- Published on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 00:00 Thomas Mayer
1/35 Pz.Kpfw. V Panther Ausf. G
Catalogue # 6493
Available from Italeri and other good hobby retailers, for around Euro 37.00 (about GBP 30.00)
The German Panzerkampfwagen V "Panther" is not really a new and unknown vehicle for us modellers, isn´t it? The German army had heavier and more powerful tanks during World War II, but these were few and did some damage to the German war effort simply by their complexity and the material requirements to build them.
The Panther tank on the other hand was complicated to build, too. But it also was this advanced that still today some call him the best tank in the world during WWII. The sloped armour plates, clearly inspired by the Soviet T-34 tank, a powerful Maybach gasoline engine, it´s long-barrelled 75 millimetres high-velocity anti-tank gun, and the interleaving running gear with superior cross-country performance made this tank something special.
In 2004 Lee Archer and William Auerbach started to publish a new series on German armour, issuing the first volume of their Panzerwrecks series.
I never before have seen a Panther tank with additional armour plates on top of the turret! But in this issue is not only one picture as shown on the front cover but thirteen (!) pictures of Panthers from 1./Pz.Rgt. 26! Two of these modified vehicles, numbers 424 and 434, have been knocked out in the night of the 15/16 April 1945 near Sesto Imolese, Italy.
Italeri surprises now with a new issue of a Panther kit in 1/35 scale spotting these additional armour plates! At least in one rather short review I found on the Net there obviously had been some confusion if this was a completely new kit. It isn´t. The caption "Fully Upgraded Moulds" printed on the box top of the kit makes this clear.
One reviewer got his wires crossed by telling this kit to be a reissue of a Dragon Panther kit. Maybe he should have taken a deeper look at the bagged spruces further down in the box and he would have noticed to be wrong. Only the bagged sprues of the upper hull are labelled to be from Dragon, with the rest of the parts looking familiar from Italeri´s Panther / Bergepanther kits.
There also is the caption "Components made in Italy and in China" printed on the box side.
Looking at the contents moulded in grey plastic I immediately recognized the lower hull and running gear parts. I once owned Italeri´s Bergepanther kit and so I had a kind of a "déjà vu". I shortly after gave this Bergepanther kit to another modeller for I did not really couldn´t warm to the running wheels and the somehow soft mouldings of the Italeri parts.
So, what do we get here? The assembly manual is all in b/w, guiding through the build of this kit on twelve pages with clearly arranged line drawings. In-depth measurements are given to assemble and fold the etched parts given with this kit, so even a modeller unversed in doing PE parts should be able to do these.
Only the painting guide at the end of the assembly manual is rather useless in my opinion for being printed in b/w only. The individual colours of the tricolour camouflage are not discernible in these mono illustrations for being printed as almost black and washy drawings. The only illustrations of the two tanks that can be done (vehicle numbers 424 and 434 are given as decals) printed in colour are shown on the side of the box top with three left side views (a third "scheme" shows an undefined burned out vehicle). There also is one plan view, head on and back view each. Due to their smallness I would render those colour illustration rather useless, too. One could have a better view on these colour schemes on Italeri´s website here (click on the thumbnails to see the larger pictures).
The third scheme of a destroyed and burned-out vehicle is nice. But, you cannot do a burned out vehicle from the contents of this box for there are no burned road wheels with the rubber burned off given in the box, also any other parts that would be needed to portray a tank that has suffered fire and immense heat. Sorry, Italeri. The box top states that decals for four versions are included, but, leaving the burned-out vehicle aside, I count only two versions.
Sprue "A" is of Italeri origin.
Here we have the lower tank hull with two extension pieces to be glued on to the hull´s sides, the road wheels, the individual torsion bar arms, and other mostly running gear related parts. Sprue "A" looks like being a generic sprue for Italeri´s Panther / Bergepanther kits but I stand to be corrected here.
One thing I noticed are the rims on some of the road wheels to be too pronounced in comparison to other Panther kits and contemporary pictures, with the road wheels looking rather slim. You barely will see the thickness of the road wheels with the tracks on, but you still will see those rims.
Nearly all of the smaller parts show more or less flash, mould separation lines and ejection marks. A quick swipe with a sanding stick or a modeller´s knife should get rid of these.
Sprue "B" is of Dragon origin.
