Commander Series

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.D, upgraded version

Kit #: 3019 Review by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcastl(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Background Information
Following the change of the Pz IV role from support tank to main battle tank a number of the early short gun Panzer IV were rebuilt and upgraded to with the long L48 gun, wider tracks and wheels and Schürzen. From the internet I found four or five converted vehicles that appear to be based on the Pz IV Ausf. D or Ausf. E based on the stepped front plate. By “stepped” I mean the radio operator’s front plate is recessed, stepped back from the driver’s plate (in the references Jentz & Doyle uses the word “cranked” and Culver uses the word set-back to describe this front plate). I presume this was done so that the driver could have a small pistol port looking to the right, starboard, side for better overall vision. I have read that the rebuilt and upgraded Panzers were used at the training facilities and it appears that some saw combat. Several photos of the training Pz IV vehicles are marked with NSKK for the Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps (the paramilitary National Socialist Motor Corps) on the front starboard mudguard.

I surmise that this Panzer IV above was built as an Ausf. E model based on: the apparently stepped front plate with appliqué armor plate on the driver and side plates, the large hinges on the brake access hatches and the lack of a ventilation hood on these access hatches. The commander’s cupola appears to be that later style used on the Pz IV Ausf. E and Ausf. F. The long 7.5 cm gun may be the L43 or L48 length, and it does have the double-baffle muzzle brake used on the Pz IV Ausf. G and afterwards. The turret has Schürzen introduced on the Pz IV Ausf. G. The sprocket wheel looks to be a later “dished” sprocket indicating that it has been upgraded with the wider 40-cm track. Visible on the port side here is a spare roadwheel box common to the Pz IV Ausf. F and later. On the bow and glacis are spare track links. The NSKK Panzers I have seen had spare track links on the glacis but not the bow.

This upgraded Pz IV Ausf. D appears to be the same as that on display at the Tank Museum in Bovington, UK. This Panzer appears to be finished in Panzer yellow and a soft mottled brown and green camouflage. The markings and painting imply to me this was a combat vehicle and not just a crew training vehicle. The vehicle number 419 and Balkenkreuz appears to be the same as that at Bovington, but the camouflage pattern is now different.

This is a good view of the bolted appliqué armor, the later style dished sprocket for the wider 40cm track, later type wider roadwheels, and the Pz IV Ausf. D brake access hatches on the glacis that do not sit flush with the glacis. On the starboard side we see the antenna mount and the horizontal antenna trough. Note the small antenna deflector on the gun mantlet and recuperator housing. The cupola appears to be the original cupola for the Pz IV Ausf. C and Ausf. D. I see no evidence of spare tracks mounted on the bow or glacis.

We can tell this is likely an upgraded Pz IV Ausf. D by the earlier style commander’s cupola, the 1-piece side doors on the turret, and early mufflers on the rear plate. Forward of the turret doors are vision flaps that were deleted with the Pz IV Ausf. G. The smaller long cylindrical muffler on top is for the auxiliary engine that was replaced by a small square muffler with the Pz IV Ausf. F. At the upper corners of the rear plate are hooks for tow cables. On the fenders we have a taillight on the starboard fender, a Notek taillight on the port fender rear, and a few spare track links on the starboard fender below the antenna trough.

This Pz IV appears to be painted in Panzer yellow. For markings I note a Balkenkreuz on the rear and side and no unit or vehicle number. The number 34 crudely painted in white I believe to be likely painted by an Allied inventory team after the tank’s capture. I notice some mottling in places but suspect this is dirt and stains. I do not see a turret bin on the back and there are no turret Schürzen (skirts). The tracks and wheels appear to be upgraded to the wider track and wheels used on the Pz IV Ausf. F.

I found four 1/72-scale options for portraying a Pz IV Ausf. D upgraded with the 7.5 cm KwK 40 long gun: The Dragon kit 7530 (which I did not yet have), the World At War kit W-009 (which I believe is actually 1/76 in scale) the Mirage kits Kit 72854 and 72856 (which is the same kit with different markings), and the Commander Series resin kit 3019.

The model kit chosen was the resin Commander Series model kit 3019 pictured below even though it is not the most accurate and best quality of the choices, it came down to my wanting an excuse to finally build it. This model is about 20 years old and was very good for its time. I understand that the kit was designed and cast by Ken Overby when he did work for Commander Series Company. This kit is based on the old ESCI Pz IV Ausf. G kit and has been modified to resemble the Pz IV Ausf. D: a short 7.5 cm KwK gun, a new cupola and roof top features, the driver’s plate redesigned to be stepped back, appliqué armor, new mufflers, and different brake access hatches on the glacis. Because it is based on the old ESCI (now Italeri) kit the model has certain limitations, such as the mediocre wheels and track, and Pz IV Ausf. F turret which has eliminated the bulge under the commander’s cupola present on the Ausf. D.

