Takom- Panther Ausf. D Late Production Sd.Kfz. 171- Full Build
Before we begin, take a look at the First Look here.
OK...so first off-- a bit of an apology to the crew and to Takom for the length of time this build took me. As a general rule, we try to get things done within a month- but this build has been a bit out of the ordinary. I took it despite not being a huge fan of German armor-- mainly because Takom makes amazing kits and I do love kits with interiors. In the midst of starting this one though, I took on the position of review coordinator which took some getting used to. Add to that the holidays filled with family events, and the plates began spinning on the skinny little sticks...
Needless to say-- there were some issues with this build...not with the kit- but with the builder. First off, all the paint references are for AMMO from Mig paints. And while I could easily have gotten away with using a more readily available brand, I wanted the excuse to give these paints a try. Unfortunately, no one in the States had them in stock- so it was a three to four week wait for them to come in. Luckily, the build itself would keep me busy. This is an involved kit-- a lot of prehistoric animals and plants died for the amount of plastic in this box!
Work begins with the floor of the kit and the building of the transmission. When you finish with the engine and interior, you've done more work than you would on a typical build. I loved every minute of it!
The engine-- a kit unto itself!
You'll be building interior parts for a good long while actually-- the first fourteen steps at least. The instructions are pretty good in respects of where to place things, but I will be honest-- you have to be careful here to avoid headaches later. The alignment of the side pieces to the lower hull is a bit tricky as you have to line up all of the torsion bars into the correct spots...
Lots of torsion bars and details
There are plenty of subassemblies to keep you busy when other parts are curing and drying. The spare shell cases are another instance of lots of parts and careful work.
Next up is the track assembly. Takom provides very awesome jigs for you to set up the correct alignment. They also include the guide horns as separate trees. Keep them attached in their long runs as you attach them to the track pads and your work will be dramatically reduced. Attaching the guide horns is a little tricky as there are only shallow spaces for them- I used Tamiya Extra Thin here so I had a little time for things to set up correctly.
Steps 18 through 21 are all about the engine building and installation- but as you already saw at the beginning, I did that up while I was waiting on paint. It really is enjoyable and if you take your time and decide to open things up, you will be rewarded. The sidewalls are up next-- including more shell storage racks. Take your time on this step or things will not line up for you well. I rushed things and had loads of problems later. Every model is a new lesson learned! Engine fans and radiators are next-- and they fit right in the back very nicely.
The rear side panel is completed after this-- no issues and it attaches without a hitch if you do things right up until this point. If you didn't attach the turret sides correctly, things start to go south. The top side with all it's details- hatches, grills, tools and racks, spare tracks, cables, etc. You then flip it over and start work on the interior details-- hatch interior details and the radio.
When completed, you mate the top side to the lower hull- as well as the fenders. After that are the side skirts. There are seven separate brackets to attach to them and then to the hull. I tried adding them first and then to the hull, but it is difficult to line them up where they need to be afterwards. Adding the brackets to the hull first on the other side was a little easier- but getting everything lined up was not a small task.
The turret assembly is next-- starting with the interior detail and then all the fiddly bits on the outside. The machine gun is to be added next, but I have no idea how they do that without knocking it off later. I waited until the end. The gun breech assembly is next, as well as the gunner station. There is a lot here- but it will sadly be hidden away once everything is put together. The gun barrel is one piece-- with the three piece end glued together and added onto it.
After mating the turret basket to the turret, you then add the whole assembly to the main tank body to complete assembly. There are four schemes available for painting- a three color scheme from France, and three two-color schemes from Kolomea. I chose the second scheme- 131. The zimmerit detail takes the paint well- decals needs some decal set as there are lots of places to settle into. I'm still not completely happy with it. Weathering was done with AMMO by Mig washes and pigments. I used Tamiya panel wash to help the zimmerit detail pop out a bit.
Takom's series of Panthers really are quite amazing kits. You get your money's worth- especially with the interior kits. With the added detail comes the added headaches of getting things lined up perfectly to avoid issues later. I wasn't as careful as I should have been so had issues lining the rear up to the top half when it came time to pull everything together. I added a tarp from the spares box to the area I messed up-- I am not proud, but by the time I'd encountered the issue, it was pretty difficult to fix it appropriately. Again-- I learn something from every kit for the next time.
Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders due to all the extra details to fit together.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves, AMPS Albany
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