|Fallschirmjäger advancing under cover of a Panzer IV - Italy June 1944|
As you can see I've lost the duel (albeit only by a few points) and so Chris decided he wanted me to paint up a Panzer IV for him. Rather big a miniature I dare say, but a deal is a deal, isn't it? Well, it took me a few months but now here it is in all its camouflaged glory:
The Panzer is the plastic Panzer IV model from Warlord Games and on Chris' expressed wish was built to represent the penultimate variant of this iconic German tank. The Ausführung H was delivered to front line units from April 1943 onwards. It had the long 7,5-cm-KwK 40 L/48 fitted as standard and its frontal armour plate was now solid 80mm instead of the 50mm with bolted on additional 30mm armour as on the prior variants. Also the so called Schürzen armour plates made from 5mm thick steel were now fitted as standard as opposed to the earlier models were these were field upgrades. The side skirts were removable and thus quite often lost in combat while the turret skirts were fixed. This made it difficult for the crew to evacuate the vehicle.
The Panzer IV was originally intended to be a support tank only and thus the early models were fitted with the short barreled 7,5-cm-KwK 34 L/24 to fight primarily soft targets. Ironically that same gun was fitted to the latest models of the Panzer III which was originally designed to fight armoured vehicles, thus its first armament was a 'proper' 3,7-cm-KwK 36 L/45. So in effect both tanks changed roles as it came more and more apparent that the Panzer III wasn't up to the task anymore.
|Parts of the Schürzen were removed to simulate battle damage|
With more than 8.500 tanks built the Panzer IV was the mainstay of the German Panzer Divisions throughout the war. It also served as base for several other vehicles light the StuG IV or the Wirbelwind self-propelled-anti-aircraft gun. While only surpassed in numbers by over 10.000 produced StuG III's compared with the over 80.000 manufactured russian T-34's or almost 50.000 built American M4 Sherman tanks it becomes apparent that Germany simply couldn't win this war against these odds.
The model itself was quite easy to build but the skirts were rather fickly to attach and probably won't stand rough handling for too long. Also I didn't like the way the turret was mounted to the lower hull (i.e. simply stuck into a whole without any means of securing it against falling off) so I kind of improved it by drilling out two holes and inserting two 8mm diameter rare earth magnets. Now the turret can rotate freely and won't ever fall off again. Also the tank commander was magnetized in order to facilitate representing an abandoned and/ or destroyed tank.
For detailing I replaced the cast on antenna with a broom bristle and added a Fliegersichttuch (air recignition flag) to the rear. Originally this would have been stored in the turret bin (aka Rommelkiste) and never been fitted over the exhaust as it could have clogged it and probably would have been burnt away anyway. But because of its bright red and it added a much needed focal point to an otherwise rather plain vehicle. Any additional detailing I decided to leave at Chris' own discretion.
As the tank commander figure wasn't sculpted wearing the iconic black Panzerjacke (tank jacket) anyway I decided to go for a privately tailored Feldbluse with marsh pattern camouflage. This would serve to tie in the figure into the supposed late war setting I figured.
So all told this beast did cost me a good couple of hours but I think it's the best tank/ vehicle I did so far. The only downer is it ain't mine...
So that's it again for this sunday. Hope you have a nice week ahead!