by: Darren Baker [ ]
When Jim S did an unboxing video of the Tamiya Panther D I knew I wanted to build it. Jim agreed to send it and now after a delay here is my unboxing review that will be followed by a build review. To begin with all indications are that this Panther D does not require zimmerit added to it that has to be a plus for many of us; however if you plan on building a vehicle produced after September 1943 you will need to reach for your preferred zimmerit applicator or application method. Some really good news is that this offering is not a rehash of earlier Tamiya releases and looks to be all new mouldings. I am also aware that the decision by Tamiya to offer upgrade sets for this model has caused a few grumbles and I will give my opinion on this aspect in my conclusion.
Due to the fact that I am looking at the base kit of the Panther D and the after-market items that Tamiya has offered I am not going to provide a parts breakdown, but I will list what I am looking at here;
35435 – Panther D
12664 – Panther D Metal Gun Barrel Set
12666 – Panther D photo etched Grill set
12665 – Panther D Separate Track Link set
The lower hull had me concerned at first due to a hole in the floor of it, Tamiya has resolved my concern as it is the moulding point and Tamiya have cleverly supplied a floor pan detail to fill the location, as such everything looks good on the underside of the model and no injection moulded contact point to sand out. The side walls of the lower hull look ok to me as regards layout; I do believe that if some of the side wall detail had been supplied as separate mouldings they could have been sharper, but it is next to impossible to see this detail after the wheels and schurzen is added to the model.
The suspension arms of this model are locked in place as regards travel by 1 single pin attached to the hull and a tapered pin that goes into a shaped area of the lower hull; this approach should make it easy for the modeller to have a model that sits level with all road wheels on a level base. On the rear of the suspension arms is a recessed slot that the pin locates in and I will be honest and say I don’t really like that method as I would have preferred a locating hole rather than a slot. If the modeller wants to make the suspension workable it will be possible if you have the skills. The easier option if you wish the pose your model on an uneven surface is to remove the locating pin for the swing arm or arms as required, but don’t forget to fill the slot on the rear of the arm.
The road wheels look fairly well detailed with good bolt detail, but there are a number of ejector pin marks that are fortunately only on the inner road wheels and so not seen. The idler wheels also meet with my expectations as regards detail; the arm for the idler wheel would be best left unsecured until the tracks are added in order that you get your preferred track tension. The drive wheels are accurate for a Panther D with good replication of the detail on the outer faces; however there are ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed on the inner faces as these could be seen on the finished model from some angles. Tamiya has stuck with the poly cap method of securing the wheels and while not popular with everyone I like this approach if it does no effect accuracy on the model. The reason I like this method of attaching the wheels is the ability it provides to add and remove the wheels makes construction and painting easier.
The tracks supplied with the model are the rubber band type usual to most tracked offerings from Tamiya. The detail on these tracks is fair and a plus is that they are not distorted in the box, there are some moulding taps visible on the inner face of the tracks, but these are not excessive in size or number. The injection moulded track links for the hangers at the rear of the hull are also nicely moulded with good detail, but there are ejector pin marks on what would be the road surface side of these links; however if correctly placed on the model these should not be seen by a viewer.
Also available separately from Tamiya is 12665 – Panther D Separate Track Link set, this set of workable track links is very nice. These track links are made up of two parts; this has nothing to do with them being workable, but it has been done by Tamiya to allow the moulding of hollow guide horns for the tracks, the hollow guide horn detail is very nice and crisp. There is of course a down side to them and that is that Tamiya have four ejector pin marks on the inner faces of each main link, to be fair the two small ones will be hidden and so not be seen, but the larger ones will ideally need to be remedied; with some being lightly raised and easy to correct via a light sanding there are others that will need to be filled and sanded or I suppose you could dirty them up to hide this unwanted detail.
The upper hull has some very nice rolled steel detail moulded into the flat plates by Tamiya and while this detail is obviously over emphasised so that it can be seen on the model I like it, it adds interest to areas that could be plain without this detail. The dimensions of the model appear to be pretty much spot on when compared to my reference and the weld detail is also very good and accurately placed. Tamiya have supplied moulded detail parts for under the intake grills and these even with a limited view of them add nice detail that the model builder knows is there even if no one else does. Tamiya supplies photo etched grills as a separate purchase item and this is one offering that I feel Tamiya should have supplied with the base model as Tamiya have it in the inventory.
One of the big disappointments to me with the upper hull of the model is that the periscopes have been supplied by Tamiya in tan plastic rather than clear plastic, I am sure Tamiya could easily have moulded them clear. The front slope of the hull is where most of the rolled steel detail will be seen on the finished model to good effect I believe. The drivers viewing hatch can be shown open or closed via some parts that make it easy to move, that is not however true of the radio operators machine gun slot where you will need to decide if you want it shown open or not via the use or not of part (C5). The twin headlights provided by Tamiya also mark this as an early Panther. The towing hawsers have been supplied with open slots into which you are directed to add string that is supplied, I see this as one of those things that does really need to be changed if by nothing else via the use of wire as opposed to string, In my case I think I will look through the spares bin.
