ARM: Review - DML 1/35 Panther Ausf. A Late Special Edition

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6244;
Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther A Late Type (60th Anniversary of the Normandy Campaign
1944-2004); 485 parts (463 in grey styrene, 12 sections of white styrene sheet,
8 etched brass, 1 turned aluminum barrel, 1 steel wire section); price
estimated at US $34
Advantages: FINALLY a good, state-of-the-art kit of a late A model; several
nice touches added due to its being a commemorative kit
Disadvantages: two-part single link tracks remain a bugaboo to some modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German armor fans
F I R S T L O O K
I suppose I do not give the Panther its due, partially because it has been
overblown and partially as it was not a very good tank when the dust settled.
Tom Jentz has a marvelous lecture on the history of the tanks and shows that
they were built like Rolls-Royce motorcars ? one at a time, and it was only
coincidence that "interchangeable" parts actually fit (other than standardized
bits like wheels, torsion bars, viewers, etc.) The Soviets never found one that
could go even as short a distance as 200 kilometers on highways without
breaking down. US troops found out that it suffered from the same weakness as
the Panther ? an inability to swivel its turret quickly in close combat ?
and soon lost much of their fear of it when not in open country.
Nevertheless, the A model is a hoary subject that so far has been ill-served
as a model. Tamiya came out with their kit of the A in 1968 and unfortunately
have not changed it in 36 years. It is a nasty model now when compared to the
actual vehicle with many proportion and detail problems, and yet it remains in
production today.
Italeri came out with an A about 10 years ago, but it was a "gimmick" kit with
stick-on zimmerit panels as an option. The problem with this kit ? outside of
its own proportion problems which put the turret too far back on the hull roof
? was that if the zimmerit panels were not used, it was underscale. Modelers
argued about the kit ? some still stubbornly preferring the obsolete Tamiya
kit for no more valid reason than it was "easier to assemble" ? but it was
overall judged as not the answer.
DML bought the molds to the exorbitantly price Gunze Sangyo Panther Ausf. G
kits and after cleaning them up (and converting them from multimedia kits back
to styrene kits, cutting the price WAY down) released them and a Panther G with
IR sights and a Panther II in their "Imperial" series in 1994-1997. Tamiya
matched them at the same time with three new kits of the G model that were then
state-of-the-art. But no A.
When DML came out with its very nice Panther Ausf. D kit a few years back, I
was surprised when they did not immediately release an A model using many of
the same molds. The kit was forecast to come out as DML #6168, but it never
showed up (at least as far as I know.)
This kit ? with the same box art as shown for the missing #6168 ? has been
released as a special 60th Anniversary of the Normandy Campaign version of the
kit, with some extras included such as a turned aluminum gun barrel and a
section of steel wire for the two cables. Eight sections of etched brass
screening are also included.
The kit comes with a number of sprues from the earlier D model kit (B, C, D,
E, G and H) and G model kits (sprue F) as well as 55 new parts on the A and M
sprues. These cover the new upper hull and turret, back plate, glacis, and
other fittings which separate a late model A from an early D model. The new
parts also cover the mantelet, three-pipe exhaust, and numerous small detail
fittings. Note that none of the parts represent zimmerit, so if you want an A
with zimmerit you will need a product like R&J's "Zimmer-It-Right."
Since many of the older D model parts are included, with some finagling one
could also make an early model A with the machine gun port instead of the
"kugel" mount on the glacis.
The tracks consist of 192 individual links ? 96 "A" links and 96 "B" links
? to create the dead, droopy tracks found on all Panthers. While a number of
modelers still grouse about these ? many wanting to slap a pair of vinyl
tracks on the model and be done with it ? these are accurate and the only way
to get a nice, correct sag in the upper track run. For those who are not
pleased, DML does include skirt plates so you can hide things if it doesn't
work out right. Note that these are the track links in which the "A" link does
have non-skid grousers on it.
Two marking and painting options are offered: Pz.Rgt. 12, La Villeneuve,
Normandy, June 1944, in a three-color scheme; and Pz.Lehr.Rgt. 130, Normandy,
June 1944, in plain Panzerbraun.

Overall, this is a nice kit to release right now with the current interest in
D-Day and Normandy, and the ability to produce a very nice A model out of the
box should make it very popular.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
AMPSOne
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Dear Cookie, Thanks again for the review. Actually, DML did two Panther A kits, an early version (letterbox MG mount, single exhaust tubes) and a late version version (triple tubes on left exhaust, ball mount for MG). They came out as scheduled right after the D model. I have the early one on my desk right now. Guess you must have missed them on the first go-round. This revised kit sounds like a winner with all the metal parts (and may explain why the all-plastic version was suddenly discounted at my local shop). Couple of addenda to the other kits: The Dragon Panther F and Panther 2 used original Dragon moldings and were quite distinct from the Gunze tooling Dragon acquired right afterward--the Dragon hull parts weren't bad, but the Gunze parts were better. Dragon's Schmal turret was radically incorrect unfortunately, and must be replaced or rebuilt. The Gunze Panther G's have been released as the command and night fighting Panthers under the Shanghai Dragon label (the command tank has the steel wheels). The Panther F used some lower hull components derived from the Italeri fiasco. Speaking of which, the big problem with the Italeri upper hull (apart from the rectangular engine grills that did not even match each other), was that it was about eight scale inches short, leaving the turret with too little space. If built correctly with the turret sitting at the right height, the turret fouled the driver's hatches if they were closed (Italeri's "fix" was to have the turret ride high and hover over the hatches when it should really have cleared them). There really was no excuse for that kind of blunder, but it was the best Panther A we had for nearly a decade. Thank goodness Dragon has spared us from having to saw up Italeri plastic. Gerald Owens
Reply to
GERYO
Gerald,
Thanks for updating me. I had a fuzzy memory about the early A model but lost the review when my old computer crashed. Never got the Late A (contrary to popular opinion I am not on DML's payroll and do not get every single item they produce!)
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
AMPSOne
Hi Gerald,
GERYO wrote: : : Couple of addenda to the other kits: The Dragon Panther F and Panther 2 used : original Dragon moldings and were quite distinct from the Gunze tooling Dragon : acquired right afterward--the Dragon hull parts weren't bad, but the Gunze : parts were better. : The DML Panther F is in an Imperial Series box, which means that DML wasn't the originator. I had assumed that it was the Gunze molds. If not Guze, who? Nichimo, perhaps?
The DML Panther II is in a DML box, so it was their work. As I recall, the Panther II is the much better kit, which is typical of the DML and DML Imperial Series.
Bruce
Reply to
Bruce Burden
Like I said, the Dragon F model had an Italeri lower hull mated to an original Dragon Panther G upper hull, which needs to have the joint over the drivers' position moved back behind the hatches, and the hatch hinges should be deleted (the Nichimo kit was almost unsalvageable, and was not involved here, thankfully). The Panther II had to have a new lower hull, as the suspension was spaced differently from the Panther I and used Tiger II tracks. The Panther engine deck was used, which is incorrect, as the Panther II had Tiger II engine intakes. The Schmalturm was based on drawings from the 1970's which showed the rear at too steep an angle, and made the whole turret too short. In any event, if it hadn't been canceled, the Panther II would likely have entered production with a modified Panther A turret, as neither version of the Schmalturm was available in 1943. Gerald Owens
Reply to
GERYO
: Like I said, the Dragon F model had an Italeri lower hull mated to an original : Oops, my bad, you did indeed say that. Sigh.
Bruce
Reply to
Bruce Burden

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