Sd.Kfz. 171 Early Production Pz.Kpfw.V Panther Ausf.D
Models’ Panther Ausf. D Kit 7494
|Article by Stephen 'Tank
Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman
As evident by the title, this is an in the box review of three 1/72-scale plastic model kits of Germany’s WW2 era Panzer V Panther tank. Two of these three kits, the Dragon (DML) kit 7474 and the Zvezda kit 5010 are recent releases at this time and will be compared with the older Revell kit 3107. When the Revell Panther kit was released it was a vast improvement in accuracy and detail over the older Hasegawa, Esci and Airfix Panthers, so now let us see how it compares with the newer Panthers.
I won’t get into the history of this well known AFV, but I will comment how it has puzzled me on why this initial version was the Panther Ausführung D (Model D) and the Panther Ausf. A came afterwards? (Please keep in mind that in my reviews I am generally not a rivet and bolt counter.)
look at the box art and see what is supposed to be in the box.
Down on the hull we see the hand tools, tubular storage tube and spare track stowed on the side. On the engine deck we see a single radio antenna (German tank antenna were rigid hollow copper rods); the driver’s hatch is open and is the style that lifts vertically and swivels out of the way. On the glacis the driver’s view letter-flap viewing port is open; this flap is also a distinguishing feature of the Panther Ausf. D and the Ausf. A. Next to the vision flap is the partially open, vertical, machine gun flap for the MG34 gun; this flap is characteristic of the Panther Ausf. D.
The suspension features include large, rubber tired, interlocking roadwheels and a large 6-spoke sprocket wheel at the front for the wide steel track. The side skirt to help protect the thinner side from armor piercing bullets is in place preventing us from seeing the two-part hull sponson.
The Panther appears to be portrayed in the USSR, likely during the Battle of Kursk (Operation Zitadelle) where the Panther made its debut in 1943. It is painted in soft edge squiggly brown and green lines over Dunkelgelb (Panzer yellow) color. The tank commander and the infantry figures are not included in the DML model kit.
The vehicle features in the painting are pretty much the same as in DML’s painting. The four periscopes for the driver and radio operator are visible on the hull roof. The interlocking armor plates are evident on the bow. With a rear side skirt plate missing we have a glimpse of the two-part side sponson characteristic of the Panther D and Panther A. On top of the gun mantlet I see what appears to be a weather cover strip that I believe was only seen on late war Panther Ausf. G.
This Zvezda painting has the AFV finished in soft-edge green lines over Dunkelgelb (dark yellow) and simple markings of a cross and a vehicle number 445. The tracks are portrayed as non-rusted metallic gray with no embedded grass and dirt.
The glacis still retains the driver’s vision flap. Above the vision flap we see the driver’s and radio operator’s periscopes. To the driver’s right (our left) we see the hull armored ball MG34 machine gun mount in the glacis plate which is characteristic of the Panther Ausf. A and the Ausf. G.
While DML and Zvezda showed us the left side of their Panthers the Revell box art shows us what the right side should look like. The significant differences are the lack of the turret pistol port on this side, and the different tools clipped to the pannier side. Like the other two kits, spare tracks links are carried on the rear side of the hull.
The markings are described as for Panzer Lehr Division in France, 1944. The camouflage is also the three color soft squiggly lines.
T-V, Pz.Kpfw. V Ausf. D, Kit 5010 contains 91 dark tan color, injection-molded
styrene parts on two sprues, and two black color hard lengths of plastic
also molded in styrene. The suspension has separate torsion bars for
the roadwheels. The inner roadwheels are molded as one group therefore
simplifying assembly and reducing the number of separate parts. Most
of the lower hull is slide molded as one piece. We’ll have to
drill out the muzzle of the gun barrel.
Revell’s Panther Ausf. D - Ausf. A, Kit 3107 contains about 86 light tan color, injection molded styrene parts on three sprue, and 32 shard styrene link & length track parts. Molding quality is very good. Parts for both the Panther Ausf. D and the Panther Ausf A are included. There are no crew figures or etched brass parts included.
The grab handles on all the hulls may be replaced with handles made from fine wire. Zvezda’s handles on the crew hatches appear too centered, Dragon’s is correct. You will notice no hinges on these hatches; that is because they rise vertically and then are swung out of the way. Only the Revell hull at far right offers open hatches and an open MG flap on the glacis. The new Dragon Panther D hull has an open driver’s viewport.
Dragon’s plastic hull for kit 7494 offers a ring of screw holes around the turret ring giving a more accurate model should we wish to model the turret removed from the hull.
Zvezda and DML give us separate periscopes and guards while Revell molds them in.
The armor plates for the Panther are interlocking. In my opinion, Revell and DML portray the interlocking plates best though Zvezda’s are adequate enough.
All three plastic kits give us a reasonably accurate engine deck with variations in hinges and bolt holes. The grating on the left round engine air vent of the Zvezda hull appears miss-molded; a section is missing. All are done reasonably well, none are perfect.
The dark tan Zvezda turret at upper left has features and dimensions comparable to DML and Revell. Zvezda offers separate lift rings (the three paired holes) while Dragon has solid bumps and Revell gives us no rings at all. The round pistol port is molded onto the turret left side. The commander’s cupola hatch is molded closed so plan on surgery to be able to install a figure.
The Dragon turret at top center is well detailed and the turret cupola is molded open. The lifting rings on the turret roof should be drilled open or replaced by wire; this simplification seems a step toward a wargaming kit when compared to DML’s excellent Sherman tank kits. There is what looks to be a weather strip on the DML turret front not present on the other turrets and not typical to this early version of the Panther.
On the Revell turret, located at lower center, the seam between the turret sides and roof appears greatly exaggerated. No lift rings are molded onto the turret roof or included within the kit so these will need to be replicated with copper wire or other creative ways. (It is interesting that all five turrets shown here depict the roof ventilation fitting differently; I wonder and doubt there was this much variation on the real vehicle.)
The Revell drum cupola is molded slightly conical but should have vertical sides; a new cupola will have to be scratchbuilt in order to correct this. (I have heard a story that the Panther tank's cast cupola was developed at a Ford manufacturing plant near Paris, France: the famous France’s Ford Cupola, but I’ve seen no proof this tale is true.)
Again, keep in mind that this DML Panther kit does not come with the abysmal white metal upper and lower hull pieces that came with DML’s earlier Panther model kits in 1/72, a carryover from the diecast collectibles business. The white metal hull parts have been known to become brittle and crack with age.
Zvezda’s drum cupola (part C52) is better shaped than Revell’s conical-shaped drum cupola but is not molded open with a separate hatch. Zvezda’s and Revell’s main gun barrels need to have their muzzles drilled out.
Revell here is the only one of the three kits with link & length hard styrene tracks. Some modelers love the link & length type and look down on band tracks. For me it is more how well they are done than the material they are made from (except for the lousy, detestable stiff polyethylene track present in some old ESCI model kits). I found the Revell track to be nicely done but keep in mind that the individual links leave room for more mistakes in assembly.
Both Revell and Zvezda need to have the exhaust pipes drilled out open.
Since the Revell kit has been available for much longer you are likely to find a greater range of aftermarket resin and etched-brass parts for it; but then again an aftermarket part for one Panther Ausf. D kit will likely be usable with another manufacturer’s 1/72 Panther kit.