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Tamiya Panther Ausf D

To my way of thinking, the Panther was a sexy beast! Arguably the best tank of World War II based on firepower, armor, and mobility, it was hindered by poor mechanical reliability and complexity which limited production.

Tamiya’s Panther Ausf D is its first all-new 1/35 scale Panzer V since the release of the Panther G more than 20 years ago. Seeing this kit brought back fond memories of Tamiya’s first 1/35 scale Panther A, which I built as a teenager in 1969!

Perfectly molded in dark yellow plastic, the kit features two figures, one-piece vinyl tracks, and separate hatches. Tamiya has also released three “Detail-Up” sets for the kit, including photoetched-metal engine grilles, a metal gun barrel, and separate track links. I used all three sets in building this model of review.

Construction starts with the lower hull. The suspension arms have solid pins for positive alignment, but can be easily modified for articulation.

The kit includes the initial-production road wheels, with fewer interior bolts than later versions. Vinyl polycaps inserted in the wheels allow for easy attachment to the suspension arms. Plus they are free to turn, a helpful feature during track installation. The idler arm is designed to be moveable, allowing adjustment of the track tension, just like the real thing. Smart!

The kit provides radiator and fan inserts to fill the space behind the open engine vents. I attached the photoetched-metal grilles from the Detail-Up set, taking care to ensure they were lined up just right at the corners. This set really enhances the appearance of the engine deck, because operational Panthers always had the engine screens.

The driver’s armored visor and hull machine-gun port can be positioned open — a nice touch of realism.

The turret builds quickly and easily. There is no interior detail in the basic kit, but the Detail Up metal gun barrel set I used includes plastic parts for the gun breech, coaxial machine gun, gunner’s sight, and elevation gear. The last helps the heavy metal barrel from pulling the gun down.

The one-piece vinyl tracks in the basic kit are well molded with sharp-looking fronts and backs. I replaced them with Tamiya’s Separate Track-Link set for the model. Molded in ABS plastic with excellent detail, each link consists of a main body and an inner part for the guide horns that are glued together. The completed links click together to form workable, neatly articulated track runs.

I painted the Panther using Tamiya acrylics suggested in the instructions.

Decals provide markings for three tanks at the 1943 Battle of Kursk, the Panther’s baptism of fire. They laid down well over a semigloss base with a little decal solution.
My primary reference was Panzer Tracts No.5-1 — Panzerkampfwagen “Panther” Ausfuehrung D (ISBN 978-0-9744862-0-8).

The kit shapes up well against plans and photos, but the detail-conscious builder will note some of the kit features, such as the armored fan covers, may not be appropriate for all of the marking options in the kit.

I completed my Panther D in 38 fun hours and the finished model met my expectations. The base kit will fit modelers of all skill levels, while the Detail-Up sets provide options for more-experienced builders. I definitely recommend Tamiya’s model to Panther enthusiasts and German armor modelers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2015 issue.
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