Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G
w/Steel Road Wheels

Dragon Smart Kit No. 6370
Review by Terry Ashley


Following on from their recent kit of the Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G Late Production (kit #6268) Dragon has now released this kit of the Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G w/ Steel Road Wheels which represents the small batch produced by M.A.N in September 1944.

Features of this version include the early glacis machine gun bulge, early non-chinned mantlet, twin pipe exhausts with sheet metal covers and the raised rear deck heater. Of course the most obvious feature is the 800mm Steel Road wheels on all stations and the early smaller 600mm idler wheel, the smaller diameter road wheels result in the vehicle sitting 30cm lower than a “normal” Panther with 660mm rubber rimmed road wheels.

This kit as with the Panther Ausf.G Late has a mix of early and later Ausf.G features so care is needed when choosing the final make up of the details with the kit being basically the same as the Late with new sprues W for the steel road wheels as well as some additional parts on the other sprues with updated details.

Some of the alternate parts are a full set of 800mm steel road wheels as well as a full set of 860mm rubber rimmed road wheels, early twin pipe or later Flammenvernichter mufflers, early or late type glasic machine gun bulge, earlier non-chinned and later chinned mantlet and early flat left engine deck intake or the later raised heater intake cover as well as a choice of the standard small roller on the final drive housing or the later skid shoe seen on some M.N.H manufactured vehicles at the end of the war.

As this kit has 90% of parts from the Late Panther much of this review is the same as for that kit with additional notes on the new and revised parts.

The kit:
The kit has 627 parts in the usual light grey plastic and 14 in clear plastic plus a bag of individual “magic tracks”, a small fret of etched engine intake mesh and two lengths of wire for the tow cables plus additional small metal spare track clips for the turret side and two small decal sheets and instruction sheet.

One notable omission is the side Schuerzen plates as shown fitted in photos of the steel wheeled Panther in the Panther Tracts Panther G book and you will have to make these yourself or buy an update set.

Metal and Etched parts

The standard of moulding is again excellent with the only cleanup needed being the usual fine moulding seams on the parts and the many small plastic ‘nodes’ on the parts which help keep pin marks virtually non existent but do require care when removing from the smaller parts. The extensive use of slide moulds results in some excellent details on many of the parts from the larger (mantlets) to the very small making for a very detailed model out of the box but as with any kit there are areas that can do with a little attention.

Dimensionally the kit matches available 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracks Panther G book perfectly this good attention to detail throughout.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull is a conventional tub with separate rear panel plus and sponson filler panels with all the suspension and axles also separate parts for excellent details.

The details on the the underside include all the access panels and the weld seams while along the sides are the axle mounting brackets all with crisp well defined details.

The front section with the final drive guards and tow shackle mounting has additional bolt head details on the lower inside face and flame cut texture on the edges of the mounting but two of the sprue attachments disrupt this texture but is fairly easy to add back after cleanup with a sharp blade.

There are alternate final drive housings, one for the return roller and the other for the skid shoe again with excellent detail and while the instructions leave it to you to choose which to use but the Panzer Tracts book indicated the return roller is the one to go with.

The large bump stop panel below station 1 on the left side only is a separate part with very nice details and you get alternate bump stops for above stations 1, 2 and 7. The instructions aren’t clear on which of the bump stops to use but parts C20 and E13 are more appropriate for the early G applicable to this kit.

The axles have the torsion bar attached which you slip through the holes in the hull sides with inner brackets allow the axles to flex with small stops so they sit in the neutral position for a good sit and allowing the axles to flex for articulation. The ends of the torsion bars are glued in place in the bracket on the opposite hull wall and if you want the axles raised above neutral simply cut off the small stop.

As with the recent Panther kits Dragon give you the three different styles of axle arms which are captured well and you should take care to add these at the right stations as the instructions are a little confusing here. 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. There is also an additional small detail part added to station 3 axles and shows the good attention to detail on the suspension.

Three styles of axle arms in the kit

The instructions have an overhead plan view showing the locations of the two styles of torsion bars securing brackets plus left and right plan views showing the placement of different style axle arms which helps positioning these correctly but you will still have to take care to fit the right part in the right spot.

Added to the rear hull side is the separate track pin guide used to push the pins back into place as they pass which has the correct style for the Ausf.G and the idler wheel axle is also separate and can be positioned forward or back and it’s best to leave this off until adding the tracks to allow for any adjustments required for a good fit of the tracks.

The road wheels provide a full suite of 860mm rubber rimmed wheels with the correct 24 rim bolts nicely rendered as are the rim contours plus the full suite of 800mm steel rimmed wheels applicable to this version. All the wheels have details on both sides except for the rubber rimmed wheels joined closely together on stations 1, 3, 5 and 7 with the steel wheels having one of two possible rim bolt layouts.

One thing you should note if you wanted to pick up Sprue W to use the steel road wheels on other projects that this sprue does not have the full set of wheels with only three outer (and inner) wheels each side, this is because there are the additional two steel wheels included on the original sprue G and sprue W just has the additional wheels to make a full suite.

