German Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf.D/E Fahrgestell

Trumpeter 1:35th Scale Kit No. 00362
Review by Terry Ashley

When both Dragon (kits #6179, 6181) and Trumpeter (kits #00208, 00209) released kits of the Karl-Geraet 040/041 SP Mortars the job seemed only half finished as they were always accompanied by two Munitionsschlepper Panzer.IV Fgst. Ausf.D/E or F.

A quick note of the kit title which doesn’t really say it all as “Fahrgestell” is German for “Chassis” so the work “Munitionsschlepper” (Ammunition tractor) should be included to describe the kit in full, but enough of the language lessons.

Until now the only Munitionsschlepper available was the rather expensive resin kit from CMK but Trumpeter have now released this kit of the Munitionsschlepper PzKpfw.IV Ausf.D/E with another kit of the Munitionsschlepper PzKpfw.IV Ausf.F to follow.

A total of 13 Munitionsschleppers were produced, two for each of the six Karl-Geraet 040/041s and 1 for the experimental Geraet 040 Nr.VII which is an excuse to buy two kits for a full reloading diorama.

The Kit:
This kit represents the first type produced on the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D/E chassis but you can only accurately build the Ausf.D Munitionsschlepper from the kit contents as a couple of Ausf.E features are missing, notably the revised glacis inspection hatch hinges and the Ausf.E style wheel bump stops, with only the configuration for the 60cm shells provided for.

The kit consists of 400 parts in light grey plastic with a further 256 individual track links in light grey plastic, an alternate set of full length vinyl tracks, 6 frets of etched parts, 3 large (95mm x 65mm approx.) and 3 smaller frets, 2 turned aluminium 60cm shells, 4 small springs, 6 small brass pins 2 lengths of thin wire, a long length of twine and a small clear sheet for the vision block glass plus a 20 page instruction sheet for quite a box full.


The standard of moulding sees the actual level of detail being good overall with crisp well defined detail on most parts but not quite up the standards set by Dragon and Tristar on their recent Panzer IV Ausf.D kits in some areas.

There is quite a bit of fine flash about the place and some substantial pin marks to contend with and this sees a bit more than usual cleanup required on the parts including some mould release agent remaining on some parts. Also some of the mating surfaces needed attention to remove small imperfections to ensure an even fit and test fitting of all parts before gluing would be encouraged.

A number of parts give you a choice of mediums with the tracks in vinyl and individual link, the front tow shackles, fenders extensions, the engine bay side intake grills and the intricate shell hoist and claws in both plastic and etched parts for a choice that caters for different skill levels.

Dimensionally the kit measures up well against the 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracks books No.4 (Panzer IV) and No.17 Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge with just a couple of minor issues that may not be an issue and as well as looking at this kit I will also make comparison of the applicable chassis parts with the Dragon/Tristar kits to give a better overall assessment of the kit detail.

Lower Hull:
With the lower hull and suspension you have the impression that Trumpeter have gone to school on the other Panzer IV Ausf.D kits available, most notable that from Dragon with a number of features in the Trumpeter kit very reminiscent of that kit although more simplified.

The lower hull tub is conventional with the bottom, sides and front plate in one piece with separate rear panels with the detail on the bottom plate almost identical to Dragon’s including the rectangular panel not shown in any references but with the side channels moulded in place unlike the separate parts on the Dragon hull.

Detail on the sides includes the intricate detail under the final drive housing again similar to Dragon but with all the detail moulded on and no separate parts with the Dragon kit. The final drive housing is very basic in detail having the forward armoured cover moulded in place and with separate small bolts heads located on sprue B which you cut off and add which again is similar to both the Dragon and Tristar arrangements.

The instructions tell you to add 10 bolts around the armoured cover but this is for the Ausf.E and you should only add 6 bolts for the Ausf.D with the return roller mountings and idler mounting braces also included on the hull sides.

At the back there is the lower panel which has the contoured fillet included which has the contours almost right but slightly out compared to the Tristar panel which is the most accurate of the three kits.

The rear hull panel is simple in design with the idler mountings in just three parts unlike the multi-part assemblies of the other two kits but they still look the part and are not lacking in detail despite the fewer parts. (must be a smart kit?)

Added to the rear panel is the small auxiliary muffler still fitted that includes a small etched mounting bracket plus the large muffler with the exhaust pipe relocated to the underside due to the ammo container added above. The muffler unfortunately again follows that of the Dragon kit in being too narrow with the mounting brackets in the wrong location.

