DETAILED TANK MAINTENANCE WITH MINIART
Ukraine’s MiniArt has outdone itself with this new diorama in a box, featuring a Panzer IV as the focal point. CHRIS CLIFFORD explores the contents.
We previewed this exciting package recently at Key Model World, but nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer weight of contents on opening the lid. With 'Repairing of Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H' (36063), not only do you receive the company’s sublime Panzer IV Ausf.H Initial Production (Vomag, May 1943) with full interior, but also a servicing gantry with real metal chain, four mechanic figures, maintenance equipment and a detailed vacuum-formed base.
Above: Stamping its diorama theme on the proceedings, MiniArt includes this textured vacform display base.
The parts come on more than 50 styrene runners, and there are individual track links, separate pins and an assembly jig to produce the track runs, clear vision blocks and a periscope, and two frets of photo-etched (PE) brass details (including hand tools). As the box front suggests, the idea is to pose the tank on the base provided, and depict it with the gantry at the rear, with the mechanics winching the engine. The powerplant is supplied in great detail, along with all the other interior features you’d see in a Panzer IV, such as the crew station seating and controls, transmission, ammunition storage and rounds, a very busy fighting compartment with complete turret and main gun, radios, air filters and much more.
Above and below: Parts for the servicing gantry and maintenance table. While hard to see here, wood grain is included and looks convincing.
As mentioned, this is an Initial Production variant without Zimmerit anti-mine paste. Here, the tank has just the turret armour and brackets for the side-skirt plates, but the actual large armour sections are not present (presumably as they would hamper maintenance). MiniArt’s usual fine moulding is evident throughout, and begs careful construction, painting and weathering. Realistically, such a kit is a long-term project, particularly due to the interior demanding a high degree of modular painting and airbrushing between actual construction. But the detail is superb. From wood grain being rendered into the wooden planks of the servicing table and the provision of a tree stump and anvil, to separate PE tool clamps and an unfurled styrene tool roll with integrally moulded spanners and the like, this is sublime stuff and should result in a museum-quality model.
Above: The floor of the turret basket has this realistic tread-plate pattern.
Above: Ammunition stowage and hull floor structure.
While the vacform base is moulded to depict a muddy road with track marks and stray bricks/stone blocks, you can of course embellish it with your own extra groundwork items or fashion your own display base from scratch.
The figures are good, with realistic and dynamic poses, although they do require a little clean-up to remove hints of flash and mould stubs. And you could always use resin heads to ensure crisper results, and add other figures to the mix for greater individuality. Those figures provided here have convincing folds and creases in the clothing, which will take washes, shading and highlighting very well. Markings-wise, MiniArt offers decals for a single vehicle, Yellow 111, which was a three-toned camouflaged machine of the 4th Panzer Division as seen in the summer of 1944. Also provided is stencilling and instrument dial detail in decal form.
This is a stunning package with huge amounts of detail, arguably best tackled by more experienced modellers. For those with the requisite skill levels, a superb replica should be the result…. and we’re sure adapted and even more inventive scenes can be produced once the imagination is mined and reference books are consulted. Of course, all this extra content means a higher retail price, but at £79.99, it does represent very good value and will provide many weeks of pleasure. MiniArt kits are available in the UK via: www.creativemodels.co.uk
More parts photos are provided below...