Panther Ausf. D LATE Production Sd.Kfz.171 "First Look"
The development of the Panther tank was a direct result of the failure of the Panzer IV to match up effectively with the Soviet T-34 in 1941. Weapons specialists were sent to study captured T-34s and used this knowledge in many of the designs of the new 30 ton tank. Some examples of borrowed aspects included sloped armor and wide tracks to help with mobility in the snowy conditions present in the Eastern Front. The first prototypes were tested and immediately put into service in 1942. Despite some early teething problems, the tank proved to be very successful and production quotas were increased from the initial 250 tanks per month to more than 600 in January 1943. These demands were never met however, due to increased pressure from Allied bombing campaigns. Final numbers reached only 6,000 in total built.
The tank's 700hp Maybach V-12 petrol engine designed by ZF was fitted with a governor in late 1943 to help reduce engine failures by limiting the engine to 2500 rpm and reducing its power to 600 hp. This in turn reduced the Panther's top speed from 55 km/hr to 46 km/hr. It was armed with a semi-automatic 75mm Rheinmetall-Borsig KwK 42 main gun and could carry 79 rounds of various ammunition types. The Panther's 75mm cannon was one of the most powerful of WWII and enjoyed greater success in penetrating enemy armor than the Tiger's 88mm cannon. The frontal armor consisted of 80mm homogeneous steel plate sloped back 55 degrees which made the tank far less penetrable to Allied armor. The tank was vulnerable to attacks from the side where the armor was only around 40mm to 50mm thick to save weight. The tank was crewed by five men: the driver, radio operator, gunner, loader, and commander.
This Takom kit 2104 is a continuation of the early Panther variants already released. It includes molded on zimmerit and a full interior with a beautiful rendition of the Maybach engine and the crew compartments. Detail is very crisp with occasional ejector pin release stubs to contend with, but they are easy to clip off and sand and seem to always occur is low visibility areas. Yet if you plan on showing off the interior details, it's important to sand these areas down where they might show up.
In the Box
There are 31 sprues in the box, with some duplicates like the road wheels, track links, and guide horns.
The upper hull and turret come as separate pieces and have nicely molded zimmerit detail.
There are two track jigs to help form the basic shape of the tracks and their appropriate sag.
There is one PE sheet containing engine fan screens and grills. Two decal sheets are included- one for the ammunition stencils and the other for the four schemes featured in the kit. A vinyl hose and two different diameter copper wire lengths complete the kit's contents.
The instructions are excellent quality and the artwork for the four schemes feature 5 view drawings...
The included schemes feature:
- 3rd Kompanie, 39th Panzer Regiment, Mailly-Le-Camp, France, November 1944.
- 1st Kompanie, 2nd Panzer Regiment, 16th Panzer Division, Kolomea, Autumn 1944.
- 2nd Kompanie, 2nd Panzer Regiment, 16th Panzer Division, Kolomea, Autumn 1944.
- 3rd Kompanie, 2nd Panzer Regiment, 16th Panzer Division, Kolomea, Autumn 1944.
Also included is an excellent color painting guide for all of the interior areas with Ammo of Mig paint references.
And now let's look at those sprues....
Sprue A3- there are two of these and they contain the road wheels.
Sprue B contains the various shells for the gun to detail the interior.
Sprue B2 is made up of the lower hull, glacis, and the tube-like case for the tools.
Sprue C- there are two of these and they contain the individual track links, as well as a few longer track runs.
Sprue D contains the sprockets, suspension, and various small bits like the cable hooks.
Sprue E contains the torsion bars and much of the interior details like seats, ammo cans, and the like.
Sprue E3 contains the fenders, mantlet, and rear armor plate- all with zimmerit detail.
Sprue F- there are two of these and they contain the runs of the guide horns that are attached directly to the tracks. F2 consists of more small bits and wheel housings.
Sprue G contains the parts for the gun breech and various interior parts.
Sprue J contains the mantlet, main gun (one piece!), machine guns, and blast guard options.
Sprue J2 contains the pioneer tools, tow cable hooks, and final drive housing.
Sprue K2- there are two of these and also include road wheels (more?!)
Sprue L contains the engine fans and piping.
Sprue M is made up of the smaller parts for the Maybach engine.
Sprue N is made up of the engine blocks, covers, etc...
Sprue P consists of more interior details and the radio.
Sprue Q contains even more interior bits...
Sprue R contains the storage bins and parts for shell storage.
Sprue R2 are more panels...
Sprue S is made up of the firewall, panels, and interior sides.
Sprue T contains fenders, tool boxes, and hull sides.
Sprue U has the side skirts, hatches,, fan covers, etc...
Sprue V has the gunner station parts, ammo cans, and small arms like the MP40 for interior detailing.
While I have not built any of the WWII offerings by Takom, I have thoroughly enjoyed the kits I have built from Takom. I find the directions pretty straightforward and the parts are organized and well placed for removal despite their intricately small size and crisp detail. In looking over the kit and taking photos of the sprues for this first look, I found myself unable to resist taking sprue cutters to sprue. The first step is pretty involved and you end up with quite a nice transmission mounted to the hull floor for your troubles. This is just a taste of what to expect in the upcoming full review....
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders (pending full review!)
My sincere thanks goes out to Takom for providing us with this review kit and to the AMPS review corps for the opportunity to start building this beauty.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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