by: Sal [ ]
This is a review of Dragon Models newly released kit # 6821, Pz. BeoB.Wg.V Panther mit 5cm Kwk.39. They call this tank an artillery observation vehicle that was based on the Panther Tank chassis. Rheinmetall was awarded a development contract in 1942, and one of its proposals was to replace the original 7.5cm armament with a 5cm KwK.39/1 gun and a machine gun in a Topfblende (pot mantlet) in place of the usual arrangement. They were also fitted out with a built-in rangefinder, a T.B.F.2 observation periscope mounted in the turret roof, and a T.S.R.1 spotting periscope. The commander's cupola was also an interim design featuring seven periscopes. I have not been able to find any internet references to a Panther with a 5cm Kwk.39 gun so Iím not sure if this kit was meant to be a Paper Panzer.
The Panzerbeobachtungswagen Panther Artillery observation vehicle with heavily modified turret mounting wooden (or sheet metal) dummy gun and ball-mounted 7.92mm MG34 was modeled by Dragon Models as kit # 6813 Pz.Boeb.Wg.V Ausf.D Early Production.
This kit comes in a typical Dragon Models style box that features an artist rendition of the kit on the cover and several computer graphic images of the details on the bottom. Once you open the box you immediately notice that there is no Dragon Models Card, seems to be the norm now with new Dragon Models kits. But the box is packed full of gray plastic spruces. The instruction sheet is the typical 4 page, Dragon Models black, white and blue fold out instructions with black and white exploded view photos. The front page shows the spruces and their letter designation while the inner pages have a paint color chart followed by 26 assembly steps and the Paint and Markings guide on the back page.
While flipping through the instruction booklet I noticed that the illustrations looked familiar and I was right. The first 20 steps are exactly the same as Dragon Models kit number 6160 Sd.Kfz.171 Panther A Early Type (Italy 1943/44). This piqued my interest and caused me to complete a through comparison between the two kits. So while the spruces marked A, B, D, and E are the same for both kits, spruce G of the old kit was re-lettered to L. What is new is the hull that does not have attached control arms, a new spruce F that is the front of the turret and the cupola, some spruces with assorted antennas, 2, one piece DS Tracks and new spruce C that is marked Sd.Kfz.234/2. Also included is a small decal sheet with 2 Balken Crosses and 2 pre-cut thin plastic card, that make up the side Schuerzen.
The parts are flash free and feature very nice fine moldings. There are some parts with that small nib that Dragon Models uses on their spruces but not as many as I have seen previously.
The upper hull features very nice surface details and is appealingly equipped with all the tools and extra track links that a Panther would have. The lower hull has all the access plates included on the bottom as well as the suspension control arms that are separate from the hull. The turret also features some very nice weld marks that match up nicely with the new turret front plate. All of the new periscope and commander's cupola as well as the 5cm KwK.39/1 gun, which is the same one that comes from Dragon Models kit #6256, Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma. Additionally, there are mounting locations for three antennas including a star antenna. The plastic card side Schuerzen and mounting brackets are not overly complicated and will attach easily.
As mentioned the kit is supplied with a set of DS Tracks as well as the old individual links attached to spruces, not a set of Magic Tracks.
Also as previously mentioned the instruction booklet contains a paint guide for three brands of paint, GSI Creos Corp. Aqueous Hobby Color, GSI Creos Corp. Mr. Color and Model Master Color. The paint guide diagram offers only 3 views of the tank, the left side, front and back view of the tank, along with 2 painting scheme options:
Unidentified Unit, 1943 a tri color camo
Unidentified Unit, 1943 in dunkelgelb
This kit looks like it will build up into a very nice version of a specialized Panther Tank. The new lower hull with separate control arms is an improvement over kit #6160, parts are detailed and do not display any punch marks or excessive flash that would require extra clean up. However, Dragon Models has taken a bunch of older spruces and dressed them up in a new box with a new name and only added the DS tracks while adding a hefty price tag to an older but good kit.