This release from Vespid Models is packaged in a cardboard tray with a separate card lid. The box did take damage in transit, but did its job well as the contents are unharmed. The sprues themselves are packaged across a number of bags, and provide the modeller with a huge number of options. The parts themselves are of a high quality, being crisp and cleanly moulded.
The lower hull of the model has good detail across its underside, with separate suspension arms and idler arm which are secured in the position for display on a level surface by half circle connection points. So if you wish to display your model on an uneven surface, this portion of the model is not difficult to alter. The model supplies two complete sets of wheels, one being the all steel wheel option, the other being the more familiar wheel with the solid rubber tyre. Detail on the faces of both sets of wheels is exceptional in all respects, and I can’t complain about them in any way whatsoever. The modeller who has gone down the route of altering the suspension, lives in interesting times when it comes to adding the tracks as they are provided in a link and length format and so some hot water is going to be needed to reshape them as required.
The upper hull of the model is another area where you have a decision to make - Are you going to go with the anti-aircraft armour or not? You have two complete upper hulls, one with the rear deck set up as you would see on a standard A/D Panther for the anti-aircraft version or the more standard G model with the raised heater fan, the choice is yours. Photo etch grilles are provided for the engine deck, and the driver and radio operators hatches are separate. The Kugelblende is provided with a separate machine gun, which to me is exceptionally unusual in something this size. Your next option depending on which option you decide to paint, are the stowage boxes on the rear of the hull. With the option of the crossed reinforcement or vertical lined reinforcement, the vertical lines are an option I am unfamiliar with.
The track guards such as they are on the Panther, are separate and even include the cut out detail. But the part that will cook your noodle are the 12 Schürzen hangers, which are made from photo etch, which need to be bent in a number of planes. The spare track links, tools and exhausts are provided as separate parts. In the case of the exhaust, your are provided with the common version and the option of the flame retardant exhaust option.
The turret of the model is made up of three main parts, with good detail throughout and so far as I can assess the correct angles. The main gun can be elevated or depressed after assembly and we hit our next option - one is the standard mantlet as seen on the A and D version, the other is the chin mantlet which was introduced to help do away with a shot trap. The main barrel of the model, has been provided with an option of a turned aluminium barrel and 3D resin muzzle brake, or for those who want the easy route an injection moulded plastic barrels in included on the sprue. The top of the turret, appears to have all of the relevant details provided including minute photo etch bracketing just behind the mantlet. You are also provided with a barrel travel lock, should you wish to use it up or down and we hit ANOTHER option - the cover for the driver’s periscope could either be the small version as seen on A and D variants or the elongated version as seen on later G variants.
For those modellers who have gone down the route of a vehicle with the anti-aircraft armour I salute you!!! As you have multiple layers of photo etch, with injection moulded support arms which I would struggle to see, let alone manipulate and install on the model. However, once done, it will result in a very interesting look for a Panther and something that is rarely seen.
Vespid models has provided three finishing options for this release, and if you have taken the time to read the review, you need to take into account all of the options I have highlighted during assembly. As the finishes that you have chosen does dictate which variant you will finish with. The options are:
2 SS Panzer regiment 1, no 221, December 1944, Belgium
Unknown unit, Germany, Early 1945
4th Panzer regiment 26, no 424, April 1945, Italy