Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G
Late Production

Dragon Smart Kit No. 6268
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

Dragon first released a kit of the Panther Ausf.G “Night Fighting Panther” (kit #9045) back in the Shanghai/Dragon Imperial Series days in 1997 and it’s no wonder some want to forget about it as it is from a past era in terms of quality/accuracy and is best not spoken of again.

But we now have this brand new Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G Late Production kit, the first of the so-called “Smart Kits” from Dragon with state of the art moulding and detail but only the bare minimum of metal parts using extensive slide moulds to impart excellent details on the plastic parts.

This kit as with the recently released Panther Ausf.D Premium (kit #6299) has a mix of early and later Ausf.G features so care is needed when choosing the final make up of the details.

The kit best represents the late Ausf.G manufactured by M.A.N in April 1945 as shown on pages 200-203 of the Panzer Tracts Panther G book with the kit details matching those perfectly including the 800mm steel wheels on station 8 but there are some optional parts included to make things interesting.

The earlier non-chinned mantlet is included as is the ability to make a fully rubber wheeled vehicle and the choice of standard flat intake grills on the left engine deck but as there is only the late Flammenvernichter mufflers and later style hull machine gun ball mounting and using the earlier parts will require alterations to other parts and careful checking of references will be needed if you are as stickler for truly accurate details.

Also included is a choice of the standard small roller on the final drive housing or the later skid shoe seen on some M.N.H manufactured vehicles at the end of the war.

The kit also includes the IR mountings on the right side of the mantlets and the IR linkage guard and compass mounting on the turret roof but not the four studs on the right rear for mounting the armoured bin for the IR equipment. Other late features included are the camouflage loops and mantlet cover on the turret and so is best suited as mentioned above to make the late M.A.N produced vehicle.

The early non chinned mantlet has the two small IR fittings on the right side but while most later chinned mantlet Ausf.Gs had these fitted the only photographic evidence that the early mantlet has these in on one shown on the cover and pages 182, 186 of the Panzer Tracts Panther G book but there are also other details of the this vehicle that differ from the kit. This includes the square glacis cut-out in front of the driver’s pericope (easy to alter) no compass mounting on the turret roof (again easy to fix) and it does not have the Flammenvernichter mufflers, so the earlier pipe exhausts and covers will have to be found elsewhere.

It also has the standard intake grill on the left side of the engine deck which is included in the kit but there is no mesh for this intake (see below) and so a little pilfering from other kits will be needed to accurately portray this particular vehicle. You can of course simply cut off the IR mountings on the right side of the mantlet but most non-chinned Gs where fitted with the earlier pipe exhausts but some have been seen retrofitted with the Flammenvernichter mufflers, while fitting the raised crew compartment heater on the left engine deck is okay for these vehicles.

The kit:
The kit has 519 parts in the usual light grey plastic and 14 in clear plastic plus a bag of individual “magic tracks”, a small fret of etched engine intake mesh and two lengths of wire for the tow cables plus a small decal sheet and the instruction sheet. If you want all the extra metal detail parts such as the barrel, Schuerzen plates and etched tool clips you will have to get the additional detail set from Dragon sold under the cyber-hobby label (set #3833) or any of the other details sets bound to come out for this kit.

Metal and Etched parts

The standard of moulding is excellent with the only cleanup needed being the usual fine moulding seams on the parts and the many small plastic ‘nodes’ on the parts which help keep pin marks virtually non existent but do require care when removing from the smaller parts. The extensive use of slide moulds results in some excellent details on many of the parts from the larger (mantlets) to the very small making for a very detailed model out of the box but as with any kit there are areas that can do with a little attention.

Dimensionally the kit matches available 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracks Panther G book perfectly as these examples show, the 860mm rubber road wheels = 24.57mm in 1:35, the kit wheels are 24.57mm, the 800mm steel road wheels = 22.85mm in 1:35 with the kit wheels being 22.85mm and the larger 665mm idler wheels = 19mm in 1:35 and you guessed it, the kit idlers are 19mm.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull is a conventional tub with separate rear panel plus and sponson filler panels with all the suspension and axles also separate parts for excellent details.

The details on the the underside include all the access panels and the weld seams while along the sides are the axle mounting brackets all with crisp well defined details.

The front section with the final drive guards and tow shackle mounting has additional bolt head details on the lower inside face and flame cut texture on the edges of the mounting but two of the sprue attachments disrupt this texture but is fairly easy to add back after cleanup with a sharp blade.

