Tamiya Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. G
Sd.Kfz. 161/1 Early Production
Panzerkampfwagen (Pz.Kpfw) IV development began in 1934, with Krupp contracted for the first production run in December 1936. The initial Ausf. A production variant was completed by Autumn 1937. The Pz.Kpfw. IV's boxy hull and angled turret were typical for German tank design - look at the Pz.Kpfw. III. The Pz.Kpfw. IV was designed to attack strong points and entrenched infantry, while the Pz.Kpfw. III was originally intended to take on and defeat enemy tanks. Soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Germans were rudely surprised by the T-34 and KV-series of tanks which could defeat any German armor on the battlefield, while proving mostly invulnerable to the Pz.Kpfw. III and IV main guns. Most early German success against T-34 and KV-series tanks have been attributed to poor training of Soviet tank crews, to include driving and firing the main gun, and the German's early battlefield experience and success employing armor in Poland and France. That argument is outside the scope of this review.
The Pz.Kpfw. IV continued to be improved throughout WWII, with additional or increased armor, improved main guns and ammunition, gun sights, suspensions, survivability, and maneuverability, culminating in the Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf. J. This kit depicts the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. G, Sd.Kfz. 161/1 Early Production, armed with the 7.5cm KwK40 L/43 gun, identified by its round, ball-shaped single-baffle muzzle, and different recuperator housing. Later versions of the Ausf. G replaced the ball-shaped, single-baffle muzzle with a double-baffle muzzle. If you browse armor modeling and historical forums, you will find discussions on the Pz.Kpfw. IV F, F1, F2, and G naming. Several well-known publications (Spielberger, Jentz and Doyle, Culver) from the 1990s use the terms F1 for the short-barreled Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F, and F2 for this, the Early Production Pz.Kpfw. IV G. According to the Tamiya kit pamphlet, "some 230 upgunned Ausf. F tanks employing the L/43 7.5cm KwK40 were produced; they were temporarily known as the Ausf. F2, but in July 1942 (four months after production of the F2 began, were renamed the Ausf. G. Combined, 1,930 F2s and Gs were manufactured between March 1942 and June 1943."
For two very nice reviews of the Tamiya Pz.Kpfw. IV F, see Ben Brandes' reviews at https://www.amps-armor.org/SiteReviews/ShowReview.aspx?id=14638 and https://www.amps-armor.org/SiteReviews/ShowReview.aspx?id=14643
Come on, let's see the review! Achtung, vorwarts!
What's in the box?
The Instruction Manual
The kit is packed in what seems to be Tamiya's standard sturdy box for armor kits - the nicely rendered color artwork on the boxtop shows a 3/4 view from the front left, along with four of the five crewmen intently peering forward, along with an infantryman holding on the rear turret. The two color schemes (North Africa and Russia) are depicted on each long side, and as well as larger four-sided views included in the pamphlet as painting guides. The construction sequence is logical, guided by large and mostly uncluttered black and white drawings of the 41 steps over 20 pages. Where extra care is needed, Tamiya alerts you to attach parts in numbered order, or provides a thumbnail sketch to ensure correct placement, confirm the track jig and links directions. Also typical Tamiya, recommended Tamiya paints and the unused parts are noted.
The sprues and separate parts
There are seven light tan color sprues, one bathtub style lower hull (dated 1994), and one gray sprue of the figures and personal equipment.
Sprue A by two. Contains one-piece bogie, two part road wheels and return rollers, idler wheels and sprockets, also dated 1994, but still nicely detailed.
Sprue B, marked as 35374, which is the same kit number as the Ausf. F reviewed by Ben Brandes, and consists of the upper hull, glacis, rear hull plates, rear fenders, six-part turret, four-part turret bin, and the driver and co-driver/RTO hatches which nicely depict the early type hatch.
Turret roof detail. My one reference that shows turret roofs, Panzer Tracts No. 4 by Jentz and Doyle, does not match the Tamiya kit, BUT the pictures are for the Ausf. F and the Ausf. G with the double baffle muzzle, so nothing for the Early G version. I will keep looking online for a clear turret view that supports Tamiya's version.
Sprue C has the final drives, turret cupola and hatches, which can be open or closed, and turret side hatches, which can also be open or closed; exhaust, vehicle-mounted tools. Although a nicely molded one-piece antenna mount with whip antenna is included, mine was broken on the sprue.
Sprue C Detail. Final drive, shovel, gun cleaning rods. Clamps are molded on.
Sprue E by two. Each sprue contains one track jig, modified length and link tracks (the longest run is seven links), more external detail parts.
Sprue E detail. Although slightly blurred, the knockout holes in about every three links are visible.
Sprue F is the only new molding just for this kit and contains the nice one-piece slide-molded gun barrel, but with a two piece single-baffle muzzle brake. Also included are front fenders, glacis access hatches, engine deck hatches, gun breech, mantlet, spare tracks and roadwheels, and jerry cans.
Sprue F close-up of the one-piece main gun and half-muzzle
Sprue F close-up of fender tread pattern
The bathtub-style lower hull from 1994
The five figures are very nicely done, with some of the best facial expressions I've seen on any figure.
Sprue ZA contains the parts for four crewmen and one infantryman, along with their personal equipment, weapons, choice of headgear for a couple of the figures. The driver is typical torso and head, with no lower arms or body with molded on headphones. The commander also has molded on headphones, but at a cocked angle as though listening to the infantryman depicted behind him. The other two crewmen are intended to be placed in the side hatches, and the infantryman has two helmet choices - one the standard steel helmet and the other a pith helmet. All have nicely done expressions and hands.
Sorry for the blurriness - best my little camera can do.
The decal sheet has markings for two tanks, one in North Africa and the other in Russia. All the decals are in register, colorful, and includes one for the external fire extinguisher, white crosses for the water cans, and even markings for the pith helmet.
Finally, there is a small bag with a length of string for a single tow cable, which will be installed in a figure-8 on the rear hull plate, and a length of enameled wire to tie the center of the tow cable together (nice touch!), and six polycaps - two for the sprockets, two for the main gun, two spares.
PROS: It's a TAMIYA! The parts are crisply molded, no flash, minimal knockout holes where they'll be seen (tracks are the exception), clear instructions, accurate looking Early G parts make the 1994 parts look good. The figures are superb, and will work in North Africa or the Russian summer. Once this kit hits the shop shelves, I believe it is going to fly out the door. Domo arigato, Tamiya san!
CONS: Other than the breech, there is no interior detail. Although the decals look great, there are only two vehicles represented.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders, pending full review.
Thanks goes out to Tamiya for this review kit.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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