by: Matt Flegal [ ]
introductionAfter being turned down by German authorities from building the Panther tank under license, the Hungarian Weiss Mafred Works developed their own counterpart to the Panther, the 43M TAS heavy tank. Destroyed in an air raid in July of 1944, the prototype had a completed hull and the turret was in the process of being welded together. All development work ceased and the tank was forgotten.
Much like this tank itself, DNEPRO Models seems fairly unknown in the west. I had not heard of them until researching the TAS and found a brief mention of this kit in an Armorama "New to You" thread from 2009. After contacting them via their website and finding them quite helpful I decided to take a chance and ordered the kit.
contentsTwo weeks later when the kit arrived I opened it up with some trepidation, wondering if I had bought another short-run resin lemon that would disappear into the attic. My first impression was that it was very well packaged; the pieces grouped together in sealed sealed plastic bags, the photoetched parts in similar bag with a thick card backing to prevent damage. Each of these bags has a sticker with the corresponding numbers for the parts inside which I found a nice and helpful touch.
reviewThe hull and turret castings are pretty good. They are a bit featureless and will require some light sanding to deal with a slightly pebbly texture and what look like faint brush strokes on some surfaces. Nothing too difficult to fix with an hour or so and some wet-sanding but it had me a little concerned for the quality of the rest of the castings.
An unfounded concern as I found after opening the rest of the bags. The casting is very crisp with almost no bubbles to be found, although several parts have a fair amount of flash and the casting blocks on several of the parts are a bit on the thick side. However, the fine details are very well done (especially the periscopes), the resin barrel is dead straight, and the muzzle brake in particular is very delicate and will require minimal clean-up. Track links are all individual and snap together right out of the box. Be aware though, there are an awful lot of tiny resin parts - very little detail is molded on to a larger part but needs to be added to them instead.
Two sheets of photo-etch are provided and are well formed, quite comprehensive, and feature some decent relief etching. Solid wire is provided for the tow cabling but it is relatively stiff and might be better replaced with any of the pre-braided aftermarket cabling available.
instructionsThe instructions are typical for a resin kit, 2 pages of blueprint style drawings with the various pieces indicated by the part number. Basic, but they'll give you the information needed to put the tank together. More placement details for the photoetch louvers would have been nice. There is a single page of text (in Hungarian and English) going over the background of the tank and how the model came to be made and that's pretty much it. No decals or painting suggestions are given.
conclusionWithout actually building a kit it's always uncertain how all of the pieces will fit together, but a quick test fitting of the two hull pieces and three turret pieces showed no obvious problems and a nice snug fit. Using resin kits from Commanders or Accurate Armor as the gold standard, this kit is close to that level. The texture on the hull pieces is a bit of a issue but it won't add much time to the build. More evident is a design philosophy where many of the beautifully cast and detailed parts are separate where they would have been molded in place from one of those manufacturers. So there will be additional prep and build time simply because of all of the overpours to be sanded away. However, the casting of the smaller parts is excellent, the detail is very good, and I expect it to look wonderful when done for less than $100 including shipping. Overall, this is a very nice kit of a very esoteric subject, and will look great next to the Dragon Panther G. Or perhaps even a Pershing or Centurion!