|DRAGON - Panther Ausf.D Early Production|
A look at the newest small scale offering from Dragon...
Panther Ausf.D Early Production
Manufacturer: Dragon Models
Serial Number: 7494
Although primarily known for their 1/35th scale armour range, Dragon have consistently been expanding their small scale range over the last few years with some truly outstanding releases in terms of subject choice and detail.
The Panther Ausf.D was manufactured between January and September of 1943, and along with various increased thickness of armour in appropriate places, was also armed with the 7.5cm KwK42, with a single baffle muzzle brake and MG34 coaxial machine gun. This early production model retains the cupola and almost flat hatch of the Ausf.A(D1).
The kit contents consist of four small sprues of light grey styrene, one of which is actually a one piece slide moulded lower hull, but supplied on a sprue. There also a four sided full colour instructions leaflet and small decal sheet, plus two lengths of DS100 vinyl tan-coloured tracks.
Construction is simplified, as you would of course expect at this scale, the roadwheels consisting of 'layers' of wheels on either side, being joined by small bridges and then fixed to the hull sides. Once construction is complete, this gives the appearance of separate wheels, but greatly simplifies the construction. Don't be fooled into thinking that there's over simplification of the kit however. We're still offered a separate rear wall, with separate jack and exhausts. There are small separate front mudflaps, and even a separate cylindrical spare barrel case for the hull side. The characteristic tool racks for either side of the hull are provided as single mouldings, which at this scale is perfectly acceptable and really do look exceptionally detailed.
The turret is provided as a shell minus rear wall and mantlet. The rear wall has the loaders hatch moulded closed, so there's no option to display it opened, although the Commander's cupola is provided as a separate part with separate hatch, and there are even separate parts provide for the pistol ports. The main gun barrel is provided in one part with muzzle brake already attached and slide moulded so that the end appears hollow. There's a full set of hull schurzen included in the kit as styrene, and although these are a little thick, Dragon have used bevelled edges to improve their appearance.
The small decal sheet included in the kit has the necessary markings to complete one of the five marking schemes illustrated on the instructions leaflet, all from the Eastern Front in 1943, and in a variety of different camouflaged schemes.
These small scale offerings from Dragon really are little gems. At first some of the detail seems contradictory in that it leaves you wondering why some smaller parts are provided separately whilst others are moulded integrally with larger parts. There's no doubt that Dragon have the technology to mould some of these smaller parts as separate, but such as kit would just become over complicated assembly-wise, and would raise the cost of the kit unnecessarily high. Dragon seems to have the balance about right to provide just the right potential in terms of what you could do with the kit, against cost. Recommended.
My thanks to Dragon models for the review sample.