The Panther Project the panther project
Interactive DVD-ROM
The Panther Project

Review by Terry Ashley

The use of digital sources for reference material is increasing with some examples of products for Military Modellers being the CD series with Technical Manuals from Easy 1 Productions and picture CDs from Toadman’s Tank Pictures as well as other individual references and we now have this interactive DVD from “The Panther Project” of the UK covering the German Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Tank of WW2 to add to the list.

The DVD contains about 1.6GB of data which is quite a bit to get through so I won’t waffle on here but will preface things by saying this review is based solely on the DVD supplied to me by The Panther Project and as usual is based of facts only, facts that anyone with the DVD can easily see for themselves.

Given the fairly high asking price a close look would seem appropriate to see if it’s worth the outlay and to get things rolling we’ll have a look at the technical stuff and interface.

Technical stuff:
The DVD is designed for PC based systems only running Windows XP SP2 although the specs don’t mention the SP2 bit most systems would have been upgraded to this standard by now and if not it’s advisable to do so and not just for running this DVD. You also need QuickTime 6 or above, DirectX 9c and obviously a DVD ROM drive. The DVD runs at a fixed screen resolution of 1024x768 but no need to adjust your screen resolution if higher as it will still run okay just not fill the screen completely. The black background will fill the screen so you don’t have a border around the program window if running a higher resolution.

Most people running Windows XP SP2 will already have DirectX 9c installed, if you are still running DirectX 9b it could be advisable to upgrade from the Microsoft site and you will also need to install Quicktime if not already on your system. Take note that when installing Quicktime from the Apple site you will also get iTunes if you don’t deselect the option.

No mention is made of the new MS Vista OS but information provided elsewhere says it won’t run without the application of a patch, presumably as this DVD was finalised before Vista was released, so be advised.

I (personally) have tested this DVD on 4 different PC systems, all running Windows XP SP2 with similar results apart from one area which we will get to below.
  1. P4 2.8 Ghz with 2GB RAM, 128MB Radeon 9200 Graphics adaptor, QT 7.1, DirectX 9.0c. 1152x864 screen resolution.
  2. P4 Duel Core 3.7Ghz with 2GB RAM, 256MB Radeon X300/X500 Graphics adaptor, QT 7.1, DirectX 9.0c. 1152x864 screen resolution.
  3. P4 3.2 Ghz with 1.5GB RAM 128MB Radeon 9250 Graphics adaptor, QT 7.1, DirectX 9.0c. 1152x864 screen resolution.
  4. Acer 3800 Laptop Intel P(M) 1.7 Ghz with 512MB RAM, 64MB Intel onboard graphic adaptor, QT 7.1, DirectX 9.0c. 1280x800 screen resolution.

The DVD will auto start once inserted in your DVD drive and if you have a personal firewall installed such as Zone Alarm you may have to allow this to run from the FW warning dialog but it will run fine after this.

The first thing you will notice (or maybe not?) is the cover image is a mirror image of itself and it has been mentioned this was done deliberately to allow the text to fit. It would appear that the text and overlayed image will fit just as well with a correctly orientated image and as they say ‘first impressions are everything’ in this modern World. By mirroring the image for whatever reason the Produces have done themselves no favours as it provides a focus for anyone wanting to criticize the product.

After the auto start the interface will come up at the opening screen, there is an interim screen that pops up briefly with some info but it’s not there long enough to read anyway so don’t worry about it. This little blurb does say there is over 2GB of data on the DVD but mine only has 1.62GB, hope I’m not missing anything on my copy?

On the opening screen there is a flashing button with the word “Start” but don’t try an click this (you can’t anyway) but you have to click the stylised arrow box below the word “Start” that lights up with mouse over, you’ll find this when you move the mouse about after nothing happens when clicking “Start”.

One thing to note is when the program starts is it takes over the complete screen and you can’t minimise or move this window as there are no controls to do that (the lower Taskbar with Windows Start button is also hidden), only the X button at top right to close the program is visible other than the program menus. If you open other applications such as MS Word or a graphics programme “before” running the DVD you can use the Windows Alt-Tab function to switch to these programs after the DVD is running, this will also display the Taskbar and you can use the same to get back to the Panther DVD (or just click back onto the PP window).

The main menu page has an expanding menu down the left hand side and a graphical menu structure in the main window and as you mouse over each item a brief description appears in the bottom window pane.

