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In-Box Review
135
Panzer IV/70 (A)
Panzer IV/70 (A) Sd. Kfz 162/1
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by: Rick Cooper [ CLOVIS899 ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The panzer IV/70 (A) was created as part of a response to the controversial decision to replace the StuG III family of vehicles with something mounting a more powerful gun among other improvements. The Wehrmacht wanted a tank destroyer vehicle with thicker armor, better ground clearance, more speed, as well as the aforementioned more powerful gun. As was typical of German Armed Forces procurement realities three different designs all went on to some level of production. The three were the Jagdpanzer IV with the L48 75cm gun of which something over 700 were built, the Pz IV/70 (V) with the same gun as the Panther tank of which over 900 were built by Vomag, and finally the Pz IV/70 (A), with the same powerful 75cm gun, built by Alkett with about 280 examples completed.

The Alkett version is sometimes referred to as the ‘Zwischenlosung’ version, or interim solution. This version can be easily identified by its blunt nosed appearance which it carries over from the Pz IV hull. In contrast to are the other versions of the vehicle which feature a very distinctive ‘V’ shaped lower front hull.

The focus of this kit from Tristar Model LTD. is the Alkett version, which seems a bit of an odd choice considering it is the rarest of the three versions built, but hey when did that ever seem to really matter to your favorite model company?

Tristar doesn’t release a kit a month to be sure, this is only kit number 48 for them in the past ten years, so when they do something they tend to take their time and do it right. This might seem like an odd choice with it being the least produced of the three versions of this particular vehicle. In Tristar’s defense it is a rather interesting vehicle with more than its share of the ‘cool factor’ which seems to be as relevant a reason as any, along with expected sales, to cut a new set of molds. In any case I’m glad that Tristar took up the challenge!

review

A whole boatload of sprues go into building this one up, and as if that wasn’t quite enough Tristar has included as a bonus a complete set of their second iteration of Panzer Grenadiers (kit 35005) complete with two sprues of individual weapons. All told you are looking at 18 sprues of injection plastic goodness, 2 sprues of vinyl , 2 frets of PE, 1 clear sprue, 1 decal sheet with options for three different vehicles, and 1 set of fold-out instructions to help put it all together.

While some of the sprues come from their earlier effort with the Brummbar (kit 35038) most appear to be newly tooled. Considering that Tristar has released several versions of Panzer IVs they could easily have cobbled together this kit but you have to give kudos to Tristar for taking the high road here.

The hull is a one piece affair that does come from the earlier Brummbar release but it is very well done with very nice bolt and panel detail on the bottom. The running gear bogies, rollers, sprockets and idlers all attach to the hull side in the normal way. Each of the bogie units is assembled with 7 different pieces, to which 2 wheel assemblies consisting of 6 pieces of their own are attached. With 19 pieces for each of the 8 bogie units you can see this is not a kit that you can assemble in just a couple of evenings. Of course the positive tradeoff here is that you will get a level of detail that is rarely seen in a plastic kit.

The kit does provide both the steel rimmed wheels for the front two bogie stations (my understanding is that this was done due to the excess weight of the main gun and extra armor that they carried) as well as the normal rubber rimmed wheels for the last two stations. In the past Tristar has molded the rubber rimmed portion of the wheels in styrene, but with this kit they have opted for vinyl rims. Never fear, these look very nice with the “Semperit” branding clearly visible (okay, I had to use the Opti-visor to read it, but only on low power, honest!) along with the tire data, but be careful when removing these from the sprue as they have three attachment points, I’d use a fresh, sharp hobby blade for this! You will need a total of 36 wheels including spares for the whole shooting match but Tristar provides enough for two vehicles which should leave your spares bin smiling. The idlers, drive sprockets, and final drive covers are all very nicely rendered with appropriately thin spoke details. One missing detail is the small bolt in the very center of the drive sprocket which is absent but should be easy enough to add for most modelers.

