new” hull, as I will call it, still has all of the same highly detailed plate and fastening pattern on the bottom and the sides and lower front glacis are covered with a pattern of the Zimmerit coating molded directly into the tub itself. DML did a nice job in representing the nonconforming look to the application.

Edit: Fortunately one of the fine members here let me know after this review was posted of the kit with the same exact hull provided. DML's SdKfz.166 StuPz.IV 'Brummbär' Mid Production w/Zimmerit No. 6500. Many thanks for the information Jeremy!!

As seen many times before, we see a mixed bag of parts from several kits have been added to the box to bring this kit to fruition. This time the bulk of parts are provided from DML’s Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H with Zimmerit kit released in 2013 (a review can be found here on Armorama by our own Kevin Brant). In fact, eleven out of the twenty-four supplied sprues provided, are from the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H with Zimmerit kit. These parts make up the majority of construction consisting of the upper hull up to and including the fender, turret and schützen. This only makes sense since the Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J, for all intents and purposes, is basically an Ausf. H with a few minor exterior and interior modifications. The previous release of the Ausf. H gave us the Zimmerit coating that appeared on the front and rear glacis plates as well as the upper hull casemate. The correct flammenvernichter exhausts have been provided to accurately depict this version of tank.


Continuing my rummaging through the pile of familiar items, there are a number of sprues with parts for Dragon’s Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J, Jagdpanzer IV L/70 and Brummbar kits to help bring this kit up to snuff with what was seen on the actual Pz.Bef.Wg. IV Ausf. J. The typical DML practices of adding a complete sprue of parts when only one or two parts from that sprue is needed continues. Rather than designing an entire set of sprue for this one particular kit, it only makes sense to grab the sprues that certain parts are needed to complete his version of tank and toss them in the box. It does seem like a waste when a sprue containing 50 parts is added and only one part gets used, but alternative for DML to cut new molds becomes much more costly in the end. So this being basically the same Pz. IV platform as the previous releases, the construction is exactly the same, as you would figure. Care should be taken while constructing the lower and upper hull sections. There are various locations, as seen on the rear glasis and fenders, where holes will need to be drilled for parts to be installed later on in the construction.

Some of the newer parts we see with this kit are a antenna storage box, brackets for the side skirt armor and some photo etch parts. Being that this is a command tank, there would be added radio equipment, which means there would undoubtedly be additional antenna on the exterior. A photo etch support for the Star Antenna located at the rear of the engine deck has been provided, along with a new storage box for the antennas which gets placed on top of the brackets for the side skirt armor. With the inclusion of the new storage box, Dragon has redesigned the side skirt brackets similar to what was seen on the original tank. Although still somewhat thick, these brackets serve their purpose nicely and should build up quite well. There is no side skirt armor included in this kit. There is however, two options for the mounting rail which is listed in the instructions for use with and without the side skirt armor. Moving back to the antennas for moment, there is the inclusion of a new photo etch blanking plate for the Fu5 radio antenna. One final addition would be the two small photo etch brackets for use with the spare track links which are to be mounted on the right-hand side of the casemate just above the fender.

The turret is the same as provided with the Ausf. H kit where the gun ports and vision slots have been removed along with the appearance of thicker plating has been created to the top of the turret. The correct, five window copula with clear arts for the vision glass has been included. The turret schützen is the smooth, non-zimmerit coated variety which was seen on many of the Pz.Bef.Wg, IV Ausf. J’s. There is the inclusion of the same photo etch mesh plating used to fill in alongside the turret stowage bin at the bottom where the bin meets the schützen creating a bustle for the tank. Provided as well is the slide-molded version of the 75mm Kw.K 40 L/48 gun barrels. There is more than one version of the muzzle brake included; parts labeled R6, R2 and R1 are the correct combination that should be used; this is outlined as a sub-assembly within the instructions.

