detailed, contain full interior, includes latest details and parts for
mid production version, in fact, this kit can be built as either
Mid-Early, Mid and Late production A thanks to all relevant parts
included in the kit!
Disadvantages: A LOT of small parts, no clear parts, guide teeth for the tracks are separate.
When WW II started with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Wehrmacht force shocked the world with their Blitzkrieg tactics (the word was actually invented by the British believe it or not) of using tanks, or panzers as a shock force to drive a wedge into the defenders, then the following infantry would mop up the remaining survivors. Believe it or not, at the time, the Panzerwaffe was actually not well equipped to really Do this….It’s surprising, but the majority of Wehrmacht armed forces were still horse drawn, especially to the bitter end when fuel became chronically short (the fact of the matter is, it’s the U.S. Army that became the world’s first true mechanized army, thanks in no small part to the “Arsenal of Democracy”……And that is in thanks to companies like…..As “Web” in Band of Brothers so eloquently screamed, “Say hello to Ford and General Motors!!!” These companies, along with Studebaker etc produced trucks and other vehicles in such numbers that they not only equipped the U.S. Army, but also were given to the British, the Free French Army, and Russia to the tune that many Russian drivers simply abandoned broken vehicles, knowing full well there was another American made truck waiting for them later!). The fact that it was very successful was simply the Allies at the time didn’t have anything to defend against this tactic! The sight of Polish cavalry on horsebacks charging against steel is something of a tearjerker but also brutally shown how warfare has forever changed. Even as the Panzer force came up against superior French tanks such as the Suma and the Char B, superior tactics, momentum and general Allied ineptitude kept the Germans going. All of that, however, was about to come to a crash halt!
At the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Germans quickly swept all opposition aside. Then the Wehrmacht came up against the excellent T-34 and the shellshock was supreme! Simply put, the T-34 was better than all of the German Panzers up to that point. The mainstay of the Wehrmacht Panzerwaffe was the Panzer III, used against other tanks with a 50mm gun. This quickly proved very inadequate against the T-34, with its thick angled hide and excellent 76mm main armament, the T-34 can stand well off and fire against the Panzer III with impunity. The other was the Panzer IV. Armed with a short barreled 75mm gun, The Panzer IV mark D was mainly used to tackle fortifications and pill boxes, not really well suited against other tanks. The problem became compounded when the heavier KV-1 showed up, and then there was the monstrous KV-2, one of which blocked the advance and received over 100 hits before the legendary 88mm was able to knock it out! Obviously, an answer was needed to be found against these new Russian tanks.
The first few solutions was to quickly adapt a long barreled 75mm and quickly inserted into the Panzer IV since the Panzer III were too small to adapt this weapon. This finally allowed the Wehrmacht to fight the T-34 on equal footing. However, what the Wehrmacht really wanted was something completely superior to the T-34. This was the Panther and in some respects, the Tiger.
The VK20 project was actually started back as early as 1938, as a replacement for the Panzer III and IV. However, as the war progressed heavily in favor of the Germans the project was slowed to a crawl. All of that went out the window immediately upon the encounters with the T-34 and the KV-1. A new project, code named VK30.02 were headed by both Daimler-Benz and MAN to design a replacement with a 30 ton weight. Lessons learned from captured T-34 examples will be built into the new design. These include a sloped frontal armor, which proved effective at deflecting incoming rounds, and thus against penetration, wide tracks to move over rough and soft grounds, especially in Russia and finally, a well-armed gun to stand off against enemy armor.
The DB design was nearly a complete copy of the T-34, featuring well sloped armor, a diesel engine with a rear drive and the turret near the front. The MAN’s offer is more conventional, with a Maybach gasoline engine, transmission at the front and turret in the center. The tank would also features interleaved road wheels very much like the Tiger with torsion bar suspension and would feature a long 75mm gun that’s actually superior to the Tiger’s famed 88. Although Reich production minister Albert Speer and Heinz Gudarian preferred the DB version, it was Adolf Hitler that made the decision to go with the MAN’s version instead. The final design weight ballooned to 45 tons and more due to the demand made by Hitler to increase the frontal armor to 80mm total. Due to the slope and the quality, the equivalent was actually 150mm on the turret front and up to 110mm for the glacis! This proved to be nearly impervious to any Allied tank gun except the 122mm in the JS-2, the 76mm in the Sherman Firefly, and the 90mm in the M36 Jackson and M26 Pershing. However, to keep the ballooning weight down, the side armor and especially the rear was kept at bare minimum. The side armor was actually so thin, 45-55mm depending on the version, that even a 75mm armed Sherman could defeat the Panther from the side at standard combat ranges. This made sure that all Panther commander were made well aware to defend their flanks. The tank would be powered by a Maybach engine developing initially 650HP, later upgraded to 700. This gave the tank good power to weight ration compared to the Tiger, which used the same engine but suffered from mobility problem to its massive 55 ton weight.
