Meng Models has added another 1/35th scale Panther to their line up in the form of a G with the air defence armour, which is the first time I can recall having seen a model kit sold in this exact set up complete. The Panther tank generally and the Panther G specifically I would argue as would many others to be the best tank in terms of mobility, protection, and fire power and we can only be thankful that more were not built to prove that belief.
This offering from Meng Models is packaged inside a deep cardboard tray, with a separate card lid. The sprues inside the box are packaged individually except when duplicated in nearly all cases. Photo etch, decals and wire cable are provided in a separate plastic bag. The instruction booklet and information folder cards are provided in their own bag, which the photo etch is further packaged within. This approach by Meng Model should in most cases mean the model arrives as intended by the manufacturer. An examination of the parts reveals no obvious concerns at this time.
The tub of this model has to be assembled as so benefits from two support structures that sit within the hull and will also support the upper hull when added. Producing the lower hull in a semi-flat construction style means that good detail is replicated on all exterior surfaces. The suspension arms are no designed to be workable, but it would take very little work on the part of the modeller to articulate and secure as desired by the modeller. The upper hull of the model is assembled over a skeleton, again using flat panels with the crew compartment, engine deck, front glacis and side walls being individually provided.
The interior of the upper hull is improved via the addition of two pieces that replicates the fan portion of the engine beneath the engine deck. The radio operator’s machine gun has a plate inside which enables the machine inside the Kugelblende is movable or position able (As you prefer). The interior hatch detail, on which the hatches lift is also provided. Moving to the rear of the upper hull, the main engine bay access door is a separate moulding, which all the detail except for the hinges being added by the modeller. The only thing I would potentially change would be the grab handles as I prefer them to be in metal and are easy to replicate with a little time and effort and are also more robust.
The portion of the hull that sits above the track runs, are also separate parts. The only concern I have at present is that any structure consisting of several pieces is that if the fit is not perfect in every case as you progress you eventually get to a point where surgery is needed to get the parts together cleanly. The metal plate covering where the starter handle is inserted is all made up of separate parts and so has good detail. The stowage bins at the rear are provided with a choice of the reinforcement cross on the back or vertical lines. The vertical lines are a reinforcement style I have not seen myself. Again with minimal work the access doors could be shown open. The exhaust system has been provided with a number of options that I feel the flame retardant version would be the most accurate for a late war Panther.
The area at the front of the hull has two options for the Kugelblende, and it depends on which of the options you are building as regards what you use. A nice inclusion in this release is preformed plastic cables for the model where required. The gun travel lock looks to have good detail as regards the actual rest, my only concern is the chain provided for locking the barrel down as I don’t feel the detail is up for the task. The crew heater housing and all the intakes on the engine deck have been provided with photo etch mesh and in one case an option as to which style of mesh you use. The crew heater has been provided with the cheese wedges in photo etch to close off some of the intake surfaces as required.
The spare track hangers have nice detail provided, but if you want to use pins to lock these tracks on you’ll need to do some drilling. The tools and storage areas down the side hull of the tank, all look to have been catered to with some photo etch detail but not an excessive amount. The air defence screens on the rear of the hull are not something I am familiar with, and so I have to trust that Meng has got this right. Tow cables are provided with separate eyes and a reasonable metal cable is provided in the book but I still have my preference for the cable. The thin plates that extend from the sides of the hull to protect from things getting into the track run and the clips that retain the shurzen armoured plates are provided separately - Are we having fun yet??? I am pleased to find a pre-made ariel for mounting on the engine deck.
The turret again consists of semi-flat plates attached to a skeleton frame of the turret and again this has enabled a high degree of detail to be replicated on the plates themselves. The main gun is a single piece barrel, with a three part muzzle brake which means you have a pleasing representation of the gun without the need for excessive clean up. The air defence turret machine gun has been well replicated in all regards, even providing a photo etch reticule and ammunition belt. The Commander’s cupola has clear lens for the periscope and looks good in all regards. The air defence shield for the top of the turret could be a struggle, as it consists of two photo etched plates and three photo etched mounting brackets.
I have left the part of the model that concerns me most until the end, as I suspect many will not be happy modellers. This is due to the tracks being individual links which I know many complain about, but is further hampered by all of the guide horns needing to the added to the track links individually - which I just know will be a pain when it comes to assembly and clean up.
Meng has provided four finishing options for this model, which are:
424, 1st Battalion, 28th Panzer Regiment, Italy, April 1945
213, 1st Battalion, 31st Panzer Regiment, 5th Panzer Division, Goldap, October 1944
201, 1st Battalion, 27th Panzer Regiment, 19th Panzer Division, Warszawa, September 1944
102, 1st Battalion Headquarters, 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzer Division, Courland, September 1944
I know that there are a huge number of Panther model kits available in a wide number of scales. This offering from Meng Model is the first I can recall having seen in 1/35th scale with the aerial armour package on it. From the box it provides you with the option to build a very complete model with only one major concern on my part - I suspect that while individual track links will not bother people overly the need to add individual guide horns is likely to upset many modellers and be seen as an un-necessary step. For me the highs of this release are the skeletal framework of the tank to which flat plates are added resulting in a very high level of detail. The efforts that have gone into the main gun are pleasing from an accuracy and clean up perspective. Lastly the aerial defence machine gun is very good for being provided in the kit.