The two part drive sprockets have excellent details on both sides of both sprockets which do add to the good effect of the assembled sprockets but there should be casting numbers on the inner hub while the four part idler wheels again have excellent details due to the breakdown of the parts and depict the early 600mm idler very well while both could do with cast texture added for a better appearance.

On the rear hull panel the later Flammenvernichter mufflers with alternate welded and later cast armoured guards are still included but for this version you should use the earlier pipe exhausts and sheet metal covers which have been added to sprue G along with the square welded armoured guards.

Detail on these parts is again nicely done with the ends of the pipes slightly hollowed out to include the cross fillet and the shields have the small raised mounting brackets and side cut-outs as they should do.

Other rear hull details include the towing shackles and convoy light fittings and two large storage boxes with nice lip details added with slide moulds but otherwise quite basic and the 8 part jack which builds into a nicely detail unit.

On the upper side of the interior hull sponsons are the two large radiators and fan assemblies to fill in the void seen through the engine deck grills and there are alternate fans supplied to use as you want.

Included in the kit are separate link “magic track” with the late style track with the ice cleats and the detail on the tracks is very well done especially the open guide teeth with excellent detail added using slide moulds.

The links are designed to simply be glued together and are not workable but the kit tracks should be adequate for most applications with additional track links with separate guide teeth to use around the drive sprockets to ensure a better fit.
You have to use these additional links as the individual “magic track” don’t fit the sprockets very well but are okay for the rest of the track runs.

Also included on sprue W are 40 ice cleats sometimes fitted to the tracks and these are a nice inclusion.

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 which means you don’t get this important Panther track detail.

Dragon Magic Track

Upper Hull:

This is one large moulding with the front fenders included and openings for the separate front machine gun mounting, crew hatches and the engine deck door and grills with the hull featuring a nice orange peel surface effect as well as nice weld seams and subtle bolt head details.

The hull MG34 machine gun is made up of 7 parts for a nicely detailed gun while the new outer MG ball mounting has the bullet splash ribs with the opening the early style but has no cast texture but again has the separate plug but no attachment chain is included.

There are two new crew hatches added to sprue D and are moulded without any pin marks on the inside and with separate inner latches and three part hinges along with the later outer grab handles and bump stops on the hull top which were both added mid production of the Ausf.G. These new hatches now include the three indentations on the outer hinge casting corresponding with the inner bolts with the fit of the doors to the hull being very snug and you can easily position these open if you wish.

The hull periscopes are in clear plastic and the central ventilator has a separate cover over which is fitted the barrel travel lock with a three part base that allows the lock to be raised and lowered while the securing chain in is moulded plastic (open or closed) and not in etched metal as with earlier Panther kits although still finely done.

For the driver’s periscope there are the standard cover and the later extended sun shield cover with the round glacis cut-out in front of the periscope with the sun shield cover being applicable to this version as indicated in the instructions.

On the front fender is nicely moulded four part Bosch light with separate clear lens added inside and separate base with wire ducting.

Along the sides there are the tool racks with the finely moulded tools that include moulded on tool clips as there are no etched tool clips in the kit but those on the tools are quite delicate. The wooden jack block has nice wood grain effect included but the two part barrel cleaning rod container will need the join seam removed and includes finely moulded on mounting brackets.

The spare track racks at the back are again finely moulded using slide moulds and do look good in plastic and the Schuerzen mounting bracket along the side is in one piece with small mounting brackets but as mentioned no Schuerzen panels are included in the kit.

The turret ring has bolt head details but of course these can’t be seen when the turret is in place while on the engine deck the centre panel and intake grills are all separate parts.

There are actually two alternate centre panels which have minor differences to the bolt head details which are quite hard to see unless given close scrutiny. The smaller bolts on part A35 seem a little undersized when comparing the references and these appear to be a later variation than those on part A34 but in any case this is something that would be even less noticeable after painting and so may not be of concern.

The two circular intake covers on the door are separate parts as are the smaller fuel and coolant filler covers at the rear of the panel for good detail definition and the four lifting hooks and grab handle on the door are also separate parts. The smaller central air intake is moulded using slide moulds to include the weld beads and front grill but this is a little on the thick side and could do with being thinned down while the intake has the fine mesh included on the etched fret provided.

There are alternate style round cast outlet covers provided with one having three bevelled sections added around the sides and there doesn’t seem to be any real rule as to when these were fitted so it may be best to check references if modelling a particular vehicle.

Also included for the left intake is the raised crew compartment heater in two parts with the inner section fitted to the engine deck door and the other over the intake with additional parts for the “pie sliced” intake covers with one fully closed and the other open to use as desired. Included for the intake grills are round etched mesh covers for both the normal flat intakes and the raised heater intake with a small hole in the centre of the mesh. Detail on the heater intake is very good and includes fine casting numbers but you may want to add cast texture to the intake sides with Mr Surfacer for a better appearance.

The four air intake grills at the corners of the engine deck are separate parts that fit into the cut-outs in the deck but care is needed when fitting these as the detail is different at each end of the grills and should be fitted with the bevelled intake to the outside. There are also very small pin marks on the top of these grills but after you attach the etched mesh screens provided these are not visible and so are not a problem.

