So back in April 2016, I reviewed what was purported to be an accurate scale model of the Panther tank prototype, “Panther Ausf. D V2”, then recently released by Dragon Models as kit 6822 in their 1/35th scale military vehicle range. The original review can be found here.
At the time I said that the model appeared accurate based on the scale plans found in the publication Panzer Tracts 5-1. The Panzer Tracts publications have a great reputation for the historical information contained therein, and also for the accuracy of their scale drawings. Yet here we have a NEW “Panzer Ausf. D V2” prototype kit, AGAIN from Dragon Models, and yet this kit contains a number of new parts for the rear end of the vehicle, so what gives??!!
So here is what I have discovered: when the Panzer Tracts book was written, and the scale plans drawn up, there were no period photos available of the rear engine deck and rear end of the prototype vehicle. So the author of the line drawings “best guessed” based on photos of very early Panthers. Then photos of the rear of the prototype turned up, and guess what: the original guesses were wrong. And thus the original Dragon kit, in terms of historical accuracy, was also wrong. Dragon has now “fixed” the issues to produce this “new (and improved!!)” Panther Ausf. D V2 kit. And since the original kit and the new one are VERY similar (yet different!), I will restate what continues to apply to the new kit, from the old review, with adjustments for the new parts. Read on!
“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 an accurate 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….. (déjà vu)
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 new Panther Ausf D V2 prototype kit measures up nicely with the drawings provided in the publication Panzer Tracts 5-1 with the exception of the (inaccurate) rear engine deck and rear hull plate areas of the drawings. Knowing that these areas of the drawings are inaccurate was “discovered” when actual photos (unavailable when the drawings were produced) of the Panther prototype engine deck and rear hull plate were found. Said photos can be viewed on pages 13 and 15 of the book “Panther: External Appearance & Design Changes” by Roddy MacDougall & Martin Block, Abteilung502 Publications, 2016. The newly tooled parts by Dragon now allow for an accurate rear engine deck area and rear hull plate layout and match up nicely with the newly discovered photographs.
Compared to the original Panther Ausf D kit parts from Dragon, the largest of the 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. Additional “new” parts have been included in this second “prototype” kit to correct the issues from the first (and now known to be inaccurate) “prototype” Panther kit. These parts cover the rear engine deck and the rear hull plate hardware.
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 6, 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, in Section 2 of the instructions. 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 a blanking plate of some sort. However, unlike the original prototype kit from Dragon, this new kit DOES supply the photo etched screens to go over the grills on the upper hull exterior. So to block the see through effect, I 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.
On to the turret shell, and as mentioned earlier these are newly tooled parts for the 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. There are some holes in the turret shell that the instructions require the modeler to fill, Section 17 of the instructions. Also, 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.
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.
Instruction Section 7 and 8 introduce the “new and improved”, and thus historically accurate rear hull plate details. Newly tooled stowage boxes are provided, parts H7/H9. Dragon also has the modeler take the original exhaust pipes and covers, parts D10, and cut all but 5mm from the pipes. New mounting plates for parts D10 are also provided, parts H5. And these newly re-contoured exhaust pipes now slot into the bottom of a newly tooled set of parts to create a rear hull muffler, parts H11 and H12, together with a muffler shield and muffler exhaust outlet opening: parts H10 and H8. The muffler exhaust outlet was drilled out to improve its look.
The final “new” parts for the model appear in Section 20 of the instructions, covering the rear engine deck. The newly discovered period photos show two large “caps” which appear on the engine access hatch. Parts H6 x 2. However there are no precise location points for these caps, so carefully study the instruction diagram, and if you have access to them, the period photos.
There are four color and markings schemes depicted in the instructions, two listed as “1942”, one listed as “1943”, and a fourth “1945”, all “unidentified unit”. In the original “prototype” kit from Dragon, all four came with small German black and white crosses to be placed on either side of the front hull, while two additionally had a small license plate stencil on the front lower hull. There is a small decal sheet included in this kit (6830), containing three small German crosses, however the painting instructions don’t show any crosses utilized on the vehicles depicted?
I decided to paint my model German panzer gray, utilizing Vallejo’s German Panzer Gray 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 vs the gun mantlet and the turret are all slightly different hues of the German Panzer Gray color, with the gun barrel being a lighter shade of gray. I did this to represent a prototype with parts supplied by various subcontractors. My story being that parts would have been painted at different times with different batches of paint, even if ostensibly the same “color”.
Once the turret and hull subassemblies were painted with the gray paint, I airbrushed a series of light coats of Tamiya acrylic gloss clear. I then made up some burnt umber and black “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 Q-tips dipped in thinner, and when all this had dried for a couple of days the whole model received a few coats of AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish, the “dullest” matt clear on the market. 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 with some super glue.
In conclusion, I am very happy with the final model. Dragon has now produced a completely accurate Panther prototype, having been tripped up the first time around by inaccurate reference material. 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. 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.
Nice job on the review and build. The color looks great. Im not sure what im going to do other thatvvthe panzer gray maybe some small primer red parts and the dark gray primer barrel with different shade mussle.
I also found it strange the color depicting the panther on the box cover art. Seemd to be early Africa colors. But not used in the paint call outs. I had the option to purchase the Dv2 or the older one. looks like got lucky.