German Panther G with Steel Road Wheels
If you have read my previous review on Dragon’s 1/72 scale Panther with Zimmerit, you will see some similarities in this review, but whether it was reviews like mine that made a difference (as I am hoping), there are improvements that have been made. If you are like me, and have the 1/35 scale variant of this kit in your stash, I will let you know that this is essentially the same kit, along with the same markings as that release. This is another very nice release from the folks at Dragon, and the level of detail for this small scale is again impressive.
The Panther is one of the most popular German vehicles of the Second World War, so I will not begin this review with my typical vehicle history. However, I will mention that the steel road wheels were originally envisioned to be a design feature of the “G” variant. During 1944, some two dozen Panther G’s were built with these wheels. They were meant to save on the use of rubber, but that was the limit of their use.
Typical for the latest releases from Dragon, there is a painting on the top cover, a pen and ink drawing of the side of five steel wheel Panthers (whose markings are included), and CAD drawings on the other side of the box along with a photo of the Dragon Styrene tracks. There are three sprues covered with one hundred and twenty parts, while the hull top and bottom halves are in the box loose. On an “extras” card insert, in separate plastic envelopes, there are decals, a small length of metal tow cable, and the two tracks (made of Dragon Styrene 100). As with my other Panther review, I found very few flaws on any of the moldings in my sample, just a little extra plastic on a few of the mold lines. There is a direction sheet, which consists of a single sheet of paper folded in half, but it is in full color, and includes the suggested paint schemes for five vehicles along with numbers for Gunze and Testors paints.
Unlike my previous Panther review, there is no fret of photoetched parts for this kit, but I did choose the metal tow cables over the all-plastic ones. I then decided to leave these off at the end. My reason for leaving off the cables was two-fold; first, in my reference photos, I found several Panthers not carrying the cables, and second, I wanted access to remove the rear plate in order to show off the engine top and fans included in this kit. The tow cables assembled easily, as they did with my previous Panther kit, and I do feel that nothing looks as close to metal, as metal. Although the PE lift hooks were challenging to install on my other Panther, I did miss not having the grill covers.
I do have some tips for those who read my review before taking on this kit, which are intended to help you out. To begin with, when assembling the turret in Step 1: know that Part B10 is shown upside down in the directions (the rectangular opening needs to be on top to accept Part B13 later on). Part C32 needs to be installed from the inside, which will take some work (I drilled the hole in Part C20 a little wider and deeper, then I used one of the unlabeled smaller gun barrels from sprue “C” that I cut the excess plastic from.
Although Step 1 shows two screws attaching the upper and lower hulls together, there are none included in the kit. They glue together just fine anyway. My other tip is in Step 3 as Parts A7 and 8 do not look like the wheels shown in the directions. I assembled mine such that the two “spacers” met like the ones in the directions, just not in the middle.
When it comes to my hits of this kit, I again tip my hat to the folks at Dragon. The level of detail that they have placed into a 1/72 scale kit, such as a single-piece gun barrel with a slide-molded open muzzle, is amazing. I really do like the inclusion of the engine deck parts, with the optional steel cable for the tow cables. If you have not dealt with Dragon styrene yet, you may want to give a kit like this a look. I think you will come to like it as I do. (I will also mention here that on my earlier Panther review, the tracks did not reach all the way around the wheels, and had there not been side skirts, I would have been in trouble, but in this release, the tracks fit perfectly.)
As far as what I would consider “misses” on this kit: The direction sheet has a few challenges for the builder to overcome. It would also be nice to have drawings showing more than the front, back, and left sides of the optional tanks, whose markings are included in this release; my other comment, although not really a miss, is the lack of photoetched screens for this kit, as they would have added a nice touch.
Overall, construction was straightforward enough aside from the items that I mentioned earlier. I do have several reference books for the Panther tank, but none showing good painting guides, so my pattern is pretty much my own. As I was assembling the turret numbers from individual numerals anyway, I loosely based my work on a Panzer Regiment 1 “LAH” tank stationed at LaGleize in 1944. I used Model Master Enamel and Acrylic paints from the German Armor section off the paint racks for the overall colors. I used Tamiya Metallic Grey for the steel wheels (the edges were touched with an artist pencil) as well as for dry brushing the tracks (over a Track Color base coat).
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to those who enjoy building 1/72 scale armor. The level of detail for a model in this scale is impressive indeed, and as I have mentioned before, these built up models will take far less space to display than their 1/35 scale counterparts. Dragon obviously uses parts from this kit for other Panther variants as well, as there are several unused parts left when construction is complete.
I want to express my thanks to the folks at Dragon and Dragon Models USA for providing this kit for the IPMS-USA to review; to John Noack for running the review corps that allowed me to do this evaluation, and as always to you for taking the time to read it.