Tamiya Panzerkampfagen IV Ausf. F Sd. Kfz. 161
Kit # 35374
The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. F (Sd. Kfz .161) was a medium tank developed for the German Army in the 1930's and used extensively throughout the duration of the war. More units of this tank were produced than any other German tank with a total of approximately 8,500 produced. It's main gun was the short barreled L/24 7.5 cm KwK 37 gun, which was used in the Ausf. A through Ausf. F, which was otherwise known as the F1. Later variants utilized the KwK 40 L/43 7.5cm main armament. She was manned by a crew of five and was powered by the 250 hp Maybach HL 108TRM V-12 gasoline engine. It's frontal armor was 50mm on the chassis, upper hull, and turret with 30mm side armor. The vehicle did well with it's initial fielding, however as it encountered more advanced Allied armor such as the Russian KV-1 and T-34 as well as the British Matilda II, the range had to be closed for the short barreled L/24 to penetrate the thicker armor of these AFV's. The vehicle performed well in various climates including the frozen Russian Steppe, the hot desert of North Africa, as well as western Europe.
Tamiya's old Panzer IV Ausf. D dates back to approximately 1977, but this new offering is primarily a new tool kit with only the "bathtub" style lower hull and wheel/suspension sprues being from older Tamiya Panzer IV releases in 1994. Tamiya's Ausf. F box is emblazoned with box art typical to Tamiya kits with a left front side view of the vehicle with 3 crew perched in their open hatches. The box cover sides provide color profiles for a Panzer IV Ausf F in overall German Grey and another in DAK 1941 Yellow Brown with Khaki striped camouflage in the markings of the 5th Panzer Division. Upon opening the box, the modeler is greeted by 8 plastic bags containing a total of 8 sprues with 7 being German panzer grey colored styrene, and one sprue (Z, the figure sprue) in light grey styrene. Another smaller bag contains the poly caps, a small length of rope for a tow cable, and a small strand of copper wire. One other small bag contains the crisp decals for the two vehicle marking options, both in Russia, summer 1942.
The kit instructions are excellent, with clear steps of construction provided in typical easy to follow Tamiya fashion and a nice background information pamphlet is included with color vehicle profiles for the marking and camouflage guidelines. There are 35 steps in the assembly of this kit.
Of the 8 sprues included in the kit, 5 sprues are brand new. Of these new sprues is sprue z with 3 excellent crew figures with a fourth optional head. Three of the four heads don the usual German Panzer crew garrison style cap, and the optional 4th head includes a "crusher" style officer's cap for the commander figure, but the other option includes the garrison cap with a nice set of headphones tilted over the cap and covering one of the head's ears. Pistol cases, a set of headphones, and binoculars are also included.
The fore mentioned lower hull tub. This dates back to the older 1994 Tamiya Panzer IV releases. The details of it still hold up well to today's standards:
Two "A" sprues of the suspension and wheels, also dating back to 1994. Nothing new to see here:
Sprue "B", brand new for 2020, includes the upper hull, turret assembly, hatches, and other miscellaneous hull parts. There are quite a few recessed ejector pin marks on several of these parts, but they are on inner/under surfaces that wont be seen very easily. The biggest issue of correcting them will be filling in the ones on the hatches without damaging the surrounding details if you choose to display them open with the crew figures seated in them :
Sprue C, also brand new, featuring the tools, commander's cupola, muffler, and other fine detailed parts. Again, a fair number of recessed ejector pin marks on the hatch parts inner surfaces:
The new tool "D" sprue with fenders, L/24 7.5cm KwK 37 main gun and breech assembly, and some other upper hull parts. For some unexplained reason Tamiya didn't utilize slide molding for the coax mg barrel, but it should be simple enough to drill out the end of the barrel with a pin vice and fine drill bit:
X2 of the new tool "E" sprue with the fantastic link and length tracks. A nice jig is included to aid in replicating the distinctive track sag of the Pz. IV. These sprues are very crisply molded and it is great to see that they even hollowed out the guide horns. Parts for the cupola and other detailed parts are also found on this sprue. The track links inner faces have recessed ejector pin marks, but these are fairly shallow and should be easily dealt with.
The Decals and poly caps bag with a small length of both rope and copper wire. The decals are in good register, but are a tad on the thicker side.
All in all I am very pleased with the contents of this kit. Tamiya's reputation of excellently engineered kits continues with this latest offering. I really am impressed with the improvements made in this kit compared to their older, but still decent kits like the Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf. J that I built a few months ago. In looking over the instructions and parts I don't see much cause for concerns and I fully expect this to be a fast and enjoyable build. Realizing that many newer modelers likely don't want any Photo Etch parts slowing them down, I would have preferred to have seen some offered to add a bit more finesse to the kit, but it's ok without it. I do wish that Tamiya would offer more marking options in their kits, as I was disappointed to see they only offer two decal options for vehicles in Russia during the summer of 1942. I would have liked to have seen an option for a vehicle in DAK markings, maybe in Tunisia or Sicily, 1943, and another marking option for a vehicle in service with the Grossdeutschland Division, perhaps at Kursk in 1943 or in Whitewash camouflage in the winter of '42-43. Out of the two marking options included, I've decided to build it in the more unique DAK colors referenced for a vehicle with the 5th Panzer Division, Central Russia,1942. The color call outs cite using the new Tamiya XF-92 (DAK 1941) Yellow brown and XF-49 Khaki for the option I'm building, however I'll likely use some Vallejo Model Air Yellow Ochre and Panzer Olive for my camouflage. I also plan to utilize the included figures as they really look to be the stars of this show. As soon as I get this First Look review edited and sent in, I plan on diving into this kit right away later this evening!
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Tamiya for this review kit.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
AMPS Central SC Wildcats chapter
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