CyberHobby 1/35 Panther Ausf F with Steel Wheels
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Panther was intended to supplement the Panzer IV and replace the Panzer III medium tanks. Each German Panzer (armored) Division had two tank battalions; the intent was to equip one battalion in each division with Panthers, retaining the lighter, older, but still useful Panzer IV in the other battalion. Beginning in mid-1943, battalions were gradually converted to Panthers.
The Panther first saw action at Kursk on July 5, 1943. Early tanks were plagued with mechanical problems: the track and suspension often broke, and the engine was dangerously prone to overheating and bursting into flames. At Kursk, more Panthers were disabled by their own failings than by enemy action. For example, the XLVIII Panzer Corps reported on July 10, 1943, that they had 38 Panthers operational and 131 awaiting repair, out of about 200 they had started with on July 5. Heinz Guderian, who had not wanted Hitler to order them into combat so soon, later remarked about the early Panther's performance in the battle: "they burnt too easily, the fuel and oil systems were insufficiently protected, and the crews were lost due to lack of training."Guderian also stated, however, that the firepower and frontal armor were good. While many of the Panthers used at Kursk were damaged or suffered from mechanical difficulties, only a small number were lost for good and the tanks also achieved success, with 263 Soviet tanks claimed to have been destroyed by them. Although its frontal armour was thinner than the Tiger's, it was also much more sloped and proved harder for Soviet shells to penetrate.
After Kursk, the tanks suffering from damage or mechanical breakdowns were repaired and the inherent design problems of the early Ausf. D models were fixed, making the Panther a truly formidable tank. Later in 1943 and, especially, into 1944 Panthers appeared in increasing numbers on the Soviet-German front. By June 1944, Panthers were about one-half of the German tank strength both in the east and the west. The Panther was increasingly commonly encountered by Allied forces and by the end of the war it was the third most produced German armored fighting vehicle.
Perhaps the best known German Panther commander was SS-Oberscharführer Ernst Barkmann of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division "Das Reich".
Panther turrets, from battle damaged and retired vehicles along with specially manufactured ones, were also mounted in fixed fortifications. Turrets (mechanically traverseable) were mounted on concrete emplacements (Pantherturm III - Betonsockel - concrete base) or welded steel boxes (Pantherturm I - Stahluntersatz - steel sub-base), which housed the ammunition storage and fighting compartment along with crew quarters. Such emplacements were located in the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall, West Wall, Gothic Line, Hitler Line (one of those was located at Piedimonte in Monte Cassino area) and in the east (about 12 in Berlin). A total of 268-280 turrets were installed as of March 26 1945.
Allow me to let Dragon explain the salient details.
- Panther F turret w/mantlet and one piece barrel
- Rear escape hatch can be modeled open/closed
- Rain guard made from preformed photo-etched part
- New commander's cupola molded in superb detail
- Commander hatch w/interior detail - can be assembled open/closed
- Slide-molded close-defense weapon is movable
- Bonus aluminum barrel
- One-piece plastic gun barrel
- Upper hull w/separate engine deck
- Authentic weld seams on upper hull
- Hatch can be modeled open/closed
- Slide-molded headlight assemblies w/maximum detail
- Movable driver's periscope w/transparent part and optional cover
- Optional MG ball mount plug
- Jack w/separate parts w/correct detail
Engine Deck & Rear
- Engine radiator details w/2 types of fans
- Authentically recreated armored guards for cooling air intake grills
- Crew Compartment heater w/'pie slice' covers
- Two options provided for crew compartment heater unit
- Two types of engine deck hatch
- Engine deck hatch w/interior detail
- Optional slide louvers for engine deck air intakes can be modeled in open/closed postions
Lower Hull, Suspension and Wheels
- One-piece slide-molded hull bottom w/superb detail
- Full suspension assembly w/road wheel and idler arms that canbe positioned on uneven terrain
- Magic Tracks w/slide-molded guide horn detail
- Multi-part idler is new
- Detailed 800mm steel wheels
- photo-etched parts included
- new Cartograf decal
As with other Smart Kits, this one has everything you need to build a quality model right from the box. At 650 parts, it is not for the beginner, but if you have the skills and will, then you will be rewarded with a fine model. The instructions are typical of Dragon kits in that they are very well drawn, provide detail information where needed and have a color callout that includes Gunze and Model Master call-outs. I'd be remiss not to mention that often one will find a part or two mis-labeled so one does have to pay attention during construction.
Markings are provided for four tanks in a variety of camouflage schemes. All are listed as the popular 'unknown unit' and are from 1945 in the Berlin region.
Obviously another fine kit from the folks at Dragon. I'm sure this one will do well and provide hours of model building pleasure.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can get yours today at your local shop or from the hyperlink.
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