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Zvezda 1/35 scale Panther Ausf D

Kit:3678 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$44.99
Detailed and accurate for initial-production Panther; precise fits; good decals and clear parts
Working tracks difficult to build; shortage of road wheels for early versions
Injection-molded, 698 parts, decals
Developed in response to the Soviet T-34, the Panther offered the best combination of firepower, protection, and mobility of any German tank in World War II. Its Achilles heel was its reliability and complexity compared with the T-34 and M4 Sherman.

Zvezda’s Panther is the first all-new kit of this tank we have seen in years. Neatly molded in dark yellow plastic with no flash or ejector-pin marks, it features workable tracks, a partial interior for the turret, separate access hatches, and optional parts for exterior details.

 I started construction with the turret. Some interior fittings as well as a breech and turret floor are provided. You could easily enhance what is given in the kit to have a fairly complete turret inside. The rear access hatch is hinged and can be open and closed, and the driver’s armored visor can be posed open if desired. Neat!

Clear parts are provided for vision ports on the commander’s cupola, hull periscopes, and headlights.

The lower and upper hull go together with no problem. The suspension arms are separate and install positively. A one-piece part attaches the hull sponsons to the lower hull and acts as a solid locator for the upper hull. Detail parts are given for the engine  and radiator fans, preventing an empty look through the engine grille.

Zvezda’s attention to detail is exemplified by the different exterior parts supplied to match variation between vehicles. Optional separate parts are provided for the commander’s cupola, front mud flaps, engine deck, and tool stowage.

The link-and-length tracks comprise a lower track section built from two long sections, with the rest individual, movable links. The design is in two pieces, with the main body and an inner center piece which traps the adjoining link. While this adds to the detail and makes the links movable, it is problematic: Glue application must be precise or the links will be glued together. On the actual track, there is a metal rod that joins the links. Zvezda’s design only supports the links in the middle, which to my dismay allowed the links to come apart easily. Also, be aware that the tracks are handed; the end pins are different on each side.

Two styles of outer road wheels are provided, recalling the Panther’s notorious problems with durability. The kit provides an early version with fewer interior bolts, and a later style with reinforcing bolts. Strangely, the kit provides only half the number of the early wheels that you would need!

The presence of a separate upper glacis plate among the kit parts foreshadows an A model to come.

I painted my Panther using the early German colors armor paint set from Ammo of Mig Jimenez. Decals are given for two vehicles at the Battle of Kursk. They applied well over a semigloss base with some help from decal solution.

My primary reference was Panzer Tracts No. 5-1, Panzerkampfwagen “Panther” Ausfuehrung D with Versuchs-Serie Panther, Fgst.Nr.V2, by Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle, (Panzer Tracts, ISBN 978-0-9744862-0-8).

I completed my Panther in 50 hours, a bit more than I expected due to the track assembly. Though it’s not a beginners kit, I recommend Zvezda’s model to Panther enthusiasts and modelers of  German tanks.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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