Steel Masters is a bimonthly French language armor modeling magazine that has been published since 1994 and also appears in German language with articles focused more on German models. Apart from the standard magazine, there are also the quarterly hors série which deals with models of a certain battle or war and the thématiques which deals with a certain theme, either a certain vehicle or battle. It is not quite clear to me whether the latter has replaced the former or if these are parallel publications. The fact that they have different numbering systems suggests parallel publications.
Steel Masters usually includes a good mix of model building articles in different scales, dioramas and single vehicles, as well as historical background articles. It is in full color and has very crisp photographs of its model subjects as well as detailed maps, plans and side views in the history articles.
The issue at hand deals with the German Panzer IV and its versions (derives) on 82 pages. Just like its “parent” publication it offers a good mix of history and modeling articles in different scales. The modeling articles all work in the same manner with a brief introductory text, photos of the finished but unpainted model, in progress shots of the painting and weathering stage and then the obligatory pictures of the finished work. The pictures are accompanied by good captions describing the steps in the pictures. In some articles the pictures are self explanatory but in most cases knowledge of the French language are required to understand everything.
But on to the individual articles. The following titles are a liberal translation of the original French titles.
The PzKpfw IV Under Foreign Flags: This history article deals with the use of the Panzer IV in other nation’s armies. It covers, in detail, the use of the Panzer IV with Hungarian troops from July 1942 onwards as well as its use by Romanian forces. This includes details of numbers delivered, enemy tanks destroyed and tanks lost. It then covers very briefly the use by the neutral nations Spain and Turkey, and then moves on to its use by the allies (the Soviet Union and French Forces of the Interior). It also briefly covers its use by the Syrian Army up to 1973. The article has some very good pictures, especially of Syrian examples and also some color plates of examples not mentioned in the text (such as Italy, Croatia and Finland). Contrary to what the title suggests, the largest part of the text covers the use of the Panzer IV by Hungarian troops and only very briefly mentions the other nations.
Baptism of Fire: The first modeling article of the magazine takes you right to the invasion of Poland with an out of the box model of the 1/35 scale Panzer IV Ausf. B by Dragon in a small diorama setting. The model is finished in the two tone camouflage of the early war years (dark grey and dark brown)The article has many great tech tips.
“The African” moves the setting to North Africa with a build of the 1/35 scale Dragon Panzer IV Ausf. E super detailed with Aber PE and Friulmodel tracks. The article also includes a very useful 1/35 scale line drawing of the Ausf. E (top, side, front, back) with its North African fittings such as the Rommelkiste.
Panzerkampfwagen IV is another history article for those who want background info on the development of this series of tanks. Apart from the obvious text and a few pictures, this article includes more detailed 1/35 scale line drawings of 4 different versions of the Panzer IV: the Ausf. B, Ausf. E (without North African fittings), Ausf. F2 and Ausf. G.
Final Combats for the 20. Panzer Division: This is yet another 1/35 scale Dragon Panzer IV, this time the Ausf. H in a November 1944 Prussia setting. The model is built from the box with Zimmerit added and some Schürzen from plastic card. The tank is then set in a small diorama with three Dragon figures and a small part of an industrial ruin. An interesting technique is used for winter white wash.
Moving Shrubbery” is not an article on mobile gardening but deals with the detailed leaf camouflage added to Tamiya’s 1/35 scale rendition of the Panter IV Ausf. J. Of course it also deals with super detailing the kit mentioned with Cavalier Zimmerit, Moskit exhaust, Aber PE and metal barrel as well as Modelkasten tracks and a crew by Artisan Mori. The article doesn’t go too much into detail on the construction and painting of the vehicle, but has detailed images of the construction of the branches. This being the most valuable part of the article it should be easily understandable also by those who don’t understand French.
Sturmgeschütz IV early production: The title says it all, only this time we’re moving into 1/72 scale. The Dragon kit is updated with Part PE, Aber barrel and some other details in particular from Revell’s Panzer IV. This all adds up to a very impressive model (especially for this small scale) before and after painting.
Predator on the Prowl: A Gaso.Line conversion of the 1/48 scale Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf. J to the Jagdpanzer IV L/70 is what this article deals with. While the author made several scratch modifications to the Gaso.Line set, he also mentions not to worry about these as the manufacturer has since corrected them. The weathering process is quite interesting, but some remarks of the author on what one should or should not do to weather a model are a bit irritating.
STUPA: Moving back to 1/35 scale and Dragon, the subject of the article is the Sturmpanzer IV Sd.Kfz. 166 “Brummbär”. The model is a combination of the old Dragon late “Brummbär” superstructure with the new Smart kit mid production “Brummbär” lower hull to produce a specific vehicle from November 1944. Again the article provides some interesting weathering techniques.
Wind from the East: The Flakpanzer IV “Ostwind” in 1/72 scale is covered in this article with a scratch conversion of a Dragon kit with parts added from Revell, Hasegawa, Armo, Extra Tech, Aber, Part and Eduard. The model remains unpainted to see all the impressive work on the model.
Completely off topic in this issue is “Lier 2009”, a photo feature on a model show in Lier in 2009. It has some great pictures of all kinds of subjects.
The magazine is of high quality and offers some great tips. I like the concept of working mainly with pictures and accompanying captions. The kits are a bit too focused on Dragon for my taste, but the authors probably want to work with the best kits available. I would have liked to see a model of a bridgelayer or ARV. French language skills (or a good translation program) highly recommended!
Highs: High quality pictures, great techniques, 1/35 scale line drawings.Lows: Very Dragon-centered, French language only limits use to many.Verdict: Recommended to Panzer IV-aholics with French language skills.
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