Mirage Hobby

Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. D France 1940
Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. D Tropenpanzer

Kit : # 72854 & 72856

Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcastl(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Mirage Hobby released two versions of their smallscale Pz. IV Ausf. D model, both essentially the same kit but for the decal markings and a few other parts.

The nicely done box art for kit 72856 shows a Pz IV Ausf. D that has been modified to serve in “tropical” North Africa hence it is a Tropenpanzer. Particular and interesting features are the open viewport on the turret side and the open turret side door. These early Pz IV used a large single side door while the Pz IV Ausf. F and later used two smaller doors. This early Pz IV is armed with the 7.5-cm L24 main gun. The hatches and doors shown open here can be portrayed open on the model but there are no crew figures included.

On the front driver’s plate and the side of the hull we see bolted-on appliqué armor, but there is no appliqué armor on the bow. The roadwheels deserve to be pointed out as accurate for this early Pz IV, having the correct large flat armored hub used on the Pz IV Ausf. A through the Ausf. D. Spoiler alert, these are not the roadwheels included in the Mirage kits. On the subject of the roadwheels, make note of the spacing between the roadwheels and the idler, it looks reasonably accurate in this artwork and this detail will be important later. On the rear of the superstructure is a spare roadwheel and what appears to be a wooden box.

The box art for Mirage’s other smallscale Pz IV Ausf. D model kit 72854, portrayed during the 1940 invasion of France based on the burning FT17 tank in French markings off to the upper right background. This Mirage kit does not portray the use of applique armor, so we have a good view of the stepped driver’s armor plate and the round pistol port right of the driver’s sliding visor. There is a sheet metal rain guard over the driver’s visor. There are spare tracks hanging from the bow and two spare roadwheels on the starboard side of the engine deck. I do not see an antenna deflector mounted under the main gun, a typical feature of the short gun Pz IV’s.

This very nice box art is actually a copy of a 6th Panzer Division Pz IV D during the 1941 invasion of the USSR down to the spare track, the Balkenkreuz, spare wheels and the commander pose with binoculars in the cupola. What the artist changed was the vehicle number from 402 to 411, and the background setting (see page 15, Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1939 – 1945, by Kevin Hjermstad). Based on references, I do not believe that this turret storage bin was used on panzers in 1940, but were documented in 1941 in the USSR and in North Africa.

Kit Instructions

This Mirage model comes with water slide decal markings for five Pz IV set in North Africa in 1941 with good 5-view diagrams for their placement. Unfortunately, due to the color of the backing paper the details of the markings are difficult to see. In the profile drawings note spacing of the roadwheels, they should be all evenly spaced even though mounted on four leaf-spring bogies per side.

Mirage’s assembly instructions are the usual multi-step exploded-view instructions with a special page at the end for using the etched brass parts followed by the five guides for the decal markings. This particular page is from the Mirage Pz IVB Ausf. C model which is largely the same model kit. The instructions show the addition and detailing of the Jerrycans which are not included with this model kit but come from the separate Accessory Set Jerrycans For Pz IV (Mirage set #552) that we can buy. UniModels (UM) in their Pz IV F kit 544 include the Jerrycans within their kit. At lower right is the water slide decal sheet for this model and unfortunately the markings do not show up well against the paper.

Kit Parts
There is no sprue and parts diagram which I very much miss. The Mirage smallscale Pz IV kits come with about 230 pale gray injection molded styrene plastic parts, a small fret of etched brass parts, two soft plastic band tracks, and two soft plastic towing cables.

The darker gray resin roadwheels in the above photo are from the OKB Grigorov set 72322 that show the correct flat disc-shaped hub of the factory Pz IV D and used in 1940. The pale gray plastic wheels are the Mirage kit roadwheels. Mirage Pz IV kits actually give us two complete sets of roadwheels: Parts 23 and 24 for use with the Pz IV D model kit; and Parts 26 and 27 for use with Mirage’s Pz IV B model. Looking closely, I cannot see any significant difference between the two sets of wheels other than a small difference in the diameter of the rubber tire.

Compared to the turret of the 1/72 Revell Pz IV kit (at left) the Mirage kit turret at right appears too small.

For comparison, in the center is the excellent OKB early Pz IV Cupola and hatches from OKB Grigorov’s cast resin set S72394. At left is the styrene plastic cupola included in the World At War Pz IV Ausf. B kit. At right, in pale gray styrene plastic, is the commander’s cupola included in the Mirage Pz IV kits (part-K4). Though not terrible, none of the plastic kit cupolas compare well to the OKB cupolas.

Comparing the Mirage Pz IV lower hull at far right with the 1/72-scale DML (Dragon) Pz IV hull, and the 1/76-scale World At War Pz IV hull in center shows that it is at or close to 1/72 scale as advertised. This 5-part Mirage kit lower hull is common to the 1/72-scale Mirage Pz IV Ausf. B, C, D and Ausf. E kits. Keep in mind here that the DML hull is not fully assembled so looks smaller than it will be when done. Here on the Mirage hull we can see the arm for the idler wheel axle (part-18) installed according to instructions, which is too long and protrudes to the rear when if should angle down.

The photos above and below show the installation of the excellent OKB resin commander’s cupola on the turret. The Mirage commander’s cupola was cut off part-K4 and the more accurate OKB cupola superglued onto the turret roof. A weld bead made of fine thread is glued around the turret bulge part-K4. Pistol ports on each side of the turret rear and lifting brackets on the turret corners were forgotten by Mirage so are scratchbuilt from sheet styrene and copper wire. Grab handles over the side doors and on the engine deck are brass wire placed into drill holes.