The Panther Project

On clicking a menu item you are taken to that page which has another sub-menu down the left side with more selections and after clicking any of these the next page comes up with in some cases another sub-menu on the left side. Unfortunately you can’t get back to the previous sub-menu without going back to the main menu and starting all over again which becomes a little frustrating but you get used to it as there is no alternative. Adding some breadcrumbs so you can backtrack would have been a nice inclusion to make this navigation a little friendlier?

In the 360° panorama section there is a noted “bug” that if you move your mouse over the movie while loading the program will just shut down.
There is also another “bug” I encountered on all but one of the systems tested (1) in that with every second or third panorama I clicked on resulted in the program again shutting down without warning requiring a program restart (not the PC). As this was intermittent it may not affect your system but was annoying when it occurred.

The interface is also inconsistent in that most sections had the X close icon at the top right but in the History/Manufacturers/Components section this X was not there meaning you have to go back to the main menu to close the program, not a big deal in the scheme of this I presume.

In the sections with photos there is an indication of how many photos are available but on numerous occasions the actual number of photos differed from that indicated which again is not that a big deal as you can only see what you can see. There is also a feature where you can enter a number and jump to the corresponding image but you don’t know what the image is you are jumping too, sort of a lucky dip.

There is no search function, thumbnail views or index listing of the images so finding a specific image is not easy meaning you have to trawl through the lot each time you want to find a particular image at a later stage unless you create your own index in a spreadsheet or such for future reference. There is also no built in print function (other than with the Camo patterns and Plans) but you can take a screen dump and paste into a graphics program if you want a particular image printed.
DVD Content:
We will have a brief look through each menu section to see what is available and this starts with the main menu dividing into six main groups; Markings, History, Weapons, People, Technical and Restoration (spelt Restoraton, this lack of proof reading is evident throughout) with each section having additional sub-sections.

Markings is divided into two sub-sections; Internal - External
The Internal section has the 360° panoramas as mentioned above and there is a selection of views for the Panther Ausf.G and Panther II covering the turret and fighting compartment interior.
After clicking on an item from the left menu the movie loads and by clicking and dragging your mouse you can pan around the area, there are also small control buttons down the bottom left that let you zoom in and out as well as move back and forth between the scenes but the “hot spot” button doesn’t appear to do anything.
When zooming in the images become a little pixelated the closer you get and while the panoramas are visually interesting there is nothing to indicate what the individual components are that you are looking at but they do show plenty of detail for super detailing your model.

To get from the Internal section to the External section you now have to go back to the main menu and start again to bring up the External sub-menu, this does become annoying as you move through the contents but I won’t keep going on about it as it’s just what you have to do to move around.

The External section is broken into a further three sub-groups;
a) Unit Markings which shows all the divisions who used the Panther;
b) Operational Markings with all the German tactical and national markings. These are all displayed on an ‘ambush’ camouflage scheme background regardless of if its appropriate or not with the Polish campaign white national marking for example marking looking little odd but I guess this is just for appearances only.
c) Camouflage which includes a number (11) colour renditions of the plans provided elsewhere but you should take these as colour guides only as some of the detail is incorrect like the plan view of the Ausf.G showing the engine deck louvers on both sides when it should only be on the right. There is an extensive RAL colour reference and charts to show RAL matches to current manufactures model paints (Aeromaster, Gunze Sangyo, Humbrol, Lifecolor, Model Master, Revell, Tamiya, and Vallejo) as well as the Federal Standard FS and British Standard BS number where there is one which should be useful to find the appropriate colour for your model.
There is also an option to print out these colour profiles for use when painting your model and on test printing one (a colour printer would obviously be an advantage here) there was an interesting note printed on the bottom of the page; “Printed by an unregistered copy of the PrintOMatic Xtra. Visit for licensing information”.

This is probably the largest section on the DVD and is broken down into a further three sub-sections Development, Manufactures and Operational.

