by: Henk Meerdink [ ]
IntroductionToday, reference sources come in many shapes and sizes. Many modellers like to build a small library of reference works, either specific for the models that they build, or more generalised to the specific era of history that they are interested in. These small libraries can quickly turn into an expansive (and expensive..) collection filling one or more bookcases. If only the information from all those books could be condensed into one, definitive reference work to give the modeller all the relevant information to build his model as accurately as he or she desires. The good news is, this 'Definitive Reference' may well be around the corner.
The Research Squad (of whom more in a moment) are releasing a DVD called "The Panther Project", which is a DVD that contains all that you would need, or want, to know with regards to the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther. This is not a 'how to' about building a Panther, but much, much more. From the earliest design stages, until the last capitulation, from issue numbers and dates to maintenance specifications, it is all here. This DVD combines 2GB of information, Technical Manuals, Unit Histories, Campaigns, and a large amount of detail invaluable for the Modeller.
The Research Squad is a company dedicated to publishing in a variety of media, subject specific productions. Each project is undertaken with the assistance of experts in the subject, and in the instance of this Panther project, which has been in the making for several years, unprecedented access to the interior of the Bovington Panther means that the interior photographs are second to none. This DVD is a modellers dream come true.
the contentThe production of the DVD is very slick, and is easy to navigate. The contents are broken up in 6 main 'chapters', and these are sub-divided into 20 'subject' chapters. The graphics are perhaps a touch futuristic for the subject, but they do add to the feeling that this is not just a collection of word document articles added together. You use the mouse commands as you would normally, and the 'one click' enlarge feature whilst hovering the pointer over the photographs is really ice. The 360 degree interior shots can be zoomed as well, providing unprecedented detail to assist in super detailing your next Panther built. I will list the contents here as they are on the DVD.
Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the DVD, this is where the 360 degree colour images of the interior of the Panther G are found. Images are shot from the usual crew members positions, giving you an unprecedented 'feel' of what it's like to be inside a Panther. These images are also a goldmine for modellers detailing the interior.
Unit markings, operational markings and camouflage schemes are covered in this chapter. There are 11 sample camouflage schemes, and for modellers a most useful conversion list to help you determine which no. is which colour in most paint brands.
Photos of the development prototypes, as well as a comprehensively detailed history of the development of the Panther.
Many, many photo's of the various versions, and a type ID feature, which lists all the distinguishing features of each individual version. Also a very useful list of the manufacturing dates of all the versions.
This chapter shows the various vehicles that used the Panther Chassis, such as the Bergepanther.
This chapter is divided into three main parts, and here you can find photos of individual parts, many photos of the assembly lines with Panthers and Jagdpanthers in various stages of completion. There is also a section with excellent photographs of damaged Panthers. The text part not only lists individual parts with information, but has a wealth of information on the individual manufacturers, supply of materials and much more.
This chapter is divided into two parts, the first detailing the various large operations that the Panther was involved in. Anzio and the Battle of the Bulge are some of these operations, and the maps are 'interactive', where moving a slider shows the advance step by step through arrows on the map. The second part details the various unit histories, from the initial creation of the unit until destruction or disbandment and concentrates on the issue of the Panther to these units. No. of tanks, issue date and origin are all documented in minute detail.
This chapter is about the main offensive weapons of the Panther, and includes detail such as aiming devices, ammunition, and the infra-red equipment. The second part is about the defensive weapons, from the simple Walther p-38 through to Howitzers. Again the technical detail provided for all is incredible, combining lists of specs with development histories.
Separated into several parts, this chapter starts with period photographs of crews, and follows with modern colour photos of re-en actors in original or reproduction uniforms. A valuable resource for figure painters. The final part shows close-ups of the various camouflage patterns.
This chapter gives a fascinating insight into the daily maintenance chores and other tasks of the Panther crews. There are complete scans of maintenance manuals, operating manuals, technical specifications, diagrams and more. Judging by the maintenance intervals in one manual, a diorama with the crew underneath the tank greasing the 41 grease points would be depicting a more regular occurrence than an attacking Panther.
This section contains scale drawings of early, mid and late versions of the various Panthers. These plans have been programmed to print out in scale, in 1/72, 1/48, 1/35, and 1/16. The 1/16 scale plans are automatically printed on four separate sheets of A4 paper, with an overlap and appropriate markings to line them up correctly.
This is where it gets properly technical, with the measurements and tolerances for every component of the Panthers. That is every type of Panther. Did you know that the Piston pins weigh 37 grammes, including the two cir-clips? Do you need to know the exhaust tappet clearances? It's in here.
A gallery of Panther models, with a nice 360 degree feature.
Bovington, the Tank Museum near Dorchester, is much more than just a collection of Military vehicles on display. This chapter shows why it should be top of your list of 'must visit' places.
This impressive collection contains some real gems, and at the moment is in the progress of restoring a Panther A.
conclusionThis DVD is a must have for everybody who has an interest in the Panther, and indeed anybody who has an interest in German WW II tanks. The visual content is excellent, and the access to the surviving Panthers in the Bovington Tank Museum, Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Wheatcroft selection and Fort Knox ensure some of the most up to date and exciting images of the Panther. More so for the Bovington Panther, the interior of which is normally sealed off to the public. Access to the archives of Bovington and the National Research Archive has enabled the creators of this DVD to include important technical and historical detail, and all of this in one place.
The DVD that I am reviewing here is a pre-production sample, and some details and content are still finished off before the final product is released in January 2007. During the course of my review I was in touch with Brian Balkwill, who at this moment is putting the finishing touches to the DVD, and who has been most helpful (and indeed patient...) with any questions I put to him.
As reference sources go, this ranks amongst the most complete, if not the most complete work available in one packet today. It is valuable resource for the modeller, providing so much detail on every aspect of the Panther to enable you to build a perfect scale replica of your chosen subject. It leaves no excuse to not be historically accurate, be it the application of Zimmerit, or the Unit and theatre of operation. Highly Recommended.
The Panther Project can be visited at their website, http://www.thepantherproject.com , where details of release date and how to buy the DVD can be obtained.