Build review: Dragon 6594 Panzer IV Ausf.G Apr – May 1943 Production

Box art by Volstad

Introduction

Panzer IV is the workhorse AFV of the German Army until the end of WW2, with over 8500 built, second just behind Stug III. Of its many variants, the more dramatic switch happens around the ausf F. into the longer barrel KwK 40 L/43 gun and later the longer KwK 40 L/48 gun.

For the past decade Dragon had the best Panzer IVs in the market and the company kitted almost all variants. With Border Models seemingly mounting a challenge with its new ausf G, I thought I’d build review one of the Dragon’s in my stash that is not yet reviewed on Armorama, the kit #6594 Ausf.G Apr – May 1943 Production. This is around the mid-late period of the run, with many changes such as more widespread deployment of schurzen, which is included in the box.

The kit

The kit has their typical sharp molding with no flash. With almost 600 parts and a lot of spares, let’s take a look at the sprues.

Sprue A is the common Panzer IV wheels, suspension and hull details. 

Sprue B are the turret details, including the gun breech. 

This is sprue E where you only use the stowage bin and mantlet. One of the most “wasteful” ever. 

Sprue E are the regular Panzer IV armor surfaces, including extra welded armor. 

Sprue G are the common Panzer IV turret details.

Sprue H, another common Panzer IV sprue, contains miscellaneous details. 

Sprue C are the OVMs and an alternative spare wheel bracket. 

Clear parts, hull, turrent and the common jack.

Sprue N are the ausf G parts, sprue M has the new cupola. 

Sprue P has more ausf G parts, and T has the applique armor and support brackets. 

Sprue S are the side fenders and support brackets for schurzen.

Decals, schurzen in steel plates and a small PE fret. I got a version of the kit with Magic tracks and DS tracks.

Decals has markings for 10 vehicles. 

Construction

Having built many Dragon Panzer IVs before I recommend building up the kit in a certain sequence to obtain the best fit. The fit on the “canonical” kits such as their ausf F1 are really good,but on kits where Dragon add bits and pieces it is more tricky.

I first built up the lower hull without the suspension, putting together the lower front armor, the glacis and the back plates. Often the side parts E8 and E9 don’t exactly fit the lower front E4, leaving a small gap on one of the sides, if you glue the latter first. So glue E8 first, then attach E4, and then E9 afterwards for an almost perfect fit. Be sure to drill out the holes if you want to attach extra armor. I also recommend building up the armor parts A8, A9 and A10 together in a subassembly first and then add the whole to the front drive unit. The back plate is relatively trouble free. You can also build the muffler at this point but I usually leave them removable for painting and rusting. Dragon’s muffler exhaust H20 is a bit thick so you can thin down the cylinder walls with a dremel.

Then I work on the upper hull. The fit of engine bay doors H21 and H22 are very snug so make sure you have it all patted down. The exhaust bays of the ausf G use the new sprue P for a new style, but the fit is very tight and you almost have to force the parts together. Next I built the walls of the upper hull. I recommend fitting the front wall N2 first to make sure you get the top weld seam fitting perfectly with the hull, then you can get very good fit afterwards for the left and right hull plates N6 and N13. I left the upper rear part H19 off.

Upper hull
Rear plate

Then I worked on side fenders. The main challenge of all Panzer IVs are the back mud guards H52 and H53, so I only attached the front mud guards P16 and P17 as subassemblies. The fit is almost perfect here but it’s not easy to get there, I recommend fitting the front mud guard parts P16 and P17 first to the side fenders, then glue the peripheral parts P7 and P8. You usually get a seam here, so run some quick setting glue on it and position the piece until the seam is gone. With the quick setting glue you get styrene goo oozed out and you’d get no seams.

First assemble the front mud guard

After that you fit the fenders to the lower hull. This is the most important step on fitting the tank, particularly the rear mud guards. I find that the fenders are a bit too short on the back, so I trimmed the fitting slots a bit until the rear of the fender can fit perfectly to the hull.

Then I put the upper and lower hulls together. On this ausf G I have a pretty big seam between the glacis plate and the front part N2 with extra armor. I tried to run a little glue and press the two pieces together but the seam was still there, so some filling will be required. Press down the rest of the upper hull and run quick setting. The back is the trickiest, since we left off part H19 we have a chance to glue the exhaust bay properly to the lower hull and adjust. After you are happy with the fit and the glue sets, you can finally glue H19 on, and you can now get a perfect fit by applying pressure and running glue along the seam. If you took care of the fit earlier in the rear when you attach the side fenders, you should have no problem putting on the rear mud guards now.

Not putting H19 allows you to control how upper hull mates with lower.
Add H19 afterwards, the fit is now perfect with the bolt strip along the junction looking like one piece.
Adding rear mud guards. The key to getting a good fit here is to make sure the two hinges are aligned, which often is not the case if you didn’t assemble the side fenders carefully.
Completed body

Next we move onto the turret. After a lot of failures I realized the best way to get perfect fit for the turret is the glue the upper and lower turret together first, then the front and mantlet. It is much harder to have lower turret fit well to the other two. If you cover up your tank there are no reasons to build the gun breech, but the assembly is quite simple so I often do it.

