Pz.Kpfw.V Panther Ausf.D
ICM Kit #35361
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley


Following their earlier Bergepanzer (Kit #35341), ICM have now released this kit of the Panther Ausf.D in their newly tooled series.

The kit consist of 232 parts in beige plastic with a further 208 individual track links in black plastic and represents an early/mid Ausf.D with the twin headlights, hull crew hatches with the grab handles in the middle of the hatch (moved to the pivot corner on later hatches) and the MG flap with raised triangular profile as well as the jack stored vertically on the rear plate.
The turret includes the rain guards over the side communications and pistol ports as well as over the rear escape hatch and the Commander’s cupola hatch is orientated to open from the left indicating it is a Panther produced around May/June 1943 although with the initial 16 bolt road wheels.
The turret smoke grenades are included but these were not fitted from about the same timeframe but can easily be left off and this also means that Zimmerit was not applied to this era vehicle as this was only applied from late August 1943.
The engine deck fan intakes grills are the later round profile which is a feature of the later Ausf.D/A and not the earlier cast type with irregular shape and is not quite consistent with the remainder of the details as is the rain guard over the mantlet gun sight apertures which is also a late D feature but easy to remove.

Dimensionally the kit rates well with the major dimensions of hull, turret and wheel sizes matching the 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracks No.5-1 Panther Ausf.D book within acceptable tolerances with only a few minor discrepancies on some individual parts which we will get too shortly.

Standard of moulding is very good overall with well defined weld seams and other surface details as well as many smaller separate parts such as grab handles, small wing nuts and various lifting hooks for good definition. There is a bit of minor flash on a few parts and the odd pin mark but nothing excessive and as the plastic is fairly soft removing the parts from the sprues and cleaning up is quite easy. Some of the parts are moulded extremely fine such as the aerials, front fender width indicators and tools and will require care when removing from the sprues to avoid damage.

One thing you will have to watch is that none of the parts are numbered on the sprues, there are small number tabs but no numbers so you will have to refer to the parts layout diagrams in the instructions to identify some of the smaller and less obvious parts.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub includes the upper sponson fillers and has excellent port and drain hole cover details on the underside as well as having all the axles, bump stops and final drive details separate which allow you to articulate the suspension if need be.
There are small pins on the hull sides that fit into locating holes on the back of the axles to ensure the correct ride height in the normal position and you just cut off the pins if you wish to articulate the axles. The fit here is good without any lateral movement of the axles so it should be easy to line them all up evenly but a quick check before the glue dries wouldn’t go astray.
The front hull extension is a separate part allowing the inside bolt head details to be incorporated although there are a couple of minor pin marks to be removed.
Detail on the axles is quite nice as is the final drive housing which has the retaining bolts and small return roller included with the drive sprockets having the correct 32 rim bolts and hub detail but don’t have any detail on the inside of the sprockets.

The road wheels have the early 16 rim bolts with the spaced wheels having the bolt head detail on both sides while the inner flush fitting wheels only have them on one side as you can’t see the inner side anyway and the hub details are nicely represented.

The idler wheels are made up of four parts each to give definition to the centre disc but the outer hub detail is a little basic compared to the other wheels.

At the back are the separate single pipe exhausts with separate upper retaining strip and lower jack mounting clips with the jack made up of three parts but there is a sink mark in the middle of the jack. The rear storage boxes have the top lid section as a separate part for good definition although you will have to add the small heat shield on the inside of each box and the tow shackles include finely moulded retaining pins.

Upper Hull:
The large single hull moulding has all the engine deck hatches and intakes as separate parts as are the front crew hatch panel which in turn has separate hatches with the periscopes and driver’s visor also separate parts for good definition. Strangely the front MG flap is moulded with the hull and looks conspicuous with all the other parts separate?

Detail on the hull is nicely done with subtle welds on the interleaved hull panels as well as the flush bolts on the engine deck panels with all the details on the central door being separate for good definition, this includes the intake covers, grab handles and door stop as well as separate lifting hooks on the hull panels.

The fan intake grills as mentioned are the later round type but these are both undersized in diameter by about 1.5mm. The outer deck panels housing the intake grills are also too narrow by about 1mm each and the aerial mount on the left panel is slightly in the wrong place and should be further forward.
The four rectangular radiator intake grill panels are also too narrow by about 1mm and this is due to both the fan grill panels and intake grill panel finishing 1mm too far inboard and should extend further out to the side of the hull, something easy to do with a shim of plastic card for the fan panel with the intake grills fitting well to the hull as they are.
The three circular intake covers on the rear of the central engine deck are about 1mm-1.5mm too far back but it’s probably not worth the effort to relocate these.

All these discrepancies are only very minor and I only mention these so you are aware should you wish to alter them, but are things that don’t really stick out and probably wouldn’t be noticed if left as is.