Yet again, we see the appearance of the DS tracks from Dragon. This seems to be a large source of contention for many modelers out there who would much rather have DML provide Magic Tracks in all their kits; and rightfully so. Despite the somewhat mind-altering, monotonous construction of the individualized track links, the Magic Tracks allow the modeler to depict the sag and/or damaged tracts much easier and more life-like than the DS; not to mention there are a number of folks that can have problems with painting and finishing the rubbery DS tracks. With that said though, the DS tracks will finish up quite nicely with a little care in preparation to painting and a good primer and are easier to actually paint prior to installation for the most part. Basic installation can be easier for the average modeler, and with a little thought and preparation, the proper sag can be achieved in some cases. Personally I probably could care less about the inclusion of the DS tracks as I would most likely be purchasing aftermarket links and to be honest, most of the tracks would be hidden by the side skirt armor and the sag not seen; however, this kit does not have any such side skirt armor included. This might force the hand, mine anyway, to search for an acceptable aftermarket metal track alternative.

Winding this review down, we arrive at the instructions. Dragon provides their large fold-out version to show the construction steps to this model. All of the parts that are to be used are listed in the standard parts legend on the first page; all unused parts have been highlighted in blue. Typical of DML instructions, special care should be taken by the builder when making their way through these instructions. As seen many times before, the reversal of parts numbers or omission of assemblies can and will be present. The process is presented in the normal exploded view format and is quite busy in appearance. This can be a problem for some novice builders to follow along adequately. It is best to read through the instruction thoroughly once or twice…more if needed, to familiarize yourself with the construction. In addition, the sections depicting the installation of the photo etch parts have been highlighted in blue, I have found it far easier to keep track of where these parts are by simply highlighting them all with a colored highlighter during my pre-build read through. There is one painting suggestion given for this model; the customary “Unidentified Unit, 1944”. This is a three-colored camouflage scheme. The decals provided with the kit are from Cartograf and include only three Balkenkreuz.

Conclusion


Well, I know there will be many shouting out ”why another German armor kit” and probably even more mumbling sarcastically to themselves, “yay, another Pz. Kpfw. IV from DML when we all know there are plenty of uncharted waters to be covered by this manufacturer. But in the end, it is what it is, and anyone who is a fan of DML’s WWII German offerings, more specifically enthusiasts of their Pz. Kpfw. IV kits, will enjoy this gap filler to Dragon's own panzertruppe with this latest release of the Pz.Bef.Wg, IV Ausf. J w/Zimmerit Fahrgestell Nr 92200 kit. Basically the kit is the previously release Ausf. H with some alterations to bring it up to speed with what was seen installed on the Pz.Bef.Wg, IV Ausf. J in late summer of 1944. The molded Zimmerit looks decent and adds to the overall appearance quite nicely. I like the added Zimmerit to the hull, especially with the lack of side skirt armor. Added features like the antenna storage box and re-tooled side skirt armor brackets is are a welcomed addition when trying to depict this particular vehicle; again, I do feel Dragon probably should have included some of their side skirt armor to allow the modeler to depict this version with or without the armor skirts as they seem fit. This is not a deal breaker as there is fairly cost efficient aftermarket parts sold everywhere not to mention it would not be too hard for someone to fabricate their own from styrene of thin metal shim stock. One thought on the extra sprue inclusions is there are enough spare parts to accurately represent pretty much and Ausf. H or J version. So if you change your mind about the command vehicle, it would be only a matter of picking up some new markings is one so chooses. It appears that the focus of this kit was taken from Osprey’s Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.G, H and J 1942-45 where two photos of the Pz.Bef.Wg, IV Ausf. J with the clearly marked hull numbers, 92200, on the back plate are present. I do feel it would have been not a very difficult task to include these numbers on the decal sheet allowing folks to show this tank as it looked late in the war. Finally, I do feel the non-inclusion of the Magic Tracks is a bit of a letdown personally. I liked the versatility of the individual links, but not to drag out the overall track discussion again, the DS tracks do look nice if finished and applied correctly; or simply purchase higher quality aftermarket metal tracks.

So for me, the Pz.Bef.Wg, IV Ausf. J w/Zimmerit Fahrgestell Nr 92200 kit from Dragon Models gets my recommendation, not just because I enjoy the Pz. IV subject matter, but it does allow the builder the opportunity to fill in a gap within the Pz. IV ranks with Dragon Models usual quality. The kit is well-manufactured and has plenty of added details that makes this kit pleasing and alluring enough to want to build. The kit’s shortcomings are characteristic from the manufacture and easy to correct with little effort, time and of course a few bucks depending on skill level,what the builder is actually looking to accomplish and if they decide to actually go that route, this kit will please some Pz. IV enthusiasts as a means to fill that empty spot on their display shelf Pz. Division.

