|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Pretty much a snap kit|
The Panther was a direct response to the Soviet T-34. First encountered on 23 June1941, the T-34 decisively outclassed the existing Panzer IV and Panzer III. At the insistence of General Heinz Guderian a team was dispatched to the Eastern Front to assess the T-34. Among the features of the Soviet tank considered most significant were the sloping armor, which gave much improved shot deflection and also increased the effective armor thickness against penetration, the wide track and large road wheels which improved mobility over soft ground, and the 76.2 mm gun, which had good armour penetration and fired an effective high-explosive round. Daimler-Benz (DB) and Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (MAN) were tasked with designing a new thirty to thirty-five-ton tank, designated VK3002, by April 1942 (apparently in time to be shown to Hitler for his birthday).
The two proposals were delivered in April 1942. The Daimler-Benz (DB) design was a direct homage to the T-34, side-stepping the German propensity for over-engineering and, hence, complexity, to produce a clean, simple design resembling the T-34 in hull and turret form, diesel engine, drive system, leaf spring suspension, track layout, and other features. In the DB design, like the T-34 design, the internal crew layout provided for two men: the commander would also have to serve as the gunner. This provided the advantage of a smaller, inexpensive turret design, as well as manpower savings, and a smaller target for enemy gunners to hit during a battle.
The MAN design was more conventional German thinking: it was higher and wider with a substantial turret placed centrally on the hull, a petrol engine, torsion-bar suspension, and a characteristically German internal crew layout for three men: commander, gunner, and loader. The MAN design was accepted in May, 1942 in spite of Hitler's preference for the DB design. One of the principal reasons for this was that the MAN design used an existing turret designed by Rheinmetall-Borsig while the DB design would have required a brand new turret to be designed and produced, substantially delaying the commencement of production.
A mild steel prototype was produced by September 1942 and, after testing at Kummersdorf, was officially accepted. It was put into immediate production with the very highest priority. The start of production was delayed, however, mainly because there were too few specialized machine tools needed for the machining of the hull. Finished tanks were produced in December and suffered from reliability problems as a result of this haste. The demand for this tank was so high that the manufacturing was soon expanded out of MAN to include Daimler-Benz and in 1943 the firms of Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) and Henschel & Sohn in Kassel.
The initial production target was 250 tanks per month at MAN. This was increased to 600 per month in January 1943. Despite determined efforts this figure was never reached due to disruption by Allied bombing, manufacturing bottlenecks, and other difficulties. Production in 1943 averaged 148 per month. In 1944, it averaged 315 a month (3,777 having been built that year), peaking with 380 in July and ending around the end of March 1945, with at least 6,000 built in total. Strength peaked on September 1, 1944 at 2,304 tanks, but that same month a record number of 692 tanks were reported lost (source: T.L. Jentz (1999) Die deutsche Panzertruppe Band 2).
The ausf D was the initial production version with less than 700 built. Many of these used zimmerit paste until it was discontinued in mid-late 1944.
This is the second of Zvezda's easy build armor kits I have seen and I have to tell you that I am impressed with this one as much as with their aircraft kits. The detail level is really very good and is nearly as good as what you get with some other 1/72 kits and better than most. The engineering that goes into these kits is really first rate and while many of us will use glue for the joins, it is not an absolute requirement. If anything, the attachment points are a bit too tight!
One starts the kit by installing the suspension bits onto the hull. The Panther has four layers of road wheels that are staggered. The kit provides the two inner sets as a single construct with detail on the hull side. The next level, also attached, fits atop that with the detail level outboard. Lastly, are four single wheels. These latter wheels have keys onto which the tracks are attached. Yes, it means that you realistically cannot install the tracks after all the road wheels are attached. The tracks themselves are a very stiff material that one bends over the road wheels, installing them on the very inboard set of wheels first before plugging in the outer wheels. It sounds complex, but is really very simple.
The kit provides all the various pieces that fit on the hull like spare links and the exhaust and rear cargo boxes. The instructions are quite specific on the fit of some of these parts as some are actually quite finely done. The side skirts snap into the upper hull before the lower hull is snapped into it. I guess you could leave the skirts off if you wished. The turret has no interior detail and the main gun can move in elevation as it, well, snaps into place.
Instructions are well drawn and there are decal options for two unknown tanks in tan with green and brown sections as shown on the box art. Decals are well printed and should provide no surprises.
I have to say that this is a superb kit. Sure, it requires no glue, but you'll probably need it as a 'lubricant' to get the parts together. The detail is such that you'll be looking for more in this series.
February 2013 My thanks go to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get this one at your local shop today or have them order one for you. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Back to the Main Page Back to the Previews Index Page
My thanks go to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get this one at your local shop today or have them order one for you.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page