According to Panzer Tracts,
the only difference between an Ausf.D and an Ausf.A was the way
the turret was assembled. Changes were subtle, but one visible feature
is that the Ausf.D had dovetailed side armor plates on the top side
of the turret while they were square cut on the Ausf. A. The kit
has square cut sides, so it is technically incorrect on that point.
changes were implemented incrementally after the change of Ausf.
I found a few minor issues with the kit though. It seems that it's
a mix of early, mid and late Ausf D features. The roadwheels are
early 16 bolt ones, the gun cleaning rod tube is of the early type,
there are two Bosch headlights on the glacis and the smoke grenade
dischargers are present in the kit. These are all early features.
However there are also mid production rain guards over the pistol
ports and the rear escape hatch on the turret. The rain guard is
oddly missing from the communication hatch though and it's rather
difficult to add. I used narrow plastic strips on mine. The handles
on the driver's and radio operator's hatches are placed in the outer
corners of the hatches. That's a late feature, as is the rain guard
over the gunner's sight on the mantlet. The tracks are also of the
later type equipped with ice cleats. It's of course possible to
shave off all the rain guards to backdate the kit to an early version.
The ice cleats on the tracks can also be shaved off with a little
effort as the tracks are DS.
There are also a few other details that need rebuilding. The shot
deflector on the front hull MG cover is easily added with a small
bit of plastic. A ring on the inside of the commander's cupola needs
to be added, the tow cable pegs on the rear hull corners need to
be reshaped. And all the handles and lifting lugs need to be replaced
with wire. Engine deck screens also have to be added from elsewhere
as no PE is present in the kit.
I also opened up the driver's hatch which was easy enough to do
as nowadays the Dragon kits have plastic hulls. I used a Revell
hatch from my spare parts box. I replaced the spare track holders
as i wanted to show them with tracks attached, The kit parts are
otherwise good enough, Being plastic they don't have the crisp detail
of PE but they look ok to me. The fuel filler cap looks a bit strange
and I haven't found any pics showing that particular type, so Ithink
I have to replace that one too. The road wheels are of the current
Dragon type, joined together with loops. I'm not sure if this will
be visible when the tracks are attached. The idler is also somewhat
overengineered being a three part affair with separate outer rim.
Fiddly to say the least, and for no use whatsoever.
Other than that I feel that this is a really good kit. There are
both early and late jacks in the kit and the driver's visor can
be built open as the hinges are also present in the kit (part A7).
Oddly enough this isn't mentioned in the instructions at all.
As I'm mostly interested in late war vehicles I've decided to use
this pic that I found on the Axis DG as inspiration for the build.
Apparently it shows a Panther D from the 106th Panzer Brigade Feldherrnhalle
in 1944. It's got a late war three colour camouflage scheme that
i found irreststible.
I'm sure I've missed or misinterpreted something so please feel
free to set me straight. Here are some more pics of the build as
it stands right now.