Sd.Kfz.171 Panther A Early Type
Dragon Kit No. 6160
1/35th Scale
In Box Review by Terry Ashley

This latest kit from Dragon has been eagerly awaited, and represents an early Ausf.A model Panther.
The initial Ausf.A was created by mounting a new turret on an Ausf.D hull. The hull retained all the features of the Ausf.D with the "letterbox" MG port in the glacis plate while the new turret featured a cast commander's cupola with seven periscopes and a new periscope of the loader. The early turrets also retained the pistol ports and binocular gunsight.
The presents of this new cupola identifies it is an Ausf.A and not a late Ausf.D as some older references would indicate.
Production began in September 1943 through to July 1944 with some 2200 Ausf.As being produced with the first few vehicles not having the factory applied zimmerit. This is interesting if you want to model your Panther Ausf.A without zimmerit, it is possible with this kit. There is a photo on page 62 of "Germany's Panther Tank, The quest for combat supremacy" by Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Doyle showing an Ausf.A without zimmerit (see references below).

Upgrades to the Ausf.A from November/early December 1943 were the inclusion of a Kugelblenda (ball mount) hull machine gun mount in the glacis plate and the monocular Gun Sight in the turret along with the deletion of the turret pistol ports.
There were also internal improvements for the turret traversing mechanism, gun mantlet and turret race seals as well as for the Maybach HL 230 P30 engine. Gradually reinforced roadwheels with 24 rim bolts replaced the earlier 16 rim bolts as stocks of the older wheels were used up.
Another feature of the new Ausf.A turret was the interlocking side of the Ausf.D was dovetailed into the front turret plate while the Ausf.A join was square cut.

The Kit:Dragon
The kit has 242 parts in light grey plastic plus another 192 for the individual track links, the parts are flash free and feature very nice fine mouldings.
The kit includes all the correct features for the early Ausf.A and has the front glacis as a separate piece as we will obviously be seeing a later production Ausf.A at some stage. Also included is a small decal sheet and side Schuerzen (soft steel skirts) included as pre-cut thin plastic card, a nice touch.

The upper hull features very nice surface details with engraved panel lines, there is also bolt head detail around the turret race ring that you don't see when the turret is in place (attention to detail?). The engine deck also sees separate fan covers with a choice of spiral or radial pattern louvers, this is good to see as early Ausf.As were often seen with a mixture of the two fan covers. A separate centre engine access hatch is also provided if you want to include an aftermarket resin engine?
It also has separate front hatches with nice internal detail included as well as separate periscopes in front of the hatches. There are also large pieces to fill in the undersides of the hull overhang to eliminate the "hollow" look.

The lower hull has all the access plates included on the bottom as well as the suspension and axles moulded integral with the hull moulding. Personally I don't see this as a problem as 99% of modellers will build their kit on a flat surface anyway. The hull moulding also has internal bracing to ensure the sides don't warp when taken from the moulds and to add strength.
The roadwheels all feature the 24 rim bolts but early Ausf.As were also seen with 16 rim bolts but this wouldn't be a problem.

The turret also features very nice surface details with separate commander's cupola, rear plate which in turn has a separate circular hatch. The loader's periscope is also a separate piece as are all the other items on the turret roof.
The front mantlet is very nicely done with good details and the gun while in two halves with the usual seam removal required features a very nice muzzle brake which looks correct when compared to photos.

There are many smaller parts to add around the hull and turret which I won't mention individually, but just about every item is a separate part featuring very fine details, this all adds to the nice detail of the finished kit.

The tracks are all separate links with good track pattern included, it is non working track but will enable you to glue together with the appropriate track sag.

Two decal options are supplied, one has tile pattern zimmerit in plain yellow - Red 221 of I./Pz.Rgt. 4 near Anzio, Italy in 1944, and the other for a non-zimmerit, whitewashed Black 701 of Pz.Rgt.23 of 23.Pz.Div. in Southern Russia in Winter 1943/44.

Please Mr. Dragon give us a break and get rid of these colour exploded view photos that pass for instructions. They are simply not as clear as drawings and in some places actually confuse where parts should go. Also it would be cheaper to produce black and white drawings than these coloured photo instructions.
The colour photos do show the parts pre-painted giving a visual clue to the colour, but again this can easily be done in black and white.

In all an excellent kit with nice details everywhere and correctly shows the features of an early Ausf.A Panther. Highly recommended for German armour fans.

The Sprues:

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The Panther has been covered in many publications over the years. I have listed here some of those but there are others I have probably missed.
Some earlier references have information that has been updated in recent books as more accurate information has come to light.

Also see reviews of the;
Dragon Panther A Late Type (Kit No.6168)
Gum Ka etched detail sets for this and the Panther D kits.

A full build and detailing article on this kit by David Parker will feature in Issue 4 of AFV Modeller magazine which will be worth a look. Click here for a review of Issue 4.

Page created 28 April 2002

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