Also supplied are the sliding shutter covers for the right side intakes with both fully closed and open covers provided and these should only be used when the raised heater intake cover is used and only on the right side intakes.

The aerial base is added to the left side of the deck and the two tow cable brackets to the rear of the deck as well as the three lifting hooks at the sides of the engine deck to finish off and the fit of the deck to the rear hull is very snug as is the fit of the central panel and engine bay door leaving no gaps to be dealt with.

The tow cables use the braided wire included which fit into the plastic end shackles which have open holes for the wire and this allows you to bend the cable any way for natural contours.

The Turret:
The main turret shell is slightly redesigned from the Late Panther without the IR linkage guard in front of the cupola and the small painted spots on the side are no longer there but replaced with small painted marks indicating the location of the spare track hooks.

The turret has nice weld seams around the roof and front panel joins and the three Pilzen (sockets) for the 2-ton jib boom and the rear turret panel is a separate part that fits neatly between the two side panels. There should be large weld seams at the rear join point which you can add yourself to better detail this area and the edges of the rear turret side should also have flame cut texturing added for a better look. The rear panel has the escape hatch separate with a workable hinge assembly allow this to be shown open or closed as well as the outer grab handle as a separate part.

Additional fittings for the roof include the centrally mounted compass bracket, the three small holders for the poison gas sensing cards, the exhaust fan with separate armoured guard, the right side periscope cover (with clear plastic periscope) as well as the rear crew grab handle and the three lifting eyes, the rear one including the re-enforcing fillet, nice attention to detail.

Around the turret edges are the spare track hooks and these are provided in plastic or pre-formed metal depending on your choice.

The point defence weapon bracket at the right rear corner is provided in the closed position as well as open with the inside launcher to add inside detail and finally there is the separate Commander’s cupola.

This has the main cupola with open periscope openings with the inside mountings for the seven clear periscopes but could do with additional cast texturing from Mr Surfacer for a better appearance. The swivel hatch has a separate mounting bracket and grab handle with a basic front sight and fittings around the top of the pericope covers for the machine gun ring, plus a three part machine gun mounting.

A few of the smaller fittings are a little thick but are about as thin as can be expected in plastic with the fit of the parts being very good overall.

The lower turret ring has traverse teeth included around the base but there is no traverse gear or other detail inside the turret other than the gun breech.

The large breech assembly is in two halves which you trap the one piece barrel between but there is no breech block or co-ax machine gun included with the only other detail being the two part gun guard.

The 75mm barrel is the correct length with just minor mould seams to be easily sanded smooth and the gun breech is glued into the turret gun mounting with the mantlet then glued to the front of the breech assembly. The gun mounting (part B22) could also be improved by added cast texture to the surface for a better appearance. The gun has a three part muzzle brake with the main brake hollowed out with slide moulds and the inner grommet with a separate front lip and makes for a very nice looking muzzle brake in plastic with just the small mould seams to be removed.

The instructions have been modified to show the muzzle brake fitted after the barrel is slipped through the mantlet as it should as ot will not fit if you attach the muzzle brake first.

As mentioned you get the initial style mantlet and the later chinned mantlet with both having basic cast effect included and both have the two small IR brackets on the right side. For this version the Panzer Tracts book indicated the non-chinned mantlet should be fitted as do the instructions and you should also cut off the two small IR brackets from the right side as these are no applicable.

After fitting the front plate and gun mounting there is the thin debris guard added over the turret/mantlet join and while moulded quite thin could be thinned a little more at the edges for a better look.

The assembled turret is a perfect fit to the hull but there are no locating tabs holding it in place so don’t turn the model over or the turret will come loose.

These are the usual exploded view drawings but due to the complexity of some assemblies you will have to study the instructions carefully to avoid any confusion but overall there shouldn’t be any problems

The two small decal sheets are nicely printed with markings for four Panther Gs with three in different pattern three colour cam and the other in overall Dark Yellow.

  • Pz.Rgt.1 “LAH”, LaGlieze 1944
  • Pz.Rgt.2, East Prussia 1945
  • Pz.Rgt.24, Eilendorf, Germany 1944
  • Pz.Rgt.24, Aächen 1944
Clear parts

As with the initial Panther G Late this is a superbly done kit with details everywhere through the extensive use of slide moulds and good fit of the parts helps with what is quite a complex kit overall.

It has all the correct details included applicable to the Steel Wheeled version as well as other options and you have to be fairly specific in the parts used for the Steel Wheeled version with the instructions indicating the appropriate parts but you should still take care when choosing the various options included.

Highly recommended 8/10

The Sprues:

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Detail Images
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The Panther has been covered in many publications over the years but some earlier references have information that has been updated in recent books as more accurate information has come to light.
Book Panzer Tracts No.5-3
Panzerkampfwagen "Panther" Ausfuehrung G

by Thomas L Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle
ISBN 0-9744862-7-2
Published by Panzer Tracts,
Soft cover, 68 pages.

Achtung Panzer No.4

Good photo coverage of the Panther, Japanese text.

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created May 20, 2007