The flat space of part-C7 in front of the driver’s plate and visor should not be there, the driver’s plate should begin forward at the top of the glacis plate; this throws the whole dimensions of the Mirage kits off. Modeler Robert Kru addresses how to fix this mis-design in [1].

The roadwheel bogies are set so the wheels will appear to be riding over uneven ground. The Mirage kit muffler (parts-12, 13 and 40) are incorrect for the Pz IV Ausf. C and D, so a new longer and thinner muffler was scratchbuilt out of plastic tubing. The kit idler axle (parts-18) put the idler wheels too far back; the axle should hang down at 45 degrees or more but cutting it off and repositioning it hanging down like here makes the idler too low.

The Mirage kit’s leaf spring bogies (parts-19) are wobbly, so small pieces of white plastic are glued on to strengthen the bogie attachment. Another problem with the Mirage Pz IV model is the uneven gap between the roadwheels. Based on the plans and historical photos all the roadwheels should be equally spaced. The axles for the return rollers were also wobbly and difficult to get straight. Keep in mind that there are left-side and right-side bogies so make sure we get the bogie orientation correct.

In the foreground are the cast resin replacement sprocket wheels for the early Pz IV from OKB Grigorov set S72425.

The engine deck hatches without ventilation grating (parts-E8 and E9 instead of parts D8 and D9) for the factory built, non-tropical, Pz IV were used as this panzer will be portrayed in France, 1940. I had some fit problems around the glacis no matter how hard I tried so had to use filler putty.

Note significant difference of spacing between the roadwheels on the bogies. According to reference drawings and photographs, the spacing between each and every roadwheels should be the same.

The above photo shows the idler too low though the idler axle is in an accurate position implying that perhaps there is a problem with the kit parts? In the photo below the idler wheel has been relocated to a more accurate location and the kit track glued onto the wheels with a little track sag on the top run.

The track was several links too long so the extra length was cut off and attached to the starboard side as spare links. A feature this and many smallscale Pz IV kits leave out are the small cutouts in the rear mudguard with a spring to hold the rear flap.

The kit’s radio operator’s hatch on the sprue (part E6) was miss-molded to the shape of a small tractor seat so an appropriate hatch was found in an aftermarket etched brass set.

Foil straps are made to secure the muffler. Mounted on the muffler is the smoke candle rack which seems like a strange place for smoke candles, but that is where diagrams and photos show them. Bent wires have been mounted on the rear plate for the towing cables. The tow cable here from the kit has no surface texture of a twisted wire rope.

Fine thread coated in white glue simulated the weld seam for the protruding cupola. Also scratchbuilt on the turret rear, are lifting hooks in the corners and two pistol ports. One turret side door is open and one affixed partially open for ventilation, so some detail will be added to the inside surface of the doors, as well as the cupola hatch.

The flexible band track for the Mirage Pz IV kits is in my opinion good for a plastic kit and significantly better that the stiff polyethylene band track in the old ESCI Pz IV kits. At far right we can see the aftermarket OKB Grigorov S72117 resin Pz IV track which are significantly better than any smallscale kit-supplied track, in my opinion.

A significant error in Mirage’s Pz IV D kit is that the superstructure appears too short in the driver’s and engine deck area. To be clearer, the driver’s front plate with the visor should be forward to the edge of the glacis plate. The Mirage Pz IV Ausf. C kit 72853 has a similar problem. Robert Kru addresses this problem and fix in his Mirage Pz IV kit construction review in [1].

The turret does not sit flat on the hull. The reflectors (kit parts 54) on the rear mudguards appear too large. The tow cable coming with the kit and mounted on the rear of the Panzer is too thick and does not have a decent cable texture; I recommend making a cable from fine string coated in white glue. Straps made from foil are wrapped around the new muffler.


I found this model to be a “mixed bag”. I appreciate that all the hatches can be modeled open. There are many challenges to overcome for a good display model: The incorrect roadwheels, gap between the roadwheels, position of the idler axle and idler wheel, incorrect muffler, wobbly suspension bogies, and poor fit around the bow and other areas requiring the need for model putty, etc. The wobbly fit of the bogies made it difficult to model the bogies straight as seen in the above photos

Even with its faults it builds into a good looking Pz IV and allows a modeler to change, scratchbuild and learn detailing skills. The parts are molded well despite some sinkholes and one miss-molded part. The next Mirage Pz IV that I build will be better.


[1] Mirage Pz 4B, C, D, Some advice to improve the kits, Robert Kru

[2] PANZER TRACTS No. 4, Panzerkampfwagen IV, by Thomas Jentz & Hilary Doyle (1997)

[3] Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1939 – 1945, by Kevin Hjermstad, Don Greer, Ernesto Cumpian Squadron Signal Publications (2000)

[4] PzKpfw IV in Action, Squadron Signal Publications, Armor Number 12, by Bruce Culver and Don Greer (1975)

[5] Tank Chats #106 video | Panzer IV | The Tank Museum, Bovington, UK

[6] Inside the Chieftain's Hatch video - Panzer IV Pt. 1, with Hilary Doyle & Nicholas Moran. World of Tanks North America.


Review sample purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 15 February 2021

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