Tamiya 1/35 Panther ausf A
|PRICE:||I got mine for $18.95 shipped|
|DECALS:||A nice set of turret numbers and insignia|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||1975 release date on this edition.|
The Panther Ausf A was the second production version of the Panther medium tank, and was very similar to late production Ausf Ds. No good reason can be found for the order of model letters used on the Panther. Most of the changes made to the Ausf A were designed to improve the poor reliability of the early Panthers. Amongst these changes were the introduction of a stronger running gear and drive train and better cooling for the engine exhausts. The number of bolts holding the wheels together was also increased
The most visible change was to the commander’s cupola, where the simple drum cupola of the Ausf D was replaced with a hemispherical (curved top) cupola, with armoured covers for seven periscopes around the top. A ring to carry an anti-aircraft machinegun was carried above the periscopes. The turret also featured an improved traversing mechanism, which could operate at two different speeds.
The second visible change on the Ausf A was the introduction of a ball mounted machine gun in the hull front. The mounting itself was protected by a circular bulge on the front of the armour.
Production of the Ausf D merged into that of the Ausf A, with many of the changes associated the Ausf A actually introduced on late production Ausf Ds, while others were not immediately introduced – the new cupola can be found on late Ausf Ds, while the machine gun ball mount was not present on all Ausf As until later in 1943.
The Ausf A began to reach the eastern front soon after the battle of Kursk. It operated alongside the Ausf D and later Ausf G in every theatre of the war. It dominated the Panzer forces in the middle of 1944, and most of the Panther detachments in Normandy were equipped with this model.
Many armor historians consider the Panther tank as being the first true MBT (Main Battle Tank) and the forerunner of modern tanks today.
Tamiya's Panther tank was originally issued in 1961 and like all their tank kits of the time, it was fully motorized. Over the years it was realized that while motorized kits were neat, they really were not what many modelers wanted so the kit was revised a couple of times until 1975, when this edition was originally released. Gone is the motor and associated parts, but the lower hull still has the markings for battery placement and the various slots in it for the power switch. The kit also has the ability to simply slot in place the upper hull so that access to the motorized bits and battery can be easily made.
The kit is considerably simplified compared to the 400-500 part Dragon kit and others. No individual track links with this one, the 'rubber band' vinyl tracks are provided. The kit also comes with a driver and commander figure, something most other kits are lacking. There is no interior as that would have been filled with motor and batteries. Since this was supposed to be moving, the road wheels are held in place by caps on the molded in place suspension. Same for the sprocket and idler. For some reason, the idler gear has teeth on it which the builder will need to remove. Perhaps this was the motive source for the tank when motorized.
Both the driver and commander's hatches are hinged so they can be posed open or closed. To have the commander's hatch operate, a heated screwdriver is needed to melt the pin once it is installed. In addition to the hatches operating, the hull machine gun can be made to move as well, of course, for the main gun and turret. The main gun has a two piece barrel and those who don't like fussing with seams can easily locate an aluminum replacement. The rest of the outer surface of the tank has the usual mass of pioneer tools, brackets and handles.
Instructions are pretty much unchanged from d1975. The only color information provided is for painting the figures and generic shades are given. This was prior to Tamiya having its own paint line. No overall painting information is provided either. One uses the box art for inspiration. The decal sheet provides a selection of different turret numbers for you to use. The kit has no zimmerit on it and I believe that the production of the ausf A ended before that became standard on German armor.
The actual molds have held up well over the years and these sorts of kits are great for newer modelers as well as those of us who don't do tanks all that often. The fairly low parts count is a real incentive for most of us who cringe at the thought of a 500+ parts armor kit.
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