There are alternate final drive housings, one for the return roller and the other for the skid shoe again with excellent detail and you just choose the one required. The large bump stop panel below station 1 on the left side only is a separate part with very nice details and you get alternate bump stops for above stations 1, 2 and 7.
The instructions aren’t clear on which of the bump stops to use but you should go with parts C20 and E13 for the early G and parts C19 and E14 for the late G.

The axles have the torsion bar attached which you slip through the holes in the hull sides with inner brackets allow the axles to flex with small stops so they sit in the neutral position for a good sit and allowing the axles to flex for articulation. The ends of the torsion bars are glued in place in the bracket on the opposite hull wall and if you want the axles raised above neutral simply cut off the small stop.

As with the recent Premium Panther Ausf.D Dragon have identified that there are three different styles of axle arms which they have captured well and you should take care to add these at the right stations as the instructions are a little confusing here. Also note on the second axle arm there is a raised seam down the middle which should be there so don’t be tempted to remove this like the fine moulding seams on the other arms. There is also an additional small detail part added to station 3 axle and shows the good attention to detail on the suspension.

Three styles of axle arms in the kit

The instructions have an overhead plan view showing the locations of the two styles of torsion bars securing brackets plus left and right plan views showing the placement of different style axles arms which helps positioning these correctly but you will still have to take care to fit the right part in the right spot.

Added to the rear hull side is the separate track pin guide used to push the pins back into place as they pass which has the correct style for the Ausf.G and the idler wheel axle is also separate and can be positioned forward or back and it’s best to leave this off until adding the tracks to allow for any adjustments required for a good fit of the tracks.

The road wheels provide a full suite of 860mm rubber rimmed wheels if you wish with the correct 24 rim bolts nicely rendered as are the rim contours plus the alternate 800mm steel rimmed wheels for station 8 and as mentioned above are all the correct sizes but strangely there is no embossing on the rubber sections as there has been in a number of other recent Dragon kits. All the wheels have details on both sides except for those joined closely together on stations 1, 3, 5 and 7 with the steel wheels having one of two possible rim bolt layouts.

The two part drive sprockets have excellent details on both sides of both sprockets which do add to the good effect of the assembled sprockets but there are casting numbers on the inner hub while the four part idler wheels again have excellent details due to the breakdown of the parts and depict the later 665mm idler very well but you could add the small grease nipples on the hubs for a better effect while both could do with cast texture added for a better appearance.

On the rear hull panel there is just the later Flammenvernichter mufflers with alternate welded and later cast armoured guards with nice surface texture but watch fitting these as there is different lower fitting on the left and right guards, the instructions showing the rear hull assembly is upside down for some reason and this does make things a little confusing. The hull attachment brackets for the mufflers are a little on the thick side as are the jack mounting brackets but the 8 part jack is very well done.

The mufflers themselves are in one piece with just a minor moulding seam to remove and have excellent fan detail on the top as well as the alternate top curved cowlings but these were not often fitted so check references for the vehicle you are building.

Other rear hull details include the towing shackles and convoy light fittings and two large storage boxes with nice lip details added with slide moulds but otherwise quite basic.

On the upper side of the interior hull sponsons are the two large radiators and fan assemblies to fill in the void seen through the engine deck grills and there are alternate fans supplied to use as you want.

Included in the kit are separate link “magic track” with the late style track with the ice cleats and the detail on the tracks is very well done especially the guide teeth with excellent detail added using slide moulds.

The links are designed to simply be glued together and are not workable but the kit tracks should be adequate for most applications with additional track links with separate guide teeth to use around the drive sprockets to ensure a better fit.

The other thing to note is there are actually left and right handed tracks on the Panther with different end pins on each but Dragon only give you the right handed track which means you don’t get this important Panther track detail.

Dragon Magic Track

Upper Hull:
This is one large moulding with the front fenders included and openings for the separate front machine gun mounting, crew hatches and the engine deck door and grills with the hull featuring a nice orange peel surface effect as well as nice weld seams and subtle bolt head details.

The hull MG34 machine gun is made up of 7 parts for a nicely detailed gun while the outer MG mounting has the later bullet splash ribs and nice cast effect on the mountings as well as the separate plug but no attachment chain is included.

