6267, Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G Early Production, Pz.Rgt.26 Italian Front, Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 596 styrene parts (including 16 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, two photo-etched brass frets, six turned brass parts, 12 metal parts, two lengths of braided metal wire, two decal/markings schemes and eight pages of instructions in 18 steps.
Based on the previously-released series of Panther Ausf.G Smart Kits, this new product will allow the modeler to construct one of the Panther Ausf.Gs that was fielded by I./Pz.Rgt.26 in Italy with the unique field-applied spaced armor on the turret roof. Furthermore, as with the previous kits, there are loads of options in the box, which should make this release quite desirable. For instance, the following optional items are available:
Four different basic exhaust pipe configurations.
Two different turret roof fan covers.
Two different MG Kugelblende assemblies.
Two different gun mantle styles.
Two different U-shaped tow hooks.
Two different drivers hatch lids.
Two different armored guards for the drivers periscope.
Three variations of the cooling exhaust fan tower castings; these include opened or closed parts associated with the Kampfraumheizung tower.
Two variations of engine deck lids.
Two different suspension system shock absorbers.
Two different final drive housings; one has a return roller, the other a skid.
Two jack block variations.
Parts for late turret configuration, including two different lift ring styles.
Parts for mounting steel road-wheels on the last stations.
Other parts included can be swapped around so that the modeler can model nearly every version of the Ausf.G. The only thing missing is the later self-cleaning idler wheel, but this can be obtained as an after-market item if one so desires.
This frontal angled view shows the main components in place. Many are not completely fixed in their locations, notably the etched brass roof armor; when nailed-down the fit is fine.
This rear angled view shows the opened turret escape hatch lid as well as one of the options for the engine deck configuration. See review text for explaination.
As with most of DMLs newer kits, this one includes Magic Tracks, which consist of individual links that press-fit together. They are packed in a small bag and require virtually no clean-up of mold attachment stems. They do have knock-out pin marks, but they are extremely subtle and are placed only between the pair of guide horns on each link; thus they are all but invisible on the completed model. The tracks are of the later pattern with the small ice grips on the face of the links. DMLs designers have gone to the trouble to create tracks where the molded-on guide horns not only have proper rib details on their outer surfaces, but they have also been hollowed-out. There are also four smaller sprues that have a total of 16 links with separate and properly detailed guide horns. The box-top CAD renderings say they are specifically for the drive sprockets, which, for some reason, the Magic Tracks wont fit. As a bonus, each small sprue for these track links contains five small and five very small wing-nuts (a total of 20 each); these little guys will come in handy, so make sure you consign them to the details bits box.
The torsion bar swing-arm units are separate parts and depict the three different types that were used at various locations on this Panzer. Internal torsion bar details are also given, including the holders and various other bits. The idler wheel swing-arm is also separate, which will make fitting the individual-link tracks much easier. Do not glue the idler wheel swing-arm into position until you are satisfied with the sag of the track. This technique will prevent the potential problem of the assembled track runs being a link too short or too long. There are other separate detail parts for the suspension system that are fitted to the hull side plates, including bump-stops, track pin return plates and two pairs of cast final drive housings; one pair has the small return roller that mounted aft of the drive sprocket, while the other pair mounts the skid. For this version of the Ausf.G, use the type with the return roller only.
Laying on its back, the hull molding shows the belly plate detail, the proper sit of the Gepäckkasten, and parts of the suspension system. The blue lumps are Fun-Tac, which was used to hold components in place for this review.
The drive sprockets feature the late-style hub-cap molded in place, while the early-style idler wheels are in four parts including separate outer rims for maximum realism. The standard rubber-tired road-wheels feature 32 rim-bolts and have subtle rim detail where the tires are mounted.
In order to accept the separate torsion bar swing-arms, the slide-molded hull pan has openings for them molded in place, as well as plate details, which correspond to the torsion-bars on the opposite side. Other bolt detail is included as well. At the front end there are separate plates that allow for complete detail on both sides of the final drive housings. The lower bow plate has excellently-rendered interlocks and weld beads, while the belly plate is of the final type that came in two sections, with the front being 25mm-thick and the remainder being 16mm-thick. All drain plugs and access plates are provided and are in their proper locations and configurations. The sponson plates are separate parts and attach to inner sub-plates for a very positive fit; they are exquisitely detailed with weld beads, bolt patterns, recessed screw heads and an opening for the power conduit (also included) that ran to the fender-mounted Bosch head-lamp. Also provided are the lower mounting brackets that the Gepäckkasten (baggage bins) rested upon.
