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 dson.
    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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