Development is further divided into 3 sub-sections;
 Development Vehicles;
There are 11 headings with B&W photos and illustrations of the various proposed developments on the Panther chassis as well as a text section giving information on these developments, the heading for “other designs” has no entries and nothing happens when you click the menu item.
The section on the Panther II has 86 close-up detailed shots of the Fort Knox vehicle that show many of the details finer but as mentioned finding and specific shot is difficult as you have to click through them till you find the one you want.
Model Range;
Click for larger viewsThis section has a large selection of wartime B&W photos of the various types, 34 on the Ausf.D1, 23 on the Ausf.D2, 68 on the Ausf.A and 73 on the Ausf.G all labelled as Archive sections. Many of these shots have been seen in other publications over the years and there is no logical sequence to the photos with a few being repeated but with different captions. It’s an interesting collection to have together but as mentioned before other than just clicking through each in turn there is no way of finding a specific image the second time around.
Added to this are sections labelled “Recent” photos with detailed close-up walkarounds on the exteriors of an Ausf.A (123 images), Ausf.G from Fort Knox (38 images)and Ausf.G from Aberdeen (96 images) plus interior images of the Bovington Ausf.G (140 images), these are sort of stills from the 360° panorama sections but there is again no captions to tell you what you are looking at with any of the close-up images (exterior or interior) and while some details are interesting if you don’t already know what you are looking at they can be a bit of a mystery and captions would have been nice. There is a short text section with some basic data on the different Ausfs to finish off this section.
Model Types;
Click for larger viewsThis section follows on with the remaining types such as the Belehlswagen (Command), Beobachtungspanzer (Artillery Observation), Berg Panther and Jagdpanther with again a selection of wartime B&W photos, some of which have been seen previously and there is the occasional ringin. In the middle of the Belehlswagen photos appears a conceptual line drawing of the proposed Panzerjager Panther with 128mm gun and in the Berg Panther section is shot of two Famos towing a Panther.
There is also sections of “Recent” photos with more walkaround close-up photos of Jagdpanthers from Aberdeen (9 images) and Bovington (8 images) and just to make sure you are paying attention there is a shot of a Tiger II included captioned as a JagdPanther.

Overall the Development section has hundreds of wartime and museum photos of the various Panther types which make up a good overall portfolio; there are a few photo duplications and strange captions but the lack of any captions with the close-up images does leave you wondering what you are seeing at times. At the risk of repeating myself the biggest problem, especially with so many images available is the lack of any search function, indexing or thumbnails making it very difficult to locate a specific image after the initial slide show.

Manufacturers is divided into two sub-sections;
Main Structures;
This has sections with a series of Factory photos (22 images) of assorted Panthers in no particular order and this mixture of photos means you have to be on your toes about which Ausf. you are looking at as some of the captions don’t tell you but they do offer some interesting detail views of the various components.
There are 8 images of scanned wartime specification tables but these are not easy to read in places.
Finally these are 27 B&W images showing damaged Panthers mostly from AP shot and some are due the test firing and others from action, some of the captions indicate the test shots and there is again a mixture of Panther types throughout the photos.
There is also more text notes offering additional information but time does not permit this being given a close examination.
This section is broken into the following subsections;
There are two images, one captioned as the “Driver’s hatch” but is actually the Radio Operator’s hatch and the other is a basic hand draw diagram of the hatch arrangement.
This has 9 various images (10 indicated) of the turret
There are 13 assorted images (15 indicated) of the Mayback 210 and 230 engines including a couple of line drawings.
Seven images here but there is no actual info on the different type of track uses just a few pics of the separate ice grousers and a couple of shots of the torsion bars inside the hull that doesn’t give any real info on the different style tracks fitted to the Panthers.
Internal Components:
Click for larger viewsSeven images (8 indicated) of various internal components which is a mini walk-around and includes one shot of the Panther driver's station followed by one of a Panzer I drivers station, not sure if this is for comparison or that someone forgot to check the DVD?
Click for larger viewsThis section includes seven images of German radios apparently used without appropriate copyright permission. These images are in fact from the Wings & Wheels book "Wireless for Wehrmacht in detail" Special Museum Line No.10, in particular the 3 images from page 34 and the 4 images from page 40 have been included on the DVD with credit given to the Tank Museum in England and the Wings & Wheels book does not even get a mention in the Bibliography.

I have been in direct contact with Wings & Wheels Publications and they confirm permission has not been given by them for the use of these images but at the very least they should be credited to Wings & Wheels Publications and in particular to Mr Alois Vesely and Mr Frantisek Koran who own the copyright to these images and not the Tank Museum.

Wings & Wheels Publications were contacted to establish the true facts so not to make unfounded allegations in this review, maybe if others had done similar there would have been no need for the vindictive response to simply stating the facts.

I have advised the Panther Project in an e-mail dated 17 June 2007 of this issue and others relating to this product dispite the denials from the Panther Project of any such advice and hopefully they will take steps to rectify this situation?

Updated September 12, 2007
I have been advised a settlement has been reached between the Panther Project and Wings & Wheels Publications in relation to the use of these images and appropriate compensation agreed upon. This would indicate my initial comments were correct despite the denials by the Panther Project on this subject, if not there would be no need for a compensation settlement between the parties.

