Jagdpanther Early Production w/Zimmerit
History and Performance
The Jagdpanther was based on the Panther chassis, using the engine and drive train, and mounted the 8.8 cm Pak 43/3 (L/71). The end result was probably the best tank killer the Germans fielded during World War II. 392 of these vehicles were produced from January 1944 until March 1945. The Jagdpanther had a weight of 46 tons, could reach a road speed of 45 km/hr. The main armament had 57 rounds on board with 3,000 round for the bow mounted machinegun. A crew of five manned the vehicle. The majority of the Jagdpanthers served on the Eastern front, with the greatest number on the West Front serving in the Ardennes Offensive.
Zimmerit was factory-applied to several models of German AFV’s. This material had a rough surface and was to resist the application of magnetic mines to the sides of the vehicles. The zimmerit was factory-applied from September 1943 until September 1944 and was normally placed to a height that was reachable by a foot soldier. In mid-1944 rumors were spread that the zimmerit actually caught fire in combat, destroying the vehicle. The application was discontinued at that time.
Technical assistance for this kit was provided by Steven Van Beveren, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The look of the Jagdpanther has always had an appeal for me: it just plains looks like one tough tank hunter/killer. A number of years ago I obtained the Tamiya late version of the Jagdpanther and really enjoyed the build. I later obtained the Dragon early version (kit number 6458) without zimmerit, but recognized that I needed to add the zimmerit if my model were to be accurate. I have used the PE zimmerit or other models, and planned to use the resin product on that model. I will build this kit soon and add resin zimmerit.
When offered the chance to review the new Dragon kit number 6494 kit I was excited for the opportunity.
Ejector pin marks are generally located on surfaces that will be concealed. Most parts have the plastic nodes on all edges, and those must be carefully removed. The zimmerit is molded onto the various hull components. The zimmerit shown on this model is the tile pattern, and looks quite realistic in its application and lack of uniformity, which is how is appears in many period photographs of this vehicle. The zimmerit application appears quite subtle and keeping with the scale. Dragon is to be commended for their execution of the effect.
There are many parts not to be used in the build, so they can go into the spares box for whatever the future may bring. The tools are finely molded and include integral clamps.
The instructions are typical Dragon: eight fold-out pages with 17 steps to the build, with most being exploded views. Several small sub-assemblies are addressed in a similar fashion. The parts in all the steps are numbers, but from past history should be checked to make certain the correct numbered part is used in a particular step. Where optional parts may be used they are so noted, and therefore some research may be required for the specific vehicle to be modeled.
Sprues and packaging
There are twenty-one sprues provided and all are packaged in the clear poly bags typical of the recent Dragon offerings. The hull top and lower sections are separately packaged.
One small sprue for the clear parts includes the various periscopes and convoy tail light marker.
A small fret for the engine radiator grilles is provided. The fret also includes a cover plate for the driver’s left view port that was determined to be unusable in the production vehicles.
There is a small decal sheet with marking for four vehicles stationed on the Western Front and France . The painting instructions show six vehicles, but two have no markings, so the modeler has plenty of choices. See comments for the armament below.
Two runs of steel wire are also included for the tow cables, plus a smaller cable for the tracks repair.
The tracks are the DS type and are packaged in a double slot cardboard tray, also in a poly bag. The tracks were nice and straight with no bends or kinks from the packaging. The guide horns are nicely molded and have open centers.
There are no figures included in this kit.
Lower Hull-Step 2 addresses the installation of the road wheel swing arms and torsion bars. The work here is addressed with an exploded view, right and left side views and a plan view. All parts used are clearly numbered and located. Initially this appears confusing, but with some study the parts locations become clear. I normally use a high-lighter to cross off the part numbers as they are used, and this helps show the progress and eliminate any possible confusion with the parts installation.
On the right view the location for part H15 is show incorrectly, but this not a problem for finding the correct location.
Upper Hull-part T5 is the gun recess collar. There are four sprue attachments on this part, and some careful cutting and scraping is required before the part will fit into the opening in the fitting compartment front. Still, I had minor gaps that work require some filling later. The design of the parts is such that clamping did not work that well to eliminate the gaps Part N30 fits into a recess in the bottom of part T5, but is actually slightly wider than the recess. I placed a bead of solvent around the three top corners of the recess and carefully set part N30 in place.
Step 6 shows the installation of parts B4 and B5, front fenders. The joint was rather tenuous in that one side was a butt joint that was to be glued to the fighting compartment front, so I deferred installation until later.