The join fillet between the lower rear panel and the upper section of the superstructure is available as a single plastic part or two etched parts for a choice and you should take note a few locating holes have to be cut out of the panel to fit the exhaust and other parts.

The fit of the rear panels was very good without any trimming or filler required.

On the lower front plate are the two towing shackles which again give you the choice of simple plastic parts or multi-part etched shackles with the instructions showing to cut out the locating hole from the front panel but the location is very unclear and sticking the shackles directly to the front plate could be the better option.

Suspension/Running Gear:
The drive sprockets are in the conventional two parts with excellent detail on both sides of both sprockets disks and detail wise there is not much between this and the other kits.

The road wheels are moulded with the rubber section included and just the correct Ausf.D style hub cap as a separate part with the wheel disc detail being perfectly acceptable but there is no manufacturer embossing on the sidewall as with the other kit wheels. Also the mould seam is along the front edge of the tyre and you will need to shave this off for a more rounded tyre shoulder with the return rollers also being quite basic and the front edge of the tyre section needed the mould seam shaved off.

At the back the two part idler wheel is again very reminiscent of the Dragon idler with a separate etched ring to represent the outer rim lip but unfortunately this is designed to fit on the outer edge of the wheel and not inside the outer rim as depicted on the Dragon idler. The etched part also does not include the spokes as with the Dragon part and so the idler spokes lack the lip but it is still a very reasonable representation of the Ausf.D idler wheel.

The bogie units are again broken down in the same manner as both the Dragon and Tristar bogies with the assembly the same apart from the small arms (parts A1/A2 and A20/A21) joined before adding to the unit with the bogies able to be articulated as with the other kits.

The only real issue here is the bogie mounting bolts are way undersized but have the correct spacing for the Ausf.D bogies with the assembled bogies fitting easily to the hull mounting points. The bogie bump stops are again the correct style for the Ausf.D and simply fit in place without any problems.

The kit provides a set of full length vinyl track 36/38cm track which is nicely moulded with open guide horns of individual plastic 36cm track also with open guide horns. The kit track links measure to a scale width of 36cm while the track pin width is 38cm which seems to concur with information available on the early Pv.IV tracks.

The vinyl track has nice details but there is a bit of vinyl flash that is not easy to remove while the plastic track just needs the three sprue attachment scars cleaned up before assembly.

The vinyl tracks will hold together using normal plastic cement but will come apart if any force is applied so you may want to use a heated screwdriver to flatten the four "pins on each track join for a secure join. The individual links are designed to be glued together and it’s easiest to glue a length together and wait for the glue to “go off” before adding it around the drive sprocket or idler or to add the track sag.

Upper Hull/Superstructure:
The front glacis plate is a separate part with separate brake access hatches and central transmission inspection hatch with the brake access hatches being fairly basic in detail as are the hinges with the keyholes but these should be more rectangular as with the Tristar hatches.

The transmission inspection hatch has the corners too square but it’s difficult to remedy as the glacis cut-out will also require the corners rounded more than they are and the flush screws around the hatch are more just holes without any real detail. You also have to open out a couple of the locating holes in the hatch for the shell claw mounting brackets.

Added to the back of the glacis is the small notched panel to take the superstructure but to fit both the glacis and panel will require the mating edges smoothed out for a better fit.

The large superstructure is in one piece with separate driver’s plate and rear panel with cut-outs for the top crew hatches, side engine intake louvers and the large overhead shell container.

The front and side driver’s visors have clear sheet for the glass and the top hatches have fairly basic details but lack the hinge flush screw detail as well as having a couple of large pin marks on the inside if you want to show the hatches open.
There is no really clear photos of the Munitionsschlepper crew hatches to determine if they have the keyhole fitting but if not the raised detail could easily be removed.

The rear panel fits neatly in place and it should be noted that the small circular port cover has the hinges on the opposite side from the normal Ausf.D port which is correct for the Munitionsschlepper.

At the sides are the engine intake grills which are provided as plastic parts moulded quite thick as well as multi-part etched intakes with mesh rear screen that look excellent when assembled.

The full length fenders have nice tread plate on the top but no detail on the undersides and include the front and rear extensions with holes for the separate tools. Also included are again multi-part etched parts for the front and back fender extensions that require you to cut off the plastic fenders but again the etched fender extensions give excellent detail finished off with actual small springs to replace the plastic items adding further detail.

All the tools have moulded on tool clips which does seem a bit odd given the amount of etched parts included with the kit but the crew boarding step is provided in etched with wire step as is the track tool on the right fender to add good definition to these parts.

