Panzer IV Build, Getting Fancy - Weeks #31 to #34
Ready to start getting fancy on the aufbau. Hatches first....
By the book "officially" the driver and radioman's hatch hole finishes and shot splash should reflect the latter style where the shot splash is simple and welded. The border of the hole is simple strap welded around the opening. Like this later style on the left.
However, The two Panzer IV's that I studied from the period we are replicating had the early style splash and border (like on the right). Its much much much more difficult to reproduce so naturally we went with that. The difference in fabrication time is evidenced by days to build instead of hours.
Instead of this rail being welded like one might expect.... its riveted.
With the edging in place we move on to the hatches.... The white hatch below is still in original period winter camouflage paint. It is going to be a crime against history to prep and repaint it to match the rest of the Panzer. It is a beautiful piece having never been in the ground. The other hatch we will use is the red primer one. It has a rust texture all over but the pitting is not too deep. We will dress it up a little and they will be a good matching pair. There were a few differences in drivers and radioman's hatches over the life of the panzer IV. Thickness and manufacture method varied a little through the years. These hatches are the same thickness and manufactured the same way around the same time.
The hatch retention is a little odd. The hinges have these little screw in studs. The studs go through holes in the aufbau roof and are pinned in place with the long red bracket. The bracket grabs the notch in the stud and pulls them down by tightening the t screw handle.
Why not bolted? you ask.... I guess if you need to remove your hatch in a hurry without a wrench... how else would you have designed it?
Its always a balancing act to take a period piece from the dirt and dress it up a little. The overwhelming urge is to make it "good as new". Usually it results in a distorted, mangled, raped mess. There are a lot of philosophical views on this topic. I think a piece shouldn't look out of place as a painted chunk of scrap. If done correctly a piece can be cleaned up a little without loosing its history and character. The perfect balance is for a piece to retain its individual character but still blend into the overall project. Shooting for the best of both worlds.
We began with installing the shiny driver's hatch but later switched to the red hatch.
Here is the hatch retained with the quick release device.
On to the bullet splash.
Its a pretty cool addition to the project but Geezzzeee its a lot of steps... This took a lot more time and effort than I first thought. But... The result is enduring and worth it I think.
Another surprise was the amount of work that had to go into the turret bullet splash. At a glance it looks simple but holy crap......
Only the front chevron is welded down. The others are bolted. The originals are cast with welded threaded attachment points underneath. Then in turn they are bolted down. Their placement pattern is irregular in layout. In about half the study examples the individual pieces were welded together. We found the right radius piece in 1/2 inch material and milled them to shape and height.
Interesting to note that (I dare say "all") unrestored panzer IVs are missing pieces and often the front chevron is cracked. Why would this be? I have a pretty solid theory...... given the design and makeup of the hull construction I expect that the Panzer IV flexed a lot when traversing uneven surfaces. As the hull flexed the aufbau would torque and twist with the hull. These attachment points are weak and the splash pieces would pop off. The front chevrons can't pop off...... but they can crack.
All you model builders remember glueing on the wood Jack block?
Pretty simple.. every now and then we get easy fast gratification. This little bracket took about 3 hours to build and mount. All in.... Short time and big visual impact... Yeahhhhh !!
Added the mounting points for fenders and shurtzen brackets.
And the rear lifting hooks.
Behold the almost done aufbau exterior.
We are happy with this after several weeks work.
Until next time