Step 11 includes the installation of the schuerzen mounting brackets and rails. Each bracket fits into a shallow dimple on the slope hull side. I found that by depositing a small drop of solvent in the dimple the tiny bracket could be set in place without too much difficulty. Take care to align the tops of the brackets for the later installation of the full length rail. I set the model aside for several hours to allow the solvent to cure properly and eliminate the risk of jarring any of the brackets out of alignment.
I have always found the stranded wire included for the tow cables is much too stiff to lay or drape realistically over the model, and it was therefore replaced with .010” diameter lead cord. This was twisted by hand to resemble the low cable.
Armament-The kit offers two versions of the main armament: the monobloc barrel or the two-piece barrel. Decide which vehicle you plan to build and use the correct barrel. When the breech assembly is fixed to the front of the fighting compartment care will be required to make certain the main gun will elevate and dress later is so desired. The secondary armament is a multi-piece affair, and unfortunately will not be viewed once installed. But it certainly looks real enough.
Final assembly-up to this point the upper and lower hulls had their detail added without the two hull components being fitted together, other than the requisite test-fitting. I planned to fit these parts together only after the base paint colors had been applied. After fitting the main components I found rather large gaps at the sponsons undersides and at the rear of the engine deck. The gaps were eliminated one-by-one with the application of the solvent and by clamping and taping the joints until the solvent had cured. Some touch-up of the base painting was required. The fit was not perfect, and I could not determine where the problem lay.
Running Gear and Tracks-This model has no side skirts, and therefore the tracks will be fully visible. The top run of the track must sag and lay on the tops of the road wheels. Although I prefer the individual link tracks, I made do with the kit’s DS tracks. I liberally applied solvent to the mating surfaces of the tracks and allowed them to dry. I was pleased with how quickly the track mating surfaces bonded together.
The tracks were painted “track color”, a blend of Tamiya paints thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol. The tracks high points were dry-brushed with a mix of Testors Silver and Windsor Newton burnt umber. With all the handling during the painting and weathering process none of the paint flaked off the tracks.
I am very impressed with the Dragon DS tracks. They accepted the painting and weather with no problems and fit quite well around the sprocket, road wheels and rear idler. I did use Gorilla Super Glue to fit the top run of the track to the road wheels to represent sag.
Finishing/Painting-I decided to build the vehicle from 2./s.H.Pz.Jg.654, France 1944. This vehicle was painted khaki green over the dark yellow base color. I first applied Tamiya light grey primer over the model. I pre-shaded all nooks and crannies, and inside corners with a mix of Tamiya flat black and red/brown. A thin mix of Tamiya XF-59 lightened with Tamiya Buff was applied over the exterior. The green areas were painted with Tamiya XF-58, also lightened with Buff.
Prior to painting all of the axels should be covered with masking tape to avoid a build up of paint. Normally the fit of the axels and wheels on Dragon kits is a very tight fit, and even the thinnest of paint with make fitting the wheels onto the axel a chore. Someday, just someday I will remember to mask the axels.
Decals-From past experience I have found that the Dragon kit decals may be applied on the painted surface without the use of decal solvents. By buffing the flat surface with a piece from an old cotton tee shirt the texture of the flat paint is knocked down to a rather smooth area, and the decals will often lie down without too much risk of silvering. Here, the zimmerit precluded that technique. The vehicle I decided to model had no markings. I selected this vehicle because I liked the camouflage paint scheme.
In the event the decals are to be used the surface must be given a glossy finish, and a decal solvent will be require for the decals to conform to the irregular surface.
Panzer Tracts No. 9-3, the Encyclopedia of German tanks of World War two, The Modeler’s Guide to the Jagdpanzer, and several Internet websites were used in this project. The Panzer Tracts publication was without a doubt the most useful reference for checking on the accuracy of the Dragon parts and for clarifying the name of the part. Looks like Dragon did their homework.
I never met a Dragon kit that I did not like, and this is no exception. Nicely done.
For those modelers that want to model a vehicle with zimmerit, without the “hassle” of applying putty and scribing the rake marks, or the incur the added expense of after market PE or resin, this kit is the ticket. I found the kit’s zimmerit to be quite realistic in appearance, application and scale. The quality and fit of the Dragon parts is generally outstanding, but with any kit the occasional test fi7 of parts is always recommended. The kit instructions can be quite busy at times, but with some study and care may be followed by most modelers. This kit is highly recommended. I found no ejector pin marks that needed to be addressed, so my hat is off to the Dragon masters.
I wish to thank Dragon and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build and review this kit. It was a real joy.