DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6550, 3.7cm FlaK43 Flakpanzer IV Ostwind Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 743 styrene parts (including 20 clear), two bags of individual-link Magic Tracks, two photo-etched brass frets, five decal/marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 17 steps.
After a rather lengthy gestation period, DMLs previously-announced Flakpanzer Ostwind has finally made it to these shores. Containing 100 new styrene parts, as well as some new etched brass items, this kit will allow the modeler to construct what is referred to as the production version. Being a typical DML offering, there are several options cited in the sometimes confused instructions. Since there are loads of extra parts from previous Pz.Kpfw.IV-based kits in the box, even more variations can be replicated, provided the modeler can find a reference for them. Since there are very few known photos of actual in-service Ostwinden, some speculation must be used. Regardless, the spares box will get many, many new additions.
As this release is based to a great degree on previously used parts from kits reported upon here at ToT, much of this piece will be a cut-and-paste affair, with the new bits added where necessary.
The 40cm tracks included in this release feature a solid guide horn and tiny angled ice grips on the faces of the links. They are properly rendered as left- and right-handed items and come in two separate bags; one set is molded in lighter-colored styrene than the other, so dont open up both bags at once or mix them up. There is no clean-up involved, if the modeler can overlook the pair of tiny and very subtle ejector pin marks on the inner faces of each link. They fit together easily, but will not stay that way unless cement is applied.
The road-wheels have separate forged hub-caps of the type initially introduced during production of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H. The tires themselves are the widened type first introduced on the Ausf.F. Each wheel/tire assembly is conventionally-molded in one piece per side and includes manufacturers logo and tire size information on the rubber rim. A total of 24 complete road-wheels are given, which leaves eight extras for spare stowage. The suspension bogies are in multiple parts, including separate ends for the leaf springs, and a separate hub, which in turn attaches to a separate mount.
The final drive housings are single-piece moldings; these are the reinforced type first introduced on the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H. The drive sprockets themselves, also introduced with the new final drive housings, are presented in a conventional manner with inner and outer halves. There are four styles of all-steel return rollers provided. One has a reinforcing rib in two places and a rim; another has no ribs, but does have a rim. The other two both have no ribs, but different hubs: one type has a rim, the other has no rim. Only one type is supposed to be used, parts D-18 and D-19.
Separate, two-part bump stops are fitted to five stations on either of the hull sides, as are multi-part idler wheel axle adjustment housings. Three variations of the latter are given, with only one for use. Dont glue the axle in place until after the tracks have been fitted and any sag is imparted to them. There are two idler wheel types provided: welded-tube design and cast design. The former are provided as inner and outer halves with the hub molded in place; the latter are similar, but also have etched brass rings for their inner faces to properly represent the type. These assemblies feature excellent weld bead details or cast texture as appropriate, and, as mentioned above, can be adjusted on their axles in order to depict proper track sag.
A multi-part slide-mold was used to render this part, so details have not been compromised. The hulls belly plate has the fairings between the bogie units molded in place for simplified assembly. Rivets, bolts, access panels, hatches and weld beads are all crisply-rendered, while there are separate fuel filler caps for the port-side wall. Separate track pin retainer plates are also fitted on each side wall, towards the rear; there is a choice of two types. The instructions show them as parts S-9 and S-10; in reality, they are parts B-24 and B-26. Likewise, separate braces are provided for the idler wheel adjustment housings. Again, the instructions call them S-7 and S-8, when in fact they are parts B-28 and B-29. The careful reader has by now realized that there is no S-sprue in the box!
The belly plate on the Ausf.J was extended rearwards, eliminating the separate angled plate previously seen; the hull molding reflects this. The final items are the parts for the hull side-wall seen behind the final drive housings. By making these separate, DML was easily able to switch the parts to provide for the final style of tow eyes, which were merely holes drilled into extended hull side walls. The ones at the rear corners are molded onto the hull part. All of the original parts (bow plate, cast/bolted tow eyes and large rear hooks) are still included, so if working from a photo that requires this fit (which, BTW, do not exist for this AFV!), the modeler will be well-served.