Unfortunately the fit of some of the separate parts is not the best with the central engine deck door requiring trimming to fit and the front hatch panel requires 0.5mm trimmed from all sides to fit which means the bolt head detail is destroyed.
The bolt heads are raised instead of being flush countersunk in any case and there should be additional flush bolts on the hull around the panel which aren’t included.
The separate crew hatches have interior details and fit precisely to the hatch panel with the grab handles on the doors as separate parts as are the hatch locks.

The front driver’s flap will also need minor trimming to fit snugly in the closed position but has an inner hinge that allows this to be shown open if you wish negating the need for trimming while the fit of the major components such as the rear hull plate and upper and lower hulls was very good not requiring any trimming at all.

The hull periscopes are separate parts that fit snugly into the hull cut-outs and the top armoured covers and central mounted ventilator cover also fit well. The four part barrel lock can be raised or lowered and has nice details included with this fitting over the central ventilator. The twin head lights have separate front sections with blackout slit included for good definition and are simply glued in place on the glacis.

All the tools are finely moulded with tool clips included and these along with the fire extinguisher, wooden jack block and C-hooks are attached to the separate hull side tool racks and there is also the barrel cleaning rod container and spare track racks also added along the hull sides.

The front mud flap section are separate parts which have the outer lip included as well as very small and delicate wing nuts to add at the fender join. There are also two finely moulded width indicator poles which were fitted to the early Panther fenders.

The full length Schuerzen are in one piece per side with retaining bolt detail on the outer side but are a little thick and the mountings are quite basic lacking in detail.

There are 208 individual tracks links provided that will need the two sprue scars trimmed on each link and have two small pin marks on the outer face but this was less noticeable when a length of track was assembled than when looking at the links individually. Assembly of the track runs is straightforward with each link fitting snugly into the next and you should use slow drying liquid cement so the tracks can be formed around the drive sprocket and idler easily once the glue has partly dried. This makes it easier as the links tend to come apart less than if formed around the sprockets while the glue is ‘fresh’. Detail of the links is quite good and will look okay when fitted to the vehicle.

The Turret:
The turret shell has excellent surface details such as weld seams around the roof panel and the side interleaved panels with good definition for the pistol ports and bolted ring in front of the top ventilator. The separate rear panel fits neatly without any trimming and both the side communications hatch and rear escape hatch have movable hinges so these can be shown open or closed as you wish.

Inside is a basic gun breech with the front gun mounting and mantlet fitting to the turret front and gun breech respectively and there were no fit problems here. The mantlet has the rain guard over the twin sight openings and as this is a late Ausf.D/A feature you can easily cut this off for the earlier version.
The gun barrel is split horizontally as is normal for plastic kit guns and includes the muzzle brake with the barrel. There is some fine flash inside the muzzle brake openings which is easily cleaned but the two locating pins on the inside of the barrel halves actually force the two halves NOT to line up and it’s best to cut off the pins and line up the barrel halves by eye for a better fit.

The Commander’s cupola is made up of four parts to incorporate the vision block openings and the upper cupola insert can be rotated to show the vision block open or closed, quite neat. The separate top hatch has nice details included but is about 1.2mm too narrow in diameter although the lower sections of the cupola are the correct diameter which is not that easy to correct but probably won’t be all that noticeable on the finished model.

One small issue with the turret walls is the inner locating strips for the lower turret ring result in small sink lines on the outside turret walls, this is only minor and may not be noticeable once painted but as there is no detail around these lines they will be easy to fill and sand to eliminate completely.

As mentioned the six smoke grenade pots and mountings are provided but these were only fitted to very early Panthers and it may be best to leave these off the timescale of the model as depicted.

The small sheet has markings for three Panthers with good colour register but quite heavy carrier film with a matt finish and you will probably need to use a good decal setting solution when applying these.
Only two get a mention in the instructions with one from Kursk, 1943 and the other from ‘Grossdeutschland’ August 1943.

Overall this is a nice rendition of an early/mid Ausf.D with all the main features captured well although there are a couple of crossovers from other production batches but the level of detail is very well done and apart from some niggling fit issues should build into a lice looking model of the Ausf.D.

In the scheme of things amongst contemporary Panther kits I would rate this a close second to the excellent Dragon Panther kits which have better details and fit but this kit has the separate axles for a bit of flexibility and it may be just a matter of price and availability that tips the scales.

Highly recommended.

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"Panther" Ausf.D
Panzer Tracts No.5-1
by Thomas L Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle
& Its Variants

Walter J. Spielberger
Schiffer Publications
Panzer V Panther
Tanks in Detail No.3
Jonathan Forty
Jagdpanther & Brummbar

Achtung Panzer No.4
Panther Variants

Osprey New Vanguard No 22
Concord Armor at War series No.7006

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service from Blast Models for the review kit.

Page created December 26, 2005

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