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In-Box Review
135
Panzer IV Ausf.J Mid.Prod.
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. J Mid. Production (August-September 1944)
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by: Karel K. [ FUSSBALL ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

DML has a wide selection of WWII German vehicle kits in its range. Often they use sprues from different kits to make up a new kit. Usually this is a good practice, as they also re-tool their sprues from time to time, but sometimes they only seem to add a new sprue or two to their kits. This latest release in their Smart Kit series, Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Mid Production, is no exception in that. DML has already released Panzer IV Ausf. J Initial/Early Production vehicle under their Cyber-Hobby label which is Reviewed Here. Now this new kit only adds three sprues and a re-modelled PE fret to the existing CH kit.

the kit

The kit is packed into a usual Smart Kit box, with for me at least, very cool box art. All the sprues are packed into clear plastic bags with the usual “Dragon Card” laying on top of them. The kit contains over 780 parts, of which 192 will be for your spare parts box.

The box contains the following:
•1 light gray hull tub
•One-piece turret for Panzer IV Ausf. J
•25 sprues in usual light gray DML plastic
•1 PE fret
•Instruction booklet
•2 bags of handed Magic Track links
•2 nickel PE frets for the Schürzen
•1 clear sprue
•Decal sheet
•1 30cm long piece of braided steel wire

Instructions:
The instructions are the usual DML fold-out ones, with black and white exploded diagrams. Kit construction consists of 20 steps with a number of small sub-assemblies. Colour codes for Model Master enamels and Gunze paints are provided at the beginning as usual. The Cartograf decal sheet is printed in its usual good quality.

the Review

As I already mentioned, this Panzer IV kit only adds three sprues to the CH Panzer IV Ausf. J Initial/Early Production vehicle that I have already review here. Most of the things I said about that kit also apply. To keep things simple, I’m not going to rewrite all that text, but will take a closer look at some minor differences between these two kits:

1. Rear hull:
The rear hull with the new style exhaust mufflers is in fact the only big difference between the Early and Mid. production Ausf. J. In August 1944, two flame-suppressing (Flammentöter) exhaust mufflers replaced the large cylindrical exhaust muffler that had been mounted on the hull rear on all the previous Panzer IVs. The kit’s exhaust system sprue comes from the DML Jagdpanzer IV L70 kit, but you only use 4 pieces: two mufflers and two armour guards for the exhaust pipes. You also employ the redesigned PE fret with two new PE parts as well, but that’s all there is to add.

2. Turret ventilation cover and MG34:
The turret ventilation cover and MG34 sprues are the last two sprues added to this kit. The MG34 isn’t even shown in the main instruction, with a small printout sheet added for assembling it. The MG34 is, of course, a very nicely-detailed GEN2 gun. The Turret ventilation cover sprue contains 3 parts but you only need to use one of them.

Correcting the instructions

As this kit is almost identical with the CH Panzer IV Ausf. J, it also shares instructions with it. There are only some small changes made to those instructions, resulting in a couple of features that are not correct for a mid-type Ausf. J that were clearly left in. As the box cover says, this Panzer IV should be built between August and September 1944. So let me detail the features the model definitely should have that the instructions don’t show clearly:

In the first step, you have the option of choosing between the cast and tubular welded-type idler wheels. You are better off using the cast-type idlers. In the ninth step, you must choose between two different engine deck layouts. The first one is a very early, more of an Ausf. H deck layout with one grab handle and slanted sides on the raised housing over the radiator filler caps. The second option is with two grab handles, and the raised housing has squared sides. Definitely use the later version with the squared housing and two grab handles.

In the sixteenth step you have to choose which kind of doors you want on the turret. The instructions give you an option between mid-type doors with no pistol port, but vision ports, and early mid-type doors with welded shut pistol port and vision ports. The mid-type doors without ports can be used, but if you are attempting an early mid-type Ausf. J, then you had better use a door with a welded-shut vision port and one without the pistol port.

Now, two last things for you to consider while building a mid-type Ausf. J: in September 1944, the order to stop applying Zimmerit was sent to the assembly firms, and wire mesh skirts with different style holding rails replaced the soft steel plates on the hull sides. As I already mentioned earlier, the FFI Panzer IV should not have hull Schürzen but should have Zimmerit, while the “721” vehicle should not have Zimmerit.

Decals & Marking

The four marking options included are the following:
•Pz.Abt.115, 15.Pz.Gren.Div., Champs, Belgium 1944
•Pz.Abt.2111, 111.Pz.Brig., Eastern France 1944
•Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1944
•French 1er Groupe Mobile de Reconnaissance FFI, St. Nazaire 1945

After some research, I found photographic evidence about the FFI (French Forces of Interior) and the unidentified unit vehicle. The FFI had the use of 11 Panzer IV by the end of the war. The picture I found of the FFI Panzer IV shows the absence of hull Schürzen plates and their holding rails. Also the picture clearly shows Zimmerit on the Panzer IV, so that has to be taken into account when building a Panzer IV with FFI markings.

The unidentified unit gives you two options for the turret number “723” and “721.” I found a picture of the vehicle “721” that shows it destroyed in Hungary in 1945. That specific Panzer IV Ausf. J was probably from the 23rd Panzer Division 6th SS-Panzer Armee.

Conclusion

What can I say about this kit that I haven’t already have said in my CH Panzer IV review? Because I’m a Panzer IV fan, I like the kit, but in the end I feel a bit disappointed. This kit only adds 5 new parts and a MG34 to the existing CH Panzer IV Ausf. J Initial/Early production vehicle. Also, with this kit you have all the parts you need to build an early Ausf. J, so the CH Ausf. J kit seems a bit pointless. DML should have opted for a 3in1 kit with the option of building an Initial, Early and Mid. type Panzer IV Ausf. J.
SUMMARY
Highs: Highly detailed. Comes with the late-style exhaust pipes.
Lows: Basically the same kit as the Cyber-Hobby Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J Initial/Early Production No.6549 with only five added parts.
Verdict: Highly recommended for those who want to build a Panzer IV with the late style exhaust system.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6556
  Suggested Retail: $49.95 USD
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 09, 2010
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 78.20%
  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 Karel K. (fussball)
FROM: HARJU, ESTONIA

Copyright ©2017 text by Karel K. [ FUSSBALL ]. 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

This and the one for CH Panzer IV are two great reviews. So if I were to chose only one of these kits which one should I go for?
APR 10, 2010 - 11:32 AM
Thanks for getting this one up Bill. Pat: I'd recommend buying the DML ausf.J. It has all the same parts as the CH one and you can also build an early ausf. J with DML kit. Also DML kit is not a "limited production" kit as they have labeled the CH one.
APR 11, 2010 - 08:32 AM
karel, great review, I've printed it off and put it in the kit's box in my stash for when I get to it. Thanks for the photo as well.
APR 13, 2010 - 12:35 PM
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