ARM: DML 1/35 scale Pz.Beob.Wg. V Panther Ausf. D Early Production

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6813; P
z.Beob.Wg. V Ausf. D Early Production; 557 parts (543 in grey styrene, 12 d
iecut white styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs); pre-order price US$62.99 via
Dragon USA Online
Advantages: re-release with some changes of an older cyber-hobby kit; BOTH
single link and DS Plastic tracks in the same box!
Disadvantages: Somewhat stripped down from the previous 2007 release
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and Panther fans
As I noted in August 2007 when the cyber-hobby kit (No. 6419) became avail
able, there are always offbeat versions of production vehicles beloved by m
odelers, and for years one of the most popular derivatives of the Panther t
ank was the armored observation vehicle variant - "Panzerbeobactungswagen"
in German. Built mostly from redundant Ausf. D Panthers, the observation va
riant was designed as an armored forward artillery observer and fire coordi
nation vehicle. One prototype was built in late 1943 and apparently another
40 Panther Ausf. D were rebuilt into this variant when they were sent back
for repairs.
The vehicle had the gun removed and the mantelet was replaced with one mou
nting a dummy gun and a ball mount for a machine gun. The now roomy turret
was fitted with a map plotting table and extra artillery band radio sets su
pplied for coordination of fires.
As noted Dragon released a "boutique" kit of this vehicle in 2007 under th
eir cyber-hobby affiliate, and it was something like the DML "Premium" line
of kits with a lot of etched brass and precut single link "Magic Tracks".
This kit strips out most of those parts and adds a number of new or remolde
d sprues in their place as well as includes both single link molded tracks
and DS Plastic single run tracks.
Most of the sprues are from earlier Ausf. A and D kits but as noted a numb
er of sprues were either swapped out or upgraded using new molds.
The model comes with some nice touches, such a choice of wheel hubs for th
e drivers and the aforementioned choice between track sets. This is somethi
ng I have been recommending to DML for some time and this is one of the fir
st kits to actually provide it, so kudos to DML for listening to modelers'
requests and complaints!
The kit comes with few extra parts and no clear styrene inserts either, bu
t the early Panthers did not have much exposed glass anyway (the "dustbin"
cupola being pretty much without). But this was an upgraded vehicle with th
e late A/standard G cupola so surprising that it has no inserts.
The skirts are provided on two sheets of diecut .015" white styrene, which
is about right for scale thickness but may be a bit flimsy to install.
The directions are new and are different - a cross between photographic on
es like DML has used in the past and computer-generated images. But they ar
e clear and easily followed.
Technical assistance is from Steven Van Beveren, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmun
Two finishing schemes are provided: Unidentified Unit, Kursk 1943 (overall
sand with black crosses); 4./Pz.Rgt. Grossdeutschland, Karachev 1943 (sand
with green/red brown striping, black 521, crosses and white insignia). A s
mall sheet of Cartograf decals is included.
Overall, while some modelers will grouse that the etched brass is gone man
y modelers wanting a simpler built will be happy with this kit.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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