Kit Preview : 1/76 MMS Panzer IV E
About the manufacturer
MMS is the leading 1/76 white metal model brand. The quality of casting and level of detail are comparable to traditional plastic kits, albeit without etched metal detailing. Smaller details such as mirrors are often omitted , and the running gear of tracked vehicles is usually a simplified one piece casting where the guide teeth are backed by a solid metal strengthening strip.
Due to the tight packaging in unprotected plastic bags, parts often come bent or one might say, with pre-built battle damage. Care must be taken to straighten things out lest parts be broken. Most MMS models I have seen are accurate, the only exception being the Shermans which have too short tracks, too much ground clearance and a too short transmission cover.
About the vehicle
The Wikipedia entry on the Panzer IV is a good place to start if you want to learn more.
About the kit
This is a typical MMS tank kit. The track/wheel assembly is one piece with the guide teeth backed by a continuous strip of metal. I find this to be acceptable as it is hardly seen behind a dark wash. The idler wheels are molded solid and will need drilling out. Contrary to the Panzer III kits, there is molded suspension detail on the hull.
The hull is the same as for the Panzer IV F and G kits. The main difference is obviously the turret which sports molded on armored skirts with ugly solid mountings. The accessories provided allow different variants and it is a pity that the instruction sheet remains silent on the matter. There are early and late models for several parts. Sprockets come as the early model as used on the F and cast as used on the H and J. There are two lengths for the 75mm gun, early L43 and late L48. The cupola comes in two flavors, with double (early) or single (late) hatches. The antenna gutter is provided but so is the later mounting whcih goes on the rear left side of the engine deck. There are two extinguishers and jacks so one of each can be used as spares.
In terms of improvements, apart from replacing the skirt mountings, the front towing eyes need to be drilled out. The turret lacks the larger L-shaped thingies just ahead of the doors.
The F, G and late G turrets side by side. The hulls are identical. The G turret lacks the loader's vision port. The late G turret also has the pistol ports deleted, aside from the very obvious schuerzen.