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Building Dragons 'Smart' Panther G

This new ‘Smart Kit’ series from Dragon is designed to offer easy to assemble kits, with the minimum of photo etch and extras included, and no loss of detail or accuracy. The series begins with this kit, the Panther G, and although criticized by some for being an unimaginative choice, it’s actually an excellent choice for Dragon since they needed to produce a kit that they could be sure of with regards to accuracy, and what better than one they must have performed lots of research on in the past, since they have already made so many variants?

You can find a first look review of this kit here:
Panther G Review

the kit
The kit arrives packed exactly the same as every other Dragon kit these days. Everything nicely sealed and protected in it’s own poly bag, instructions on the bottom of the box, sprues and then the ‘Card’ on the top. Although there isn’t as many ‘goodies’ as we’ve come to expect with recent Dragon kits, I could still feel the excitement of opening a new dragon kit for the first time.

building – stage 1&2
Building begins in the usual way, that is, with the running gear and it’s installation onto the lower hull. The running gear in this kit is comprised of separate working torsion bars. You have to be really careful in following the instructions at this stage, since it’s very easy indeed to get things confused and try installing the wrong bars! The last two torsion bars on either side offer a choice of fitting, depending on whether you wish to install the last pair of road wheels as rubber rimmed or steel. So before fitting the torsion bars, check your references to see which road wheels you want to use, as this will determine which torsion bars to use in these positions. The swing arms are pre-moulded on to each torsion bar, and each has a small ‘pip’ on the back which acts as a stop and keeps everything lined up nice and straight. If when you’ve done you find one looks too high, it will be because this pip has ‘jumped’ the stop, just strong arm it back into place and everything should line up again. In this stage you are also offered a choice of drive housing and track shoe guide. You can also install the towing shackles now, and even though Dragon supply these as plastic, unlike their later kits, they still look every bit as good, with finely moulded pin detail. Make sure you get then the correct way around, with the eyelet detail on the inside!
The instructions would have you fit the idler arms now, but since they are moveable to allow for track tensioning later, you would be wise to not cement them in place. I decided that I wanted them fixed in place, but wanted to be able to adjust them later when fitting the tracks. To achieve this, I drilled a small (0.4mm) hole in each arm, into which I super glued a small length of stiff wire. This wire could then be inserted through a small length of H-beam, bent over and glued to it, allowing the idler arm to rotate freely. This will pay dividends when fitting the track in the last stage of construction.
Dragon instruct that the drive sprockets are installed now, and you can make them from the two halves supplied, but it’s best to leave them to one side once you’ve done so, since they’ll be better attached when the tracks are installed later. There are also two nice engine fans provided, and you actually do get a choice of fans to go on the housings although both are totally hidden from view when the kit is finished! Follow the instructions carefully again, since these are handed.
In stage 1, you will also begin to prepare the road wheels, all I did was give each a quick swipe with a piece of sandpaper to remove the seam.

  • 001
    Box art
  • 002
  • 003
    Idler Wheels
  • 004
    The Hull
  • 005
    Deck Detail
  • 006
    Road Wheel
  • 007
    Running Gear
  • 008
  • 009
    Photo Etched Fret
  • 010
    Completed Idler Wheel
  • 011
  • 012
  • 013
  • 014
  • 015
  • 016
  • 017
  • 018
  • 019
  • 020
  • 021
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About Vinnie Branigan (Teacher)