In 1973 Bandai began releasing large scale German tanks with full interiors. The Sd.Kfz.173 Jagdpanther is one of three, the other two being a Porsche turret King Tiger and a Panther.
Big models were not uncommon 50 years ago. Tamiya released a range of 1/21 tanks and artillery, a StuG III, an M4 Sherman, an M1 155mm gun and, naturally, an M40 self-propelled 155mm. Tamiya also released a range of 1/25 tanks: Tiger I; Panther; Jagdpanther; T-34/85; SU-100; Chieftain; Centurion III. (1/25 echoed Tamiya's metrication for aircraft scales of 1/100 and 1/50, although they also kitted a range of 1/48 tanks.) Bandai went giant with 1/15 armor: StuG IV; Pzr IV; Hummel; Tiger I; Bandai chose 1/24 for their large scale tanks (and aircraft): M60; M60A1; Tiger II (P); Panther; Jagdpanter. (Just for trivia, Bandai also released several tanks in the weird scale of 1/30.) Several - if not all - of those Bandai or Tamiya models were issued with motors and gearboxes, and hardwired for remote control.
Bandai also kitted a 1/48 Jagdpanther with full (but incomplete and questionably accurate) interior. But that trivia is not what brought you to this review. Nor is a history of the Jagdpanther. Let's examine this model Panzerjäger V.
In the box
Bandai made their big models for static display and for motorizing; it also appears they did care about authenticity and accuracy. However, this is not a critical review, it is a look at a model many of today's modelers have probably never seen.
Please refer to the upper left image of tan. It represents the most accurate color of the plastic. The combination of lighting and my camera makes the model look yellow in the photos.
This version of the Sd.Kfz.173 is based upon a mid-production Jagdpanther. I read somewhere that the prototype this model was researched from is chassis number 303018, on display at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. (The very Jagdpanther the late Thomas L. Jentz was crawling around under with a tape measure when I met him c. autumn 2004.) It sports a single driver vision port (the second was discontinued in February 1944), Nahverteidigungswaffe
NbK 39 (9 cm close defense weapon) equipped in June 1944, and reinforced collar around the Schartenbusen
(embrasure) added in October 1944. The pioneer tools are mounted on the side although in January/February 1945, they were relocated to the rear hull. However, this model has the big late model exhaust stacks. I have skimmed several discussions about how accurate this model is. Please feel free to post your knowledge concerning this.
Then and Now
Since this model was released in 1973, the state of the modeling world has demanded more accuracy and authenticity. Especially after the fall of the Soviet Union, an avalanche of information and artifacts, with greater access to it, allows researchers, modelers and model manufacturers to come ever closer to replicating precise scale subjects. Detail in this model is simplified and incomplete - Bandai did not attempt to reproduce the intercom system, fuel system, or plumbing. Interior brackets for mounts and stowage were ignored, except for some holding Panzergranate ammo, but stored in boxes.
I snared this model off an on-line auction a decade ago. It is complete with all sprues stapled in bags. The seller included several partial sprues and two assembled sub-assemblies. This kit includes the RC parts, too. (I'll build it with the interior for static display.)
Inside the hefty box are 12 sprues, a one-piece lower hull and upper hull. Four colors of plastic were used: "panzer yellow"; black; light gray; steel. They are accompanied by a pack of individual styrene track links, screen mesh, rubber rims for the road wheels, and metal track link pins. (I did not attempt to count the parts.) These sprues hold parts for major components - 8.8cm gun, engine, driver areas and controls, radios, torsion bars for the workable suspension, and various external and internal fittings.
So how good is the molding? Bandai sculpted a rough texture simulating armor plate on the exterior parts. Detail is crisp. There is little flash. I spotted a few sink marks on some engine parts while editing the photos. Most of the parts have seam lines. Bandai avoided ejector circle marks on all the parts except the track links. Remember that this model is from the early 1970s!
Bandai filled their 1/24 German tanks with interiors. Sub-assemblies include the 690-horsepower Maybach HL230 P30 V12 engine and components of the radiator system. There is no wiring and yet flexible tubing and retaining brackets simulate piping and plumbing for the engine. The radiator fans are molded into their housings. How cool (pardon the pun) it would be if some innovative soul created a detail set with a spinning fan!
Driving the Sd.Kfz.173 was the Zahnradfabrik AK 7-200 synchromesh gearbox (a strengthened AK 7-400 was later utilized). Unless it was contained inside a cowl in the real tank, it is sculpted as a very basic sub-assembly lacking external wires and bolts, etc. This assembly is attached to the Maybach with a one-piece drive shaft. The driver position includes clutch pedals, levers, steering wheel, and instrument panel.
Seats are provided for the crew stations. They don't look good.
One radios is provided. I don't think it looks like Fu 5 or Fu 8 transmitter and receiver set. No intercom is included.