The upper hull is typical Tristar quality in that everything appears to be well defined as well as their penchant for using multiple pieces to achieve maximum results. Examples of this are the transmission and brake access panels in the front which are all separate pieces along with the cooling shrouds for the brake panels. On the rear deck Tristar has done an admirable job with the air intake vents which are molded as a multi-part assembly which are constructed from the inside out and attached to the underside of the rear engine deck. Along with this are the posts which secure the spare road wheels, these are inserted from the inside of the engine deck upward giving a nice secure attachment. The engine intake louvers are also constructed with multiple parts giving a very nice layered effect that enables the modeler to show them opened or closed in many different configurations. There are no parts included for the engine or engine compartment so if you wish to model these doors opened you will need to find something to go inside.

Most of the on board equipment is attached to the engine deck. The equipment is, for the most part, very nice. Detail nuts among us will be happy to know that the jack and its brackets are constructed with nothing less than 11 pieces to provide that extra bit of super detailing possibilities. I really like the jack block, it has wood grain on every exposed face, something most model companies’ neglect. While Tristar does provide a few of the brackets for the tools in PE it appears that all of the clamps have been molded in place on the tool itself. This is not entirely a bad thing as Tristar has come a long way from the molded on lumps of early Tamiya kits, these look like clamps, but they do suffer from the limitations of plastic molding and the more AMS afflicted among us may want to use some PE clamps to trick it out. In any regard however, all of the equipment is very well done to the very highest standards you will find among any of the plastic model producers.

The superstructure is constructed just like the real thing, from a series of plates with interlocking tabs. They need to be ‘welded’ together, or glued if you wish, and in case your ‘welding’ isn’t up to snuff, Tristar has thoughtfully included delicate weld beads along the plates in the appropriate locations. The roof is nicely rendered and includes such goodies as clear periscopes, lifting hooks, and a well done close-in grenade launcher. Oddly Tristar has the loaders hatch opening to the side rather than opening to the rear. The example at the museum in Saumur has it opening to the rear, I haven’t seen any period photos that show the side opening but I might be surprised.

The main gun is a plastic piece, clearly done with slide molding, and includes rifling on the inside but it doesn’t appear to have any twist to it. The gun breech, mount, and sights are all well done and nicely detailed; I’m just thankful that they are even included. The details on the gun mantlet and saukopf are a bit of a letdown; the heavy cast texture is completely absent and a rather heavy seam transverses the mantlet. The saukopf has the prominent horizontal weld seam but will need a bit of texturing as well. Some modelers will want to add some of the prominent casting numbers which are also missing.

Fenders and side skirt armor are something of a mixed bag. The fenders are the full length type with small pieces to add for the front and rear mud flaps, the small retaining springs, and the inner plates where the fender joins the front upper hull. There is no detail on the underside of the fender although the outer lip is appropriately thin. The upper surface has an understated tread plate pattern that is most probably more to scale than many other model manufacturers efforts. The mesh anti-grenade (?) screen was a bit of a disappointment, while Tristar provides a template to get the right size; the mesh itself appears to be simply a piece of aluminum that could have been cut out of my patio screen door. I have some serious doubts as to how well this will actually attach to the completed model, I have nightmarish visions of the stuff curling up at the ends, blobs of superglue, and never really looking exactly correct. Looking forward to seeing someone giving this stuff a go and making it work; if you do please pass along any tips you may have to the rest of us mere mortals.

The tracks are of the 40cm light weight, solid guide horn variety with additional ice cleats provided. They are handed left and right so pause a moment before you start cutting from the sprue to ensure you have the correct side. They don’t really appear to be workable however, they are very well done.

The figures are superb, Panzer Grenadiers in a variety of winter kit with three of the four in reversible parkas. I used this figure set on a Panther when they first were released several years ago and was very pleased with the sculpting and ease of construction as well as the equipment. You might want to replace a few pieces of equipment with some of the Gen2 stuff from Dragon, but for the most part this stuff holds up very well with very little discernible difference.

Conclusion

While this may not be the holy grail of the PzIV family it is a very well done kit. Some issues with the skirts and other odds and ends, but the positives greatly outweigh any negatives. I will definitely place this one on my build list, and if you have a good suggestion for dealing with the mesh skirts please share!