Modelers should note that there are three thick injection stubs on each rim of the hull side walls. These must be removed or the fenders will not fit. This is not mentioned in the instructions, although the drawings show the items in question as having already been removed.
On the bow, a separate front plate is provided, without openings to mount the tow eyes; as already mentioned, the original is still included. The bracket for mounting spare track links on the bow plate is also given as a separate styrene part. The glacis plate has separate brake access hatch lids, which include the brake air cooling intake armored guards as separate parts; if left open some work will need to be done to open the hole on the back of the lid that provided cooling air. These have been re-tooled to include bases for bent rod to stow a tow cable; although tow cable end-loops are in the box, no cable is provided. The original hatch lids are also in the box as are the final types with no vent, but with added grab handles. Spare track links and brackets are also provided to fit over the transmission access hatch lid; these include etched brass or styrene mounting points.
On the stern, the hull rear plate is composed of several parts and through the use of a slide-mold, has properly rendered bolt heads where the upper and lower sections were joined together. This part also extended further down in order to meet the newly-revised belly plate. The muffler for the turret traverse motor was eliminated on the Ausf.J, and the new rear plate now has the opening completely eliminated, without the blanking plate originally used; the older style is still in the box. There are the two trailer hitch variations, and flame-dampening exhaust mufflers are provided. The latter are multi-part assemblies that include etched brass parts as well as optional curved extensions. There are a total of three pairs of flame-dampening exhausts in the box, as well as the original cylindrical type. Also stowed back there is an engine starter crank and a revised jack block.
A separate internal bulkhead is fitted between the fighting compartment and engine compartment. It has proper detail and well-represents the actual item. Other internal detail items include the floor-mounted fuel tanks, a forward bulkhead/brace and two more internal braces for the sponson sides.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The track-guards are superbly detailed on both sides and havent a single knock-out pin mark on any surface. They are configured specifically for this version and in some cases holes must be opened up from beneath to accommodate some of the stowage items. The front and rear mud flaps are separate items and can be positioned up or down. They come from a slide mold so details visible on their sides are in place; separate springs are seen on all four of them. However, if folded up, each mud-flap has several prominent ejector pin marks that will have to be filled, since those will be readily visible. The port-side rear mud-flap has a choice of either etched brass or styrene reflector.
OVM items mounted on the starboard track-guard includes: wire cutters, track tool, multi-part slide-molded jack and idler wheel wrench. New for this variation is a two-part stowage locker for a spare 3.7cm gun tube; it can be shown opened or closed, but since the side walls are extremely thick, the modeler will probably leave them closed. Regardless, no spare gun tube is included for the interior. The port-side track-guard mounts the following: a multi-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Bosch night-driving head-lamp, pair of C-shaped tow hooks (with etched or styrene mounting bracket), an axe (with optional configuration including an etched brass part),fire extinguisher, small pry-bar, large pry-bar and a distance-keeping tail-lamp (in three variations).
The superstructure front plate is 80mm thick and includes a separate ball mount for the MG34 as well as a drivers visor; the latter features a separate cover that can be fixed in place in the desired position. On this version of the basic Ausf.J hull, the traditional lift hooks have been removed from the superstructure side plates and replaced by U-shaped steel rods welded to the upper edge of the superstructure front plate; two variations are provided. The earlier front plate configuration is still in the box and can possibly also be used; if so the modeler should also use the still-provided earlier superstructure side plates and their separate lift hooks. Some internal details are given such as a clear vision block and a fairly complete, multi-part Gen2 MG34, which includes a pre-bored muzzle and proper cooling slit on the armored gun barrel.
The new superstructure side plates include subtle weld bead details. Various fittings are separate parts. On the port side, these include: a vent armored guard and an antenna base along with its associated rod antenna. There are actually two rod antennae in the box, which will be quite useful for use on, for instance, any of DMLs StuG.III Ausf.G kits, nearly all of which have no antennae.
