During early 1944 with the tide of war turning against Germany and Allied bombing raids causing destruction of military units on the ground a request was made for SPAAG (Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun). It was proposed to mount twin anti aircraft guns into an especially designed turret to be fitting onto a Panther G hull. Various weapons were tested to be utilised in this weapons system, from simple MG 151/20 aircraft cannons fitted one above the other and it was eventually decided that the offensive fire power needed to by 55mm dual guns. Unfortunately obtaining these weapons proved difficult due to production issues, and 3.7cm were finally fitted. The vehicle was given the name Coelian which was the third name of Von Clatter-Goetz who was the supervisor for the project. To the best of my knowledge and the reference material I have the Coelian never got beyond a wooden mocked up turret fitted to either a Panther D or very early Panther A, due to the slot machine mount in the front of the hull rather than a Kugelblende and that is the vehicle that it would appear that Hobby Boss has provided here in 1/35th scale, but with a production turret fitted with details not shown in the mock up of the vehicle. As such the details present are either fictional, best guess or from information I do not have access to.
The model is packaged in a substantial cardboard tray, with a protected divided off area, and a separate cardboard lid showing the artwork. The model sprues are packaged in individual plastic bags, except where duplicated. The large mouldings such as the turret, upper and lower hull are in the divided off section along with photo etch and decals. An examination of the mouldings does not bring any moulding issues to light. Access to parts is good, with the gates between the sprue and the parts being of a reasonable size. There are however, a number of moulding nipples attached to the parts that will need to be removed and cleaned up.
The lower hull of this offering from Hobby Boss has good detail as regards the internal torsion bar suspension system and if care is taken during assembly functionality of the torsion bars will be retained. External detail of the lower hull appears to be accurate for a Panther A (early). wheel detail meets my expectations as regards detail and the tyres on the road wheels are present on all stations. The track links provided for the model are all individual link with separate guide horns and so provide a very nice level of detail, but are likely to make you swear!! The track guards/sponsons have to be added to the lower hull with the contact surfaces making correct positioning difficult I believe. I suggest that the upper hull is ready to be placed but not secured in order to allows these other parts to set in the correct orientation. The extended front flaps present on this vehicle and early Panther As are provided as separate pieces.
Moving to the rear panel of the model most of the detail will be added and so is of a good quality. The exhausts provided are the single pipe versions more akin to a Panther D as the left hand exhaust on the Panther A normally has three pipes, but I cannot remember what the two outer ones are used for. The storage boxes at the rear of the model, could with a little bit of work be assembled open if so desired, and so allowing the modeller the possibility to add their own flare of brilliance when it comes to the finished offering. The jack that is mounted on the vehicle is a multi part assembly including separate mounting brackets and so I believe is of a very good quality regarding detail.
Moving to the upper hull the plates above the driver and radio operator and the two main access hatches for the engine deck are provided separately. And as regards the front panel the crew hatches are also separate. Disappointingly the periscopes are provided separately, but are not moulded in clear plastic, which would seem to defeat the point. The intakes on the engine deck are accurate for the model provided, and photo etch grilles are included in the kit. Track hangers, tools and storage brackets appear to be correct. Unfortunately the brackets on the tools themselves are moulded in place, which may upset some. The bow machine gun cover is designed to be placed closed, and so far as I can see no machine gun is included for the that position. Hobby Boss has included Schürzen brackets and these are mounted and included with these is photo etch Schürzen armour. This additional armour is not shown in any of my photographic reference, but as this is supposed to be a production vehicle it is likely to have been fitted if it had gone into production. A detail on the upper hull that concerns me, is that only one Notec headlight is fitted on the left hand side, which I believe is correct for a Panther A but the vehicle used for the mock up has headlights fitted on both left and right.
The turret of the model has no internal detail present, but retains the ability for the guns to be elevated and depressed. As I said earlier the exterior detail is I believe Best Guess. The hatches present are not designed with the option of having them opened, with the only particularly nice inclusion being the sighting system for the main guns. I also approve of the fact that the guns themselves both muzzle and flash portions have been provided as single pieces and slide moulded. Finishing option for this model are restricted to one overall grey vehicle, with no decals provided, my gut says this is a little bit dull and the modeller themselves should be able to finish the model however they wish, as it never existed in fact.
The only other company that I know that has released a model of this vehicle, used to be Dragon Models. If I remember correctly Takom has released an offering recently, and so this release from Hobby Boss is up against it. The early release from Dragon is not commonly available, and so can be discounted. The Takom release I have no personal knowledge of. Looking on line the Hobby Boss release offers individual tracks links and suspension against link and length and fixed suspension in the Takom release. The Takom release also offers an optional turret, with the twin off-set machine guns in addition to the Coelian turret. The turret hatches in both cases are not designed to be shown open. Detail wise I would place them on a par, with physical details being similar. The only major change I can see in the Coelian is a machine gun shield in front of the Commanders hatch, and Takom has also provided three finishing options. With that information being provided I do not have any negative opinions on the Hobby Boss kit, but I personally would not look forward to removing all of the guide horns for the tracks, cleaning them up and adding them.