Reference:
Panzers in Saumur No. 1
SUMMARY
Highs: Superbly rendered detail throughout. Typical high quality Tristar kit with plenty of parts and fine detail. Bonus figures are very well done.
Lows: Mesh skirt continues to be difficult to replicate. Some minor issues with texture on saukopf and gun mantlet.
Verdict: This kit looks very nice, I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of German late war armor who have a bit of model building experience.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35048
  Suggested Retail: ~$50.00-$60.00
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 02, 2011
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.73%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.80%

Our Thanks to Tristar!
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 Rick Cooper (clovis899)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

I have been modeling for about 30 years now. Once upon a time in another century I owned my own hobby shop; way more work than it was worth. I tip my opti-visor to those who make a real living at it. Mainly build armor these days but I keep working at figures, planes and the occasional ship.

Copyright ©2017 text by Rick Cooper [ CLOVIS899 ]. 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

What difference does it make, on what plastic medium/process is used? Should it not be the quality of the end model that dictates the price? The days of paying more for a kit "just because it is resin" are long gone ... injected kits (when available) from Dragon, Tristar, Bronco, Tasca, AFV Club, etc are every bit as good .. if not better ... than the resin version previously available. Personally, Id pay more for an injected kit compared to a resin kit, as I hate sawing of moulding blocks and the dust involved in resin kits! Thanks for the review Rick. Nice to see the details of the parts. As much as I love Tristar, Im a bit dissapointed with rubber tyres and the shurtzen material. Im supposing there is no injected tyres included in the kit? Neither of the above are Tristar quality in my opinion.
AUG 02, 2011 - 08:21 AM
Thanks for the review Rick. The "screen door schurzen" seems like a cheap and easy way out for Tristar and like Frank I would have expected better. Did all of this variant have mesh schurtzen or can plate schurtzen be substituted?
AUG 02, 2011 - 01:25 PM
I'll add my echo of disappointment to the vinyl-tire parts and the screen mesh choice for the Thoma schurzen. On the one hand I can understand the challenge that the Thoma schurzen would present from an in-scale material limitation but the vinyl tires doesn't make any sense to me at all for the road wheels. If the intent was for that to be an innovative/differentiator vs. the competition, it doesn't rate that way for me at least. The combination of the two would likely keep me from getting this kit until I can see one built up before making a final judgment.
AUG 02, 2011 - 02:10 PM
Good, informative review, Rick. I'm surprised, too, they went for vinyl road wheels, since Tristar as a very marvelous set of AM styrene wheels for the Pz. IV that are styrene all the way. The result is very detailed rims with "Continental" on them and everything. Strange.
AUG 02, 2011 - 05:23 PM
Actually those vinyl parts have equally good detail compared to hard plastic, Semperit logo and some numbering. So level of detail isn't really biggest issue here, it's top notch. On the other hand I can see how I'm going to curse those bits in to lowest of hells when starting to clean that seam in the middle... Maybe going to source those wheels from elsewhere.
AUG 02, 2011 - 11:22 PM
On the other hand I can see how I'm going to curse those bits in to lowest of hells when starting to clean that seam in the middle... Maybe going to source those wheels from elsewhere.[/quote] The seam on the middle of the tyre is supposed to be there. I like the look of this kit too. The Thoma skirt does look cheap compaired to Tristars norm, not sure if these can be replaced with normal shurzen. Aber does Side Mesh Screens for Pnz IV Ausf J (35A66) which look good. I'm not sure if they are the same but should fit
AUG 04, 2011 - 12:29 PM
My biggest fear with using vinyl parts is they split when the model is complete ... although its never happened to me, Id cry if spent so much time on a model and the tyres split a few months after finishing. Im not gonna take any chances either ... If I dont use alternative tyres or wheels, this wont be either bought or built by me!!
AUG 04, 2011 - 12:43 PM
Thank you everyone for your kind words regarding the review. I appreciate the effort to post your views. I agree with Tomi, the detail on the vinyl tires is excellent. I haven't seen any other Semperit tires on the market, maybe someone can enlighten me if they are available. It is a nice change from the Continental brand. And I agree that the issue will be the clean up of the two or three attachment points. I will try to get one of the bogie units built up and a few photos posted in the next couple of days. Cheers, Rick Cooper
AUG 04, 2011 - 06:44 PM
I must admit that I'm greatly tempted to start this build, but then again I have so many ongoing projects and nothing finished that maybe not... But this is definitely great OOB kit, well maybe some Friul tracks but nothing more.
AUG 07, 2011 - 02:40 AM
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