The sides of the upper hull look to match my reference well for a Panther D from early to mid-1943 and locations do appear pretty much spot on. It is my understanding that these early Panthers had their tool storage racks attached directly to the hull sides and Tamiya has replicated this feature. Later Panthers with zimmerit applied had raised storage racks if my understanding is correct. Something I am very pleased to see Tamiya use on this offering is that the area above the tracks is no longer open as moulded plastic is supplied to fill this area in and avoids light flooding the interior of the model; Tamiya could also teach another well-known company about how to attach these pieces as Tamiya has supplied two peg locators which makes accurate placement very easy and secure. All of the weld detail is this area is good as far as I can see and shows to me at least that Tamiya is willing and able to do better.
The rear armour plate is accurately laid out, but I would like to have seen more effort put into the jack and its mounting clamps, this could of course be easily tackled with most generic photo etched Panther sets. The rear bins in this kit are multi-part affairs and if I have it correct could be shown open with a little work; perhaps something simple such as an oily rag hanging out due to the early Panthers reliability issues. The exhausts despite not having been produced with slide moulds do have a reasonable depth to the pipe recesses and that is another plus, of course it also gives those modellers who wish to make them deeper and or thinner a good starting point.
The turret offered with this model is good dimensionally and detail wise. The commander’s cupola, smoke dischargers and shell ejection port are features that again help to age this Panther and are well represented features. Some aspects of the turret would benefit from photo etched parts that would improve the scale appearance, I know that there are companies already producing photo etched sets for this specific model, but depending on your needs and finances there are also generic sets that would meet many of the areas that would benefit from photo etch.
The main gun is another area of the model where Tamiya has provided options. Inside the base kit you get a single piece barrel that is attached to the sprue by the areas hidden inside the mantlet and the muzzle brake and there is only a very light seam line down one side that should be easy to clean up, the muzzle brake however is in two halves and will be harder to deal with. Alternatively Tamiya offer a turned aluminium barrel which can be purchased separately, but which still requires the use of the muzzle brake supplied with the base kit. Also supplied with the turned aluminium barrel are all of the parts required for the internal portion of the main gun. A number of members have argued that these should be supplied with the base model, an opinion I am afraid I do not share. The internal parts can only really be seen if the rear turret hatch is open and even then there is no other detail present. The internal parts for the gun are nice and well moulded as is the aluminium barrel, but I do not see why Tamiya should have to include this offering as part of the base model.
There is one full and one half figure supplied with this model and Tamiya has come a fair way when it comes to the detail of these figures. Uniform and crease detail looks good and of the same standard as most good injection moulded figures. The faces are also of a good standard, but the hands are not the best I have seen. Tamiya has approached the bodies in an unusual way, they have split the torsos into two halves and I am wondering if this join will be easier or harder to hide than it would be to remove a seam line on a figure with a solid torso. With all that said I am not going to complain loudly about this as at least Tamiya has supplied the figures with the model and the full figure has an interesting pose.
Tamiya has provided three finishing option for this model all of which are listed as being at Kursk between July and August 1943. The three units are;
No 745, 7th Company, 52nd Panzer Battalion, 39th Panzer Regiment, Kursk July 1943
No 432, 4th Company, 51st Panzer Battalion, 39th Panzer Regiment, Kursk July 1943
No 445, Panzer Regiment ‘Großdeutschland’ Kursk August 1943
The decals have good definition to them and are of an acceptable thickness, but there is quite a bit of carrier film present due to the nature of these decals. Tamiya has supplied a very nice glossy pull-out covering the placement of the decals and the painting guides for the three finishes in full colour, I cannot however vouch for the accuracy of the finishes indicated. This also supplies 10 photographs of a Panther that show some of the details that may be of interest. On the reverse of this is quite a lot of information on the Panther including a couple of drawings naming aspects of the vehicle; I know this will not teach many of you anything, but for younger and up and coming modellers this may be very helpful.
The instructions are typical Tamiya and an aspect of Tamiya you will only rarely see complained about. I am happy with the black and white line drawing approach taken by Tamiya as they are clear and no step is what I would think of as busy. With Tamiya's history of providing shake and bake models, I at this point have no concerns about tackling this build in the near future.
This model by Tamiya has shown me a new side to them that I previously only really expected from their aircraft models, I am for the most part very happy with the model as a base kit and the after-market products can be taken or left with the exception of the engine deck grills. I do feel that the photo etched grills should be in the base kit as they have them, but the other offerings are a matter of choice. Detail is good in most areas if my reference material is correct, yes it could be improved via the use the use of aftermarket products; name a model that can’t be improved via this approach by the modeller. Built straight from the box and knowing Tamiya’s history for good fit this model will please most who come into contact with it I feel.
Tank Power 1 through 8 by AJ Press