An 8.8cm PaK 43/3 L/71 main gun is included to fill the fighting compartment. Strangely, no Sfl.Z.F.1a gun sight is included! The gun mount is very basic; this model poses the question of "will I be satisfied with an authentic representation a Jagdpanther, or do I want to scratchbuild an accurate kit?"
Several parts attach to the ceiling including five periscope sights - but no Nahverteidigungswaffe
NbK 39 projector! There is a single MG34 for the ball gun.
What good are those guns without ammunition? Bandai molded a couple dozen 88cm rounds for stowage, and magazines for the 600 rounds of 7.92mm ammunition Jagdpanther carried. No MP40s are provided for the crew.
Crew hatch interiors have molded-on detail and separately attached locking handles. The hatches are designed to open and close.
That is the interior. The exterior is also textured with faux armor plate roughness. Unfortunately, the sheet metal fenders have texture, too. Bandai molded decent weld detail where the hull plates fit together. However, screen mesh is provided for the engine vents, and another baggie contains small metal screens.
The tow cables are plastic. Many exterior items are separately applied: view ports; extractor vents; antenna bracket. The tube the main gun cleaning rods are stored in - the rods are provided and the they are made to fit into the tube, with a removable cap. "Live action!"
You may have noticed in the photos that a set of pioneer tools and mechanic tools are provided. That rounded pointed spade just doesn't look right. Several individual track links are provided for the spares mounted on the rear hull. Separate individual mounting brackets are provided.
Speaking of track links, Bandai's Panzerjäger V has working treads. The Tamiya Tiger I and Centurion III tracks are assembled by snapping each link to the next. Bandai's are joined with thin metal pins. One hundred sixty links make the two tracks which wrap around the road wheels. Those wheel are detailed with separately applied rubber rims. They are sprung with flexible torsion bars.
There are a couple of partial sprues included that are for the Panther. One is a black sprue with three MG34s. Another holds the motor that drives the Panther turret. I posted those photos at the bottom of the review.
Shall we look at how you build and paint this kit?
Instructions, Decals, Painting
There is something I've always liked about brochure-style instruction sheets. Typical of the era this one starts with a color reproduction of the box art and a color photo of the assembled model. Next, Bandai provides a page of Jagdpanther history. Line art for each sprue is then provided for reference. Unfortunately, all text is in Japanese.
Assembly is guided through 34 steps with black-and-white line art and colorized illustrations. Several B/W photos on the pages show the assembled model up through a particular step. The guide is clearly illustrated and uncluttered. Paint colors are identified in each step - if you can read Japanese. Post-assembly includes text discussing Panzerwaffe colors and markings in preparation to painting and decals. But remember, it is in Japanese. Painting is guided with multi-view black-and-white, and color, illustrations. Several Jagdpanthers are shown. Finally, the booklet ends with a section demonstrating adding zimmerit onto the model, and cutting it open for interior display.
Decals include a big sheet typical for German AFVs. I think it is for the Panther kit. It consists of a full series of tactical numbers, national insignia, kill rings, and some unit insignia. The printing is opaque but rough and the decal film is thick and extends farther beyond the printed area than is acceptable today. You can create a Jagdpanther with almost any number, including the Regimental commander "R," and "S" for schwere Panzerabteilung
(Heavy Panzer battalion). Five divisions are supplied:
1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH)
2.SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich
No paint brands are referenced. Bandai 1/48 model color descriptions are "anthracite black," "frosted black," "gold" (for the main gun rounds), and other simplistic terms. How the state of modeling has advanced - fortunately, today there are plenty of references for Jagdpanthers and plenty of model paint manufacturers for you to use to create the most accurate Sd.Kfz.173 built since VE Day!
Bandai's 1/24 Sd.Kfz.173 Jagdpanther was a sensational model 45 years ago. I think it is still impressive and better detailed than Tamiya's 1/25 offering. If one wants an accurate Jagdpanther, this model may require layers of scratchbuilding. I am ignorant as to whether there are aftermarket, conversion, or detail kits and sets for it other than from Piter Panzer, via Panzer Hobby Art: http://shop.1-25saf.com/reviews.php?language=en. He offers turned gun barrels, P/E and resin sets, and other items.
I can not vouch for the accuracy of shape or dimensions of this model. It looks like a Jagdpanther to me. I think it looks better than the 1/25 Tamiya Jagdpanther that I have seen. This model can afford detailers hours of fun and adventure. The incomplete interior of questionable accuracy is a good start or it can stand alone. When I build mine, I plan to use better decals and perhaps external stores.
E. Eberl. Panther1944. Jagdpanther - Sd.Kfz. 173
. [http://www.panther1944.de/index.php/en/jgpz-jagdpanther.] 03 February 2015.
Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States, Volume 15. January 1, 1894
By authority of the Executive Council.