by: Matthew Quiroz [ ]
IntroductionWhile not a new kit on the market, this conversion set by FCM is definitely an interesting one. While helping out my friend Mike clean out his stash of models, I laid eyes upon one very cool and interesting looking kit, the Panzerzestorer Panther by Fine Cast Models. A "what-if" armored vehicle based on the well-proven Mk.V Panther. Think Kampfpanzer ’46. The design featured the engine and transmission being moved to the front of the vehicle and the vehicle being up-gunned to mount a 128mm cannon. It resembles something like a Jagdpanther hybrid.
The KitThe conversion consists of eight resin pieces including the upper hull cast in a medium gray resin, that seemed somewhat brittle, a white metal commander’s hatch and a turned aluminum barrel for the 128mm main gun. I test fit the upper hull to the Tamiya lower hull and the fit was pretty good even with the pour blocks still attached. The pour blocks were substantial on my kit and it took some time to get the parts removed using both a Dremel saw and a #11 blade.
I did a lot of trimming and test fitting to get the best possible mate between the rear plate and the upper hull/lower hull. The fit afterwards revealed that it would require a fair amount of putty work where the upper hull meets the rear plate but looked manageable enough. The front lower hull plate fits nicely and has some nice looking weld line details. I discovered a very minor warp in the upper hull during this test fitting. It’s less than a millimeter front to rear and straightened out under slight finger pressure and should straighten out when glued.
Overall, the castings are crisp and have only the slightest amount of flash on them. I could not determine if the fender like pieces molded on the upper hull were actually that or part of the casting blocks. They were chipped on both ends and on both sides so I decided I would remove them as they would be easy to replace with sheet styrene if in fact they are fenders. Both front side skirts were warped on my kit, but could be straightened by applying some heat with a hair dryer or hot water or new ones could be fashioned from sheet styrene. The beautiful turned aluminum barrel is too big to fit the corresponding hole in the mantlet meaning this will need to be drilled out slightly to accept the barrel.
The biggest disappointment for me were the instructions. They are written in German and from what I can tell there is a brief history about the vehicle, design and intent maybe, along with some suggested aftermarket items like Fruilmodellismo metal tracks and others items. There are parts call outs for both the kit parts and the Tamiya parts needed for the build but the pictures are dark, all two of them, and it is hard to see the details they are trying to point out on the completed model. Since there are so few parts, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where to place them. Haing clearer pictures as a reference would be a big help in parts placement.
I test fit all of the major components and determined it will take some work but this conversion is doable provided the builder has some patience and solid modeling skills. Also, I would suggest a good respirator as there is a lot of resin dust kicked up when removing parts and filing things down to fit better. The resin is odorless but resin dust odorless or not is not a good thing.
Conclusion A very unique conversion with some nicely detailed parts. Patience and care will be helpful in removing substantial pour blocks of the upper hull pieces and some minor fit issues with the gun. Be prepared for sticker shock at almost $90 USD. The set could benefit from better instructions and no decals or painting guidance are provided but, being as it is a vehicle that never saw daylight, the builder has some artistic freedom here.