4 assorted images, two showing the TSR scope, one of an inner periscope and one of an IR scope but no information as to what scope this actually is and nothing on the gun sights or any actual useful information.
Side Skirts (Schuerzen):
Just two images of the same vehicle which are of little value other than showing common pics of a Panther G of I./Pz.Rgt.38, 17 Panzer Division in 1945 with curved front skirt panels but the captions don’t tell you this, I got that info from the new Panzerwrecks 4 book which also features the same photos. There is no info on the differences between the Ausfs or for the fittings and the images provide little of any value.
Just two images, one captioned as a 15T Fries crane but this is actually the Strabokran 16 ton crane and the other a common image of a crewman jacking up the suspension.
This section has charts showing the various modifications added during production but I found this a little confusing and not as clear as the similar information in the Panzer Tracts books and some of the entries are a little simplistic but could be useful for general info only.
There is also a large text section giving additional information but again time does not permit this being given a close examination.

Operational is again divided into two sub-sections; Main Operations and Formations;
Main Operations;
Map Options:
This section have numerous colour maps for different actions the Panther was involved in but these have no consistency, no scale and none have a compass point showing North or other orientation and in one case no place names at all just coloured lines and some others have only basic text notes which doesn’t provide much info for those wanting to know more about the campaigns but they are visually appealing.

Click for larger viewsThe Battle of the Bulge (Peiper) map for example is just a series of lines without any text and is basically useless for anything at all. There are some maps with a slider button that when you drag this across the screen arrows appear indicating movements on the map but unfortunately there is little or no indication of what forces are moving where and apart from the visual aspect of the moving arrows these again are of little value without any real notations of what is happening.

Again there are text notes provided on some of the campaigns that provide additional info but you can’t see these at the same time as the maps so any correlation is lost.

This section includes tables showing various formations which may be of use to the serious researched but offers little for that average modeller but some info is noticeable missing such as that for the Jagdpanther or the 1944 Panzer Brigade units.

Weapons is divided into two sub-sections; Offensive and Defensive;
This is split into a further three sub-sections;
Main Weapon with 11 images of the gun breech, four from the same angle showing the same detail and a few showing the mantlet and gun mountings with additional text notes.
IR Equipment has a couple of colour illustrations of the IR mounting with MG34 which to my knowledge never existed on a Panther, they were fitted to Falkes only but with MG42 not MG34 and as a defensive weapon only. There are 5 shots of Sd.Kfz.251 Falke and UHU which have all been published elsewhere plus 6 showing individual IR scopes but no captions or info on what actual scope designation or type it is other than saying “IR receiver”.
The text notes contain a number of entries relating to reports of Comet losses to IR equipped Panthers but no sources are given and it would be good to know where this info arises as it appears to be new info previously undiscovered?
Ammunition which has a couple of photos of the different 75mm rounds plus a number of line illustrations that are hard to read as the writing is quite pixelated on some images.

This section just has two shot of the cupola MG mounting but nothing on the roof mounted Naherteidigungswaffe close in defensive weapon or the smoke grenades carried on earlier Panthers.
In the text options there are lists of all types of German weapons from Assault rifles, automatic weapons and heavy weapons, none of which have anything to do with Panthers but I suppose the basic info on each may be of general interest.
There are also lists of various other vehicles such as trucks, motorcycles and half-tracks with just basic info on each but again none of this has anything to do with Panthers?

People is again divided into two sub-section; Crew and In-Use Manuals:
Crew with 10 “Archive” wartime photos with most appearing to be enlargements of photos used elsewhere and are so pixelated as to be of little use in determining the camouflage pattern on the uniforms.
In the “Recent” section are 10 re-enactor photos of SS pattern camouflage uniforms and one with leather jacket as well as some text notes included which is basically the same as included in the Richardson Report of 1945 again without apparent accreditation.
There are 12 images of the uniform camo patterns and these appear very similar to those in several publications but in any case the images are quite close-up showing just a small section of the pattern and do not show any scale or the pattern repetition and as such are not much value when painting a full figure uniform.
In-Use Manuals:
Click for larger viewsThis is probably one of the most useful sections on the DVD as it contains two original D manuals, the Panther Fibel and a few allied reports including one on the prototype artillery observation Panther (which is also in the History section). For some reason the images here can’t can be enlarged like in other sections but most can be read okay apart from a few pages that are out of focus and are simply illegible. 

Technical is again divided into three sub-sections; Plans, Technical Specs and Scale Replicas;
This section allows you to print out multi-view plans of all Panther versions in the four major scales, 1:72, 1:48, 1:35 and 1:16 and as they are formatted to print on standard A4 paper the larger 1:16 plans will print out on 4 pages which you then fit together. It is best to use a laser printer to eliminate any distortions with inkjet printers.

