I have to admit I was a little perplexed after reading elsewhere that much of this kit was assumed new only to find that in fact the only really new parts are the plastic axles, track links, clear and metal parts with all others being from the original Panther Ausf.D kit #6164 and while some have been modified to different degrees they are clearly from the previous kit. Some of the parts are also used in the Panther Ausf.A kits also released back with the original Ausf.D
The lower hull is the most modified to accept the new axles with embossing added on the rubber sections of the outer wheels and cast texture added to the mantlet but all others such as the turret shell are identical to the first kit.
The box contains 377 parts in light grey, 15 in clear plastic, 29 metal parts, a large fret of etched parts plus a bag of individual “magic tracks” with the quality of moulding being excellent overall with little flash and virtually no pin parks to contend with.
The kit itself is a mixture of early and later Ausf.D features with the early
jack position and convoy light on the rear hull plate and early 16 bolt road
wheels (later wheels had 24 bolts) while there are later 32 bolt drive sprockets
(early sprockets had 16 bolts), late single head light, asymmetrical barrel travel
lock and late tool storage with revised axe position and provision for the 540mm
C hook as well as the later engine deck layout with later circular intake covers
plus the early style track.
On the turret there is the early communications hatch on the left side and smoke candles with later rain guards over the mantlet sight apertures and the turret pistol ports and elevation limiter on top of the mantlet as well as the early style cupola swivel hatch.
This mixture of features may not be a big deal to some but if you want true accuracy then some modifications will be needed and it would be easiest to build a later Ausf.D as most of the early features are easier to modify except for the road wheel bolts and track.
All kit dimensions measure out well against the 1:35 plans in Panzer Tracks No.5-1 Panther Ausf.D and Achtung Panzer No.4 Panther books so we can move on with confidence from here.
As mentioned the lower hull tub has been extensively modified to take the new separate axles with nice detail around the axle mounts with hexagonal shaped holes for the corresponding hex shaped axle stubs as well as separate bump stops. This allows you to easily align the axles and to articulate them if required.
The detail on the axles is very good and Dragon have also identified that there are three different style of axle arms which they have captured well and you should take care to add these at the right stations as the instructions aren’t that clear on this. Also note on the second axle arm there is a raised seam down the middle which should be there so don’t be tempted to remove this like the fine moulding seams on the other arms.
At the front are separate final drive mountings with nice bolt head and weld bead details and also include the two fender attachment bolts on the front of the towing eye so be careful not to remove these during cleanup as the sprue attachment point is right next to the bolts. The final drives themselves have the separate small roller wheel added with the drive sprockets having the later 32 bolt heads on both sides of the inner sprockets and separate hubs with a choice of the early hub and the later style with added armour disc.
The road wheels as mentioned are the same as with the kit #6164 and have the early 16 rim bolts and 8 inner hub bolts with this detail on both sides of the wheels with added embossing on the rubber section of the outer wheel on stations 2, 4, 6 and 8 for nicely detailed road wheels.
At the back is a four part idler wheel that assembles into a nice representation of the 600mm real thing but you may want to thin the ribs a little for more scale appearance and there is a new separate axle for better definition than the moulded on axle of the original hull.
The rear hull plate fits precisely to the hull tub with separate central inspection
hatch, single pipe exhausts with etched attachments, early position jack and
the two storage boxes which have etched top sections as well as etched inner
The convoy light is located in the early position while the tow shackles are provided in metal castings for a nice appearance.
Included in the kit are separate link “magic track” with the early style track without the ice cleats which were added on later production Ausf.Ds so you can only use these tracks on earlier production tanks and adds to the mix of early/late features on the kit.
The detail on the tracks is very well done especially the guide teeth with excellent detail added using slide moulds with the links designed to simply be glued together and are not workable. There are additional conventionally moulded track links to used around the drive sprockets for a better fit, there require the small sprue attachment scars cleaned up and actually means the guide tooth holes in the “magic track” are too small to fit the drive sprocket teeth properly.
The other thing to note is there are actually left and right handed tracks on the Panther with different end pins on each but Dragon only give you the right handed track but this may not be an issue for most but should be taken into account for true accuracy.
Assembly of the tracks is a little tricky but they do join together quite tightly and with a light application of liquid cement you can position these around the drive sprockets and idlers just as the glue “goes off”.
The spare track links provided have separate guide teeth to add little more detail and these can be mounted on the hull side track clips but there are four small pin marks on the inside of each link which are easy enough to remove before adding the guide tooth.
