Trumpeter has continued its efforts with railway themed models with the most recent release of the Panzerjagerwagen Vol.1, an armored flat-bed car fitted with a Pzkpfw IV-H turret and used as part of the BP44 Armored Train on the Eastern Front. The designation of the Vol. 1 may be an indication that more kits of this type will be forthcoming from Trumpeter in the future but no announcements have been made as of the time of this writing.
The kit includes the following:
• Gray styrene parts molded in light gray styrene on 6 separate sprues
• Separate molded gray styrene upper and lower car body halves
• 5 molded gray styrene sections of rail-bed and base
• 2 frets of PE containing alternative parts for the turret schurzen
• 1 sheet of decal markings
• Exploded-line diagram instruction sheet for the kit
• Separate line diagram sheet for the railway bed
• Color finishing guide insert
At first glance the kit parts appear to be molded well however a closer examination reveals the presence of some minor flash on various parts, at least in my sample, and ejector marks in various locations that will need to be dealt with in the normal fashion, particularly for interior parts on the turret. The kit primarily consists of three different main assemblies, the rail-bed, the rail-car, and the turret. The color finishing guide provided illustrates a single scheme in a wavy three tone pattern with simple balkenkreuze markings, either black-on-white or simple white outline, for the turret base sides. No markings for Reichsbahn stencils or other similar railway markings are provided.
The rail-bed is a familiar subject for anyone who has built other Trumpeter kits such as the K5E Leopold or BR-52 Kriegslocomotive. A separate double-sided single sheet of instructions are provided for its assembly. If the kit will be displayed in isolation, one of the “Road-A” sections requires some surgery as does the L4 section of ties for it to be fitted but the others are used as is. The roadbed surface is molded with open slots for the ties to be fitted into from underneath, allowing for easier painting and detailing of the ties but requiring some attention to the join seams for each section of the roadbed for a seamless appearance. The road-bed design is modular so it shouldn’t be an issue to link this in with sections provided with other Trumpeter kits using the slot-tab arrangement if desired for a longer display. The rails provided are molded in styrene with 2 pieces per track side with separate styrene join members to connect them up. The road-bed texture does have some variation to it but is primarily there to serve as a base however you could adapt the ties and rails to create your own using Woodland Scenics ballast or some other similar material if you preferred.
Moving on to the rail-car, some very nice detail is provided for the truck bogeys and axles but due to the armored nature of the car body, most of this is hidden away on final assembly. Connection hooks for linking the car up to other rail cars is present on the front of the car with a multi-part assembly provided that can be left flexible/workable with a little care during construction however the box-art shows this in a "pusher" arrangement vs. it being linked by a car in front. The front of the car also includes detailed multi-part bumpers which require drilling out of holes in the top to take the headlamps but you'll have to guess as to where the holes should be as no indicator marks are given on the actual parts. Edit: The bumpers do indeed have molded in indicator marks on the underside, at first glance these appear to be ejector marks but are in fact the right diameter to take the posts for the headlamps.
The headlamps also do not have any lenses provided but are molded open instead of solid to allow the fitting of MV lenses or other alternatives should you desire. The car top surface features consist mainly of the flat deck and turret base and a large wooden storage box. The deck plate and turret base are a single piece with the plate having a finely molded tread-plate pattern and separate insert parts for the side guards to the turret mount. The storage box consists of 4 parts for the box sides and 1 additional for the top. The kit does not provide the option of having the box posed in the open position and no hinge detail is present although there are molded on latch details on the front. The box mounts directly to the deck with a raised molded in outline for aiding in positioning it to the rear of the car.
The majority of the kit parts are devoted to the turret which represents a standard Pzkpfw IV-H turret mounted directly to the car deck. It has been noted by other reviewers referencing the scale drawings in Panzer Tracts that the turret height dimensions are off by 2mm at the back and 1mm at the front resulting in an incorrect angle to the roof. I cannot confirm that since I don't have ready access to those drawings but comparing it to the turret on a Pz IV-E kit, the dimensions do seem to be off, so I'm inclined to agree. The turret does include interior details in the form of a fully detailed gun breech and coaxial MG34 (albeit with a solid muzzle that will require drilling out with a pin-vise), lower turret basket and equipment, crew seats and turret traverse mechanisms, commander’s cupola details, and interior crew hatch details. While the inclusion of the interior is a plus, the main draw-back consists of the fact that all of the armored glass and view-ports are in gray styrene and the interior facing surfaces of the blocks and all of the interior hatch surfaces also have deep and hard-to remove ejector marks next to delicate details. Additionally, the exterior vision ports on the cupola can only be posed in the open position, requiring a creative solution for the solid gray styrene faces. The main gun consists of a unified two-part barrel and breech, producing a long mold seam to be dealt with or opt for some surgery if a metal replacement barrel will be used for the 7.5cm KwK 40 L48. The muzzle brake is a separate two-part assembly and inserts via a plug mount into the end of the styrene barrel with its corresponding seam also requiring attention.
The turret, as a IV-H, also comes with the options of either styrene or PE parts for creating the schurzen with separate steps provided in the instructions for either option. The styrene parts are one piece per side with separate single-piece mount frames which attach directly to the schurzen and then to the turret. While styrene will always be thicker scale-wise vs. PE, they are beveled to appear as thin as possible and have nicely molded detail but do not allow for the side hatch access panels to be posed open. On the other hand, all of the PE panels provided are flat one-piece segments with multi-part PE mounting frames, requiring some of the panels to be bent or annealed to shape to achieve the complex curves for each side and the join at the rear of the turret. Separate PE bolt heads are provided to match up to the open locating holes on each plate, and combined with the curves PE experience is a must if choosing this option. Additionally, the turret has molded in open slots designed to mate up with the styrene tabs on the schurzen mount arms and these will need to be filled and sanded if using the PE option. The turret secures to the body of the car using slot ears and cut-outs in the mount platform, allowing the turret to remain secured and freely rotate once in place.
Edit: I've started a Build-Log
in order to evaluate the overall kit fit and parts alignment/quality.