After selecting your required plan from the list it prints out with a scale ruler of 50mm and 2 inches along the top left of the page. When checking this with a real ruler it measures exactly 50mm and 2 inches, a good start.

Unfortunately checking the dimensions of the printed plans against known vehicle dimensions and the recent Panzer Tracts 1:35 plans there were numerous discrepancies on the Project plans. The 860mm road wheels convert to 24.57mm (24.6mm rounded) in 1:35 scale but the Project plans measure only 23.5mm while the Panzer Tracts plans show the correct 24.6mm, the barrel length differed between 3mm and 6mm on different plans and the hull width on the Ausf.A plan was 3mm narrower on the Project plan than that shown on the Panzer Tracts plan with just about every other dimension out by different amounts except for the turret heights which showed correctly.

I have test printed a number of different 1:35 plans and a 1:48 plan on five (5) different laser printers (Canon IRC5800, HP4050 B&W, HP2550 Color, Kyocera FS1920 B&W, Samsung CLP-510 Color) from two different PCs.

These discrepancies showed up in all these to different degrees so I can only assume all are affected? This means these plans are of little value as actual scale plans and best used for general layout diagrams with you being better advised to use the Panzer Tracts plans if you want any degree of accuracy.

Technical Specs;
Click for larger viewsThis section contains charts with the technical specs for each Panther type but unfortunately there is a distinct over use of the “copy and paste” function as the technical info for the Ausf.D, Ausf.A and Ausf G is the basically the same in places with the info telling use that the Ausf.G has a drum cupola and fires it’s hull MG through a flap in the glacis and some the technical specs are incorrect as the MG34 calibre is repeatedly shown as 7.62mm while in other places it shows the correct 7.92mm. This section clearly suffers from a lack of proof reading and consequently the information presented simply can not be relied on for any accuracy.
Included are insignificant facts like the piston pins weight and the exhaust tappet clearances but nowhere could I find the diameters of the road wheels, something I would have thought most would like to know.
Scale Replicas;
This section has photos of various 1:35 models of the Ausf.D. A and G but there are photos only and no information as to what kit is (i.e. Dragon, Tamiya) or any notes on the construction or painting and are basically just a collection for eye candy value only.

Restoration is again divided into two sub-sections;
Museum – Bovington which is basically a publicity package for the Museum as it just talks about the museum and various exhibits and future developments but nothing actually on the Panther.
Collection – Wheatcroft with a selection of 20 photos of the Wheatcroft collection but only 3 of Panthers, the others have no captions to tell you what you are looking at and again is more an advertisement for the collection than anything else with most photos of the Panther presumably held over for the coming Wheatcroft Collection Panther books from the Project.

On the positive side the many wartime and walkaround photos do offer a lot of details for the modeller but would be more useful if you could locate the one you want are after the initial click though more easily as there is no search function or other facility for locating a specific image as mentioned above. The inclusion of the Fidel manuals a real bonus as these have not been readily available previously but not having any print function means a bit of stuffing about if you want a hard copy of these.

Other than that there is not a lot to recommend with the DVD unfortunately, the navigation is somewhat frustrating, the 1:35 plans are of little value as scale plans, the technical data has many errors making the info dubious as well as the source of much of the info not given. The campaign maps and panoramas are little more than arcade games as there is no explanations of what you are looking at, not to mention the intermittent shut down bug which may or may not effect your PC.

If you want accurate technical data and accurate 1:35 plans you are far better off getting the excellent Panzer Tracts book series on the Panther Ausf.D, A, G and F as the technical info on this DVD simply can’t be relied on for that information.

Given the asking price I can’t recommend this production but as with anything the final decision is up to the buyer but much of the info is available elsewhere and is more accessible.

Lastly let me stress once again this review is based on facts and facts alone which anyone with the DVD can see for themselves if they care to open both eyes.

Updated September 7, 2009
In the intervening 2 years since the posting of this review no one has identified any errors of fact within this review.
The only response from the producers and those associated with the project is a classic example of what I referred too in my blog posting of August 28, 2009.

Unable to dispute any of the facts in the review the response has been to post a "hate" site with what can best be described as an over excited imagination, as the farcical stories and "facts" listed get more bizarre with each update. Even if remotely true (which they aren't) they have no bearing whatever on the facts contained in this review.

After all the facts is what this is about and no amount of farcical smoke screen diversions will alter the facts as stated above.


Thanks to Mr. Brian Balkwill and Mr. Alisdair Johnston of the The Panther Project for the review DVD.

Page created July 1, 2007
Page updated September 12, 2007
and September 7, 2009
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