The Panther was a WWII German medium tank introduced in 1943. It was easily discernible from the other tanks of the Panzerwaffe
at the time thanks to the angled armor at the front and sides. With about 6,000 built by war’s end, it was the second most-produced German tank after the Pz.Kpfw. IV. Many examples served in various armies (including the Soviet and French ones) after the war.
The first version was the Ausf. D. Compared to the Ausf. G, it was rarely seen in kit form. Before Dragon released theirs in 2012, the only readily available kit was the Revell one. Although delayed, Zvezda’s release in November took the market by storm, and that’s no surprise, considering what is in the box.
Three tan-colored sprues and a black one hold a total of 98 parts.
It’s really pleasant to see Zvezda has added restrained weld seam detail where appropriate– a wash at the end will greatly add to the appearance of the completed model. All hatches are molded shut, but the gun is nicely-molded, with a circular cross-section and a very thin mold line. You will have to drill out the muzzle brake yourself (Zvezda’s yet to use slide molding).
The hull’s rear wall locks into place just like on the real thing, which is a nice touch– as opposed to the straight-line join between the upper and lower glacis at the front.
The suspension arms are all separate and rather detailed. A bit odd, considering the way the wheels are molded to keep the part count to a minimum. The solution eases assembly, yet does not affect the accuracy (e.g. the number of bolts is correct for this Ausf.) or the appearance of the complete model.
OVM tools, tow cables, spare track links and other accessories are all separate parts (yay!). No mesh screens are provided for the motor deck, however. Track runs are one-piece, with grooves molded-in to help you bend and wrap them around sprockets and idlers.
Two marking options are provided– both machines are from Pz.Abt. 51 from the battle of Kursk in July 1943. No surprise, as the tank is a part of Zvezda’s themed wargame. The decals are printed slightly off-register, and since the white border is very thin, this will be very visible. I’d recommend that you source some replacements.
Because this is a "wargaming kit," you should be building it like one, hence:
1. Keep dry-fitting to a minimum:
– you may not succeed in disassembling the parts you put together.
2. Follow the instructions (see 1).
3. Use minimum paint layers:
Otherwise some parts might not fit (e.g. drive sprockets into track).
- complete other assembly steps before gluing turret base and hull middle plate in place.
- there is a straight-line gap where upper and lower glacis plates meet – unlike on the real thing.
- a second gap is formed between the left turret front and the gun mask.
- there is no transparent/other part to avoid the see-through effect on the vision blocks of the commander's cupola.
- tracks can be easily broken over the idlers and sprockets.
- don't push tracks hard onto sprockets (see point 3 above), the latter are easily broken.
Step 1: check part numbers – there are 3 different types of suspension arms that fit in any position.
Step 2: observe part numbering strictly. Wheels will only fit with track only the way shown in the instructions.
Step 3: follow the instructions. If you try to assemble wheels and tracks separately you will have trouble fitting them in place.
Step 4: assure the holes in the spare tracks links are at the aft end. Keep the hedlamps until the finish line to avoid snapping them off.
Step 5: follow instructions :-)
Step 6: part C58 is asymmetric lengthwise. The mounting holes are not in the middle– the longer portion should point to the back. The part won’t interfere with the hull top, but will not match the ventilator openings on the motor deck. I'd leave Schürzen
for later to make painting easier.
Step 7: cut one mounting pin per exhaust pipe. The pins are too tough and if you pushe the part hard it will easily break.
Step 8: the tub's rear wall (C19) locks with the sidewalls in two holes. Mount this detail first and the top plate (C38) after that. If you put C38 first you won't be able to spread the tub's rear to accept the aft wall.
Steps 9, 10 and 11: no comments. The grenade launchers – parts C50 and C51 – can be replaced by sections of hypo needle or plastic rod.
Changes were kept to a minimum – I drilled the muzzle brake, replaced the tow cables with metal ones, the hatch handles were formed from wire. I opted for decals from a Dragon Panther and added an antenna from stretched sprue.
The kit is great – easy assembly, minimum imperfections, good plastic, great fit, high fun factor, and as far as I could gather, rather accurate for an early D.
It does require attention to avoid swapping parts, and the gap at the glacis plate join requires some elbow grese, but for 1/3 of DML’s kit price, it’s a real steal I can’t actually complain about, can I? Great work, Zvezda!
Since this review was posted, there is now also a build log for this kit here: Zvezda Panther D - without glue?