Review - Roco #705 (Pzkw IV, ausf. H)

The following Review - Roco #705 (Pzkw IV, ausf. H)
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Kit Review: ROCO 1/87 Scale Minitanks No. 705; Pzkw. IV Ausf. H; 31 parts in tan styrene; price $6-8
Advantages: Complete makeover for a 40+ year old model, nice proportions, NO WHEELS!
Disadvantages: Missing some details, such as AA MG, some minor simplification, odd air cleaner installation
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all wargamers and “Small Scale” armor fans
 Many of us cut our armor modeling teeth on Monogram, Aurora, and Revell kits during the 1950s and early 1960s, but when we looked around for more than dozen vehicle kits (including “bad guys”) the only source of supply was ROCO of Austria with its “HO” scale line of Minitanks. We learned the wrong names and designations for vehicles, including prototypes which never went into service, but they had a large selection and they were CHEAP. One dollar bought two to four tanks, and that was all that mattered.
 One of those first models was the German Pzkw. IV tank, which came in three models: F1, F2, and H. Few of us read any references, so it was only much later in life that it was noted that these were specific models of the tank and that this tank – not the Tiger, “King Tiger”, or Panther – was the mainstay of German armored formations in WWII. The models were pretty sketchy at best, being 1/100 scale and not HO, and the details were subordinated to fast assembly and wheels to move on when rolled on the carpet. All of them had easily broken and lost hatches, oversized and incorrect machine guns, and big holes where they fastened together and the crummy wheels on the bottom.
 Now, 40 years later, these models have been dropped from the line and a brand new model of the Pzkw. IV series has been released which IS in 1/87 scale and IS a clearly visible Model H version of the tank. While it does retain ROCO’s standard one-piece track runs, the hull consists of not two parts, but five main ones: bow, belly, rear, fender and glacis, and upper hull. The arrangement suggests they are going to do the entire line of Panzer IV tanks as these parts must be replaced for earlier models and some of the other variants. It also has a late-model one-piece hatch and the “schuertzen” armor of the H seen in most photographs. This consists of a new one-piece section for the turret (with built-in bustle bin) and the two side skirts, which now come with three of the side braces (the most visible ones, as the others are hard to see in this scale with the skirts in place.) Also included are the muffler, antenna mount, headlight, bow machine gun, spare tracks, jack, four spare road wheels, and a curious air cleaner mounted on the right fender. I don’t have any new references which would explain it, but it looks to be a desert fitting which would seem odd on most H models that fought in Russia or the western front.
 The only comments I have heard about this is some question as to the accuracy of the gun. It appears pretty close without measuring it (it is FAR better than the “blob on a pin” barrel from the earlier model kits) but is smaller than the one which comes with the 30+ year old StuG III from ROCO. It also does not have the baffles in the muzzle brake cleaned out, and this will be tedious for anyone wanting a more accurate model. IT also appears the AA MG will be an after market purchase as well.
 Overall, this is a major quality upgrade to an old standard, and one for which ROCO should be complimented, even if at least 30 years overdue. Also coming in the near future are Panther models from ROCO’s symbiotic competitor, Trident. For small scale German armor fans and wargamers, things are surely looking up.
 Thanks to Art Wollam for the loan of the review sample.
Copyright 2009 - Cookie Sewell
(Available at www.fidelismodels.com)