Panther Ausf. D V2
This kit from Dragon Models of the World War Two German Panther tank prototype is somewhat of a curate’s egg. Some parts good, some parts less so. However, it IS the first mainstream injection molded plastic kit of the prototype of this seminal German medium tank, and so for this Dragon are to be commended for issuing it. But it is, as I say, not without its faults. Read on…..
The V2 prototype kit is apparently derived from Dragon’s Panther Ausf. D released approximately 15 years ago. This was a very good kit for the time, and there is nothing wrong (IMHO anyway) with utilizing parts from previous kits provided those parts are accurate for the new version of the vehicle being modeled. This Panther Ausf D V2 prototype kit measures up nicely with the drawings provided in the publication Panzer Tracts 5-1. The main new parts are for a new turret, and sadly this isn’t up to the standards of the 15 year old parts from the original Panther Ausf D. The new parts lack finesse such as delicate weld marks, and the sprue gates are on the thick side, with the parts a tad on the rough side. This said, the outline of the new turret parts matches the Panzer Tracts drawings well. But the chattering nabobs of negativity that are out on the web have indicated that the Panzer Tracts drawings are wrong, based on recently published photos of the Panther V2 prototype taken from above the vehicle. These photos show that the rear engine deck has items missing from the Panzer Tracts’ drawings. However, it has also been pointed out that this Panther prototype was constantly being modified as it progressed through the various development stages, so the kit as produced by Dragon, and depicted in the Panzer Tracts drawings was most likely correct at some stage in its life.
Now onto the parts as contained in the kit. As with most armor models these days, construction starts with the lower hull and running gear. Dragon has included newly tooled road wheels in the kit with the correct 18 bolts configuration. This is obviously good. However, what is not so good is that Dragon has provided a number of parts from the 15 year old Panther Ausf D kit that need “surgery” to convert them into accurate parts for a Panther Ausf D V2 model. In particular: construction Section 4, Dragon’s instructions call for the modeler to take the rear hull plate, part A14, and carve 5mm off the base. The instructions also instruct the modeler to carve off 4 round access hatches on the lower extremities of this same part. Additional mild surgery is also required on the front lower hull, part C. The surgery required isn’t difficult for a veteran modeler, but might be a bit intimidating for a newbie. Some might also question that such recycling of parts and surgery should be required on a kit of this price?
The tracks in the kit are of the one piece “rubber band” style, made from glueable “DS 100” rubberized plastic. Thus they are very flexible, and the detail is pretty good for this sort of track type. I found that the track was of the correct length allowing for it to sag appropriately and rest on the tops of the road wheels, per the real vehicle. I started by painting the tracks with Vallejo’s acrylic polyurethane black primer, and when this had cured for three days, I applied a couple of thin coats of Tamiya XF-84 Dark Iron. I wanted the tracks to have an initial layer of acrylics, because I have heard over the past few years that DS-100 track is susceptible to being chemically damaged by enamel thinners. In general other rubberized parts over the years have been susceptible to such negative reactions, so rather than take a chance, I have erred on the side of caution. Once the Tamiya paint had been allowed to dry for a few days, I mixed up a couple of rust colored oil paints with some mineral thinner (Mona Lisa) and applied some pin washes of “rust” to the tracks. They were then put aside while I continued work on the other sections of the model.
Onto the upper hull construction, and here we have an issue that rather surprised me about this model. There are no parts included in the kit to stop a see through effect in terms of the rear deck engine air intake grills: neither depiction of the fans that existed directly under the grills, nor any photo etched screens to go over the grills on the upper hull exterior. The modeler is left staring directly into the rear hull interior, clearly showing that there is no interior detail. To counter this, I stole the PE parts from my Dragon Panther Ausf. D kit, and also cut up some Everygreen plastic card which I painted black to blank off the underside of the grills. The PE screens plus the Evergreen plastic did the trick, though of course I will have to figure out where to get replacement PE screens when it comes time to built my Panther Ausf D kit!!
On to the turret shell, and as mentioned earlier these are newly tooled parts for this V2 kit, and are a tad under detailed compared to the parts from the Ausf. D donor kit Dragon utilized for other areas of the model. Some of the holes in the turret shell are too large for the parts Dragon has you attach to it. And more carving is required: the rain channel above the gun mantlet binocular sight needs removing, and the front end of the two part gun barrel needs cutting off and replacing with a newly tooled two part gun muzzle. The latter has a more ball like shape to it, compared to the muzzle that came later in the Panther’s career. If you look carefully at the photos of my review model, you will see that I messed up and got the model built, painted and weathered before I realized I had forgotten to chop off the later version of the muzzle and replace it........
The fit of all the parts is pretty good overall and there are only a few ejection pin marks that need removing here and there. Additional work is required with the extra large sprue gates and the subsequent cleaning up of the newly tooled parts, but nothing that will tax you as a modeler.
There are four color and markings schemes depicted in the instructions, two listed as “1942” while two more are listed as “1943”, all “unidentified unit”. All four come with small German black and white crosses to be placed on either side of the front hull, while two additionally have a small license plate stencil on the front lower hull. I decided to paint my model German panzer yellow, utilizing Vallejo’s German Yellow acrylic polyurethane primer. I mixed this with a little white primer from the same range for panel highlighting. You will notice if you look carefully at the photos of the review model that the gun barrel, the gun mantlet and the turret are all slightly different in the German yellow color, with the gun mantlet being much darker than the barrel for example. I did this to represent a prototype under continuous testing, with new parts added as they worked out the bugs or improved things. My story being that parts would have been painted at different times with different batches of paint, even if ostensibly the same “color”.
My German crosses went on the turret “just because” over a coat of Future clear acrylic gloss. The decals were of acceptable quality, and going onto a completely flat surface caused no problems whatsoever. Another coat of Future sealed the decals. I then made up some burnt umber “wash” made from oil paints and Mona Lisa enamel thinners, and spread this in all the recesses and around raised detail. The excess was removed with Qtips dipped in thinner, and when all this had dried for a couple of days the whole model received a few coats of Vallejo acrylic matt varnish. I then set to with some Vallejo “Black Gray” acrylic paint and a fine tipped brush, making scratches and paint chips. A small piece of sponge was also dipped in the Black Gray paint, the excess wicked off on a paper towel, and dabbed about to make more paint chipping effects. Then some rust colored oil paints were mixed with Mona Lisa thinner, and applied about the model because “rust never sleeps”!! I then attached the tracks, which as mentioned earlier had already been painted and a rust application applied. The tracks fit well, and just required gluing down onto the road wheel surfaces. Finally I mixed up some “dry mud” from plaster of paris plus a suitable color of paint and splattered this about utilizing an old paint brush and my airbrush. Then I applied some “fresh mud” again utilizing plaster of paris and a suitably colored darker paint. Being my first time utilizing this “mud technique”, I probably overdid it a bit, but I had fun! Finally some oil stains were applied randomly about the running gear and on the rear of the engine deck utilizing an appropriate AK Interactive product. Lastly some rust streaks were added where the paint had been “chipped”.
In conclusion, I am very happy with the final model. I have always wanted an example of the prototype Panther in my display case, and this kit allowed me to produce one. Some may say that Dragon cut corners in producing this kit, utilizing parts from an older kit which themselves had to be cut up by the modeler to achieve accurate parts. Others will say that the price is high for what you get, given it is without PE parts, such as the engine intake screens, for example? I feel that for anyone wanting a Panther Ausf D V2 prototype and who has moderate modeling skills, purchasing this kit will be a worthwhile investment. My thanks to DragonModelsUSA for generously providing IPMS/USA with the opportunity to review this kit.