Moulded in grey plastic, too, this sprue shows the Dragon icon and the designation "1/35 Panther" on the sprue label. The moulding is crisper and better defined than the previous sprue "A" from Italeri. I don´t know what Panther kits (Gunze / Dragon) this sprue is taken from, but it looks very good to me. If anybody has more information on this please contact me on our Scale Plastic & Rail Forum. I would appreciate this!
Most of the upper hull parts have a grainy surface, very fine and nearly invisible, but enough to get paint something to grip on. I cannot find any flash on the parts with the mould separation lines being very faint. The spare track holders and the inside face of the driver / radio operator hatches show some mould ejection marks. Only a tiny amount of filler will be needed to get rid of them. There are some stiffeners moulded to the inside of the upper hull, preventing warpage and making this part very solid.
Sprue "C" is of Italeri origin.
Most I said about the mouldings of sprue "A" of course applies to this sprue here, too. Sprue "C" comprises the turret, the gun mantlet (no chin mantlet here) showing a nice rough casting surface, the commander´s cupola and hatch, and many other sometimes small parts. I do not understand why there are different surfaces on parts that belong to the same sub-assembly. For example the turret parts: the separate rear turret wall has a very subtle grainy texture moulded in, the gun mantlet sports a nice rough casting surface. But the main turret part is smooth. It is almost glossy!
I also don´t know why Italeri moulded some depressions to the inside of the turret´s side walls. There are no parts to add there in this kit. But those depressions show as shallow dimples on the outside surface of the turret. As one will have to roughen the turret surface up with a drill in a motor tool or by other means to apply some texture to it these dimples will get invisible later.
This sprue also contains parts no. 132. These will be used to add the photo etched twin armour plates to the turret top later.
Sprue "CC" is of Dragon origin.
There are 42 individual track links on each of the five sprues given. With 87 links per track 36 track links remain as spares. 16 of these will be needed to glue them to the turret sides of these Panthers of 1./Pz.Rgt. 26.
The track links show a fine cast surface. Sadly they have a nasty mould ejection mark on the track grouser. The guide horns are moulded solid. So, at least for me, we have two reasons to replace those tracks with some from the aftermarket. The kit´s tracks aren´t bad, but, you know...
Sprue "D" is of Dragon origin.
Two of these sprues are given. But here only the large panels to close the hull sponsors above the running gear and the hull side skirts will be used. Too bad, for I like those late Flammenvernichter or fire trap mufflers! But these would not be correct for these vehicles here.
What´s left in the box? A final bag containing the photo etched parts and two steel cables, separated by a firm sheet of white cardboard!
As you see on the picture of the PE fret this one has been done by EGYSminiatures in Italy. The etching is flawless; I like the woven effect on the grills. The PE exhaust covers will look great, as will the armour covers over the cooling air inlet openings. There are nice lines etched into some of these parts, aiding to fold and assemble them.
The steel wires are a nice addition to this kit. No fuzzy string here! For the wire is a bit springy I would suggest to carefully anneal them to make them more pliable. After this the loops have to be attached to the respective ends with CA or superglue.
Now, as mentioned before we have here a kit that´s parts are from different manufacturers: Italeri and Dragon. One of my first concerns when looking at the parts was how would the Dragon upper hull fit to the Italeri lower hull? Will the Italeri tank turret fit to Dragon´s upper hull?
The answer to both questions is: fit is great! I test-fitted the larger parts to each other and was surprised how good they fit to each other. Remember what Italeri printed on the box top? "Fully Upgraded Moulds". I don´t know what exactly they modified to make their parts fit to Dragon´s, but they did a really good job! Let me show you:
Nice, isn´t it? Let me finish this review with some more pictures of this kit´s parts:
So what do we think?
The nice box art with the pictures of an assembled model having photo etched parts on it made me want to have a look into this box. I was puzzled to see two bags labelled "Dragon" together with further bags from Italeri in the same box.
But as we see the fit of two manufacturers' parts is surprisingly good, so I guess Italeri did a good job making their parts fit to Dragon´s. However, I am not sold on Italeri´s road wheels and the sometimes soft contours of the mouldings. I also don´t get why there is no consistency in the surface of the individual parts (see the turret parts). Wouldn´t it have been more beneficial to get all the vehicles parts from Dragon and only add the parts needed to do the additional turret and engine armour plates by Italeri?
I am impressed by how Italeri made their parts fit to Dragon´s. I am also happy to see a nice set of photo etched parts and steel wires given in this box. In the end Italeri has chosen some really fascinating field modified Panther tanks as pattern to do this kit.
My very best thanks to Italeri for the review sample
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