Panthers produced by the last year of the war had a distinctive camouflage pattern applied in each of the three factories: MAN, Daimler-benz, MNH. Although each of them developed further their own ones every month or so, some can confidenly guess which company produced a tank and when simply based upon its painting scheme and external features. Out of these, the MNH pattern, was the most unique with its diagonal lines, which got more and more straight after October 1944. The time has finally come to build one of these vehicles.
I have decided that I wouldn't want a very complicated build and searched for a rather simple kit. I had read earlier, that Airfix has re-boxed a good Academy kit originally issued in 2018. Although Academy is not my favorite brand, I have not had have any serious issues with their recent kits. I found one in the nearest model shop for an acceptable price (£42,99) I thought I'd give it a go.
The overall quality looks OK, nothing outstanding. There are two rather big and odd panels you need to insert into the lower hull to keep the final model sturdy. But no big surprises, a couple of holes needs to be drilled on the back panel, but the fitting is good.
There are injection pin marks on the spare tracks that you probably want to get rid of otherwise they will look quite ugly on the final vehicle.
One of the side fenders came quite bend, which is a bit annoying, but easy to solve with some extra thin cement.
The solution and quality of the commander's cupola and vision blocks are a bit of a disappointment. Especially, when you see that in the instruction they show something that looks at least a bit more decent...
Another annoying detail is the way the spare tracks are done: the holding clamps are molded on the tracks and not on the bar on the side where they would rather belong. If you don't want to put all spare tracks, you need to find a home-made solutions to replicate them.
And this becomes an issue on the right side of the tank: if you put the tools up approprately then you won't have enough space to add the spare track. (Unless, I messed something up, which is a perfectly realistic scenario too.) My solution was to cut the clamps of some left-over parts from an ealier build and used them here.
The kit comes with PE grilss which are really nice and I would argue probably a must in the XXIst century. The rest of the build is smooth and flawless and the one-piece barrel is also a positive feature.
The paintwork starts with Tamiya light grey primer and pre-shading with simple black colour. I don't always do pre-shading when I apply a multi-colour camo scheme on a vehicle, but this time I thought it would add to the model.
The main colour is Tamiya's Dark Green 2 (xf81). I quite like this colour for late war German tanks. Pre-shading and carefully applied layers already helped to provide a more realistic look.
Although the MNH camo is really distinguishing, I wasn't sure if it was applied on the horizontal surfaces or not. Despite of my investigation I couldn't find any photos that could serve as a firm evident. I looked at what other modellers did, searched on forums and on facebook and I concluded that it probably wasn't applied.
After I have finished the model some commented, that actually, I should have painted the camo colours on the whole tank and as an argument they posted the below photo. I am still not fully convinced, but I'll leave it to you to decide.
My first attempt wasn't entirely bad, but I wasn't happy with either. I think the yellow lines were a way too wide.
I decided to fix it with a bit more of the red-brown.
After sealing the main colours with a few layers of varnish I started the weathering on the wheels. Some chipping was done with Tamiya's Dark iron and Hull read, then I used some Dark wash from AK Interactive. The teeth of the drive sprocket were treated with a soft graphite to reflect the constant contact with the metal tracks.
The kit comes with a set of length & link tracks. Not a superior quality, but fine to use. The guiding horns are unfortunately solid, whereas usually there was a square-shaped hole on the original pieces. (Except some of the spare tracks on the Bovington Panther which are more like these ones.) They went on the kit fairly straight-forward.
After the track was in place I started to paint the details: tools, towing cables, exhaust pipes, spare tracks...etc.
The tracks were primed with Tamiya's dark iron. The chipping was similarly done to the wheels using a small piece of sponge. I also used some Mig pigments, primarily Europe earth, Light dust, Track rust and Farm dark earth.
The last bit was the skirt. I find it bizarre that kits released in the past few years still come with one-piece really thick skirts. A couple of years ago I bought some styrene sheets and it seemed to be a simple task to use them to create this additional armour.
And that was it, basically. What do I think of this kit? It is an OK, trouble-free kit with some annoying details. If you want to build a really detailed perfect replication of a late Panther G you can find much better kits on the market. Some of them will cost more, but probably even in this price range.
- really good fit
- easy build suitable for less experienced modellers
- PE grills
- one-piece barrell with decent muzzle-break
- poor solution for spare track racks
- poor quality vision blocks in commander's cupola
- too thick one-piece skirts
- a more detailed set of tracks would have been nice for this price
Here are some photos of the final model.
For more photos please visit the Gallery.