The hull rear plate has fine weld seam and access lid details, as well as the prominent tow coupling that was mounted on the circular access plate. Early exhaust pipes are provided as are both welded and cast covers for where the pipes entered the hull rear plate; this option also includes the sheet metal heat shields that were wrapped around the exposed pipes. Not for use, but still included, are a pair of marvelously-rendered slide-molded Flammvernichter (flame-dampening) exhaust pipes, which are complimented by optional separate upper elbows. The two Gepäckkasten (baggage bins) are slide-molded and have very-finely detailed lids and clasps. Also, the bins are correctly-mounted spaced away from the rear plate, with all the proper brackets. The final items are a multi-part vehicle jack with delicate mounting brackets, convoy light including clear part, and U-shaped tow clevises.
A look inside the hull reveals the torsion bars and their holders, as well as the radiator tops, fan blades and air intake baffles.
The superstructure features integrally-molded front fender/mud flaps, which have separate detail parts as well as a single multi-part Bosch head-lamp (with clear styrene lens if the cap is left off) for the port side; there is a detailed mount under the fender with a separate power conduit, illustrating the dedication to fidelity of the kits designers. There are a couple of large, deep ejector pin marks under there as well, but they are hidden from normal view. The glacis plate features weld bead and interlock detail as well as a nice armor texture; it is also properly configured at the top edge where it meets the roof plate. There are two different separate cast MG blisters with a finely-detailed, slide-molded MG34 and mount; the machine-guns muzzle is pre-bored, and there is a separate cap to be used if the MG is not in place. The separate drivers and radio operators hatch lids (there are two styles provided) feature separate grab handles (check photos; some Panthers had handles; some did not) and complete underside detail. The springs seen on the inside of the transmission access plate that attached to the lids are present as are external bump-stops. Separate periscope armor guards for the driver and the RO are given as are clear styrene periscope heads; the drivers scope also has a separate rotator plate (remove the location tab and it can be movable) and sun-shade. The Heckzurrung (external travel lock for tank gun) is separate and features an intricately detailed chain segment due to the use of a slide mold. It can be configured in use or laid down. The turret ring race has complete detail and does not have cut-outs to keep the turret locked in place; personally, I prefer this method as it will allow the modeler more latitude in display. Just be aware that although the turret fits quite snugly, it may fall out if the model is inverted.
The engine deck has a number of options and also contains some internal bits. It includes etched brass screens for the various air intake and exhaust grills. Internally, there are the baffles and fan blades for the engine cooling system; this includes the option of two different fan blade styles. Externally there are two different styles of cast cooling air exhaust armor guards, with the third option being the raised tower associated with the Kampfraumheizung (fighting compartment heater); this was used on some Panthers from this particular unit. The separate slat arrangements that were situated only on the starboard side of the engine deck is given as either opened or closed options; likewise the pie-slice plates that cover the raised tower can be mounted in place or stored next to the opening. Two main engine deck plates are given; the differences are extremely subtle and quite difficult to distinguish, consisting of the same number of openings around the rim, but with differing styles of fasteners within them. A separate engine deck access hatch lid is given as are various fittings, hooks and filler caps. An antenna base is provided, but there is no rod antenna included.
The superstructure side plates feature proper weld bead and interlock details and have separate mounting frames for the tools and spare tracks. In styrene, the latter are very cleverly slide-molded and include properly-rendered U-shaped track hangers complete with small holes for the separate (and finely-molded) L-shaped holding pins. The tools have molded-on clasps; these are very accurately depicted and with proper cleaning will look the part very convincingly. A jack block with wood grain texture sits in its tray and two styles of large tow cable loops are provided; they come from a slide-mold and are pre-bored to accept the provided wound metal wire tow cable. Separate U-shaped hooks with separate L-shaped pins hold the cables in place on the engine deck. The thinner track changing cable is also provided; in this case the manufacturer has finally provided end loops for it. This shows that they do indeed listen to reviewers comments.
