Through Sand and Wheat: Battlefront Panzer IVH Platoon Box | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Friday, 30 November 2007

The Panzer IVH was the workhorse of the German army in mid-to-late World War II, with more of this version of the tank made than any other. The vehicle saw duty on every German front and fared relatively well against allied rivals, except for the most heavily armored Russian tanks and very-late-war American and British tanks.

We brought the new Battlefront Panzer IVH box into our painting area to give you an idea of what it will take to put a few of these popular tanks on your table.

The box from the topic of this review.

With its 75mm KwK 40 L/48 main gun, the Panzer IVH had greater range and penetration power than any previous version of the Pz IV series. In a toe-to-toe fight with Shermans or T-34s, it fared very well, and the allies took great pains to gather intelligence about it.

We didn't have to bake in the desert, under fire, to get measurements�we brought our Pz IVHs in, assembled them, then painted these puppies up in a color suitable to the Eastern Front but not obscuring detail. We're still debating whether to camouflage them, but we didn't want to go further before showing you the details, so you get dunkelgelb (dark yellow).

The kit comes as follows: Turret with built-on schurz�n and hull in resin; two tracks, barrel, hull machine gun, stowage and four track-guard ends in metal; and hull schurz�n and brackets in plastic.

Banging on the Plastic

Let's get something out of the way up front: If you've only ever worked with metal and resin, you will find the plastic schurz�n fiddly and difficult to assemble. If you've done a lot of 1:72 modeling, you'll find them a pleasure in comparison to what you're used to. Some have suggested not attaching the side-skirts if it is painful for you. We don't see that as a reasonable option. The tanks without side-skirts have several flaws, not the least of which is that they look foreshortened. The obvious holes in the sides of the tanks that must be filled is another issue. But enough talk, here's a picture without schurz�n, you decide.

One of the tanks from the platoon, with the Schurzen removed.

So what to do? We think the best bet is to take the advice of Evan at Battlefront (as quoted from the Battlefront forums):

"Use plastic glue instead of superglue for plastic-to-plastic joints, you'll find it much easier & more robust. The frames that glue to the resin hull will still need superglue or an epoxy like Araldite, but the main thing is to make them as straight & level as possible - use some blue tack to hold them steady while the glue sets. Another useful trick is to add a little bit of white glue to the joints after assembly, this helps by adding some elastic resilience, or shockproofing, to a superglue joint. A blob of greenstuff, or something similar, behind the schurzen is also a good idea to "gamer proof" the model. Adding foliage around the schurzen adds to the strength as well as looking realistic. Whatever you do, don't rush it, and you'll be rewarded with a much better looking tank!"

He's right, of course, and the tanks as-delivered will not hold up well to handling if super glue alone is used for the schurz�n. Because most players grab their tanks by the sides, and there is support only along the top of the schurz�n, anything you can do to add a bit of resilience or support lower down is a definite bonus.

These tanks are 6 cm long, 2.9 cm wide (without schurz�n), 3.55 cm wide (with schurz�n) and 2.9 cm tall. According to AFVDB, the Pz IVH measured 5.92 m long, 3.33 m wide with schurz�n and 2.68 m tall. That makes these models a little short, a little wide and a little tall. Note that AFVDB is relatively accurate, but other sources may have differing measurements. Frankly, these differences match our "eyeball" look at the tank.

The detail on these models is definitely nice, with our only complaint being about the road wheels, which we found more difficult to paint than those on most Battlefront models. The Zimmermit�that plaster-looking ridged coating on later-war German tanks designed to foil infantry AT weapons�is particularly well done, not too deep or jagged, yet visible even in a straight dunkelgelb paint scheme. The one issue we had with details was the cable on the back of the hull. It's well done and to scale, but so small and wrapped over itself so many times that we had difficulty painting them, either with drybrushing or with magnification.

Out biggest complaint, however, is the inability to remove the schurz�n on the turrets. In 1:72, when we find a given model's schurz�n to be more difficult to assemble than we're willing to deal with, we normally just skip the process.

One of our many 1:72 PzIVH models with all schurzen removed.

Not an option here, and the attached parts on the turret make it fairly difficult to paint the turrets well, particularly with an airbrush, which is how we painted these. There are just too many small areas that are oddly sloped, and the airbrush couldn't get paint into all of the crevices. In the end, we touched up this part of the vehicle with brushes.

Our other quibble is with the decals provided. Note that the command tank in the picture below uses the included cross. Because the decals are designed for a camouflage design, they show up poorly on our dunkelgelb paint scheme. To resolve this issue, we dipped into our Skytrex decals and pulled out some Balkenkreuz decals. The tank numbers are in red, so they work just fine, the only issue is with the crosses.

On the plus side, being a new casting, there's no loss of depth in the carvings at all, which is always a bonus. The internal consistency of the model appears solid, with the idler wheels and turret placed at approximately the right places. You can see where extra armor was bolted on to the back plate, and the turret hatch sits correctly placed on the turret for the model.

We particularly liked the striking figure of the tank commander included in our command tank. While there were several command figures included in the box, we like the way this guy is standing right up in the turret. Of course, it's not realistic for a battle, but in our opinion it still looks better than the figures that are barely poking their heads out of the hatch�though on Tigers those figures look cooler, IMO.

We also really like the new system BF is using for machine guns. They're a bit of a pain to get into the holes and lined up correctly, but it's only a tiny bit of a pain, and the net result is a hull machine gun, something older BF resins didn't have unless you built it.

In the end, the question becomes: "How will it look on my table, and will it hold up?" While we would judge the model (in particular the schurz�n) as delivered unable to stand up to normal wargamer handling, the advice that Evan offered resolves the main problem in this regard, so we'll say: "Yes, they'll stand up if you put some extra work into them." As to appearance, they look good enough on their own �

The platoon on the hunt.

� but when placed with models by other vendors they appear rather wide, so it depends on the uses you intend to put the models to. If you're building an armored company of all BF products, these will be perfect. If you're planning on using other vendors' products mixed in with these, then you'll need to be careful. Specifically, we don't recommend that you mix these vehicles with CD Panthers or Tigers as the CD products will look small�this is unusual, normally CD and BF mix well.

So what are we recommending? A prebuilt platoon for $45.00, models that look pretty good and the ton of extras that you would expect from BF Platoon boxes make for a worthwhile deal. They look good on the table, and with a little forethought you can use them with other vendors' products. But if you've got an army of CD or older BH models, you likely won't be happy.

three and a half of five stars

Manufacturer: Battlefront Miniatures
Model Number: GBX10

UK Source: I.D. Gaming
UK MSRP: � 27.50

US Source: The War Store
US MSRP: $45.00

Discuss this review on the forums.

EDITS: 01 DEC 07 Removed reference to Africa. Thanks WarHighlander!

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