The Commander’s model consists of seven cast resin parts with pour plugs on the bottom of the hull, gun mount and turret. The wheels and track are cast as single left and right pieces on a pancake of resin to be cut and sanded off. The wheels are based on the ESCI/Italeri Pz IV kit which are for the Pz IV F and later versions so are inaccurate for a production Pz IV D but would be accurate for a Pz IV rebuilt and upgraded. The kit hull will need lights and handtools for the fenders.

The ESCI track and wheels are mediocre by current modeling standards and their rendition into a resin quick build track degrades the detail even more. For a display model the wheels and track will be replaced by OKB resin parts and some wheels from the spares box. The Commander Series bogies are pretty rudimentary but acceptable as we cannot see much of them when the roadwheels are installed.

The kit’s commander’s cupola is decent but it (and no other plastic cupola) compares with the OKB resin aftermarket cupola, so the kit cupola has been sawed off and replaced. Saw damage on the turret roof was repaired with plastic and putty. A long KwK 40 gun was taken from an ESCI kit and muzzle brake from a Hasegawa kit. On the driver’s plate, the appliqué armor appears too thin and has improper spacing so is given appliqué armor from a Mirage Pz IV kit. The kit’s brake access hatches are flush with the glacis, which is incorrect, the hatches should be raised above the glacis surface, so spare brake hatch parts were taken from a Mirage Pz IV D model.

The mudguards are devoid of the handtools and antenna trough on the fenders; we will have to scratchbuild or take from the spares box. By using individual wheels rather than the kit quick-build wheels & tracks we will have to drill and install axles in the bogies. Wire grab handles were installed above the turret doors and on the engine hatch.

OKB Grigorov resin sprockets for Pz IV Ausf. A-D set S72425, and OKB roadwheels for Pz IV Ausf. A-D, set 72322 were used. The idler wheel above is the Mirage wheel for the Pz IV Ausf. E which is also for the 36-cm wide track. The OKB resin 36-cm type track set S72117 is the same width as the Mirage Pz IV track and both the OKB and Mirage tracks fit onto the OKB resin sprockets.

As the Commander’s model is based on the ESCI/Italeri model I figured that the turret Schürzen from the ESCI kit should fit. This overhead photo is the model as the instructions tell us to assemble the ESCI turret Schürzen. Assembled with the brackets here I found the Schürzen to sit too far away from the turret’s sides and too far forward, and the Schürzen parts to be warped. My attempts to fix this included cutting the length of the Schürzen front back a half centimeter on both sides, swap the first two brackets and to drill and pin the plastic brackets to the resin turret to counter the torque of the warped plastic skirt. The skirt broke on the starboard side so was modeled with open, battle-damaged side doors. Not a contest winner.

This and the photo below display the additions and modifications to make it into a more accurate upgraded Pz IV Ausf. D. Many of the pioneer tools are from Hasegawa Pz IV and Sd.Kfz 251 kits. The 7.5 cm KwK 40 is from and ESCI Pz IV kit, except for the muzzle brake which is a Hasegawa part. The commander’s cupola is an OKB resin part.

The surface of the engine deck needed some model putty and sanding to fill in the irregular surface. The front appliqué armor is from Mirage’s Pz IV D kit.

The rear sprocket wheel can potentially be set this low when trying to adjust track tension but unlikely based on historical photos, oops. To mask the warped turret skirt, the side door is portrayed open and bent due to an impact.

The front mudguards display an NSKK marking and a vehicle number 29.

The aftermarket resin roadwheels, sprocket and track are superb and significantly upgrade this Commander Series model.



  • PANZER TRACTS No. 4, Panzerkampfwagen IV, by Thomas Jentz & Hilary Doyle (1997)
  • Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1939 – 1945, by Kevin Hjremstad, Don Greer, Ernesto Cumpian Squadron Signal Publications (2000)
  • PzKpfw IV in Action, Squadron Signal Publications, Armor Number 12, by Bruce Culver and Don Greer (1975), an inexpensive decent reference book.
  • Tank Chats #106 video | Panzer IV | The Tank Museum, Bovington, UK
  • Inside the Chieftain's Hatch video - Panzer IV Pt. 1, with Hilary Doyle & Nicholas Moran. World of Tanks North America.

This kit was purchased by the reviewer.



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Article Last Updated:
03 January 2021

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