Dragon 1/35 Pz.Beob.Wg.V Panther
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Germany's Panzer V, later named the Panther tank, was the army's answer to the Soviet T-34. Designed with many of the features of the T-34 such as sloping armor and a larger gun, the Panther was typically over designed and ended up being overly heavy for its suspension and transmission. While an excellent tank and the basis for many post war designs, it was also quite unreliable when initially used in combat, often suffering from transmission failure.
Typical of all German tanks, it was developed into a number of variants including an artillery observation vehicle. In this role, extra radios were installed, leaving no room for the standard gun. In these cases, a dummy barrel was often fitted to provide the appearance of an active weapon. Though never put into production, it was envisioned to produce a variant with a smaller gun, in particular the 5cm KwK 39 to provide some protection against other armored vehicles. How this would have affected the crew, having to deal with the space taken up by both the gun and the radios is unknown, but it would have been not only crowded, but a pretty hefty work-load if they had to go into combat with it.
Dragon continues to amaze me with their ability to come up with different variants of German tanks. The list for Panther versions is quite long and apparently they are getting close to running out of actual vehicles. This is one of a series of project tanks that Dragon has started producing in the last few years.
As usual, Dragon relies heavily on previous kits for a majority of the sprues. However, they do need to produce new ones to match the type that they are modeling and this one is no exception with new turret and hull bits. Apparently Dragon has realized that not everyone wants individual track links so many of their newer kits, such as this one, come with their superb DS tracks. This also helps to keep the parts count down to 310 parts, making it a quicker build.
The suspension includes separate suspension arms and road wheels. There are several hatches that can be posed open or closed. A sprue of separate track links is included so these can be installed on the hull. You get a complete 50 cm gun that includes the breech so there will be something to see when looking into the turret. The side skirts are no longer aluminum etch but a very thin plastic that has been pre-punched so that all you have to do is push them out and clean them up prior to attaching. A pair of radio masts completes the kit.
Instructions are nicely done and provide 3D illustrations for all of the parts attachments except for the gun which is in the older line drawings. Personally, I would rather have the line drawings as often the 3D images are so dark as to make it difficult to discern either part numbers or exactly how a part fits in place. That is not the case with these, but it has happened on other kits in the past. Even though I'm pretty sure these tanks as outfitted never existed, the painting guide shows two from 1943, one in overall Panzer tan and the other with large brown and green splinters as shown on the box art.
Those who like Panther tanks will definitely want to add this one to their collection. The addition of the DS tracks and the non-metal side skirts will make construction just that much easier and the result will be a nice looking piece of armor.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your favorite retailer.
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