Panther Ausf. D, Early Production
The Panther. Do I really need to say more about the history of this tank? If you do desire more information, I suggest you go to Wikipedia, Google, Dog Pile, or Bing and research it. You will find more than you can digest! Come on…it’s a Panther!!!
On to the kit. The box says it is a Panther Ausf. D early production, kit number 7494. The kit has over 80 parts on 4 sprues and DS tracks. Five different painting and decal choices are available to mix the color pallet up for everybody’s taste. The directions are in color (and on very nice paper) and have 8 steps for assembling the model, starting with the running gear.
This is where I chose to move to step three, leaving the running gear until last. I like to be able to paint the hull free of the wheels and tracks so I do not miss any spots. Steps 3, 4, and 5 are gluing on the stuff to the upper hull and making the turret. My only complaint on the turret was that you can see through the visions slits from one side to the other. Adding the top and bottom hulls made the kit complete and, up to this point, was one of the best kits I have ever put together.
Painting was a breeze. I used acrylics and chose green striped over panzer yellow. I painted the wheels black, the tools the right color, and was done in very little time. I put some Future on where I wanted the decals and then some micro set and micro sol (I did have one that was being more stubborn than needed) and finished the deal. And then the wheels…
THEN THERE WERE THE WHEELS!! OMG!! OK, good parts first. Dragon has decided to mold a connector so that the four wheels in line are together, giving the modeler fewer things to fiddle with. If you get this to go together right, it is a great system. Why would it not go together right? Because you have to remove the wheel sets to paint them, and you can (as I did!) lose track of the numbers. This makes the process of getting the right set in the right order much more challenging. But that was not the worse part. The kit has what I can only say is a design flaw. You see, the front and rear wheels sit on a peg. A plastic peg. And there is only one point of contact (two would add greatly to the strength of the wheel). So I glued on the two rear wheels and glued together the two front sprockets. I let the glue set for over two days, and then came back to it. I then glued together the DS tracks, which, from a construction point of view, were great. Some Tamiya cement, a clamp and it dries great!! But they are rubber band tracks. So after I thought the glue was dry, you can imagine my surprise when the two rear wheels were not as they were supposed to be the next morning. One was broken off and one was so bent that it popped off the track. Not good! So I had to drill out the hull, insert a steel rod for the shaft, and redo the wheels. If I had not seen this done before and had the scratchbuilding materials on hand to do this, this kit was headed for the round filing cabinet fast! Very difficult to do and not recommended for first modelers to try!
I weathered the tank with pigments – not very muddy, just some dusting to give it that used look, and some pencil around some of the edges.
The bottom line…with the exception of the running gear, it makes a great little kit. The running gear needs a serious look by the engineering department. I cannot recommend this kit to a beginner – too many small and delicate parts and problems with the running gear and tracks make it a kit for someone who does have a wider breadth of experience. Now if you think you have that experience, then you will very much enjoy building this kit, as it does look great when completed.
I would like to thank IPMS and Dragon Models USA for letting me review this kit.