- Published on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 09:56 Nick Mayhew
Panther - 10 Subjects And Their Stories
Various Authors, Foreword by Hilary Doyle
Available from Canfora Publishing for €33.00
Simple modelling 'how to' books have never really grabbed me, even when the models shown therein are of high quality. I think this is because these volumes and their subjects often lack historical context and, for me at least, this can be as important and interesting as the model itself. So this book, on Germany’s Panther tank, by a selection of authors who are seen as some of the best modellers AND some of the most knowledgeable researchers on the subject, combines the best of both worlds in my opinion.
The book is in soft back A4 format, and in 144 pages covers as the title indicates, 10 different Panther tanks and the stories behind them. Primary photographic references are used throughout, as well as ‘then and now’ picture comparisons of the actual villages, road junctions and so on where either the original vehicles were pictured, or where they were known to have been in action or ultimately knocked out. There is historical context for each vehicle subject, whether it be technical and development details of the vehicle itself, or tactical unit and action information going through when, where and how events unfolded. The show piece of most chapters is a diorama or vignette showing the vehicle and crew. What makes the book special is not so much the quality of the models or the research that got them there – these are as I mentioned of the highest standard - but more the fact that each author endeavours to tell you how they got there: what kit and aftermarket parts they used, which paints, what techniques and so on.
The contents of the book is broken down into 13 chapters, but suffice to say that the main variants of the Panther are covered, from Ausf.D, Ausf.A through to late Ausf.G models with steel tyres and those prepared for infra-red night fighting operations. The additional chapters cover Mirko Bayerl’s research trips back to Hungary to investigate the battles of 9.SS Pz.Div. and the elusive “AJ9” Ausf.G. I shall go through the different tanks in turn so can get a better feel for the contents, and any notable techniques or accessories used, but it is important to note that in a number of chapters previously unpublished photos are now reproduced, which makes the book a valuable resource in its own right.
“Faith, Hope and Charity” by Roger Hurkmans
Panther Ausf.D #316 11. SS Pz.Abt. “Hermann von Salza”, Narwa, 1944
We start off with an account of the background to and organizational structure of SS units containing Scandinavian and Dutch volunteers who fought on the Eastern and Northern Fronts. Dragon’s #6299 kit is used, along with Aber’s upgrade set and Modelkasten tracks. The tank is finished in overall dark yellow with heavily owrn winter whitewash. As well the ‘hairspray technique’, the author explains how he went about the paint chipping, including a note about what thinners to avoid melting your Modelkasten track pins! The figures are ‘kit-bash’ of various Dragon arms legs etc with heads by Hornet.
“Mein Gott, Ivan!” by Lester Plaskitt
Panther Ausf.G #32[?] 23.Pz.Dv., Hungary, March 1945
This tank was part of a column of vehicles knocked out / abandoned along an unfinished road, and we get a number of pictures of both the column and this specific vehicle (some new and previously unpublished) as well as some ‘then and now’ comparison shots, which I always find add inetrest and focus to a modelling project. The tank is finished in hard edged factory applied Daimler Benz camouflage pattern. Dragon’s #6370 is the base kit, and there is an extensive list of upgrades used, including WWII Productions tracks, Aber photo etch (PE) and Accurate Armour resin gun travel lock. Of note is the Infra Red (IR) stowage bin, which is scratch built, courtesy of fellow author in this book, Roddy MacDougall. The figures are Dragon’s “Achtung Jabo” set with heads from Hornet and Alpine Miniatures.
“The Last of the Steel Wheelers” by Darren Gawle
Panther Ausf.G #321 I./Pz.Rgt. 22, Germany, April 1945
This chapter struck a chord with me when the author revealed that less than a month after completing the project and sending pictures in to the publishers, he found out his tank was probably 21st Panzer Division in Alsace, and not Panzer Regiment Hermann Goering in East Prussia! It is reassuring to know that even the top modellers and historians occasionally have this happen to them. Dragon’s #6370 is the kit used, along with updates from Aber, MA Morii and WWII Productions.
Panther Ausf.G #AJ9 Part 1: The Search for AJ9 by Mirko Bayerl
Mirko Bayerl takes us on his journey trying to discover the truth about tank AJ9, in which he finally managed to confirm both unit and the location in Hungary where it was destroyed by its crew. There are some excellent then and now photos as well as previously unpublished period ones. There is a fascinating account of Mirko going to meet a now old man who used to live in the village of Vilonya as a boy, and who remembers AJ9 being parked next to his house, as well as having a German Flak unit in his garden. Not the sort of thing one is likely to forget!
Panther Ausf.G #AJ9 Part 2: 9. SS Pz.Div. Hohenstaufen and AJ9 in Hungary by Mirko Bayerl
The next chapter follows the journey of AJ9 up until its end, and also includes a wider account of the operations of 9. SS Pz.Div. Hohenstaufen in Hungary, March 1945. More then and now shots, pictures of Hohenstaufen tanks knocked out in the battles with the Russians, and a number of quite detailed maps showing unit movements, and actual tank locations.
Panther Ausf.G #AJ9 Part 3: The AJ9 Diorama “Morgengrauen über Papkeszi” by Mirko Bayerl
The final chapter by Mirko on AJ9 concerns the model and diorama of AJ9, an intricately constructed scene showing the tank crew at a dawn briefing, watched by a Panzer Grenadier and an old woman whose house the crew have slept in the previous night. Dragon’s #6268 kit is the basis for AJ9, along with updates from Aber, Voyager and WWII Productions. The tank itself was a Befehlswagen (command vehicle) and, as such, was manufactured by M.A.N. It is finished in a factory applied camouflage scheme, and the dark yellow muzzle break typical of these tanks is a particularly nice touch. One final note, the ‘sit’ of the tank has been lowered from the kit’s original setting to more accurately reflect combat weight, and the stresses placed on the suspension.