The crane operator’s platform on the right front has a plastic frame with etched grillwork for a good appearance and this can be positioned raised or lowered as required.

Ammunition Bin:
The large Munitionskasten (ammunition bin) has a large floor section with separate end plates and mounting brackets for the four 60cm shells carried and included etched intake screens located on the floor.

The side panels are separate parts that can be positioned in the closed or open position with separate lip panels that again can be shown open or closed with additional small braces added.

Detail on the end panels and door panels is very good with internal ribbing and bolt head details but there are substantial deep pin ejector marks on all the inside panels that will take a bit of effort to deal with so you don’t damage the nice detail.

Six mounting brackets are added to the bottom of the bin to attach this to the superstructure and added at the back are two wooden slat working platforms that have superbly rendered wood grain effect that is thankfully free of any pin marks.

60cm Mortar Shells:
The kit provides you with two turned aluminium 60cm shells, one heavy and one lightweight shell to use when depicting the loading process as well as another four of each type in plastic to add to the bin.

The plastic heavy shells have separate base plates with the embossed detail included with the fit of the shell halves being very good requiring just minor sanding to deal with the join seam. The metal heavy shell has additional etched parts for the base details and this looks excellent when assembled with the shell dimensions matching exactly to those stated in the Panzer Tracks No.17 Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge book.

Crane Assembly:
The crane base is made up of multiple parts with many smaller fittings that include some etched parts as well as numerous two part pulley wheels that attach to the crane mounting post and the large crane arm and care will be needed as the assemblies are quite intricate but shouldn’t cause any real problems.

The twine included is used for the crane rope which is fed from the rear cable drum through the various pulleys and while the instructions show the rope fitted in place you are going to carefully work out the correct cable runs as it is not that clear at all.

To finish off there is the large double shell lifting claw that is provided in a simple four plastic part assembly or replaced entirely in 24 etched parts for a very intricate assembly that will add considerably to the final appearance.

The assembled shell claws can be shown in the stowed position on the glacis plate or in the working position on the crane jib and this is where the heavy large aluminium shell provided will help keep the cables tensioned for a good appearance.

The crane jib is designed to rotate when attached to the base as well as being raised or lowered allowing you to position this in any position with the lower crane base pin simply fitting into the hole in the superstructure top but without anything to hold it in place. The fit is quite tight and it should hold in place but it would be quite easy to attach the base plate (part H51) to the superstructure roof with an inner bracket made from card and rod before fitting the superstructure in place to ensure the crane base stays in place or simply glue it when you have decided on the final crane configuration.

No markings are included as most pictures of the Munitionsschleppers don’t show any and the model is painted in overall Panzer Grey with the appropriate weathering for an easy finish although some photos show the Munitionsschlepper in a camouflage scheme these are all for the later Ausf.F.
There are a couple of reference pictures available that show markings, on page 4 of Allied & Axis No.9 is a rear view of a Munitionsschlepper with the s.Art.Abt.(mot) 833 emblem (the same image is on page 33 of "The Military Machine" FAMO 18T" book) and on page 38 of Panzer Tracts "Karl-Geraet" book is a shot of a Munitionsschlepper from the same unit showing the emblem and a name on the side of the ammo bin which is difficult to read.

Overall this is an excellent kit of the much needed plastic Munitionsschlepper for the available Karl-Geraets with some superb details thanks to the etched parts included and while the Panzer IV hull and running gear details are not quite up to the standards of the other kits this somehow doesn’t seem to be such of an issue on the Munitionsschlepper as it would be on a standard gun tank.

The ability to show the model in the travel mode or loading configuration adds to the usefulness of the kit and anyone with a Karl kit will want one or two of these kits to complete the family.

Highly recommended.

The Sprues:
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Detail Images
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For additional information on the kit and Munitionsschlepper see the article by Kazutaka Yokota.
The page is in Japanese but has images including the crane cable runs that could be off assistance when building the kit.

See the Mörser Karl-Gerät 040/041 Subjects page for reviews of other Karl kits accessories/updates.

Panzer Tracts No.17
Gepanzerte Nachschub Fahrzeuge

by Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle
ISBN 0-9744862-4-8
"Bertha's Big Brother Karl-Geraet (60 & 54cm)"
by Thomas L. Jentz
ISBN 0-9708407-2-1
Allied & Axis No.9
Ampersand Publishing

Panzer Tracts No.4
Panzerkampfwagen IV

by Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle
ISBN: 0-9648793-4-4
Achtung Panzer No.3
Panzer IV


Thanks to my credit card and Rainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created January 28, 2007