Glye the bottom turret first, making sure the front junctions are flush.
Subassmblies for the gun and mantlet. In particular B11, B12 and B34 can be glued to N5 independently. This gives you more control and eventually very flush fit for B11 and B12 so that it looks like one piece, and less chance for accidentally gluing B34 which would prevent your barrel from elevating.

The cupola on the ausf G is new on sprue M. I almost always do the “open” configuration for these since they look more interesting, but the windows subassemblies are a bit of a hassle to keep anchored to M10 (don’t anchor them to M3 as the diagram suggested), and if you don’t take care of them it’ll be some acrobatics to fit part M3. So make sure the windows stay on M10 with a little glue, dry, and then assemble M3. Attach the five M7 parts afterwards.

Cupola. Keeping the vision block windows attached makes attaching the clear parts slightly easiler as you don’t need to orient M4/M5.
I attach M7 last.
Completed cupola

This kit gives you the option of longer barrel B42 or the shorter E20. The shorter variant is for the early Gs. The new part N14 is pretty awesome slide-molded one piece rather than the older 2-piece assembly, which is awesome. For the mantlet assembly I attached N5 to the pivots B11 and B12 to B34 as a subassembly and made sure B34 can move. I also thinned the walls of the smoke discharger G2 further, although AM discharger would also look very awesome here. The lift hooks A53 and A50 are some of the smallest assemblies of the kit, I remove A53 from the sprue but not A50 so that I only have one rather than two tiny parts to work with.

Assembled turret, using the longer KwK 40/L48 barrel
The gun breech and simplified turret interior.

Now we’re back to the more mundane running gears. There are a few tricks you can speed the assembly up. First off on the suspension springs, the A11+A12 assembly is a bit difficult to handle with my fat fingers, so I left A12 on the sprue and attach sanded A11 to it.

Lift hooks can be glued on-sprue without having to mess with two small pieces
Suspension springs are glued on-sprue as well for ease of handling.

Next, the return rollers are also quite small to handle and sand. You can leave all the A2s on the sprue (don’t cut the middle linkages either), and cut all A3s off the sprue BUT leave them attached to each other. That way you can assemble the two rows together. Moreover the completed rows of four makes it much easier to handle and sand, you can sand the tire seams out until the end and detach each tire one by one.

Return rollers can be “sandwiched” wholesale.

The road wheels consist of 3 parts, the cap A1, and the outer and inner wheels A19 and A18. I first attach A1 to A18, and I find it easier to clip A1 off, position them onto A18 and have it fit before running Tamiya extra thin.

Running glue on A1 after you have it aligned.

After the glue dried a bit, I clipped the sprue tree’s protrusions around A18 and clipped the whole 10 wheels of A18 sprue tree out. I then applied regular Tamiya glue on all 10 of the A19s and slapped the A18s onto it. I thought this was pretty cool but not really sure whether it’s a huge time saving.

Separate the 10 A18 wheels of one side…
Trim off the protruded ejector pins…
Run thicker glue on all the wheels
Sandwich gluing the two halves
All the running gear parts completed

With the basic tank finished I started working on the schurzen and applique armor. The latter in particular is often tricky on panzers because I wanted to leave them detached for painting, and yet easily re-attachable when I’m finished. There are 6 armos holding up the armor, and I decided to attach the front 4 arms to the frontal armor and have the rear arms attached to the turret. The protective ring around the cupola makes it very difficult to attach the arm post-painting. Schurzen are relatively straightforward

The openings of the smoke discharges are thinned out and glued with G4/G11 on sprue
Schurzen support bracket. I frst glued the rail S11 to the two S4/S8 in the middle becuase they have most reliable on-vehicle fit. Then I glued the rail to S7 and S9 by adjusting both the bracket and the rail to achieve the most natural-looking fit. In this kit you need to trim a tab off of S6 and S7, but they have no guides where they attach to the vehicle to I use the rail to make sure they’re at the right place.
The applique armor as a separate assembly, but the two rear support brackets are on vehcile because T6 interferes with their attachment.
The tabs on the support brackets allows you to detach/attach the applique armor for painting.

The DS tracks are fine on this kit, although my box came with Magic tracks that I’m likely to use for the final product.

DS tracks fit pretty well. length-wise.

There aren’t a lot of PE on this kit so I attached them at the end, the more difficult ones are the small track brackets on the glacis plate.

Spare track brackets on the glacis plate

Finally I test fitted the schurzen. These are steel plates, I found that just by twisting the plate parts breaks off pretty easily and cleanly from the outer plate.

Schurzen fitted from back to front.

Finally I have the OVM off the vehicle for painting. With the schurzen it’s very difficult to paint them on vehicle. The tool clamps are ok, but I’ll replace them with PE handles later.

OVMs. As with all Dragon kits the tool clamps are good but not great, you can thin them with sanding and they’ll look pretty good, or replace with PE.

Conclusion

Touted as one of the best Panzer IV G on the market, this Dragon 6594 kit has enough parts for you to build many variants. The kit can be built into a very detailed vehicle OOB, and the much maligned Dragon instructions are actually quite ok here. Highly recommended for intermediate to experienced modeler. Beginning modelers may find some of the fit quite difficult to achieve – that’s the real difference between a Tamiya and a Dragon kit. With Dragon the fit can be great if you have the right sequence, but often that requires a bit of experience.

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...