Panther ausf A Late Production 1/72
The German Panther A was fielded after the rushed effort to bring the Panther D into combat. Most modelers are aware of this juxtaposition of marks, the D coming before the A. However, we'll leave that discussion to forums and focus on the Panther A. Obvious differences between the marks are the D's barrel-shaped commanders cupola was replaced by a cast, sloped one with periscopes on the A. Another feature of the later A is the rounded armored machine gun port for the assistant driver. Production of 2,200 Panther A's ran from August 1943 to August 1944.
This Dragon version of the famous Panther is in 1/72 scale and follows earlier releases of Panther in the same scale. DML has extensive experience in the Panther series in 1/35. In fact the kit box art is borrowed from Ron Volstad's rendition of the Panther A for DML's 1/35 release from years back. The box art Panther has Zimmerit applied while the kit does not. I talked myself out of trying to scribe the fine waffle pattern in 1/72 scale and built the kit out of box.
The kit comes in a end-opening box with the markings and painting guide printed on the back. There are markings for two vehicles from the Normandy campaign in June 1944. Five sprues and two lengths of Dragons DS flexible tracks are included. Parts for earlier releases of Panthers are present like the smoke dischargers from the Panther D. The hull for this release is plastic and not the metal type from the earlier releases. Molding is in a light gray plastic which somewhat hides the level of the kit's detail...it's there, you'll see it come out during finishing.
Of the two versions shown on the color paint and marking guide, one is a three color squiggly line version, whiel the other is (mostly) plain yellow. Note the numerals are much larger on second tank and it has three brown streaks running down the side armor. In the spirit of a quick build I chose the second version but left out the brown streaks. This scale can be a good cure for advanced modeler syndrome if you decide not to add additional detail
The outermost roadwheels are separate pieces on the sprues. The innermost roadwheels are meant to be attached together in runs to make assembly easier so remember not remove the attachment points... more on that below.
The roadwheel axles make for a looser-than-desired fit. Plan on holding the interleaved road wheel assemblies straight while the glue sets.
The suspension parts are molded on the lower hull. Assembly of the roadwheels is made easier because individual runs are attached together as seen below. The end result is hidden from view as the outer wheels are attached.
DS tracks are a nice option for the kit. Decals are well done and don't require any trimming or special treatment. With a few coats of decal solution they lay down well over the turret pistol ports and rear loaders hatch.
The hatch of the commanders cupola is closed and no machine gun is provided.
Like the turret hatches, on the hull, hatches are molded closed. Tools are molded on their racks, except the pry bar which is molded separately. The kit provides no photo etch for engine screens. Keep it fun, this is Braille scale.
The side armor, or schurzen, is tapered at the edges to convey their scale thickness. However I found the registration points attaching the side armor to the tank rather fiddly. On my build the installed tracks rubbed against the side armor pushing it out of alignment. Try to insure the fit of the drive wheel is as close as possible to the hull. Otherwise a little effort will be needed to insure the side armor is aligned.
The gun travel lock is molded in the 'up' position so I attached the main gun barrel for transport. After priming in flat black I painting the base color of Tamiya Desert Yellow XF-59. A wash of Mig AMMO US Vehicles Wash was applied next. Here is where the level of the kit's detail comes out. A touch of AMMO engine grease on the engine deck followed. I used AK Earth effects on the road wheels in an even filter coat to add shadows and weathering to the lower hull. Vallejo European Dust and AK DAK vehicle streaking grime was used for some very light streaking. In 1/72 scale the weathering has to be very subtle. Tracks were brush painted using a mix of Tamiya Flat Black, NATO Brown and a touch of Flat Red. Some silver highlights were dry brushed to the track ridges. To tone down the final effects I sprayed a mist coat of Tamiya Buff. I lost the part for the bow mounted machine gun barrel so I used a thin piece of wire instead.
Moving between different scales can be a fun way to break up your modeling experience into new areas. The Dragon Panther A 1/72 fits the bill as a quick and rewarding build. It has enough good detail without much in the way of complexity. I found there were some areas I had to work on alignment but getting some practice finishing a small scale model of this iconic tank more than made up for a little extra work.
Thanks goes out to Dragon USA for this review kit.
Reviewed by Mark Norman of Hudson Valley AMPS
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