The two crew hatches are moulded without any pin marks on the inside and with separate inner latches and three part hinges along with the later outer grab handles and bump stops on the hull top which were both added mid production of the Ausf.G.
There should be three indentations on the outer hinge casting corresponding with the inner bolts with the fit of the doors to the hull being very snug and you can easily position these open if you wish.

The hull periscopes are in clear plastic and the central ventilator has a separate cover over which is fitted the a six part barrel travel lock with the two part securing chains moulded using slide moulds for a good effect in plastic.

For the driver’s periscope there is the standard cover and the later extended sun shield cover with the round glacis cut-out in front of the periscope which is okay for the M.A.N. vehicle but this was changed to a square cut-out on some late Ausf.Gs and there was also two sizes of square cut-out and so checking references for the vehicle you are building would be the best option.

On the front fender is nicely moulded four part Bosch light with separate clear lens added inside and separate base with wire ducting.

Along the sides there are the tool racks with the finely moulded tools that include moulded on tool clips as there are no etched tool clips in the kit but those on the tools are quite delicate. The wooden jack block has nice wood grain effect included but the two part barrel cleaning rod container will need the join seam removed and includes finely moulded on mounting brackets.

The spare track racks at the back are again finely moulded using slide moulds and do look good in plastic and the Schuerzen mounting bracket along the side is in one piece with small mounting brackets but no Schuerzen panels are included in the kit.

The turret ring has bolt head details but of course these can’t be seen when the turret is in place while on the engine deck the centre panel and intake grills are all separate parts.

There are actually two alternate centre panels which have minor differences to the bolt head details which are quite hard to see unless given close scrutiny. The smaller bolts on part A35 seem a little undersized when comparing the references and these appear to be a later variation than those on part A34 but in any case this is something that would be even less noticeable after painting and so may not be of concern.

The two circular intake covers on the door are separate parts as are the smaller fuel and coolant filler covers at the rear of the panel for good detail definition and the four lifting hooks and grab handle on the door are also separate parts. The smaller central air intake is moulded using slide moulds to include the weld beads and front grill but this is a little on the thick side and could do with being thinned down while the intake has the fine mesh included on the etched fret provided.

There are alternate style round cast outlet covers provided with one having three bevelled sections added around the sides and there doesn’t seem to be any real rule as to when these were fitted so it may be best to check references if modelling a particular vehicle.

Also included for the left intake is the raised crew compartment heater in two parts with the inner section fitted to the engine deck door and the other over the intake with additional parts for the “pie sliced” intake covers with one fully closed and the other open to use as desired. Included for the intake grills are round etched mesh covers but these are designed to fit the normal right intake grill and the raised heater intake but can’t be used if you choose to use both flat intake grills as the left side mesh has a hole in the middle to fit the heater intake. Detail on the heater intake is very good and includes fine casting numbers but you may want to add cast texture to the intake sides with “Mr Surfacer” for a better appearance.

The four air intake grills at the corners of the engine deck are separate parts that fit into the cut-outs in the deck but care is needed when fitting these as the detail is different at each end of the grills and should be fitted with the bevelled intake to the outside. There are also very small pin marks on the top of these grills but after you attach the etched mesh screens provided these are not visible and so are not a problem.

Also supplied are the sliding shutter covers for the right side intakes with both fully closed and open covers provided and these should only be used when the raised heater intake cover is used and only on the right side intakes.

The aerial base is added to the left side of the deck and the two tow cable brackets to the rear of the deck as well as the three lifting hooks at the sides of the engine deck to finish off and the fit of the deck to the rear hull is very snug as is the fit of the central panel and engine bay door leaving no gaps to be dealt with.

The tow cables use the braided wire included which fit into the plastic end shackles which have open holes for the wire and this allows you to bend the cable any way for natural contours.

The Turret:
The main turret shell has nice weld seams around the roof and front panel joins and the three Pilzen (sockets) for the 2-ton jib boom and IR linkage guard are included on the roof. On the side are small painted spots to locate the small hooks provided for attaching foliage and this is quite nifty as you just paint over them if not using the hooks. The rear turret panel is a separate part that fits neatly between the two side panels but there should be a large weld seams at the rear join point which you can add yourself to better detail this area and the edges of the rear turret side should also have flame cut texturing added for a better look. The rear panel has the escape hatch separate with a workable hinge assembly allow this to be shown open or closed as well as the outer grab handle as a separate part.

