Of late there has been a plethora of new WW2 German Panther tank kits in 1/35th scale from multiple manufacturers, and where there are Panther kits, there almost certainly will soon be subvariants of the Panther. Sure enough, having recently released kits of the Panther Ausf A and Ausf D, together with a Bergepanther Ausf A, Meng has added to their Panther pride with a Jagdpanther Ausf G1.
The Jagdpanther was a devastatingly effective attempt to mount a more powerful 88mm anti-tank gun to the Panther tank chassis, as such a gun was too large to put into the turret of a Panther. Also, producing tracked mobile anti-tank vehicles without the complexity for the need of rotating turrets made such vehicles cheaper to produce both in terms of financial cost, and time/manpower resources.
What’s in the Meng Box
- 9 sprues of injection molded tan colored plastic parts
- 1 sprue of injection clear parts
- 1 set of vinyl plastic poly caps
- 1 sheet of water slide decals with 4 marking options
- 1 sheet of photo etched brass parts
- 1 sheet of photo etched stainless steel parts
- 2 lengths of twisted wire cabling
- An instruction manual, with 18 pages of black and white assembly drawings covering 33 assembly steps plus a one-page sprue layout diagram. There is a separate glossy paper, color printed, color and markings instruction sheet of 4 page sides. Each decal option is provided with left and right vehicle profile, front and rear profile, and overhead profile.
The parts in this Jagdpanther kit are very well molded with a high level of surface detail. I found no visible ejection pin marks on the plastic parts, nor any sink marks. Flash is nonexistent. Before starting this kit, it is essential to study the kit instructions, together with the color and markings guide, as there are a lot of “alternative parts” options within the kit that key to one of the four markings options, many of them requiring the drilling of holes from the inside of the model parts in advance. And if you are planning on building a highly accurate Jagdpanther from this kit using markings other than those provided with the kit, it is essential to study a number of references in order to get the right features within the kit matched up with period photographs.
The Jadgpanther, like so many other vehicles produced by all sides during WW2, underwent changes on the production lines from the start of the vehicle’s production run, to its end. The way Meng indicates things in its instructions, different parts simply go to different painting and marking schemes and vehicle markings. When in reality Meng has provided parts that allow the modeler to build a time range in the production of the “Jagdpanther Ausf G1”. There are FOUR different set ups for the exhaust piping on the rear of this kit. There are THREE different positions you can mount the gun cleaning rod storage tube on the rear of the engine deck or hull side. There are THREE different “Geschuetznische” options (main gun recess), two Topfblende options (gun mantle) and two Mundungsbremse (muzzle brake) options, together with two different main gun barrel options. (for the modeler who wants help sorting this all out, one excellent and affordable reference is Panzer Tracts No.9-3 “Jagdpanther” Panzerjaeger Panther (8.8 cm) (Sd.Kfz.173) Ausf.G1 und G2 authored by Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle, ISBN 0-9771643-0-6 )
Anyway, as mentioned, Meng provide the modeler with 4 color and marking options, and there are numerous optional parts used throughout the construction of the kit depending on which vehicle option you are building. Holes often need to be drilled from the inside of a kit part, that is before they are installed on the model. I would suggest that you examine the parts that need the holes drilled, both inspecting the instruction sheet AND the part concerned. Then look ahead in the instructions to make sure you are absolutely positive the hole needs drilling for your particular version. I say this because I DIDN’T do this as well as I should have, and ended up with a bunch of unnecessary holes that needed to be filled and sanded out later on. So you have been warned!
Construction commences with the building of the road wheels, drive sprockets and idler wheels. The Jagdpanther appears to have had two different idler wheels over the lifetime of its production, with Meng providing the modeler with only one option, which is fine for the schemes provided. Construction moves on to the lower hull, which is a series of parts including separate hull floor and side hull parts. The road wheel suspension arms each have 2 parts to them, and there are three different types of arms on each side of the hull. All the parts for these different arms look similar, so make sure you get the right parts glued together, and in the correct sequence on the side of the hull. As each different type was completed, I marked the parts with three different colored “Sharpie” indelible ink pens, and marked the instructions likewise to help me keep things in the correct order. As you glue on the suspension arms, make sure to be constantly checking on their alignment one to another, and then one side to the other, otherwise the road wheels will sit out of alignment. Let the glue set up solidly. Slip on the road wheels carefully and evenly, rotating them to slowly work them into their correct place, then glue when you are sure they are nicely aligned.
The tracks supplied by Meng in this kit are at once great, and a right pain in the rear. Great, in that the detail rendered on the parts is first rate, including open guide horns. A right pain in that each track link consists of THREE parts, and each part has at least one if not more sprue attachment points that require cleanup: the main link, plus two separate guide horns. Make sure you study the instructions to insure you get the guide horns glued correctly into place, as it is very easy to lose track (pardon the pun) of how they attach. Especially if you do the assembly over long periods, whereby your brain starts to go numb and your eyes begin to cross………. The tracks are NOT workable after all your efforts to assemble them…..
