Sd.Kfz. 162 Jagdpanzers
When these two kits were announced by Hasegawa last year, it had modelers anxiously awaiting to see how improved they were over the earlier Panzer IV kits. I'm happy to say that numerous improvements have been made, and these are excellent models. The sole reservation I have about them is the typically horrible tracks.
In most of the scans below, I have placed two identical sprues next to each other to show both the front and back sides, but only one of each sprue (except the wheels) is included with each kit.
The upper hull looks fantastic. I am especially impressed by the joints of the interlocking armor plates. There are numerous holes in the hull for the variety of options included in the kits. You can use mono- or binocular periscopes; and one or two machinegun ports for the L/48. The L/70 kit includes only a single machinegun port cover; the second one needs to be filled with putty. A couple of things could have been improved, such as the smooth fenders, which should have a treadplate pattern on them. Also, the pioneer tools molded onto the hull I would prefer as separate parts. But at least they are molded in good relief, and aren't too flat.
Both kits come with the early "cylinder" muffler. The L/70 also has the late-war style flammentoeter mufflers, but those were also seen on late models of the L/48, so it would have been nice to have included them in that kit as well. Spare wheels and spare track lengths are included with both kits.
The main improvements I have seen over the Panzer IV kits are the lower hull and chassis, which are completely new. This is the first of the Hasegawa Panzer IV-chassis kits to no longer include any of the parts from the old Munitionspanzer kit. And I must say, the new chassis is really well done. It rivals the chassis in the Revell Panzer IV kits in detail and molding finesse. It also displays another of the many options included with the kits: three or four return rollers, depending on which version you build. According to the instructions, the L/48 uses four, and the L/70 uses three, but very late models of the L/48 also had the reduced number of rollers. The kits include new "all steel" return rollers, in addition to the older rubber-rimmed rollers.
The wheels are the same "improved" wheels as included with the earlier Wirbelwind and Ostwind kits. Very, very nice.
Unique to Jagdpanzer IV L/48. It includes the spare tracks, gun mantle, and some other optional parts. The muzzle brake is included for the L48 cannon. This should be an option, because many of the L/48's left off the brake, but you'd have to modify the end of the gun barrel a little to replicate the muzzle-less version. The angled cover for the radiator caps is included here. Again, late models of the L/48 had the squared-off box cover, but that option is only included with the L/70 kit. Another option which is not indicated in the instructions, is the squared-off corners of the gun mantle base plate. Later versions had clipped corners, which should be easy enough for the modeler to take care of.
Unique to Panzer IV/70(V). This sprue includes all the special parts for the L/70 version. Some of these parts could be used for late L/48's, but unfortunately, this sprue is not included in that kit.
Another sprue unique to Panzer IV/70(V). This one has the long L/70 cannon, the gun lock, and the steel road wheels for the first two wheel stations. These steel wheels are fantastic.
The tracks are the same crap included with all the other Hasegawa Panzer IV kits. Time to stock up on the etched brass tracks from PART or Extratech.
The decals are typical of Hasegawa, i.e., well printed, good color and registration, but the carrier film is too thick. As you can see, the markings are not very extensive. The painting guides in the instructions (which are fantastic, by the way) show a single marking option for each kit, but each set of decals gives more options, with three different styles of balkankreuz, a couple of divisional and tactical markings, plus optional vehicle numbers. As is typical of many decal sheets, the vehicle numbers don't allow for duplicate digits within the number, such as "122". Although the selection for divisional markings is slim, I don't believe these vehicles typically carried much in the way of division marks, but I'm not certain. If it wasn't for the overly-thick carrier film, these would be pretty good decals.
One other item lacking from these kits, is zimmerit. Most L/48's had zimmerit coating applied, except for very late models. But as we've seen, the kit lacks the optional parts to make a late version, so the modeler had better be proficient at making zimmerit. For the L/70, however, the lack of zimmerit is not such a big loss, since only the earliest models had it applied. Most L/70's had no zimmerit. Regardless, I am sure that we shall see some etched brass zimmerit from PART very soon (as well as additional detail sets).
According to my references, these kits are perfect 1/72nd scale.
References: Panzer Tracts No. 9 - Jagdpanzer, by Jentz and Doyle; Panzer IV & Its Variants by Spielberger; Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two by Chamberlain, Doyle and Jentz; Photosniper No. 6 - Jagdpanzer IV L/48, by Mucha and Parada; Panzers at Saumur No. 1, edited by Ichimura.
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