Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. F1

Airfix 1:76 Scale Vehicle Review

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. F1, 1:76 Airfix

Panzerkampfwagen IV medium tanks were produced throughout the war and they saw service on all fronts. Designed as a support vehicle, the Panzer IV mounted a short 7.5 cm gun with excellent HE capabilities, but which could not penetrate the armour of British Matilda and Churchill infantry tanks. The Ausführung F1 was the most common of the support versions of the Pz. IV, 437 were built, they had much better armour protection than earlier Ausf. A, B, C and D which served in the same support role. The Ausf. E was similar to the F1, except that the armour was applique.

Contents

  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1
  • Type: Medium Tank
  • Length: 5.93 m
  • Width: 2.88 m
  • Height: 2.68 m
  • Weight: 25 t
  • Armament: 7.5 cm L/24, 2 MG 34
  • Crew: Driver, Radioman/Machine Gunner, Loader, Gun Layer and Commander.
  • Year: June 1941 - December 1943

Evaluation

Scale model with much raised detail and some external stowage, including spare track links and road wheels, various tools and a jerrycan.

Good choice of subject, the short-barreled Pz.Kpfw. IV played an important part as a support vehicle.

Choice of open or closed hull and turret hatches.

Choice of Ausf. F1 or Ausf. F2 with the long 7.5 cm gun which was adopted as a countermeasure to T-34 and KV tanks, and which elevated the Pz.Kpfw. IV to a main battle tank in June of 1942.

Good quality kit, parts fit well, but flash on some small parts can be difficult to remove.

Compatible with Fujimi, Matchbox, Nitto, and VAC-U-CAST.

Moderate level of difficulty. The hull and turret are easy to assemble, tools and small vision slits are cast on. However, track assembly does require a good amount of patience. There are 60 pieces to deal with at this stage alone, more than the entire Puma armoured car. Road wheels and track support rollers are very small and it proved difficult to remove flash from them. It is very important that the tracks are not mounted until after the running gear has had at least 24 hours to dry, otherwise the wheels will bend or even break off.

The tracks are still of the old pin-and-hole variety which never seemed to hold together for very long. The manufacturer recommends stitching them with cotton thread, not realizing that young hobbyists and most wargamers are notoriously inept at their needlework. We used a hot glue gun to permanently attach the track to all eight road wheels.

Decals supplied are for vehicle 141 (1st Company, 4th (Heavy) Platoon, 1st Vehicle) of an unspecified unit of the Afrika Korps.

Approximately 5% smaller than the 1:72 scale figure standard. Not a problem in this case, the vehicle will be compatible with the only other Pz.Kpfw. IV produced by Fujimi as well as Pz.Kpfw. II, III and V produced by Matchbox

Soft plastic tank tracks should be painted on both sides to retard a chemical reaction which is known to dissolve them eventually.

Historical Employment

  • 4th (Medium) Platoon of 4-6 vehicles attached to every Panzer Company, 1939-1940
  • 4th (Medium) Company attached to every Panzer Battalion, 1940-1943
    • Company HQ of two Pz.Kpfw. IV F1
    • 1st Platoon of five Pz.Kpfw. IV F1
    • 2nd Platoon of five Pz.Kpfw. IV F1 (optional in 1940)
    • 3rd Platoon of five Pz.Kpfw. II (recon platoon, discontinued in 1943)

Possible Conversions

  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. A, 1939-1940
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. B, without Bow Machine Gun, 1939-1942
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. C, without Bow Machine Gun, 1939-1942
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. D, 1940-1943
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. E, with applique armour, 1941-1943
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F2, with long 7.5 cm L/43, June 1942-1943
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. G1, with applique armour and long 7.5 cm L/43, August 1942-1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. G2, with applique armour and long 7.5 cm L/48, August 1942-1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. G3, with long 7.5 cm L/48, August 1942-1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H, with long 7.5 cm L/48, August 1942-1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J, with long 7.5 cm L/48, July 1944-1945

Short-barreled Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. F1 and earlier versions filled a vital support role in the medium tank platoons and medium companies of the German tank formations. They served alongside Pz.Kpfw. III main battle tanks mounting a 5 cm long-barreled gun. In September of 1943, when the Pz.Kpfw. III was finally considered to be obsolete, Panzer IV Ausf. G and H traded places with it and became the new main battle tank. As a result, short-barreled 7.5 cm guns previously used in the Panzer IV Ausf. F1 support vehicle were then mounted on the Panzer III and Panzer IV production was switched to the more powerful version mounting 7.5 cm L/43 and L/48 guns which had good penetration capabilities against Russian T-34 and KV tanks.

The Airfix kit is the only one available which depicts the Ausführung F1 support vehicle, and we highly recommend it. Wargamers will require at least a platoon of these tanks to raise realistically equipped tank companies or battalions. The Airfix model may also be built as a long-barreled Ausf. F2, the replacement gun is included in the kit. In this case, the spare short-barreled 7.5 cm gun can be used to convert Matchbox's Panzer III to the IIIN which eventually replaced the Panzer IV F1 in the support role, particularly in the newly designated Panzergrenadier Divisions.

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German Panzer IV