M1 Panther II Mine Detection and Clearance Vehicle
DML 1:35 Scale Smart Kit #3534
Review b
y Terry Ashley
The kit:
The Panther II Mine clearing vehicle is based on the IPM1 Abrams chassis and basically has the turret replaced with a large circular “plug” over the turret opening which in turn has a small raised central section for the Commander’s hatch with five periscopes and is armed with a pintle mounted .50cal HMG, the hatch is reminiscent of the M113 Commander’s hatch. The two smoke grenade launchers and small equipment containers are also located on the circular plate and the vehicle can be fitted with mine rollers or mine plough as required.

The main detail differences between the IPM1 and later M1A1/M1A2 vehicles is that the IPM1 did not have the NBC over pressurization system fitted to the left hull side and there were sponson storage boxes located on both sides of the hull top.
The head light guards were the early straight type which differs from the later type which incorporated a distinct step. The rear engine deck didn’t have the two small inspection hatches as included on M1A1/A2 engine decks and the front fenders didn’t have the X stamping on the outer section as again included on M1A1/A2 fenders.

Trumpeter were the first to release a kit of the M1 Panther II kit (#00346) back in April 2004 which was based on their previous M1A1/M1A2 kits and inherited a number of compromises for the Panther II while this new kit from Dragon is all new with no parts coming from their own previously released M1A1/M1A2 kits.

The kit consists of 297 parts in light grey plastic with another 165 parts for the ‘magic track’, plus 12 clear parts, a small etched fret and lengths of metal cable and chain for the mine roller and of course the decal and instruction sheet for a full multi-media kit we are now used to from Dragon.

Etched and metal parts
Clear parts

The standard of mounding is excellent with no flash and just the usual fine moulding seams to be cleaned from the parts and there are numerous small fine parts to add definition to the model.

The parts in general have excellent details with weld seams and non slip surfaces on the upper hull as well as weld seam detail on the mine roller arms and separate clear parts for the head and tail lights.

Lower Hull:
The traditional lower hull tub has excellent side details with the raised panels with bolt head details around the axle supports with the axles as separate parts to allow them to be articulated if required and the front axle incorporates the shock absorber connected to the idler axle as it should. The drive sprockets feature the lightening holes which are better shaped than on previous kits but there is some concessions to moulding the holes on the insides of the sprocket half but this will probably not be seen on the finished kit while the hub detail is well defined. The outer sprocket ring is a separate part to allow the use of the M1 style with full inner ring or the later A2 type which of course you don’t use with this kit.

There are other smaller parts on the hull sides such as side skirt supports and the return rollers which are usually hidden behind the skirts with all the wheels with well done hub details designed to be glued in place.

The tracks are Dragon’s Magic Tracks and have individual links for the T158 “Bigfoot” track links with just one small sprue to be removed from each track link but no other cleanup needed apart from raised pin ejector marks on the inside of each link and being raised makes for easy removal.

The links are not designed to be workable but will assemble without glue as the central guide tooth actually squeezes into the opening in the next link and holds in place which will make bending the track lengths around the drive sprockets very easy but you may want to secure these with a small amount of liquid cement to make sure they don’t come apart during handling.

The details on the track links are excellent with the inside bolt heads and fine details on the outside and central fasteners and will make very good looking “Bigfoot” tracks.

Magic Tracks

Upper Hull:
The upper hull moulding is a superb effort and is a clear generation ahead of any previous M1 hull and has the rear engine deck, driver’s hatch and front fender sections as separate parts to incorporate the details better.

Detail on the hull includes the non-slip surfaces where they should be and nicely done weld seams on the hull front panels while at the rear there are fine embossed panel numbers on all the engine and battery compartment hatches, something not included in any previous kit. The two front and two rear fuel filler points also have separate caps with the inner nozzle detail included which allows this to be shown in a diorama situation.

The rear engine intake grills are again the best yet presented with different mesh pattern on the four central grill doors and on the left side mounted intake with the correct slant of the inner intake and really does look good.

The sponson storage box tops are separate panels on each side which will allow the inclusion on the NBC pack on subsequent models as well as the hull side fire extinguisher handle and drain hole depicted.