No Schürzen plates are provided. The rails on either side of the superstructure side plates are there, as are the hooks (in styrene). For the sake of versatility, it might have been good to have them; regardless, the Cyberhobby upgrade for the Ausf.G Smart Kit has them and Eduard has an etched brass Schürzen set for the same kit. So, if the modeler feels the need, they can be had. And, they would not be too difficult to make up from styrene sheet, using the cited references as a guide.
This is topped by a superbly-designed cast Prismenspiegelkuppel (commanders cupola with periscopes); its exterior is from a slide-mold, so that the area beneath the armor guards for the periscope heads is properly rendered. Clear styrene scope heads are then inserted from the inside, which has the proper thickness due to separate ring inserts. The multi-part hatch lid is completely detailed inside and out. There is a Führungsring für MG (ring for machine gun) and Fliegerbeschußgerät (anti-aircraft mount for an MG34), but no MG34 is provided. Finally, there is a separate external commanders blade sight.
The turret roof has separate grab handles, lifting hooks, two different fan vent cover plates (forged and welded), separate armored splash guard for the vent, molded-on Pilsen (crane mounts) with excellent weld and drain details, separate clear styrene loaders periscope (with armored guard), splash guard for the IR device linkage and mount for Orterkompass (floating compass). Separate Lost-Erkennungstafeln (poison gas identification panels) are provided, as is a slide-molded Nahverteidigungswaffe (close defense weapon); this can be configured with an opened or closed port and includes the internal part of the weapon. The turret rear plate is separate and features a movable escape hatch lid that also includes fine hold-open latch detail.
The modeler is urged to check references as many features included in the kit for the turret are not appropriate for the specific Panthers with the added roof armor.
Up front, there is a choice of gun mantles (standard and chin style) with a nicely-textured cast effect; they each have mounting pads for IR gear on the starboard side edges (which the instructions correctly tell the modeler to remove) as well as separate lifting lugs. This unit is topped by the sheet metal debris guard. The 7.5cm KwK is a conventionally-molded one-piece all-styrene item, capped by a three-part slide-molded styrene muzzle brake. The gun tube matches drawings in Panzer Tracts 5-3 very precisely and includes the subtle change in taper seen towards the rear; internally, there is basic breech detail for it.
The main feature of this special variation is the spaced armor attached at unit level to the roofs of some Panthers from I./Pz.Rgt.26. This consists of two plates in relatively thick etched brass and a half-dozen turned brass pins that mounted the plates to the turret. These are capped by etched brass hex-head bolts. In order to fit these plates, certain parts are not to be used and some filling may be required; the Pilsen sockets must be removed. Finally, six holes must be opened up on the turret roof, from the inside, where they have been molded in place.
One last item of note regarding the turret is the painted-on location points designed to help place the hooks (provided as shaped metal or styrene items) that were welded in place to fit spare track links to the turret side walls. These are provided in this way so that if the modeler chooses not to use the hooks, no clean-up of the location points will be needed. Some may consider this a gimmick, but anything that saves time is welcome by this reviewer.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Overall, I found only a couple of fit issues. The Gepäckkasten (baggage bins) must rest on top of the brackets (G10 and G11) but will not because of the placement of the location holes on their inner faces. The solution is easy: simply remove the pins on the hull rear plate and align everything by eye. Fitting the etched brass armor to the turret roof will also be a challenge if the modeler bends the plates too much or does not pay attention when drilling out the holes for the mounting pins. No sink marks were found, and in every case except for the above-mentioned individual link tracks, there were no visible ejector pin marks.
The recent four-volume series from the Panzer Tracts team, backed up by their classic work for Schiffer, as well as the Panzerwrecks titles (see listing below) was the base reference for this scale models physical attributes. After removing many of the major components from the sprues, I began laying them on the various sets of drawings in the Panzer Tracts book (No.5-3). Without exception, the fit was superb. Given that these drawings are widely held to be the ultimate reference for this Panzer, I can probably safely conclude that the overall accuracy level of this kit is quite high. It has been said that the turret rear plate has the escape hatch opening in the wrong place. Using drawings in the cited references, I could not find this discrepancy; the kits part matched the drawing very well.
Any issues I have with this kit are solely related to the few omissions that are noted, such as:
No Schürzen plates.
No anti-aircraft MG.
No radio antenna mast.
No spaced armor for the various openings on the engine deck.
In my opinion, none of these, except for the last items, are anything to get upset over. The engine deck spaced armor is necessary to model several Panthers from this unit, specifically those for which markings are called out in the instructions; their absence is quite puzzling. As mentioned, end loops for the track changing cable are now included, which shows the manufacturer is paying attention to comments by reviewers.
