A 'Wiking' Panther ausf A early version in 1944, Poland (produced by Daimler-Benz in November 1943)
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
The preparation for this kit took longer than I expected. My original idea was to build an early Panther A without zimmerit. Although the order to apply this anti-magnetic layer on German armoured vehicles was issued when the production of ausf A started (Sept. 1943) two of the factories (MAN, Daimler-Benz) only started to add it from late October/November. The delay was most probably caused by simply not receiving the orders in time. Anyway, I found some photographic evidence of these non-zimmerit tanks indicating that not all of them got zimmerit later on in the field.
During my investigation someone called my attention, that these vehicles were still produced with the 16 bolt road wheels and not the 24 ones which were launched at about the same time. Checking it on the kit as well as my stash I had to face that I don't have any of the early wheels at hand. This has changed my plans and pushed me to try something new.
I have never used resin zimmerit. However, Atak has designed a set of zimmerit with Daimler-Benz pattern bespoke to this kit. So, I decided to build a DB Panther produced in November 1943, which has got zimmerit, the new (ausf A) turret and tracks, but still don't have the ball-mounted MG on the front plate.
Das Werk provides you with special tools to make sure all your suspensions and wheels are aligned and you don't end up with one of the wheels hanging in the air weirdly. Nice touch, although probably not the most environmental solution.
At this early stage I started to experiment with the zimmerit: it is not going to be too bad if it won't work out perfectly on the lower hull as it is behind the wheels and the tracks. The back plate always gets a bit more weathering, so some unwanted damages here would not be too eye-catchy either.
But everything went well. After a few attempts I came to the conclusion that the best way to apply these resin sheets is 1.) to cut them of carefully with a sharp blade, 2.) spread white glue evenly except the edges 3.) put them on the right place 4.) fix the edges with superglue.
The fit is really nice.
However, I have decided to add some putty to the edges: zimmerit was a wet when it was spread on the real tanks in the factory and therefore it did not have those sharp edges that would give away that it is replicated on the model with solid sheets.
It was necessary especially on the turret.
At this stage came a shocking recognition: by accident I cut off the sprue one of the suspension of the idler wheels at the beginning of the build, but by now I completely forgot where I put it. Damn.
I had to make one from scratch from some left over parts. Thanks god, it does not need to look neat, just do the job.
There were no more challenges with the build: all came together nicely and the model was ready for primer. I quite like Tamiya's light grey surface primer, so I used it on this kit, too.
It was about this time when I was reading one of my books on the Panther and came across this photo:
(Source: Panther on the Battlefield, World War Two Photobook series)
This is undoubtedly an early ausf A without zimmerit. If the road wheel in the foreground of the picture belonged to that vehicle, then it is a photographic evidence that there was at least one Panther A without zimmerit, but with the 24 bolt road wheel. Good to know that I could have gone with my original plan. Nevertheless, I wasn't disappointed at all. I was so happy with the Atak product and I had my new plan to do build a Panther of Pz.Div. 'Wiking' with their field-applied camouflage seen in Poland in 1944.
Base colour: Tamiya xf-60. Camo colours are dark green and red-brown from the same brand.
Now, I have to admit one more thing: all early production of 'Wiking' Panther A's I have seen were produced by MAN and not Daimler-Benz. The one with the turret number 612 was one of these, too. This division definitely had DB Panthers too, but those I have seen were all later versions. Anyway... I didn't want to change plans at this stage, so I went ahead with my concept. Some may call it a 'paper-panzer', but frankly, I am fine with it.
The weathering started at this stage with washes. Primarily MIG's Dark wash and Streaking grime was used, once the details were painted and sealed with flat clear.
Wheels and running gear: chipped with Tamiya's Dark iron and a soft graphite pencil.
Then the pigments were applied. Various colours applied dry.
The kit came with a nicely detailed lenght&link tracks. However, as I lost one of the original idler wheel suspensions and my scratch-made solution wasn't sitting as accurately as it should have done I rather used one of the Friul tracks I had recently bought. The more I use these tracks the more I love them.
The tracks were painted with a rust shade that I mixed from different colours of Tamiya acrylic paints, over-sprayed by dark wash, patches of Nato Black finished with different kind of pigments. The final touches: the spare wheel which came with the kit (note the Continental branding on the edge - nice touch Das Werk), the jerry can, the helmets and the crate are aftermarket products.
Here are some pics of the final tank.
What are the key outtakes of this build?
- High quality, detailed kit with great fit and clear instructions
- All this at a reasonable price
- You don't have to buy the Atak zimmerit if you don't want/can't afford. However, I strongly recommend it as it fits perfectly, opens a lot of opportunities and looks great imho
For more photos please visit the Gallery.