Pz.Beob.Wg. V Ausf. D Early Production
Dragon, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6813; Pz.Beob.Wg. V Ausf. D Early Production|
|Media and Contents:||557 parts (543 in grey styrene, 12 diecut white styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$62.99 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Re-release with some changes of an older cyber-hobby kit; BOTH single link and DS Plastic tracks in the same box!|
|Disadvantages:||Somewhat stripped down from the previous 2007 release|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all German and Panther fans|
As I noted in August 2007 when the cyber-hobby kit (No. 6419) became available, there are always offbeat versions of production vehicles beloved by modelers, and for years one of the most popular derivatives of the Panther tank was the armored observation vehicle variant – “Panzerbeobactungswagen” in German. Built mostly from redundant Ausf. D Panthers, the observation variant was designed as an armored forward artillery observer and fire coordination vehicle. One prototype was built in late 1943 and apparently another 40 Panther Ausf. D were rebuilt into this variant when they were sent back for repairs.
The vehicle had the gun removed and the mantelet was replaced with one mounting a dummy gun and a ball mount for a machine gun. The now roomy turret was fitted with a map plotting table and extra artillery band radio sets supplied for coordination of fires.
As noted Dragon released a “boutique” kit of this vehicle in 2007 under their cyber-hobby affiliate, and it was something like the DML “Premium” line of kits with a lot of etched brass and precut single link “Magic Tracks”. This kit strips out most of those parts and adds a number of new or remolded sprues in their place as well as includes both single link molded tracks and DS Plastic single run tracks.
Most of the sprues are from earlier Ausf. A and D kits but as noted a number of sprues were either swapped out or upgraded using new molds.
The model comes with some nice touches, such a choice of wheel hubs for the drivers and the aforementioned choice between track sets. This is something I have been recommending to DML for some time and this is one of the first kits to actually provide it, so kudos to DML for listening to modelers’ requests and complaints!
The kit comes with few extra parts and no clear styrene inserts either, but the early Panthers did not have much exposed glass anyway (the “dustbin” cupola being pretty much without). But this was an upgraded vehicle with the late A/standard G cupola so surprising that it has no inserts.
The skirts are provided on two sheets of diecut .015" white styrene, which is about right for scale thickness but may be a bit flimsy to install.
The directions are new and are different - a cross between photographic ones like DML has used in the past and computer-generated images. But they are clear and easily followed.
Technical assistance is from Steven Van Beveren, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Two finishing schemes are provided: Unidentified Unit, Kursk 1943 (overall sand with black crosses); 4./Pz.Rgt. Grossdeutschland, Karachev 1943 (sand with green/red brown striping, black 521, crosses and white insignia). A small sheet of Cartograf decals is included.
Overall, while some modelers will grouse that the etched brass is gone many modelers wanting a simpler built will be happy with this kit.
A 25 D/A upper hull
B 43 D/A sponson liners and details
C 1 lower hull
D 44x2 D/A gun, drivers, fan grilles, details
E 46 D/A mantelet and back plate, glacis, cupola
F 15 Beobacthungswagen turret and mantelet
g 6 “Crow’s Foot” antenna, etched brass former
J 39 D/A turret, details
K 10 x 4 D road wheels
K 2 Details
L 48x4 Single link tracks
L 2 Panther antenna
M 2 Details
N 2 Panther antenna
P 20x2 D/A suspension arms
Y 2 DS Plastic Track Runs
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.