The superstructure roof plate is characterized by three-sided square hatch-lid splash-guards as well as a roof plate in two parts. A turret ring splash-guard is also molded in place, along with a detailed turret race ring; the latter is devoid of classic bayonet mount slots, which is more accurate. However, the modeler should not turn the finished kit over as the turret will fall off. Separate drivers and radio operators hatch lids are given; these retain integrally-molded internal latches. There are a number of notches molded on to the edges of the roof plate as well as the port side of the Heckpanzer. I presume these are to fit the Schürzen mounting brackets seen on the Ausf.J gun tank, as well as the 7.5cm KwK bore swap staffs. These all must be filled in. This whole operation is rather curious since the models box shows the part to have a new engine deck design, with the CAD illustration showing the deletion of the afore-mentioned notches. Insert some bits of scrap styrene, smooth over and move on. Finally, a mystery part is shown on the instructions as being installed on the port-side of the roof plate, aft of the turret ring splash guard segment. Although the instructions do not give a part number, it appears to be parts N-14 or N-15.
The Heckpanzer (engine deck module), molded with the superstructure roof plate, features separate engine deck access hatch lids, each with an etched brass or styrene part for the internal baffles. The small box seen over the radiator filler cap is a separate part and is the late style with vertical walls; the older type is still in the box. The engine air cooling intake louvers are provided as multi-part styrene moldings. The flaps that covered them can be made from styrene or etched brass parts and they include separate tiny fasteners for the track-guards; they can be depicted opened or closed. The Heckpanzers new rear plate features crisp details with molded-on fan clutch access cap and separate parts to stow two spare road-wheels.
The two main armor sections for the turret shell (divided fore and aft) come from a slide-mold and have exceptionally-thin side walls, using DMLs so-called Razor Edge molding technique. These rather delicate parts are protected in the box by being encased in clear plastic, which is a nice touch on the part of the manufacturer. The separate turret ring race is fitted to the separate turret base molding; the former includes roller bearing details, while the latter includes the brackets to which the main gun is mounted. The final items here are two seats, one is for the commander, the other is for the loader; both are fitted to the turret ring.
Externally, there is a separate flap for the gunners sight, which can be shown opened or closed; two different parts are provided to depict this option. Fine, molded-on weld bead detail is present as are tie-down loops. It should be noted that the weld bead details are also seen on the inner surfaces of the turret walls and that the parts are completely devoid of ejector pin marks. Several separate brackets, purpose unknown, are then added to the outer surfaces.
These parts are all-new for DML and will allow for a very well-detailed gun. The gun tube is molded together with a part of the receiver group. It comes from a slide mold and thus is completely detailed. For instance, the six rectangular slots at the base of the muzzles flash suppressor are all opened clear through. All of the small perforations are there as well, but they must be carefully drilled through for the proper appearance; of course the bore is already opened up. Two more slide-molded parts finish off the main receiver group along with two separate recoil buffer cylinders. A breech is fitted aft as are a number of various detail parts. A pair of brackets mounts a separate curved splinter shield to the gun.
A four-part gun-sight made from clear parts is then fitted to a five-part mounting bracket. Another unit consists of a four-part traversing and elevation unit, to include both hand-wheels. The ammunition feed tray comes in two variations and there are a total of four eight-round clips of 3.7cm ammunition. The spent shell case exit tray is a three-part assembly fitting onto one of two trunnion disk variations.
The multi-part gun cradle will allow for complete elevation of the gun. Among the sub-assemblies that are attached are a five-part gunners seat, and a seven-part spent shell case collector, which is embellished with three etched brass parts to represent the containment net. A number of small detail parts are fitted to include various linkages, small accessory containers, etc. This all gets fitted to a base that, in turn, fits to the turret ring base.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding overall is excellent, while fit for such a relatively complex kit is rated as outstanding. The rendering of the gun tube and the receiver group through the clever use of slide-molds is quite noteworthy. The only visible ejector pin marks are on the tracks. These can be ignored or dealt with at the modelers discretion. Flash is non-existent, while mold part seams are subtle and easily dealt with. Weld bead detail is especially noteworthy, as is the use of slide-molds for enhanced detail or ease of construction. In particular, some parts of the gun are especially well rendered using the latter technique.