“Kaufmann’s Steed” by Roddy MacDougall
Panther Ausf.G #211 SS.Pz.Rgt 1 LAH, Kampfgruppe Peiper, Ardennes, December 1944
The campaign in the Ardennes Forest, or infamous “Battle of The Bulge”, is probably one of the most well known episodes in World War II, and so this steel wheel Panther as commanded by Untersturmfuhrer Huber Kaufmann should be particularly popular, as it was one of three Panthers that marked the furthest Westward advance of Kamprfgruppe Pieper. Finished in M.A.N. factory applied scheme, the base kit is Dragon’s #6370, using Accurate Armour’s update set #A116, which the author actually mastered. The author also takes us through in quite some detail exactly how he achieves a stressed and dented look to things like stowage bins, and how he uses Magic-Sculpt putty to create or upgrade figures.
“Retreat from Anzio” by Toni Canfora
Panther Ausf.A #114 I./Pz. Rgt 4 Anzio, 1944
The editor of this book has also contributed one of the chapters, an Early Ausf.A involved in the Anzio fighting of 1944. The base kit here is Dragon’s #6160, one of their older releases notable for the fact that it does not come complete with relevant zimmerit finish; Cavalier set #123 is used to provide this. Additional updates are from Aber, Voyager, MA Morii as well as scratch built cleaning rod tube. By carefully studying the picture of the original vehicle, and matching its visible features to known production timelines, Toni was able to able to effectively narrow the date of production to a two month window. The tank is finished in a subtle three colour camouflage scheme, and there is comprehensive explanation of how he went about creating the diorama / vignette.
“Panther Schürzen in Simontornya” by Mirko Bayerl
Whilst the discovery of a Panther schürzen found in Simontornya with original paint still intact may not sound the most earth shattering, the examination of how it was painted – specifically the order in which certain colours were applied and over what primer – is very useful to modellers. The results were certainly different from those which I had always assumed… The rest of this section deals with Mirko’s other battlefield findings in Hungary , including an Sd.Kfz.250 half track door resting near a henhouse!
“Ein Letztes Verschnaufen” by Brian Murdoch
Panther Ausf.G #202 2/SS.Pz. Rgt 1 LAH, Ardennes, December 19th, 1944
Another Ardennes Panther, #202 is particularly interesting because it comprises a zimmerit covered turret and a ‘clean’ hull, a combination that I had not seen before (for Tiger fans, it resembles a Fehrmann Tiger in reverse, if you see what I mean). Because of the hybrid nature, Dragon #6370 is used, and automotive repair putty used as the basis for the zimmerit, whilst aftermarket updates include romwell Models cupola, Aber PE, Accurate Armour detail set and WWII Productions tracks. Once again, the suspension has been lowered to give the model a more realistic ‘sit’. The author also takes us through how the Ardennes buildings were created, using a scratch built framework for MiniArt brick sections, as well what modifications were made to the accompanying motorbike to better represent a late war vehicle.
“Infra Red Prepared Panther ( BIWA)” by Gunnar Jansson
Panther Ausf.G #213 from Kampfgruppe Weymann, Hungary, January 1945
The use of - or intended use of - Infra Red (IR) night fighting equipment by German forces late in the war, and especially the use of Panther tanks in this regard seems to be one of the most talked about German armour topics, and these tanks have almost assumed mythical status for many modellers. However, as with many myths, differentiating fact from fiction has proven difficult. This chapter is especially welcome since it includes previously unpublished pictures of a Panther with IR stowage boxes and other related equipment, as well as a check-list of things a modeller needs to do for an accurate IR or ‘BIWA’ (Bild Wandler) Panther. The model is finished courtesy of some excellent weathering effects which include mud and snow.
“To Hell and Back” by Markus Eriksson
Panther Ausf.A #521 5. SS Pz.Div. Wiking, Poland, 1944
This Wiking Late Ausf.A was based on a series of pictures which show the tank before during and after its various battles (the last of which shows it knocked out), meaning we get a much clearer idea of exactly how and where a tank ‘weathers’ as its life progresses. The author walks us through some unit and vehicle specific modifications that were made in the field, and how he models them. Again one of the older Dragon kits is used as the base, #6358, with the zimmerit being provided by Atak, and other upgrades by Eureka, Part and Adler’s Nest. The diorama although small and superficially very simple, is painstaking in its attention to detail, and you get a good explanation as to how the various effects were achieved.
“Peipers Letzter Schlag” by Phil Stutcinskas
Panther Ausf.G #221 SS.Pz.Rgt 1 LAH, Kampfgruppe Peiper, Ardennes, December 1944
A third vehicle from the Ardennes campaign provides the final subject for the book, and the introduction includes a dramatic account of some of the unit’s actions. This steel wheel Panther is a M.A.N. vehicle with (semi) hard-edged camouflage scheme, and yellow muzzle break as per one of the previous vehicles. The diorama is numerous focal points, from the wounded officer on the engine deck of #221, to the other officers watching from the pavement the tank’s approach. The attention to detail in the debris by the side of the road and seemingly out of sight parts of the diorama are particularly stunning.
So what do we think?
In one word – wow! If you like the Panther tank, and you want to learn how some of the best modellers around research and their projects and achieve their results, this book will be invaluable!
Even if you chose not copy one of the ten subjects covered, this book will surely provide you with inspiration for many more interesting projects. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Many thanks to Toni Canfora for the review copy. To purchase directly, click THIS link