Tristar has released the wheel and bogie set from their Panzer IV Ausf D as a separate item. Some thought has been given to providing adaptability to both Tamiya (company T) and Dragon (Company D) kits. With this in mind, I set out to acquire a set for my Panzer IV Ausf. F.
This set retailed for under sixteen US dollars and is a good value considering all the detail found therein. The Continental logo as well as size markings , for the narrower Ausf D, are there as well as several variations although only one complete suspension can be built from the set.
As a bonus, there is a differential cover with armor but these are not mentioned in the instructions. In any case, the bolts are missing but this should not be a problem for those with a well stocked parts bin.
The plastic is slightly brittle so care must be taken when cutting items from the sprue. I suggest using a shear, such as the ones sold by Xuron, and cutting on the sprue but not against the part. Since there is some flash, it is a good idea to use a fine emery board to remove any sprue nubs.
The slightly waxy sheen did not come off even after a wash with grease cutting dish detergent. However, the plastic responded well to Testors liquid cement. Methyl Ethyl Chloride caused some stringiness to appear but the bond was instantaneous.
Photos show Sprue W, five of which are in the set, which has the following gated sprues (left to right), across the top:
- Outer roadwheels and hubs (hubs visible here) for Ausf A-E
- Support rollers
- Outer roadwheels and hubs (hubs visible here) for the Ausf F-H (early)
The last gate has the outer roadwheels and hubs for Ausf H (late) to J, another two late return rollers (both inner and outer), and all steel roadwheels (both inner and outer).
Sprue S, two per set, are included. Here we get two sets of early differential covers with armor, minus the bolts, on a separate gate. The main gate has two sets of bogie mounts (Ausf A-J and late J), two sets of drive sprocket axles, bogie arms, three types of bogie mount covers, leaf springs, and two types of leaf spring caps (Ausf A-F and G-J), idler wheel axles.
I pulled out a Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf H hull, a Shanghai Dragon Panzer IV Ausf J hull, and a Dragon Imperial Series Jagdpanzer IV hull. I was interested in seeing how the set adapts to each.
First, note that Tristar’s instructions are wrong. They would have you remove the wrong nubs for each manufacturer. For the Dragon based hulls, remove the two round nubs. The hull themselves need to have any tabs removed. The half moon nub on the Tristar part is actually half of the rod that is to fit in the hole on the Dragon hull.
Dragon Jagdpanzer hull from their Imperial Line series...
Shanghai Dragon Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J kit (Gunze Sangyo molds):
For the Tamiya kits, one needs to remove the half moon shaped nub in the center of the Tristar bogie mounts. This will leave one with two rods of unequal size to fit the unequal holes on Tamiya’s hull. This is when you will notice that the holes are reversed from what is needed. The Tristar right side bogie mounts fit perfectly on the LEFT side of Tamiya’s hull and vice versa!
My suggestion then is to remove the larger rod and mount them on the correct side and take the time to align the parts properly.
The suspension set is definitely an upgrade and the wheels do seem very nice however, the tires are of a narrower width and really proper only for the early variants (Ausf A-E). The trouble caused by the poor engineering and incorrect instructions is offset by a good price and excellent details. The set is recommended for those wanting a working suspension and the best detailed tires on the market.
My thanks go to RZM Imports for providing the sample kit. Tristar is imported into the US by RZM Imports.
- Panzer Tracts No. 4 by Thomas L. Jentz and Scale Prints by Hilary L. Doyle
- Begleitwagen Panzerkampfwagen IV by Walter J. Spielberger, Hilary L. Doyle and Thomas L. Jentz