The Jagdpanther took the new Panther chassis and fitted it with the powerful 88mm gun from the King Tiger in a simple fixed structure to produce a fast, low, hard-hitting tank killer. Based on the Panther G hull it had good cross-country performance and was perhaps the best tank destroyer of the war. Fortunately for the Allies it was in short supply, with production starting in January 1944 and only about 400 being made.
There were two main models of Jagdpanther – the early “G1” produced in 1944 and later “G2” variants made in 1945. The G1 was based on the Panther A hull and had a smooth fixed mantle with all its bolts on the inside, and had a one-piece gun barrel. It also had the matching low engine fan housings of the Panther A, but the two forward air intakes were reduced to half the size of the rear two since the fighting compartment sat further back than in the Panther.
The G2 version effectively incorporated the upgrades seen on the Panther G model, such as a raised fan housing with plates to close it off in segments to deal with extremely cold weather. It also had all four air intakes narrowed to the same size, a fixed mantle with big visible bolts around it, and a new gun barrel that was made in two parts with a visible joint. The later model also had most of its tools relocated from the sides to the rear. Changes were however incorporated piecemeal during production, so the later G1 models sported the two-part gun and bolted mantle before the G2 engine deck appeared.
Frank Portela reviewed the earlier Tamiya
release of a 1:48 scale Panther G (kit 32520) Here on Armorama
, so readers may want to look at that review for more detail about the common parts like tracks etc.
Inside the box I found a metal hull, a sheet of decals, string, polycaps, and five sprues holding 196 plastic parts. Three of these sprues (and the hull) come from the Panther G kit, with only the upper hull sprue and a sprue of details being specific to the Jagdpanther. The casting is good, with only subtle ejector pin marks to deal with, and the only visible sink holes were in the ends of the sprocket shafts where they will never be seen.
The metal hull has all the suspension arms (including the idler arms) moulded on. That means the arms do not stand proud of the hull, so the effect is rather like the plastic hull of the old 1:35 scale Panther kit. I presume metal was used for the extra weight, but with fixed suspension and plastic tracks it isn’t really necessary and certainly limits the detail. It also adversely affects build-ability, so why did they do it? The final drives and sprocket axle shafts are separate plastic parts to be applied, as are a plastic veneer for the lower front and of course the rear wall of the hull. At least there are sponson floors in this kit! The exhausts come as either the late versions (from the Panther kit) with spark arrestors or early pipes with hollowed ends more typical of early panthers.
The wheels are very crisply detailed and typical of late Panthers. These are to be glued directly to the metal arms, since the only polycaps in the suspension are in the drive sprockets. The track is very nicely detailed link and length plastic, so I would advise assembling it onto the wheels to make the whole thing a solid piece before adding any glue to the axles. (That way the whole wheel & track assembly can be removed for painting…) The spare track links for the hull side are moulded as a single part rather than as three separate rows of two links, limiting the ability to customise stowage.
Up on top is a large single casting for the fighting compartment and engine deck. Most of the details are separate items to be added, including all the hatches, the engine vents, and the tools. Compared to many 1:35 scale kits, this one is notable for the separate rectangular air intake grills and fans including separate fan blades in the tall “winterised” fan housing introduced with the Panther G. The sprues include two each of the raised and low fan housings, but only one fan blade for the raised housing. Note that the air intakes are all the same narrow size, indicating the hull is a G2 variant with one raised fan. However, the rear intake grill includes a filler along one edge so the actual opening in the hull is right for the early wider grill if you care to scratch-build it.
Unfortunately they forgot to add any mesh screening for the engine-deck openings, which is most obvious on the aforementioned fans! Tamiya also forgot to provide periscopes for the three hooded openings in the roof or the driver’s visor, despite providing the sighting periscopes for the gunner and commander. At this scale some Evergreen strip can be used to make the missing viewers, but for the cost of the kit it is annoying to have these parts left out. Handles are missing from the two crew hatches, and the handle on the rear door is a moulded lump that is best replaced by wire. The tool racks are a mix of moulded-on tools and separate parts, again limiting options to alter stowage. One nice item is the jack, which is made up of three pieces. The tow cables come as plastic ends to fit onto the provided string.
Tamiya provides the late bolted fixed mantle for the gun, along with a two-piece moulding of the late two-part barrel incorporating the smaller muzzle brake. The assembled barrel and mantlet mount on a pedestal by two polycaps that allow it to elevate, and this pedestal in turn sits on a plate attached to the fixed mantle allowing the gun to traverse – all in all a neat solution! However, there is no breech to be seen through the hatches.
Side skirts are provided from the Panther sprues, but I believe these were more common on early Jagdpanthers. There are no crew figures, which is a shame since all the hatches can be positioned open.
There are markings called out in the painting instructions for three vehicles, but a fourth set of numbers is included on the sheet. The marking schemes are Spartan, consisting of numbers and national crosses only.
So, what will this kit build? The narrow air intake grills and other features all mean the kit is most accurate as a late “G2” model with raised fan housing and spark arrestors, but the tools would need to be modified and moved. However, if the rear-most air intake grills were rebuilt to represent the wider ones seen on earlier Panthers the kit could be built as a late “G1” with two low fans and early pipes - effectively an intermediate Jagdpanther from late 1944. What is odd is that the new early exhaust pipes come on the new Jagdpanther sprue, even though they are not appropriate to this late version – does this mean an “Early” kit will be offered in future?
By adding the early intake grills, a one-part barrel, and early fixed mantle to the kit Tamiya could have had a truly universal Jagdpanther that could be built up into early, intermediate, or late models just from one kit. Oh, well…
As a dedicated 35th-scaler I have to say I am impressed by this kit! It certainly holds its own against the 1:35 scale Italeri Jagdpanther I built last year, and with a little extra effort should build up to a true stunner. And with its smaller scale there is more scope for a diorama involving multiple vehicles. I just wish it was priced a bit more realistically.