The tanks main armament is a Rheinmetal Borsig 75mm KWK-42 L70 weapon. Due to the ammunition in having much more powder than competing 75mm shells, and a very long barrel, the gun have more penetrating power than even the Tiger 88. This also made aiming easier since the initial muzzle velocity is so high, the trajectory is extremely flat. The tank was further armed with two MG34 machine guns, one co-axle with the cannon, the other in the hull at the bow. The initial D and very early A version had a slit in the hull to fire the bow machine gun. This was later updated in the Mid A version to a bow ball mounted version. Overall, the Panther was one of the best tanks to see production, offering one of the best compromises in its armor, armament, and power.
As soon as the design was finalized, the new tank was thrown into the fray. Production were hurriedly sped up in order to allow the new tank, along with the Tiger to participate in Operation Zitadel, the Battle of the Kursk, where the new tank failed spectacularly! This was due in no small amount to the fact that the design was simply too rushed! Over 80% of the tank suffered from one reliability and mechanical fault after the other. In fact, maintenance and reliability issues dogged the tank from beginning to end. After the initial battle, several improvements were quickly made to the D version. These include the aforementioned changes to the bow machine gun position. The commander cupola was also changed and mantlet thickened. The new version, the Panther A was the most produced since a host of improvement were made to its engines and transmission that solved many of the problems plaguing the initial version. However, some were never be able to solve. The transmission problems still lingered and this plagued the tank till the very end.
The final version is the G. The most obvious change was the vision slit on the driver side was eliminated to prevent the apparent weak point from taken advantage off. The driver was given a rotatable periscope. Other changes included both the driver and radio operator hatch are now designed to swing upwards quickly to facilitate escape. The side sponsons are less sloped to be in line with the turret. This opened more spaces to allow the G version to carry more ammo. Because of this, side armor was thickened a little to an equivalent of 55mm. From the Mid production G onward, a mantlet with a much thicker lower lip was added. This solved one of the Panther’s biggest weakness. The rounded mantlet, the downward rounding lip proved to be a decidedly good shot trap where it bounced rounds right through the very thin hull roof or right into the turret ring….Both equal the tank being taken out of the action. The thick, straight lower lip mantlet solved this problem. Overall, many historians gave the Panther as the best tank of WW II, even better than the Tiger since it’s far more mobile, reliable and its firepower is actually stronger and offers the same protection, at least frontally. Over 5000 Panthers were produced, second only to the Panzer IV in terms of production.
I actually got this kit a year ago and it’s been sitting in the box because…umm…well…..UMM!!! Sigh, what is it with me and kits that contains over a couple billion parts?!?!?!?!??!?!!? As if that 1/16 King Tiger isn’t punishment enough…Now this, with parts now much much much much smaller too!
Well, upon opening the box, there are few surprising things……The first thing is lack of clear parts. All periscopes are included, but they are all solid plastic so that’s that…Also, there is a dearth of photo-etch. The only photo etch are the top engine intake screens. The rest are all plastic, which should make assembly much much easier!
Looking through the parts, and examining other versions’ instructions on the net (THANK YOU How-Amps!!!!), I quickly realized despite the box saying this is the “Mid-Early” version, you can actually build either this, the Mid, or the Late version since all three mantlets are in the kit, along with both the double eye aiming scope and the mid and late version single eye aiming scope. This means, if you check the net and get the correct instructions, you can build whatever version you choose! The only thing is with this version, the pistol/submachine gun aiming hole on the side of the turret are there. The rear one is redundant since the mid and late version rear plate is in the kit. You just need to fill the two holes on the sides of the turret that’s all! Otherwise, it’s just a matter of picking out the right parts for the right version!
Other than that, it’s just AAAALLLOOOTTT of parts and AAALLLLOOOT of patience. You definitely need to mark down what goes what and where to jump to make painting easier since there are a lot of steps and sometimes the instructions don’t make sense, at least when it comes to painting.
The first thing you do is rip out the colored interior picture pages in the middle of the instruction book…Yes, book! I quickly figured you’ll be visiting these pages…A LOT!
The construction itself begins with the lower hull. It’s in three pieces. Guess when the scale is much smaller, it has to be this way since there are a lot stuff that goes on the bottom plate and the side walls. The major construction is the transmission so take your time. And no, you can’t assemble it later like my King Tiger since it get stuck in the middle between the two walls and the bottom plate. After the torsion bars are assembled in, the two walls are added to the side with the driver’s operating sticks stuck in the middle. The torsion bar arms are added afterwards. May save the wheels for later. A helpful jig is used to make sure all the arms are even.
The next few pages deal with a plethora of interior details. The batteries, driver and radio operator’s seats, rear compartment wall, transmission connection rods, box loaded with ammos, etc are assembled at this point.