Recommended!




References

Osprey’s Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.G, H and J 1942-45 by Hilary Doyle & Tom Jentz

Libe Link - Kevin Brant’s Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H with Zimmerit Review

SUMMARY
Highs: A well build offering from Dragon based largely on a previously released kit to accurately depict a small command tank gap in the line.
Lows: Not having Magic tracks included will be an issue for some, some flash on the Sternantenne D (star antenna) as this looked to be an older part included in the kit.
Verdict: This should be a pleasing kit to most Pz. IV fans looking to depict the Ausf. J version not previously covered.
Percentage Rating
92%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6823
  Suggested Retail: $70.00 US
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Dec 28, 2015
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 95.48%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Todd Michalak (TRM5150)
FROM: MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES

I am building what I like, when I like and how I like it; having fun doing it. I have been building and finishing models on and off my whole life but the past ten years things really exploded. Just about anything goes when it comes to hitting the bench, but wrecked armor, rusted hulks, ships or ...

Copyright ©2017 text by Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Todd, Nice review. Look forward to your build, I'm guessing the spare parts bin will be overflowing sometime soon!! Cheers, Rick
DEC 28, 2015 - 07:05 PM
Why did they drop PE antennas? Factoring flash cleanup in the plastic parts are not easier to assemble.
DEC 28, 2015 - 11:51 PM
0Just had a quick look thru my stash, and the Brummbar Mid-Production with Zimmeritt seems to have the same hull - i.e. with the Zimm moulded in al around the sides etc
DEC 29, 2015 - 10:05 PM
Not sure what they would drop the PE antenna Tim. The PE antenna seems like it would be a trivial part and since it existed once, why not keep it for future kits. A discussion I had in person with another kit manufacturer about something similar, left me believing it was partly a business decision whereas the availability of outsourcing that PE sheet might not be an option....or cultural business where they honestly don't care. They know they have provided the base kit with minor issues that can be corrected with AM parts. Awesome Jeremy...thank you very much! LOL! For some reason I could not find one...I had looked at DML 5696, and while it had Zimm, there was extra plating involved. The kit you must have is no. 6500? I managed to track down a review and it indeed looks to be the same hull from what I can tell. I will go back in and amend my review to reflect this...thank you! LOL...either too many kits out there or I am just getting old! Guessing the latter!!
DEC 30, 2015 - 03:10 AM
Looks like they forgot to delete one of the return rollers ... again! There should be 3 - not 4 on the 'J'
AUG 13, 2016 - 12:10 PM
I would have to agree with you in the first case - that this "J" should indeed have only 3 rollers per side. But perhaps the named specific hull had 4 per side? I would generally assume that the Dragon, having decided to kit a very specific vehicle, would get that vehicle's major details right. After all, They did identify the specific thing and they would surely have done their homework on that specific thing, right? Anyone out there KNOW anything about the named vehicle kitted here? Was it actually a "J" and did it actually have the typical "J" 3 roller configuration or still have the prior H 4x set? Or did the D just plain goof it up? Bob
AUG 13, 2016 - 04:55 PM
Am trying to recall where I read / heard of some Ausf Js still having 4 return rollers. Anyways in the intstruction I see Tom Cockle named as one of the technical consultants. If keen to pursue you may want to post a query to him over at ML.
AUG 13, 2016 - 11:30 PM
The 4 return rollers is correct for this kit. Panzer IV J vehicles were produced with 4 return rollers until Dec. 1944 when the switch was made to 3. Spielbergers revised edition of the Begleitwagen Panzer IV has some pics of this tank 92200 and line drawings showing 4 rollers. This is a much better edition than the origional having nearly twice as many pages at 300+ and only deals with the panzer IV and none of the variants such as the Brummbar, Flakpanzers, etal.
SEP 19, 2016 - 03:27 PM
One other bit, of the 105 odd Pz.Bef.Wg. IV J's, 17 were new vehicles produced in Aug./Sept. 1944 with the other 88 from refurbished vehicles. Given that, it would follow that most if not nearly all would have 4 return rollers rather than 3.
SEP 19, 2016 - 03:30 PM
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