“Year of the Cat” Group Build, 1/35 Tamiya “Panther” Ausf. D, Sd.Kfz. 171, Kursk summer offensive 1943
Greetings everyone !
I finished this one up a few nights ago... when I finished the Russian KV-1 with bolt on applique armor.
Since the "Year of the Cat" will not be officially over until sometime after mid February, 2018, I'm encouraging members who are participating to go ahead and post their builds as they complete them. This will allow their work to be admired by all that much sooner, and will hopefully generate even more builds, (since it's such a long way out before mid February arrives).
Once the "Year of the Cat" GB has ended, I will post a compilation of the builds in similar fashion to how we did with the review of the "Midway Group Build" not too long ago.
So far we have 40 builds happening in the GB, with several that have already been completed. I am very pleased with the response we have received. There is still room for more to join in. If you haven't done so already, please check it out... Thanks !
Here's a link to the "Year of the Cat" GB:
This one was a very enjoyable build. The hardest part for me, was deciding on which markings and camouflage patterns to use ! Tamiya has provided in the kit, a very nice color print instructional sheet that shows the colors and markings for 3 different early Panther "D" model tanks.
Many don't know this, but the "D" model Panther was actually the first version. Later on in the War, it was followed by an "A" model, and then finally towards the end of the War, a "G" model Panther was produced. Each one was an improvement upon the last variant.
The fit was superb, and is your typical Tamiya kit that has some nice "extra" features, that are available for purchase separately from the actual kit.
For starters, I used the Tamiya individual track links for an early Panther. These are a nice simple arrangement that are actually workable once completed. Each individual track link has you glue a separate center guide part, making each link two parts. The center guide part has two center guides cast into it, and the guides are molded hollow, which capture the look of an early Panther track link rather well.
The links then simply snap together, and remain highly flexible. They are molded in a somewhat dark gray.
Next I used the Tamiya "Metal" gun barrel upgrade, which also gives you a few more detail parts for the main gun, and a separate set of instructions that supersede the kit instructions. The end result is a fabulous looking high velocity KwK 42 / L70 which is a 75 MM main gun.
The last upgrade also involved a separate Tamiya available option. It was the photo etch set that provides some realistic screens for the fan towers and upper grills on the back deck. This is a very worthwhile addition and provides a lot of bang for your buck.
I opted to try something new and used "Bare Metal Foil" on the areas of the road wheels where the track center guides would have rubbed up against the wheels. This is a very common sight on all Panthers. They all had very shiny steel wear areas on the road wheels after a few minutes of normal driving.
I built the provided crew members, and they look great. But my figure painting skills are not the best... Maybe later I will add them if they turn out OK.
I used the kit decals, which are for a tank that is with the "Grossdeutschland GD" Panzer Regiment, tank number 445, which was near Kursk in August of 1943. Kursk was the largest tank battle of WW2, and was only eclipsed many years later during the first Gulf War in Iraq.
Kursk was also the first time that the Panther tank was used in combat.
One last thing I did that deviated from the kit plans, was I substituted fine copper wire in place of the cloth string that was provided for the tow cables. I also connected the tow cables to the tow clevises on the rear of the tank, as they were sometimes done just prior to entering battle.
The Panther was sprayed using Tamiya Acrylics, and the dust was a simple mix of various colored chalks. I used Testors "Dull Coat" to secure the chalk powder in place.
I added the last few pictures that show how the Panther compared in size to the Russian KV-1, which was considered a "Heavy" tank at the time, and eventually morphed into the "JS" or "IS" "Stalin" series of tanks.
From what research I have done, Panthers from the 51st and 52nd Panzer Abteilung were attached to the Gross Deutschland Division. From the first combat deployment, many of the Panthers broke down due to various mechanical problems. Some broke down just as they left the rail cars, and didn't make it but only a few hundred feet before they broke down.
These problems were well documented and ranged from things as simple as having recycled hydraulic oil in the turret's power system, (which caused bubbles in the oil and then the turret wouldn't traverse or the main gun wouldn't elevate / depress as quickly as it should) to engine fires and transmission failures that sometimes caused a total loss of the vehicle.
Then there was the time when a German Commander used his brand new Panthers to clear a Russian mine field ! This also caused considerable losses, but most of these vehicles were eventually repaired and placed back in service, after they were recovered by maintenance crews.
As normal with anything that is new in service, the Panther had what would be called "teething troubles". Once these problems were corrected, the Panther went on to become one of the best tanks to see service in WW2 (in my opinion...).
Since I wanted to represent a brand new (or newly repaired) Panther, I didn't simulate any damage and kept all of the side skirts in place. The early Panthers also used a two piece front fender. Most of the time the lower section was either removed when it became damaged, and not replaced that often. My model has both parts of the front fenders intact and not damaged.
As usual, comments are encouraged.
I hope you enjoy this one.
31 additional images. Click to enlarge.