Additional fittings for the roof include the centrally mounted compass bracket, the three small holders for the poison gas sensing cards, the exhaust fan with separate armoured guard, the right side periscope cover (with clear plastic periscope) as well as the rear crew grab handle and the three lifting eyes, the rear one including the re-enforcing fillet, nice attention to detail.

The point defence weapon bracket at the right rear corner is provided in the closed position as well as open with the inside launcher to add inside detail and finally there is the separate Commander’s cupola.

This has the main cupola with open periscope openings with the inside mountings for the seven clear periscopes but could do with additional cast texturing from Mr Surfacer for a better appearance. The swivel hatch has a separate mounting bracket and grab handle but again can do with cast texturing for a better look with a basic front sight and fittings around the top of the pericope covers for the machine gun ring, plus a three part machine gun mounting.

A few of the smaller fittings are a little thick but are about as thin as can be expected in plastic with the fit of the parts being very good overall.

The lower turret ring has traverse teeth included around the base but there is no traverse gear or other detail inside the turret other than the gun breech.

The large breech assembly is in two halves which you trap the one piece barrel between but there is no breech block or co-ax machine gun included with the only other detail being the two part gun guard.

The 75mm barrel is the correct length with just minor mould seams to be easily sanded smooth and the gun breech is glued into the turret gun mounting with the mantlet then glued to the front of the breech assembly. The gun mounting (part B22) could also be improved by added cast texture to the surface for a better appearance. The gun has a three part muzzle brake with the main brake hollowed out with slide moulds and the inner grommet with a separate front lip and makes for a very nice looking muzzle brake in plastic with just the small mould seams to be removed.

A word of caution here as the instructions show the muzzle brake fitted to the barrel before slipping it through the mantlet, don’t do it as the muzzle brake will not fit through the hole in the mantlet so fit the muzzle brake after attaching the mantlet.

As mentioned you get the initial style mantlet and the later chinned mantlet with both having basic cast effect included except for the bottom of the chin mantlet which is smooth. Both have the two small IR brackets on the right side which was covered at the start of the review and it would be best to remove these brackets if using the early mantlet unless you are building the particular IR equipped Panther mentioned above.  Having these brackets included makes it easier to remove them if not needed that it is to add them yourself. Both also have separate lifting pins added to the upper edges and many of the chinned mantlets also have a fine casting seam running diagonally across the front but it’s best to check references for this feature on particular vehicles.

After fitting the front plate and gun mounting there is the thin debris guard added over the turret/mantlet join and while moulded quite thin could be thinned a little more at the edges for a better look.

The assembled turret is a perfect fit to the hull but there are no locating tabs holding it in place so don’t turn the model over or the turret will come loose.

These are the usual exploded view drawings but due to the complexity of some assemblies you will have to study the instructions carefully to avoid any confusion but overall there shouldn’t be any problems.

The two small decal sheets are nicely printed with markings for three Panther Gs, one from 11.Pz.Div., Bavaria 1945 and two from unidentified units in 1945.

Clear parts

Overall this is a superbly done kit with details everywhere through the extensive use of slide moulds and good fit of the parts helps with what is quite a complex kit in parts. It has all the correct details for the late production Panther G from April 1945 as well as other options but care is needed with these for true accuracy otherwise just enjoy a very good kit as it comes.

One thing I noticed is that while there are quite a few alternate parts provided (e.g. suspension bits, engine intake grills, fans, mantlets and turret fittings) no information is given as to which is an early or late Ausf.G feature or which is best to go with what leaving this to the modeller to work out or just take a pick if it's not an issue.

As detailed as the kit is there is room as with any kit for additional detail and some tweaking but this is mainly minor and Dragon have already released an update set under the “Cyber-hobby” label (set #3833) for this kit. Yes it is a Dragon update set as indicated by the label saying “Official Dragon Genuine Parts” and it’s simply good marketing by Dragon to get you to pay for all the metal bits that used to be included in previous kits and you can’t knock them for that.

Highly recommended.

The Sprues:

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The Panther has been covered in many publications over the years but some earlier references have information that has been updated in recent books as more accurate information has come to light.
Book Panzer Tracts No.5-3
Panzerkampfwagen "Panther" Ausfuehrung G

by Thomas L Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle
ISBN 0-9744862-7-2
Published by Panzer Tracts,
Soft cover, 68 pages.

Achtung Panzer No.4

Good photo coverage of the Panther, Japanese text.

Tristar ShopThanks to CK Pat from the Tristar Shop for the review kit.

Page created August 20, 2006

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