Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pz.Kfw. IV Mainstay of the german army

The Pz.Kfw. IV

The Pz.Kfw. IV is often regarded as the workhorse of the german army during world war 2. Pz.Kkw. is an abbreviation of 'Panzer Kampfwagen' literally translated 'Armoured War wagon'. Originally designed in the late '30 as a support vehicle for infantry the Pz.Kfw. IV was equipped with a short barrel 75 mm howitzer. The main battle tank of the german army was the Pz.Kfw. III armed with a 50 mm AT gun. After the german army encountered the Sovjet T34 and KV-1 heavy tanks a far more heavier anti-tank weapon was needed. The Pz.Kfw. IV's where equipped with a long barred 75mm AT gun and increased armour. Various models and variations within these models led to the H version of the tank which was the optimum in armour (extra thick on the front and 'side skirts'), weight (25.000 kg), speed (16 km/h), off road performance and armature (75 mm AT gun with 990m/s muzzle velocity) that could be reached with this basic design. The H model had 'side skirts', extra armour plating hanging loosely on the sides of the tank, on the turret and hull. The plates on the hull where prone to falling off when driving through densely grown area's. It often also was produced with zimmerit. The suspension of the front road wheels was also improved to better support the extra weight the tank put on because of the heavier gun and armour. As a main battle tank the Pz.Kfw.IV was superseded by the Panther. The Pz.Kfw. IV chassis also served as a basis for many, many vehicles produced for the german army in WWII with various roles other than 'standard tank'. These include:

  • The Brümmbar, a Pz.Kfw. IV with an 150mm short barrel howitzer in an heavly armed 'pillbox'.
  • The Nashorn, a Pz.Kfw. IV with the 88 mm KwK 43 in a open topped lightly armoured supper structure.
  • The Hümmel, a Pz.Kfw. IV with the 150 mm sFH18 in a open topped lightly armoured supper structure.
  • The wirbelwind, a Pz.Kfw IV with an open topped turret supporting the FlaK 38 quadruple 20 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Ostwind, a Pz.Kfw IV with an open topped turret supporting the FlaK 36/37 single 37 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Möbelwagen, a Pz.Kfw IV with a platform supporting the FlaK 37/37 single 37 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Stümgeschutz IV, basically a StuG. III top on a Pz.Kfw. Chassis.
  • The Panzerjäger IV, a turretless tank hunter equipped with a 75 mm KwK 42 high velocity gun, the same gun as in the Panther tank.

The Revell model

Revell re-released their model of the Pz.Kfw. IV H (Kit. No. 03184) and this model almost perfect. It features fine detail, separate hatches, side skirts for both the turret and hull. Two small things are missing; The rain guards and grabhandles above the side doors of the turret, and; The bar holding the spare track links on the front hull. The drive wheels stick out from the hull a bit to wide (or the road and idler wheels are to close to the hull). This makes the tracks look weird when viewed from the front:

This is something to be mindfull of when you build the model. The problem can be solved by placind the road and idler wheels further outward on their pegs. I build the model with all hatches open. The opening on the sides of the turret require extra work, the hatches are provided seperately but there is no opening in the turret part as is designed to be made with the 'doors' shut so you have to make this opening yourself. For the turret I also made an interior with plastic card, rod and parts from the Pz.Kfw. IV turret interior of the Fujimi kit. This turned out to be absolutely unnecessary because you absolutely can't see a thing even though there are opened hatches from three sides. The openings in the hull are a bit larger as those in the turret but in reality the area directly under them had a chair with empty space for the crew member. The radio, gearbox, machine gun and other equipment was placed on the sides of this 'void'. I didn't made these because I was afraid it won't be seen like the turret interior. I blanked off the openings under the crew hatches in the hull with a black painted piece of plastic card. I did made my own side skirts on turret and hull. The turret skirts also have hatches and there are made open. In all hatches opening mechanism are installed. Finally I added 5 crew members from the 'Panzer crew' set of Caesar miniatures. These figures are very well done, I think they are even better then the average 1/35 figure let alone 1/72 figures. Some figures in the set feature a separated legs and torso so you can vary with the poses. I painted the model sand yellow with a light brown camouflage, gave it mild wash and applied pastels to simulate dust.

On to the photo's.

The Pz. Kfw. IV H and some of it's variants.

The Pz.Kfw. IV H with it's American counter part. The M4A3 76mm Sherman.

The Pz.Kfw. IV H with it's modern equivalent, the leopard II.

Both the Pz.Kfw.IV Ausf. H model and figure are among the best products in 1/72 scale today on the market. Both are recommended, beginners as well.