This again is the same as in the previous kit with separate glacis, crew hatches and front periscopes, engine hatch and intake covers and open intake grills as well as separate underside overhang sponson fillers to eliminate any see-though look.
The hull has a slight ‘orange peel’ surface effect and nicely represented weld seams around the numerous panel joins as well as the engraved bolt heads around the crew hatch panel, engine deck and around the turret ring for a good representation of the Ausf.D hull.
On the glacis the driver’s visor port can be assembled open of closed while you get alternate early and later style machine gun flap covers with the fit of the glacis to the hull is very good without any gaps.
The front periscopes are now in clear plastic but the photo instructions still show the solid plastic items so watch this with separate outer periscope covers plus the central ventilator cover and later style asymmetrical barrel travel lock. This has the securing chain links in multi-part etchings where you sandwich six etched parts together to form the link chain and this does look much better than the plastic chain included with the travel lock.
The crew hatches have interior details added and also have the outside grab handles in either the early central position or later corner position but there are raised locating marks for both so you will have to shave off the ones you don’t use and there are also separate hatch securing latches.
The front fenders are included on the underside sponson filler but the hinged fender extensions are not included in the kit but as these were commonly removed from operational vehicles this omission is not really that much of an issue unless you wanted to make a factory fresh Panther. The long width indicators are provided in formed brass but note the right indicator is the longer of the two provided.
Along the hull sides are the tool brackets with the tools having etched clips and brackets provided as well as bare tools to use with these as plus the “normal” tools with moulded on tool clips for a quick build. The cleaning rod contained also has etched securing strips and the rear mounted spare track brackets also have etched clips for a nice detailed appearance. As mentioned the tool layout is the later pattern with the 450mm C hooks but you do get early and late wooden jack block styles.
The rear engine deck is the later style with circular cooling grills but if you wanted the early angular style there is the excellent set from Mig Productions available. Included in the kit are etched intake screens for the grills and the small central ventilator port.
This again is identical to the kit #6164 with the only additions being cast texture added to the mantlet and separate mantlet mounting sides although the sides of the mantlet are still smooth and look a little odd but you can easily add the texture here with “Mr Surfacer” or similar material. The main turret shell has a separate front plate/gun mounting and separate rear plate to get that distinctive plate overlap with both fitting to the turret shell perfectly as does the separate lower turret ring.
The mantlet has the earlier open machine gun port but you can easily plug this for the later style and also has the later rain guard over the sight openings. The barrel is supplied in the original plastic two piece barrel or as a turned aluminium barrel with separate three part plastic muzzle brake which is quite nice for a plastic item with main muzzle brake hollowed out with slide moulds and the inner grommet and outer lip as separate parts. The metal barrel is about 1mm longer than the plastic barrel with the metal barrel matching the available plans perfectly.
As mentioned there is a mix of early and later features on the turret with the early smoke candles either from plastic parts or multi-part brass and etched items that do build into intricate and detailed assemblies plus the separate left side communications hatch with both these features left off later Ausf.Ds so take care of the type you are building. Also included are the elevation stops on the gun mounting side plates and centrally on the turret shell roof with these being added later in production.
The separate pistol ports and hatches also have the later rain guards added and the rear plate crew hatch can be shown open or closed as desired with inner hinge details included.
The forward roof exhaust fan cover and guard are separate parts for good definition with the Commander’s cupola built up from six part included clear insets for the periscopes and this builds into a respectable early drum cupola but there is a fairly ugly join seam running around the centre of the drum that will need to be eliminated plus there is the later machine gun ring to use if required.
These are the short lived colour photo type showing the actual model during construction and quite frankly these are very hard to follow with some showing exploded view images while others show the parts in place making it quite hard to see where things go.
Thankfully Dragon gave the idea a big miss and went back to the exploded line drawings instructions after flirting with this stuff on a few kits around this time.
The decal sheet is well printed with good colour register and thin carrier film with markings for seven vehicles but again these are a mix of early and late Panther Ausf.Ds and you will have to refer to references on this as the later ones will most likely carry zimmerit as well.
Markings included are:
Overall this is very good representation of the Panther Ausf.D with the parts cleanly moulded with well defined details included but the mix of early and late features may be an issue with some but not others, that’s up to the individual.
But as said this will build into a very nice model as it comes with the numerous metal detail parts and is a nice update on the original Panther Ausf.D.Highly recommended.
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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.
Thanks to Frank from On Target Hobbies for the review kit.
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Page created August 5, 2006