Track assembly is next….May skip this till the end. The tracks are in three pieces. Yes, the guide horns are in two separated pieces but the tracks are link and length. To deal with the boredom of assembling all those teeth, Takom has a unique way of doing this. Each of the guide teeth correspond to their individual length of links. I.e., Teeth F1 correspond to the longest length of tracks on the sprue. What you need to do is clip both ends off, then cement ALL of the teeth directly onto the length of tracks on the sprue itself since the distance between the teeth are an exact fit on the links themselves. After the cement dries, clip off the “handle” and Viola! Done…….Have to wait and see how this work out since each of the tooth has two mold pour spots on each and if cleanup is a hassle, may just bite the bullet and assemble it the hard way!
Then the completed tracks are put on the jig, yes, the same jig that help you check the arms is used to assemble the tracks with the correct sag and tension. What happen is, you take the sprocket, insert to one end, and the idler, insert into the other end and assemble the tracks on the top rung only, leave the bottom empty, with the individual links to wrap around both the sprocket and idler. After paint is dry, carefully take off the whole entire assembly and put on the hull sides. Then insert the bottom most length of tracks to finish it off. Notice there are two of these rigs since one side is slightly different than the other so follow the instruction CAREFULLY here so you don’t goof! Again, have to wait to see if this makes it simple…Or another world of pain!
Engine assembly is now made. This is very detailed, much more so than the Rye Field offering. Take your time since this is a very good looking engine when done….This time, may not cement it into the bay like my King Tiger so I can pull it out to display it!
The side sponsons are now made. Again, I don’t know why these manufactures have you insert all the assemblies on the sponsons, THEN have you attach it to the hull since that’s just asking the prior assemblies to break off and feed the carpet monster! Hence why I’ll cement the sponsons first, THEN add in the details! The details are complete with the rear gas tanks and radiators.
The rear plate is now made. Again, for the exhaust pipe, the three pipes for the mid and late version is included. Visit how-amps for those instructions if you must. The lower hull is complete at this point.
Upper hull begin with the engine and air intake panels. The only photo-etch in the kit used at this point. The engine maintenance hatch, if you are careful, should be able to move when done. May leave off the pioneer tools till later. The interior features a well-appointed bow machine gun and the radios. I definitely will not cement the top to the bottom as to reveal that interior whenever it is needed! The “schurzen” side armor plates are added next. Just be aware these things in real life were only 5mm thick and were not that well attached….So any even slightly battle worn Panthers will have several missing so cutting them up and only place some pieces is perfectly fine! In fact, some Panthers were missing these completely!
Turret begin with upper interior assembly. Again, for mid to late, fill up the side pistol/submachine gun holes. The rest is straightforward for all versions.
Exterior is next. May leave this till last until all interior are complete. But here, you assemble the rear escape/ammo loading hatch. Use the plate without the hole for mid to late version. Read the instruction carefully and be judicious with the glue will result in the hatch being operable when done.
The lower turret plate is done next. Again, check the color call out page for the correct colors.
The main 75mm cannon breech assembly is next. For the aiming scope, for early-mid to mid, use the double eye sight one G6. For late and some mid versions, use the piece G13, with part G75, the eye piece cemented on as the aiming device. The rest of the assembly are the same.
The turret assembly is complete with the basket. Again, refer to the color call out for the right colors. Notice here, a vinyl exhaust pipe piece is used to attach the turret exhaust port to the vent on the turret. May not cement the pipe to the exhaust port so I can pull the turret apart for show. Three markings are given, all mid-early but laymen may not able to tell….Especially if you got plenty of German decals in the spare decal box! The first is a Panther A early-mid of the Tokenkof division, the infamous Skull heads in Poland 1944. The second is a tank of the 23rd Panzer Regiment, 23rd Panzer Division in the Ost Front, 1944. The final version is a tank of the 26th Panzer Division, Italy, 1944. Overall color are various. The first one has a two tone camo of overall Dark Yellow with dark green patches, the second a three tone with dark yellow, dark green and red brown. The last one overall Dark Yellow, with the schurzen carrying some red brown stripes.
WHEW!!!! Finally done. Sorry if it takes too long cause this is a complex kit……Hence why it stayed in the box this long and I got a Tamiya 1/35 Panther G instead! I will one day make it cause it’s begging to be built! I also decided not to do the mid-early version but a Late version instead since all you need is fill the turret holes, use the correct parts and I got PLENTY of leftover German decals! The only other big tripping point is that nearly all the Panther A, save for a few dozen wore the Zimmerit coating….This is not Takom’s fault since they do have offerings with the coating but me being a cheap skate bought this one cause it was at least $20 off the asking price of the one with the coating! Sigh, may break down and buy a 3rd party coating decal or something….. But still, this won’t be awhile since I got a long train of project waiting to be completed and I still got that Sturmtiger to do first! One thing at a time….One thing at a time!
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