by: Darren Baker [ ]
Towards the end of World War 2 Germany removed the guns from some obsolete Panther D tanks and used them as forward observation vehicles for Artillery and the like with the gun and mantlet removed armour plate was installed over the opening and a dummy gun installed. Dragon Models has previously released a Cyber Model release of this vehicle and now made it available under the Dragon Models label and so making it a more affordable option for many.
The following portion of the introduction is from the Dragon USA website.
One other variant of Panther tanks was an observation post tank known as the Pz.Beob.Wg.V. Some 41 such vehicles were converted from regular Panther tanks in late 1944-45. The conversion entailed removing the main 7.5cm KwK.42 armament and plating over the front of the turret. On this plate was mounted a dummy wooden gun and mantlet in the center, and to the right a ball-mounted MG34 machine gun. The Panther is an attractive-looking tank, and Dragonís new 1/35 scale kit of this Pz.Beob.Wg. variant adds further interest to its silhouette.
The dummy turret front plate, mantlet and gun are newly tooled. The turret roof has been modified with new hatch and ventilators too, giving it a distinctive look. Another characteristic of the Pz.Beob.Wg.V. Ausf.D Ė a star antenna on the rear deck Ė is also present. Dragonís kit of this Panther observation post tank is an exciting addition to this German cat family. Builders will find it assembles easily and accurately thanks to the high-quality pedigree of Dragonís existing Panther family and the convenience of things like DS tracks.
This model is provided in the usual Dragon Models box inside of which you will find;
15 grey sprues
A lower hull
2 plasticard sheets
Dragon Styrene tracks
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
The moulding quality of the parts in this kit is typical Dragon Models and so no concerns there. I am disappointed to find no clear parts for the cupola or periscopes in the hull as this for me shows how Dragon Models no longer take that extra step that warrants the high prices commanded for their products. The model consists heavily of the sprues used in the early Panther A and D models that Dragon Models released over 10 years ago now. You do get a new lower hull with braces that keeps things square and so you also have separate swing arms supplied, but there is no torsion bars supplied to make the suspension workable.
The side skirt armour is supplied in the form of stamped plasticard, this is listed as being of an accurate scale thickness. Thankfully Dragon Models has not gone down the road of some of their Tiger 1 releases of late and the wheels are all supplied separately with nice detail present. The idler and drive wheels are of a good standard as well.
The upper, front and rear hull all look to accurate, if devoid of any bling that we have become accustomed to. The sponsons are separate parts, which I know from experience can be a pig to get just right. As mentioned there are no clear parts supplied and so areas such as the periscopes are a letdown. The tools, storage bins and racks are of an acceptable standard and should look ok when painted and attached
The tracks are an interesting area in that Dragon Models has supplied Dragon styrene offerings, but there are also enough individual track links provided as long as you can forgo having links from the product on the storage racks. These are not magic tracks and so will need to be cleaned up prior to assembly, but regardless it does mean that Dragon Models has supplied a choice of rubber band type tracks and individual track links; un-intentional but good to see.
The turret is the area where things look up due to being made with newer parts for the most part. The dummy gun barrel has been slide moulded and so looks better and is easier to use than a barrel made of 2 halves. The aerials supplied are quite good for plastic, but could look better if photo etched offerings are used; while looking at the aerials Dragon Models has supplied formers for photo etch star aerials should you go down that route or are at least worth keeping hold of for future use. The model does finish on a high with some very fine and nicely moulded smoke grenade launchers for the turret.
The instruction booklet uses black and white photographs to guide you through construction, this is a method that I have mixed thoughts on as it can be either a blessing or a curse. You will need to take a good look at each stage due to the mixed sprues that make up the kit. The decals for the model are minimal, but that does not mean bad; Dragon Models does supply good quality decals with their kits. You are provided with two finishing options for the Panzerbeobactungswagen Panther D that is kind of interesting as it is said that as few as one Panther D was converted; the options provided are:
Unidentified unit, Kursk 1943
4 Panzer Regiment ĎGroŖdeutschlandí Karachev 1943
Taken as a whole this is not a bad model, but when considering that this is a new release and commands a high price I am disappointed. Not including clear parts for the periscopes and cupola when they have them already made is beyond belief. The track option is nice even if unintentional and should keep both camps happy providing you have some links for the track hangers. One other issue is that the introduction states that it was in 1944-45 that some Panthers were converted, but the decals are listed against vehicles in 1943. If you are on a budget and need to add this Panther variant to your collection then the model may meet your needs, but given the choice I would search out the Cyber Hobby kit with all the bells and whistles included I believe.