by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The end of World War 2 came before the Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Ausf.F could be put into production. The new Panther variant was planned to mount the newer Schmalturm turret which would have been able to mount the 8.8cm KwK L/71 gun. While there were prototype Panther Ausf.G’s that did mount the Schmalturm -Panther turret, the Ausf.F was never finalized.
The new kit from Dragon Model of the Panther Ausf.F with a 7.5cm KwK42 L/100 is a what-if tank. During the development of the Panther it was Hitler that had request that it be equipped with the L/100 gun. Unfortunately the gun was not ready for production and instead the KwK43 L/70 was mounted instead. In actuality, I cannot find any prove that the L/100 gun was ever produced, but if it had, it would have been a lethal weapon.
16 plastic sprues, includes two upper hulls
1 clear plastic sprue
2 separate Idler wheel centers
2 lengths of DS Track
2 lengths of wire
3 photo-etched frets
1 small metal part
1 small decal sheet
This kit from Dragon Models should be familiar to those who own and/or have built the Panther Ausf.G. The Dragon models Panther kits have always been well done, great molding, great detail, and good fit. The new parts included in this kit include a new upper hull matching the Ausf.F hatch layout. It should be noted the Ausf.G upper hull is also included, allowing the build the option of a production hull or prototype hull. Also new is the Schmalturm turret and 7.5cm L/100 barrel.
The new turret is well done, with good looking surface detail, to include the weld seams. The commander cupola includes clear plastic parts for the periscopes. The hatch does provide interior detail if you wish to leave it open, but there is no breech or interior turret detail. The L/100 barrel is molded in plastic as one piece, with the muzzle brake needing assembly.
The kit does include photo-etched parts for extra detail, including the grills on the rear deck, additional frontal armor, and some extra little parts. Also included is Dragon models DS Track, it does look pretty good, and should make it quicker to attach the track.
The instructions in the kit are a little difficult to follow. Not only are they the typical Dragon models style, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of optional parts. This will mean you will really need to pay attention to where you are, and what option you want to include in your build. In addition the instructions for the upper hull are shown twice, once for the production Ausf.G hull and once for the Ausf.F hull. This is shown in Steps 6 through 11, twice.
Included in the instruction are paint schemes for three vehicles, all identified as Unidentified Unit 1945. But because the vehicle is a what-if, you could choose almost any German paint scheme, or maybe even leave it in red primer, as it might have been on the factory floor. The only markings included are three Balkenkreuz on the very small decal sheet.
So building this kit is a lot like the previous Dragon models Panther kits, as mentioned at the start of the review, a lot of the parts are very familiar. Starting with the lower hull, I added the suspension arms; you just have to observant to the part numbers due to optional parts and the order of the swing arms.
Construction of the rear plate goes well too, again there are optional parts as there are two different styles of exhausts with a couple more optional parts each. Attached to the lower hull is the radiator units, as they will be seen through the grill on the rear engine deck. I pre-painted these black prior to installation.
Now comes the choice of production or prototype hull. I decided to go with the production hull, as I want to depict the, what-if the tank was bought together with parts in the factory to meet the oncoming Russians, and help in the defence of Berlin.
The kit called for the mounting of the MP44 rifle as part of the front glacis gun, but I left this out as the extension through the ball mounting is all the shows, and then I could add the MP44 to my spares box, as they are Dragon models Gen-2 weapons.
The construction of the upper hull goes very well, nice fit on all the parts, and I found no issues in the assembly. For the rear deck, there are plastic diffusers under the photo-etched grills, so again I pre-painted them black and blackened the photo-etched parts. I found no issues mating the upper and lower hull, just a little tape to hold them tight while the glue dried.
Up to the turret, and again no issues. The turret goes together very well with no fit issues. The barrel seam was sanded off and the muzzle brake assembled. I did use a small bit of putty just to clean up the seam on the brake. There are some small grabs that go on the side, they are plastic, but could be replaced with wire if you wanted. I left the plastic as they looked good.
I must say that when you put the turret with the gun mounted for the first time on the hull it does look a little funny with the long barrel. But you kind of get used to it. This what-if Panther kit from Dragon models does build up nice, and pretty straight forward. I was able to complete the construction of a period of three evenings.
Overall this is another great Panther kit from Dragon Models. While it is not an operational tank, it is an interesting subject with the L/100 barrel. The molding is done very well, there is a lot of nice detail. The kit does build very nicely too, and does produce a great looking model. If I have to find any faults, for me it would be the lack of gun breech if you wanted to leave the commander hatch and/or rear turret hatch open. This is a great kit, I really enjoyed the build, and I would highly recommend this Panther kit from Dragon models.
I am planning a paint scheme that will utilize the red primer in the scheme, I will update it once the painting and final assembly is complete.