by: Adie Roberts [ ]
The Panther was born out of a project started in 1938 to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks. The initial requirements of the VK 20 series called for a fully tracked vehicle weighing 20 tonnes and design proposals by Krupp, Daimler Benz and MAN ensued. These designs were abandoned and Krupp dropped out of the competition entirely as the requirements increased to a vehicle weighing 30 tonnes, a direct reaction to the encounters with the Soviet T 34 and KV1 tanks. The T-34 outclassed the existing models of the Panzer III and IV Nevertheless, it served alongside the latter and the heavier Tiger 1 until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection. Its reliability was less impressive.
In this build review I have built the new Tamiya Panther Ausf D with the addition of some Tamiya and passion models after-market offerings as listed below.
35435 – Panther D
12664 – Panther D Metal Gun Barrel Set
12666 – Panther D photo etched Grill set
12665 – Panther D Separate Track Link set
Passion Models - P35-115 for 1/35 Panther D PE set [Tamiya MM35345]
Passion Models - P35-116 for 1/35 Panther D Schürzen PE set [Tamiya MM35345]
Passion Models - P35-115V for 1/35 Panther D PE value set [Tamiya MM35345]
Tamiya's new mould Panther Ausf.D starts out with the bottom piece of hull the detail on this is, I have to say refreshing. I cut out the bar where the escape hatch is, right in the middle of the hull and filed with a needle file to make sure it was nice and smooth before placing the hatch into place. On the inside of the hull is what looks like a guide to where you have cut for the hatch however I ignored this, as after a dry fit trial to cut it that big would leave you having to fill in the area to make it fit. Next onto the torsion bars which again looked good the fit was very easy to make with three different sizes going onto each side. at the front end of the torsion bars was a small yet detailed piece of suspension once in place the drive system could be placed and then on to the wheels!!!!
Now because after the straight build I am doing for Aramorama, I am going to be making a diorama which I will then post up some further pictures of. I decided to at least add the tyre colour to these as it would be very difficult to go back and try to paint these after finishing the build. I used Vallejo Panzer Aces 306 Dark Rubber, I had very recently bought a set of Brokentoad paint brushes for use with my figure work, I decided I would try the 0 brush to paint the tiny rubber around the wheels. Now normally when I do this I have to do a bit of cleaning up as the paint has moved over the line, however I am impressed the new paint brush as it followed the line perfectly each and every time, the only cleaning I had to do was when I managed to transfer paint from my fingers to the wheels while admiring the work that I had done, Doh. The wheels themselves went together really well with no issues Tamiya have worked hard to improve the tooling on this new kit. After building the wheels I then fixed them in place.
Next it’s the back panel of the tank; this is the first time I get to use some of the photo etch from the passion models full etch set for the Tamiya Panther Ausf.D. Some of the photo etch here is very fiddly to say the least. Now trying to find some of the photo etch on the three separate sheets and the instructions is a little wanting when it came to finding the parts. That said it was good once I had worked it out. Now this is only my opinion but some of the etch I found was not needed as the level of new detail on the kit itself is as good if not better, such is the new level of detail on Tamiya's new mould.
There are two storage boxes that are mounted at the top of the back panel either side these have etch clips that are very small and fiddly to use. I found in the end that the glue that I managed to use without getting loads of marks and still being able to move the etch into place was Gorilla gel a super glue in gel form. The little clips need a lot of bending I used a pin to guide the bend and create the loop. Once in place the next part of the build was the exhausts, there is a lot of etch to place on them, from the clamps that hold them in place to the back board that it all connects to. The photo etch does make this area look nice, but I have to also say that the plastic moulding version looks very similar to the photo etch.
The jack clamps were I have to say a pain to make; although once made I did add some extra wire with which to hold the jack in place. Now the fitting for the jack on the Tamiya instructions just sits on two pins, however the photo etch instructions have you placing it in a slightly different location and in order to make this work you also have to remove some of the external detail. There is more photo etch work to be done with the clamps on the top of the back panel where it connects to the top of the hull, the diagram shows that you have to remove the moulded detail; now I did file some of it down, but then placed the photo etch over the top of the filed down area as this to me looked better, giving it a form of depth. There was a plate with a couple of bits that go on there, which you have to bend three ways to glue on the bottom of the first storage box.
The top of the hull; the very first thing I noticed was the level of detail on the hull itself is amazing, I know for me Tamiya have always been pretty good with their level of detail, but the new mould really is as good as any of the other manufacturers out there. I chose to have the drivers position open, there was very little photo etch to do on the front of the hull apart from the front lights, these had some nice photo etch round each lamp. The next part of the build involved a lot of photo etch with the top of the hull. I decided to use the Tamiya frame that fitted on the sides of the hull to attach tools too as a jig. I placed the photo etch over the top of frame and removed some of the detail from it before being placed on the photo etch, then glued the detail back on the frame on top of the photo etch. The photo etch does without doubt raise the level of detail, but I have to say that the photo etch is fiddly and very time consuming; the results however do speak for themselves.
