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Takom Panther Ausf A

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale armor kit with full interior 
Following Rye Field in the rush of new Panthers were Takom’s three Panther A kits — early, mid-production, and late. Molded in gray plastic, these kits also feature a full interior.

While the main body panels feature a nice rolled-steel texture, sadly, there is no Zimmerit, the nonmagnetic paste applied to thwart mines and sticky bombs. Since the A models were built during the time Zimmerit was factory-applied, all but a few early ones wore it. While the aftermarket will respond with solutions, Takom has already announced a late-model A with molded Zimmerit. A command tank as well as a normal late Ausf A can be built from this kit. Additional radios and antennas are included for the command version.

Instructions feature large assembly diagrams, but sometimes the location arrows get lost in the clutter. Color CADs of the model provide painting instructions for the interior, while five-view color drawings are supplied for camouflage and markings. Two small frets of photo-etch (PE) provide engine-deck screens and the crow’s foot antennas for the command version. Markings are provided for four vehicles, along with a sheet of stencils for the interior. Tracks are link-and-length, but you need to install the guide teeth. Two jigs are provided to set the suspension arms and build the tracks.

Assembly starts with the hull. The sides are added one at a time with their respective torsion bars in place. It takes quite a bit of fiddling with the bars to get the second side in place; start at one end and work your way down. Eventually, you hear that satisfying click as everything sets into place.

For some reason, the instructions are to install the inner engine compartment walls before the rear bulkhead is in place. It’s a lot easier to do it the other way around. The engine is well detailed. 

Just the tops of the shells are provided for the upright bins of ammo. Watch out adding parts to the fighting compartment: Some will get in the way of installing the floor if you add them too early.

Adding the guide teeth to the links is made simpler by molding them on a sprue that matches the links on their sprue. You’ll need a fine-point sprue cutter, however, to remove the guide teeth sprues. I tried to use the track jig to assemble the tracks, but I couldn’t get the front individual tracks between the long top run and the drive sprocket to fit. If you build the tracks on the jig as shown, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to get the finished assembly in place over the front road wheels.

Building the upper hull went smoothly. Since I chose the splinter camouflage, I painted the hull before adding many of the detail parts. This made it easier to mask the hard-edge camouflage. Then I masked the detail pieces, leaving only the smallest ones to be brush-painted.

The upper hull assembly is where you start running into changes between the command and standard version. These steps are listed as -1 for the command vehicle, and -2 for the standard. (I wound up marking the steps I didn’t need to do with big, red Xs after I accidentally did a command tank step.)

As I was working on the upper hull, I decided I wanted to be able to remove it so all of the interior could be viewed (and photographed by FSM). Since the front plate is tabbed to the hull sides (like the real thing), I carefully sawed off the tabs and installed them in their respective slots. I also discovered that the front fenders mounted to tabs on the inner front plate, so I removed those tabs as well and glued them to the fenders.

Assembly of the turret was straightforward. The periscope covers for the commander’s cupola are molded in position on a circular sprue so they can all be installed in one step. The rear hatch is workable, but the latch mechanism is molded in place in the unlatched position. A flexible vinyl piece is provided to run from the fume-extractor fan on the turret roof down to the turret basket. Additional radio equipment is provided for the command-version turret. 

It took me 49 hours to build the Takom Panther Ausf A — almost as long as the Rye Field Panther. You’d think with half the parts count it would be a faster build. But having to paint the entire hull and the complicated camouflage scheme added to the build time.

The finished kit matched exactly the dimensions found in Squadron/Signal’s Panther in Action book.

It’s still going to take an experienced modeler to deal with all of the interior work, but I found the Takom kit was a less stressful build than the Rye Field. However, I think the Rye Field kit has a slight advantage in the quality of the moldings and the amount of detail — but you’d better like PE! 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2018 issue.


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