As the emcee might say, “The Panzer IV needs no introduction.” However, BitsKrieg does.
BitsKrieg (cute, eh?) is a new company associated with QuickWheel that will provide aftermarket update sets in 1/35 scale. They were introduced in the news section in early June here
. The company has chosen to begin in the niche of moveable suspension systems for kits that don’t have them, including the DML Panzer IV series. I guess DML used to provide a moveable suspension, but stopped that in their release of the Ausf. H and Ausf. J. The kit I used as a base (the Jagdpanzer IV L/70(V) #6397), has the two suspension arms molded as one piece (see pictures).
The kit is shipped in a sturdy little cardboard box with the parts all in one zip-loc bag. There is a lot of empty space in the box, and the parts really rattle around. Some of the parts are quite delicate (as I proved by breaking them– more later), so I think the vendor should add some peanuts or bubble wrap to stabilize things.
The kit provides all the parts needed to replace the eight suspension stanchions and arms on an average late Pz. IV, including the dampers. This includes: the suspension base, leaf spring arm, follower arm, small “roller,” and the damper. A positioning stencil is also provided– this only needed for the dampers, as the bases can use the kit positioning lugs.
There are no instructions, but the box cover shows the parts in place, and it’s pretty obvious how they go together.
This upgrade is designed to provide a moveable suspension that is missing on the model. It does that very well. The pictures show three variations of the suspension: one is the kit version, one a hybrid, and one uses all BK kit parts (a prize for who can tell which one is which). I also positioned these at the extreme and with the road wheels in place. I primed it all to level playing field.
The reason for the “hybrid” is that, based on my research, the base upgrade is actually a late Ausf. J. The top bolt holes being open didn’t ever happen on an H, at least as far as I can tell. The final J had these closed. To represent an H, I used the base from the DML kit with the upgrade arms. These worked fines, except the arms were a little loose, and it was difficult to hold all the pieces while the cover was applied (thus the blue tape).
The pictures also show the difference between the DML and BK dampers. The upgrade parts are clearly more-correct. You can see an actual damper in the cover picture. The upgrade has the open top, and the two bolts that hold the bumper itself. The upgrade also has thinner walls, which just look more to-scale.
As mentioned above, some of these parts are really delicate; I managed to damage a couple of pieces trying to remove them from the pour block, and in handling them. You can see in one picture that I broke the area around one of the open bolt holes. The same picture shows the back of the base. After removal from the pour block, there is a substantial bit of resin to be trimmed. On the other hand, the dampers were easy to remove with a razor saw.
Looking at the picture of the three variations in level travel, I really can’t see enough of a difference to justify the upgrade, especially at a cost of $18 for just these bits. However, if you are going to do a diorama with uneven terrain, then this upgrade is essential if you’re doing one of the supported kits– see the box cover picture. If you are doing any H, or early J, then use the base from DML. If you’re a klutz like me, you may break some upgrade “bits,” but you could use the DML suspension for any level area in that case.
The kit was provided by Bits Krieg for this review, and currently there is no place to purchase it other than through the vendor site here
. Oddly, it can’t be purchased there yet , either (at least when I looked, there was no “add to basket” option), but that will likely change once this item is officially released. The cost is listed at 12 Euros, which is roughly $15 US. They want only $3 for shipping, which is bargain these days.
A great resource is the book Achtung Panzer No. 3, Panzerkampfwagen IV
. Page 84 of this book shows the history of the base as the two bolts disappear.
A second is
a build log of a large scale Panzer with lots of reference pictures and CAD drawings
Being a computer geek, I can’t help but make the leap from “bits” to “bytes” (8 bits). Maybe if this company evolves to larger scale upgrades, they can become “Bytes Krieg” – you heard it here first. Sometimes I can’t help myself, so just FYI, half a byte (4 bits) is a “nibble” – really.