As far as accuracy is concerned, the kit matches drawings in references 5, 6, 7 and 8, below, to well within acceptable limits. It should be mentioned here that certain details are at variance with some of the drawings and photos. Notably, some hull/superstructure stowage details differ. But, these differences are all well within the realm of probability. For instance, hulls with only three return rollers could have conventional cast towing eyes bolted to the bow plate (along with the large hooks aft) or they could have the side walls extended and drilled-out, fore and aft. All of these parts are in the box, although some are marked as not for use. It will be up to the modeler to decide which to use, depending on how well he wishes to match his replica with the very scant number of available reference photos.
The instructions are well-drawn but as always for DML, they are very busy; proceed with caution! There are many sub-steps and options, so it is suggested that the modeler study the version he wishes to construct and act accordingly. I noted above some things such as the need to remove sprue gates from the hull molding as well as the glitches in parts call-outs.
Decals and Markings Information.
Water-slide decals are provided by Cartograf of Italy. They are in perfect register, have crisp edges, excellent color saturation and thin, close-cut matte carrier film. Of necessity, the tiny sheet only has three Balkenkreuz national insignia. The color schemes are what differentiates each vehicle, for which a painting guide is provided for five different Ostwinden. They are as follows:
s.Pz.Abt.507, Nove Bentaky, Czechoslovakia, 1945.
s.Pz.Abt.507, Nove Bentaky, Czechoslovakia, 1945.
Unidentified unit, 1945.
Unidentified unit, 1945.
Unidentified unit, 1945.
All of these are to be finished with a base color of Dunkelgelb, with both Rotbraun and Olivgrün used for the disruptive camouflage pattern. One is in the later base color of Olivgrün. None of the Balkenkreuze are shown positioned in the painting guide, so it is essentially up to the modeler if he wishes to use them. There is a possible disconnect in the color schemes since of the three existing photographs taken of the Ostwind in Nove Bentaky, two of these images show that one of them is based on an Ausf.G hull. Otherwise, the remaining schemes could not be confirmed using photos in the cited references, or by a search through the entire Panzerwrecks series.
This release closes another gap in the Pz.Kpfw.IV family with an accurate and well-rendered kit. The inclusion of an all-new 3.7cm FlaK43 bodes well for related future releases. I can think of at least three: Flakpanzer Möbelwagen, Sd.Kfz.7/2, and, of course, the gun on a ground mount. It is also more than likely that DML will reissue an Ostwind on an Ausf.G chassis, with and/or without Zimmerit; there are existing photos of both variations.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included the following:
1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
2. Panzerkampfwagen IV, Grosstraktor to Panzerbefehlswagen IV; Panzer Tracts No.4, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Panzer IV and Its Variants; The Spielberger Series Vol. IV, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
4. Panzerkampfwagen IV and its Variants 1935-45, Book 2; The Spielberger Series, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
5. FlaK Selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer, Sd.Kfz.10/4 to 8.8cm FlaK auf VFW; Panzer Tracts No.12, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
6. Flakpanzerkampfwagen; Panzer Tracts No.12-1, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
7. Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind (Sd.Kfz.161/4) & Ostwind; Nuts & Bolts Vol.13, by D.Terlisten.
8. Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind (Sd.Kfz.161/4), Ostwind & Kugelblitz; Nuts & Bolts Vol.25, by D. Terlisten, H. Duske, L. Lecocq & J. Rue.
9. Panzerwrecks Vol.1; Panzerwrecks, by L. Archer & W. Auerbach.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com.
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