Dragon 1/72 Panther ausf D (late)
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Panther is the common name of a medium tank deployed by Germany in World War II from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the Russian T-34, and as a replacement for the Panzer III and Panzer IV. While never replacing the latter, it served alongside it and the heavier Tiger tanks until the end of the war. The Panther's excellent combination of firepower, mobility, and protection served as a benchmark for other nations' late war and post-war tank designs, and it is regarded as one of the best tanks of World War II.
Until 1944, it was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. On 27 February 1944, Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral V be deleted from the designation.
The Panther tank was a compromise of various requirements. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I tank, it had better frontal armor (including the benefit of a sloped armor, increasing effective armor depth), better gun penetration, was lighter and thus faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tigers. The tradeoff was weaker side armor. The Panther proved to be deadly in open country and long range engagements, but vulnerable in close-quarters combat. Also, the 75 mm gun fired a slightly smaller shell than the Tiger's 88 mm gun, providing less high explosive firepower against infantry.
The Panther tank arrived in 1943 at a crucial phase in World War II for Germany. Rushed into combat at the Battle of Kursk with un-corrected teething problems, which resulted in breakdowns and other equipment failures, the Panther tank would thereafter only be fighting outnumbered in Germany's steady retreat against the Allies for the remainder of World War II. Its success as a battlefield weapon was thus hampered by Germany's generally declining position in the war, with the loss of airpower protection by the Luftwaffe, the loss of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of tank crews. Nevertheless, the Panther tank commanded respect from the Allies, and its combat capabilities led directly to the introduction of heavier Allied tanks such as the Soviet IS-2 and the American M26 Pershing into the war.
This is another of Dragon's very nicely done 1/72 armor kits and in this case it is the Panther D late production. This means it has the side skirts, which were useful in stopping anti-tank rockets, but were thin metal so often were damaged as shown on the box art.
The kit has a one piece lower hull with the suspension molded in place. The road wheels for the first couple of rows are molded as one piece, for you will not see the connecting plastic once the outer row is attached. A few modifications will need to be made to the hull to properly reproduce the D variant, and this is shown in the instructions. You have several bits and pieces to attach to the outside of the upper bodywork. Many of the parts for this kit are newly tooled just for this variant.
The turret is nicely done and while there is no inner detail, it appears that one could open the commander's hatch to place a figure. The gun barrel is single piece and can be moved in elevation. The turret simply keys into place and can move in azimuth. All of this rides on Dragon's excellent DS tracks.
Markings are provided for two vehicles on the nicely printed decal sheet. One is red 12 of the 16th Panzer Division in Russia during 1943. The other is the box art tank of the 24th Panzer Regiment in France during 1944. Both are a base panzer yellow with different disruptive schemes over the outer surface.
Dragon has done quite a few Panther based vehicles recently and so it is nice to have the base tank available to us.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can find this one at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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