ARM: Review - 1/35 Scale Panther D "Stadtgas"

Kit Review: (Dragon Models Limited) 1/35th Scale Kit
No. 11 ('39-'45 Series Kit No. 6346; Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther D
w/"Stadtgas" Fuel Tanks; 809 parts (391 in grey styrene, 204 etched
brass, 170 "Magic Track" links, 14 clear styrene, 12 etched nickel,
10 preformed brass, 4 cast metal, 2 turned brass, 1 length of copper
chain, 1 turned aluminum barrel); estimated retail price US $47
Advantages: over base Panther D "Premium Edition" kit only addition
of compressed gas tanks noted
Disadvantages: should have been offered as an optional parts set for
the Panther D kit, not a complete new kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for German Panther fans
I recently commented about how iconic "oners" remain popular with
modelers, and that new kits of subjects which represent either single
or a handful of items produced are still good sellers and enjoyed by
many. But then a kit like this comes along, which has to be one of the
ultimate "boutique" kits, and one has to wonder what the
manufacturer was thinking.
Here, the "boutique" line produced by DML of
alternative kits with extra parts and a more unique selection of items,
has produced a model of what seems to be an oddity and another one-off
vehicle. From comments on the Internet it appears that when the Germans
began to get crunched on gasoline production they turned first
non-essential rear area vehicles like cars for minor party
functionaries to coal or charcoal gas, or to propane or similar gases
used to provide heat and cooking in major cities (e.g. "Stadtgas.")
This particular vehicle, a D model Panther (and therefore no longer
seen as front line service capable after Kursk showed its failings),
was apparently converted for use with propane gas and assigned to a
research and test unit at Eisenach range in 1944.
The model is unique, but what has taken place is nothing more than taking the recent (July 2006) kit number 6299 of the
upgraded "Premium Edition" Panther Ausf. D kit and added another 18
styrene parts and 45 etched brass ones to make this kit. While the
upgraded Panther D is a nice model and fixes or upgrades many of the
areas of the first version of the model, and is providing to be fairly
popular, this kit is an oddity that is hard to explain.
First off, the comments that I made regarding the earlier kit. It
takes the DML Panther Ausf. D kit and gives it the "premium"
treatement of more etched brass, turned aluminum barrel, "Magic
Track" snap-together pre-cut track links, and some modified or
replaced sprues from the original kit. It also provides pre-formed
brass smoke grenade launchers as well as twelve sections of etched
nickel for the skirts.
The kit is pretty much the older kit - most of the sprues are from
their A and D kits and so labeled, with others specific to the D and
some new and redone parts I do not recall from the previously noted A
anniversary kit. One of the "K" tool/OVM sprues is included as well
as the MG-34 from German weapon set WC. It did provide a new hull with
separate suspension arms, something many Panther fans had asked for
over the years.
The etched brass covers a wealth of extra detail, from the normally
expected (in this day at least) grille covers for the engine deck
through the skirt brackets, but installation of all of these metal
parts is shown in rather busy drawings next to color photos of the
model components after assembly. This is not the best way to do it, as
while color photos are fine, it would be better to leave them unpainted
so the modeler could see exactly where the parts are supposed to go and
not have to guess which are plastic and which are metal from the photo.
The model comes with some nice touches, such a choice of wheel hubs
for the drivers and eight specially molded track links with separate
guide teeth (all of which are hollow molded, including the "Magic
Track") for "wrapping" around the drivers. Two different covers
for the machine gun port are provided as is the above mentioned MG-34
for mounting in the port if left open.
The travel lock - a chain affair - comes with two sets of five
etched brass parts each for either open or closed, as does the turned
aluminum barrel and the three-piece muzzle brake for it specifically
(an old-fashioned two-piece "Flex-i-File" special is also included
on the parts trees.)
The new bits for the "Stadtgas" fittings are busy, with six
"Slide Molded" compressed gas tanks and a very involved set of
etched brass racks (no styrene option is provided).
Only a single finishing option is provided - Panzer-Versuchs und
Ersatz-Abteilung 300 at Eisenach, 1944. It comes with a tiny Cartograf
decal sheet of three crosses and the "Fahrschule" plates for driver
training vehicles.
Overall, while the kit is an excellent production effort I cannot
fathom why DML released it as a separate kit. It would seem, given the line of add-on/upgrade kits for other DML offerings to
have been smarter to offer it as one of their releases for about $10-14
as an option for the Panther Ausf. D kit, giving those who purchased
the original version something to make with the older kit.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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