The separate front fenders have the correct details for this version without the X stamping and again having these separate will allow the later type to be easily incorporated while the head lights have separate clear inserts for the lenses and the correct straight guards.

There is one minor blemish on the driver’s hatch with the right side periscope opening filled with excess plastic which will have to be opened up to accept the clear periscopes provided but this may be just a blemish on my sample?

At the back end is the separate engine deck without the two small access hatches which is again correct for the version while the rear exhaust louvers are very well done.

The rear hull panel has excellent details with weld seam details and separate tail lights with clear lens inserts and separate round light guards with the cut-outs for the wiring and separate louvers.

The exhaust louvers have two inner sections with open louvers and virtually no cleanup needed incorporating the correct profile of the louvers with the larger louvers on the central section. These two louver sections can be shown swung open for engine maintenance/replacement if desired and call out for an engine change diorama.

On the outside of the louvers are the grills with retaining bolts that fit into locating holes on the louvers and while these are cleanly moulded you may want to trim the grills with a sharp blade to thin down slightly but are well done for injected plastic grills.

There is also provided two lengths of white plastic card to use as underside sponson fillers on the rear section of the hull where the engine deck rises above the fender line and this is a nice inclusion to hide the hollow look if you choose to show the rear side skirts open as is often seen during maintenance.

The side skirts themselves are in four segments each side with the front and rear sections having nice hinge detail to allow them to be shown swung open and the rearmost panel has the cut-out profile included. To add detail to the skirts are etched bolt strips that go along to tops of the panels and I may be wrong but this is the first M1 kit to incorporate this detail and adds further definition to the kit.

The Turret:
The large round ‘plug’ added to the hull is just that, a round section that fits into the turret ring as per the real thing and incorporate the central raised Commander’s cupola with open periscopes with clear parts for the periscopes and separate hatch as well as finely moulded rear storage rack and mountings for the Army style smoke grenade launchers either side of the cupola.

The .50cal machine included is again all new and is a superb rendition of the gun details and cooling jacket and there is also an etched cradle and ammo box rack but you will have to cut off the plastic cradle from the gun to use the etched parts but they offer better detail definition and the barrel is slightly opened up although you may want to drill this put further.

The two tow cables stored around the outside of the circular plate use the supplied metal cable for good definition and the distinctive aerials are also proved.

Mine Roller Assembly:
This is virtually a kit in itself with the large support arms in two parts each with the upper and lower sections joining together where there is a weld seam on the real thing so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the join line while there are excellent weld seams around the reinforcing brackets.

The large panel that fits onto the front hull has good details as does the lower hull mounting plate with multi-part brackets for the roller support arms. The two large upper supports incorporate the metal wire included for a very realistic appearance as well as the larger three segment ‘chain’ between the arms and roller units.

The roller wheels themselves are in two parts each with very good details on the wheels and supports as well as the central swinging roller fitted between the outer rollers with the fine chain provided to build into a very detailed assembly.

Two small decal sheets have nicely printed markings with thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image to keep the excess film to a minimum and provide markings for four Panthers;
This is a superb rendition of the M1 Panther II with the new hull and suspension parts being a generational step above any previous Abrams kit and certainly bodes well for the M1A1 AIM and M1A2 SEP kits to come from Dragon. The kit incorporate all the correct features for the early M1 with superb rendering of the hull top and rear exhaust louver details and will certainly be welcomed by modern armour fans.

The Sprues:
Sprue images
Click on thumbnails for larger view

Sprue detail images

Abrams Main Battle Tank
M1A1 and M1A2

Museum Ordnance Special #9
Darlington Productions Inc.
Mini Color Series #7502
Concord Publications
ISBN 962-361-638-4
M1 Abrams
Main Battle Tank

Osprey New Vanguard 2
ISBN: 185532 283 8
Abrams Company
Europa Militaria No.28
The Crosswood Press Ltd.
ISBN 1 86126 285 X

Thanks to Dragon Model Ltd for the review kit.

Page created May 9, 2005

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