The upper hull of this kit comes in separate “panels” which glue to a frame. This clearly makes for easier mold tooling for Meng, while still providing good parts detail. For the modeler however, it does mean you must do some test fitting in advance to ensure that all the panels (five if you include the main hull roof panel) precisely fit together at all their edges.
Next comes the installation on the rear hull of the exhaust pipes. As mentioned earlier there are FOUR different layouts, as apparently there was a different layout for each of the four color and marking schemes supplied on Meng’s decal sheet! Single pipe, dual pipe, triple piping, who’d a thunk it!
If you plan on building a Jagdpanther with the gun cleaning rod storage container on the rear deck, make sure that you install the photo etched screens, parts X1 (x2) in place PRIOR to attaching the rod storage container mounting posts, parts A30. Otherwise you may have a problem getting the etched screens to fit at a later stage.
When it comes to the measuring and cutting to length of the kit supplied tow cables, measure twice, cut once. Meng states the cables should be cut to a length of 108mm. I tried that, and failed. The piece of cable was too short. In the end I cut mine to 130mm. Thankfully, I had spare Eureka brand tow cable to hand of a suitable diameter. But don’t take my word for the length the cables need to be, measure carefully for yourself.
The roof of Meng’s Jagdpanther is the earlier one, rather than the later, thicker raised one found on some very late model G.1’s. This is in no way a criticism of the kit, just something to be aware of when looking at period photos and deciding which Jagdpanther you can build from this kit. Meng provides the modeler with two different Gehaeuse (the armor casting) for the front hull M.G. Kugelblende (ball machinegun mount). Not shown on my model, but included in the kit are photo etched metal schurzen plates, which thanks to the medium used by Meng, allow for excellent scale thickness, and can be “distressed” nicely with plyers if desired.
The color and markings guide provides information for four vehicles:
- Option A: a three-color vehicle, No. 212 of sPzJgAbt 654, Battle of the Ruhr, March 1945
- Option B: a three-color vehicle, No. 01, Headquarters, sPzJgAbt 559, Western France, 1944
- Option C: a three-color vehicle, No. 314, sPzJgAbt 654, Normandy, France 1944
- Option D: a three-color vehicle, Number unknown, sPzJgAbt 559, Ardennes, 1944
Meng’s decal sheet is small, consisting of the required vehicle numbers plus a small number of Balkenkreuz. The markings are well printed, though the decal film is a little thicker than I would have liked. This said, the thickness wasn’t an issue when applied to my model.
Once my model was assembled it was first primed with my favorite primer, Tamiya’s superb lacquer “Fine Surface Primer: Light Grey” item # 87064. I applied a few light coats to the model which provided a uniform surface for the acrylic color coats. This primer adheres very well to the different mediums used in the construction of this kit: injection plastic parts, photo etched brass, copper wire. The primer was allowed to cure for three or four days until it was good and hard. I painted my model utilizing Tamiya and Mission Model acrylic paints. These are my two favorite brands, as they are easy to use and pretty forgiving when it comes to application.
Once the model was painted with the acrylic camouflage colors (Panzer Yellow, Red/Brown, Green), I then picked a suitable track color, Vallejo “Track Color”, and painted the tracks. Then when this had dried overnight, I took Vallejo “Dark Rubber” and painted the rubber rims of the road wheels.
Then the decals were applied over a coat or two of Tamiya X-22 Gloss Clear. Since the decals were applied to flat/level surfaces, application of the decals wasn’t an issue. Having been left 24 hours to thoroughly dry, some light coats of X-22 Gloss Clear was sprayed over the decals to seal them. Another 24 hours was then given to allow the clear coats to securely cure, then it was time for the “wash” to highlight the detail. A suitable color of dark brown oil paint was put on a piece of cardboard from a thick sided box, to wick off the excess linseed oil, and then the paint was mixed up with some odorless mineral spirits. The mixture was applied with a small tipped brush, and then left to dry overnight. A number of Q-tips were dipped in odorless mineral spirits, and the excess “wash” was removed from the model. Once I was satisfied with the look of the “wash”, I left the model alone for three days so that the oil wash dried thoroughly. I then airbrushed all the subassemblies with my favorite matt clear coat, AK Interactive’s Ultra Matt Varnish. This was then left to cure for 24 hours.
Overall then, as I hope my review implies, this is a brilliant kit from Meng, which builds into a lovely, accurate model with the minimum of fuss. The only possible areas of minor concern are the way the upper hull goes together from multiple pieces over a frame. However, by taking one’s time, test fitting carefully before apply glue, this shouldn’t prove a problem. The tracks on the other ARE a chore, but the end result of taking the time to put them all together results in highly detailed, accurate tracks. I believe both these issues pale into insignificance when compared to the overall high quality and accuracy of the kit. Meng’s Jadgpanther Ausf. G1 is HIGHLY recommended, so much so that I went out and bought myself another one for my collection! Many thanks to Meng for supplying IPMS USA with the opportunity to review this superb kit.