Some modelers will lament that no Zimmerit is molded on to the kits parts, especially in light of some recent releases from DML, which have this feature. Since some of the Panthers from I./Pz.Rgt.26 were seen without Zimmerit, in my opinion the manufacturer chose wisely by not including it.
The instructions are presented in the conventional manner, with intricately-detailed line drawings. Almost all of the main steps contain one or more sub-steps separated into small boxes; this will assist the modeler in preparing subassemblies for placement when needed. Most of the options are properly described, but, as seen in the initial Panther Ausf.G Smart Kit, the fitting of either the track return roller or track return skid to the proper final drive housings is a bit confused. In step 2, we are shown that either parts G-4 and G-5 can be fitted, or parts G-8 or G-9 can be fitted. So far, so good. Then in step three, we are shown that the return roller (two parts A-19) or the return skids (parts G-24 and G-26) are fitted. But, we are never shown which combination of parts is to be used. An examination of the parts will show to use two parts A-19 with G-4 and G-5 and parts G-24 and G-26 with G-8 or G-9.
However, this particular version only had the return roller fitted; just in case you were wondering
A nice touch is that the modeler does not have to guess how many links are fitted to each track run as the instructions show how many and which of the two types of link are needed (81 per side, plus eight for each of the drive sprockets).
Decals and Markings Information.
The decals are from Cyberhobbys usual supplier, Cartograf of Italy. All items are in perfect register, feature crisp edges and fine color saturation. Carrier film is thin, matte and closely cropped to the edges of the designs. Generic Tac numbers are provided so that any one of several Panthers from I./Pz.Rgt.26 can be depicted, with the following caveats. According to photos in references 18 and 19, the following features (along with the turret roof spaced armor) can be seen on the following Panthers:
Tac number 424 had the Kampfraumheizung tower and spaced plates over the engine deck vents. See reference 2 for sketches of the latter. No Zimmerit was applied.
Tac number 434 had the Kampfraumheizung tower and spaced plates over the engine deck vents. See reference 2 for sketches of the latter. No Zimmerit was applied.
Photos show that any other Panthers from this unit that were fitted with the turret roof spaced armor did not have any plates over the engine deck vents nor were they fitted with the Kampfraumheizung tower; they all had Zimmerit.
This image depicts the etched brass engine deck screens, the two types of cable, the small water-slide decal sheet and the various pre-shaped metal spare track hangers. One of the latter was missing from my sample; there should be a total of 12 of them.
Despite some omissions and possible confusion regarding specific features, fans of the Panther will want this one in their collection, especially those that want a kit with maximum variations in a single box.
Frank V. Curly Stooge De Sisto
References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to:
1. Panzerkampfwagen Panther Ausf.G; Panzer Tracts No.5-3, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
2. Germanys Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy; Schiffer, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
4. Panther Variants 1943-1945; Osprey New Vanguard No.22, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
5. Panther & Its Variants; Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
6. Panther; Squadron Armor In Action No.11, by B. Culver.
7. The Pz.Kpfw.V Panther; Osprey Vanguard No.21, by B. Perrett.
8. Modelling the Panther Tank; Osprey Modelling No.30, by S. Van Beveren.
9. Pz.Kpfw.V Panther Vol.7; Tankpower No.7, AJ Press, by W. Trojca.
10. Panther; Sturm & Drang No.5.
11. Panther, Jagdpanther & Brummbär; Achtung Panzer No.4.
12. Panzerkampfwagen V Panther; Aero, by W. Spielberger & U. Feist.
13. Panzerkampfwagen V Panther; AFV Profile No.10, by P. Chamberlain & C. Ellis.
14. Panther; Concord Armor at War 7006, by T. Anderson & V. Wai.
15. Panzerwrecks 1; Panzerwrecks, by L. Archer and W. Auerbach.
16. Panzerwrecks 2; Panzerwrecks, by L. Archer and W. Auerbach.
17. Panther Ausf.A/G, Photosniper 11; Kagero, by G. Parada, W. Styrna & M. Suliga.
Reviewers note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to Cyberhobby. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.
Cyberhobby Green Box kits are available from retail and mail order shops as well as direct from the manufacturer at: www.cyber-hobby.com.
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