Self Propelled Anti-Tank Gun
|Kit #: 72099||Preview by Rob Haelterman|
There were basically three versions of the vehicle we, modelers, know as the “Jagdpanzer IV”: two versions by Vomag with resp. an L/48 and an L/70 75mm gun and a version by Alkett with the same L/70 75mm gun. The two former used a modified Panzer IV chassis, while the latter used a mostly unmodified Panzer IV chassis, making it substantially higher than the other two. It is this latter vehicle, technically known as Panzer IV/70(A) and colloquially known as “Zwischenlösung” (Interim solution) that we are being offered by OKB Grigorov. At the time of release, it was (as far as I was aware) the first time that we were being offered this vehicle as a complete kit in this scale, although conversion sets had been available for a while from different manufacturers. Soon afterwards, UM also released their own kit.
A point of note is that the operational doctrine of the Wehrmacht did not consider this vehicle to be a Jagdpanzer, but to be a substitute for a main battle tank, more specifically in the II. Abteilung of a Panzer Division when insufficient Panthers (carrying the same L/70 gun) were available. (This means that the use of “Self Propelled Anti-Tank gun” on the boxtop isn’t entirely accurate.)
contents of the kit
The resin parts are nicely cast, but, at first glance, not without the occasional fault. For instance, the rear upper hull plate has a waviness to it. Sanding it flat would be an option if it wouldn’t remove the details in that area. Bending after heating in warm water is a better option; it took me two minutes. Some panel lines on the engine deck might benefit from rescribing. (Perhaps the molds are already getting worn.) There also was a rather large air bubble on the gun housing, covered by very thin layer of resin that didn’t stand up to any handling. It’s in a partially hidden spot and rather easy to fix, though.
Apart from these minor gripes, the casting quality is clearly better than most resin kits I have had the pleasure to work on. I especially like the fact that the hull is hollow (apart from casting supports), so, even while there is no interior, one can be added at will with some minor scratchbuilding.
Only after I started construction did I notice that the "pipes" on which the Thoma Schürzen are suspended (parts 87) were missing from my specimen.
The instructions are elaborate, but at first sight don’t follow any logic. I didn’t find any instructions to glue the upper and lower hull together, for instance; the drawings are mostly meant to show where which part goes on the assembled kit. However, the parts need to be identified by number first, based on drawings on the instructions (they are not repeated on sprues as on classical, injection molded kits). Knowing that the parts are plentiful (I’ve been told more than 450, and I don’t dare to try and get a more precise count), this will be somewhat of a challenge unless you are very familiar with German armor and can thus identify parts on sight.
other hand, it still has the old front and rear towing configuration,
and four return rollers, which makes it a pre-December 1944 vehicle.
I believe this justifies the use of “Early” as a moniker.
As usual, with resin kits, the actual construction was preceded by a clean-up phase, where the major parts were removed from their casting supports and checked for blemishes. A casting deficiency was found in the gunmount, where a rather big air bubble was trapped beneath a thin fleece of resin. The position and shape of this bubble allowed for easy repair work, using superglue and baking powder.
Actual construction started by mating the upper and lower hull, adding bits and pieces along the way, starting with those that were the least likely to break off during handling of the kit.
The reinforcement strips that hold the different major assemblies of the (real) vehicle together are provided in PE. As they are long and slender, and as I don't have a bending tool, folding and installing them was a challenge, as any deviation from a straight line will show. Corrections were made with thick paint.
Some notes about the parts on the first page of the instructions (above):
tracks are very flexible, and can easily be bent around the drive
sprocket and idler without heating. The teeth of the drive sprocket
match the holes in the tracks perfectly.
that will hold the Schürzen are delicately done, but require
planning and patience. As they are very fragile and only have tiny
areas where they attach to the hull, they will come off very easily
are also fixtures for the Schürzen on the fenders (red in the
drawing above). These will also have to align perfectly with features
of the Schürzen. The same comment about trial-and-error applies.
Some points about the instructions shown above:
the Schürzen is a major part of the work, due to the way they
are engineered. The upper and lower part of each is thicker, and the
kit requires extra strips of PE to be glued into place to create this
effect. It's fiddly, to say the least.
The kit doesn't provide an antenna, or doesn't mention that one needs to be added to the antenna mount on the left rear side of the hull.
As the kit was going to represent a vehicle captured by Soviet troops, some battle damage was simulated.
Decals came from the spares box and the paint scheme is not based on any particular vehicle.
The diorama was initially finished without the Schürzen to allow access to the groundwork.
In all, a daunting kit. However, if you have some experiene with photo-etched parts and lots of patience, the result can be very rewarding.
Preview sample provided by OKB Grigorov, through IPMS Belgium.