Further work was required with the photo etch on the top half of the hull and I added some of the wire that I had to add extra detail. The photo etch around the canister and the canister holder was very good, giving a much better sense of realism. I then moved on to the engine covers and grilles the photo etch worked well here making the whole area look completely different. On the plastic side the Tamiya kit went together really well, with only one slight fit issue near the front right hand side as you look at the kit, here the fit did not want to sit down; however some pressure and spring callipers left for a full twenty four hours seemed to cure that.
The underside panel that attaches to the hull was next to be fitted into place, with no dramas I soon found myself moving onto the front fenders. I had some brass photo etch and had to cut the plastic away to make it all fit in. There is some work to be done here to get it to sit in place properly, but it does look good when completed. It was now time to do the fittings for the side armour plating; now to use the photo etch version you have to fill the fixing holes that Tamiya has provided for the moulded plastic and then bend and manipulate some of the smallest photo etch I have ever seen. I have to say that not only was this time consuming, but the instructions were not easy to follow from passion models; even though I had completed the side, they stuck out so far that the front and rear fixings were too big for the armour plates. At that point I decided I would use the Tamiya ones and see if the etch armour plate would fit on to those, they fitted really well and I decided to scrap the idea for the photo etched version and use the Tamiya ones; this saved me a lot of time and hassle.
Moving onto building the spare tracks and the two towing cables. I did not use the rope that came with the kit, but instead stripped down some fine wiring and then using the multi strand twisted wire to look more effective. Some photo etch was used on the rear of the hull to act as the frame to hold the extra tracks on; I learned my lesson after the first side did not look right and I had to cut one of the spare track piece's down the other side, I used my eye sight and a Tamiya plastic piece to gage where the photo etch should go; it was about 10 to 15mm difference from the photo etch instructions.
Work now begins on the turret with the back panel of it, first is the fittings of one of the escape hatches this can be opened and closed and is a nice added bonus. The front panel is placed on the turret for the gun mounting to be fixed to it when completed the bottom plate is glued into place. The working parts of the turret are made up next for elevating the gun, this is placed into two aligning paths on the inside of the turret. The barrel comes next this kit comes with a plastic turret although I was supplied with the Tamiya metal barrel available separately from Tamiya, this really does make a difference and something I will be looking at doing with all my armour from now on. Lastly comes the two top turret hatches and in the commanders position the external fittings for the hatch, all of these areas go together really nicely, especially in the fitting. The last piece of work on this turret was just adding a few fittings in the form of various plastic handles and some smoke canisters.
The Tamiya German Panther Ausf.D separate track links were used on this build and are available separately. The track links when I first opened the box looked really good, the detail itself is amazing and they appeared easy to put together. The truth is it became a bit of a nightmare; I have a track link working tool, this is a godsend with all kinds of individual links; however it did not work that well for these. The tracks themselves are easy enough to fit together, but they are so fine in the fixing points it does not take much to break them. Worse still the way that they are, if you try even with Tamiya extra thin glue to stick these together unfortunately results in no movement in them at all, this kind of makes it pointless and you may as well go back to the original vinyl tracks. I tried the track tool, I tried to use the old way my grandfather taught me by using double sided tape which helped a little bit, but truth is it doesn't matter what you do as the fixing pins are just too small to be able to hold together and break very easily. The track took me some time to manipulate and build but once done did look good.
The final two parts of the build covers mounting the turret to the hull and then some real fun !!!! The pistol ports for firing a pistol out of, these came as part of the photo etch set from Passion Models. Now this is a lovely addition, but very fiddly, it has a chain that I have to say I broke several times just trying to cut them of the metal fret, but they are so delicate that once done if you have them open the detail is excellent, but if you have them shut then I have to say you would not even know there is any photo etch there. You have to use part of the tamiya plastic to glue to the bottom of the photo etch, so that once fitted in the hole you cannot see it. Lastly came the figures which went together very easily.
I have to say that it was a pleasure to be able to build a new tooling from Tamiya. The kit fits together without to many issues, in fact the only one real issue was the front not fitting, but with some clamps and plenty of time I managed to get it to fit. The kit is a really great kit to build, the photo etch on the other hand is fiddly. Some of the instructions leave a lot to be desired, but when it did come together it was very realistic and added that extra quality that you come to expect from a photo etch addition.