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Panzer Tracts No. 5-1, Panzerkampfwagen “Panther” Ausfuehrung D with Versuch-Serie Panther, Fgst.Nr.V2

by Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle

Panzer Tracts, ISBN 0-9708407-8-0, 72 pages

This is a superb reference for all modellers with any interest in the Panther. It does not replace in any way The Panzer Tracts team’s splendid Quest for Combat Supremacy, but does make a great addition to it.
Here you get the story of the first Panthers, as always taken from the original German archives without wartime intelligence speculation and postwar mistakes. There’s no combat history here, just the facts (did I say “just” the facts?) about the prototype Panthers and the production Ausf D. The successive modifications are listed, with all the known dates for them, and illustrated with photographs and Doyle drawings.
Ah, those drawings! Let me give you the list. First 1 /135 four-view plan of prototype V2, with its particular features noted, and for good measure a separate 1/35 four-view of its turret alone to show more detail. Next a set of German drawings (it’s best not to call them plans, for as Tom Jentz points out in the text they include features of both Ausf D and Ausf A) of the Ausf D. Then a Doyle five-view n 1/35 of an Ausf D as completed by MAN in January 1943, followed by more Doyle plans of a bare hull as delivered to the assembly plants and a complete plate layout – that’s a Doyle plan of the plates laid out flat, suitable for scratchbuilding your own hull if you want the ultimate accuracy as it even marks the areas that were face-hardened!
The next seven pages give you the belly plate layout with all the inspection plates etc, followed by LARGE drawings (no, not sketches, proper plan drawings) of track links, wheels, tool racks, track hangers, and air vent guards, etc. Move on a couple of pages and you’re faced with more large drawings of the rear stowage bins, exhaust heat shields, rear plate fittings and armoured exhaust guards. A couple of pages later and there’s the Panther D turret in detail, with its plate breakdown too and more large drawings of its cupola, ventilation fan guard, pistol and communications ports and the escape hatch.
Further on again and you find more large drawings, of the tools, their modified stowage racks, the schuerzen plates and their hangers, and even the two approved rear side plate welding layouts. Those are followed by the sprocket, wheel and track variations and changes, again to large 1/20 scale for clarity. Then there’s a 1/35 five-view of an Ausf D as completed in June 1943 followed by more large drawings, this time of the engine deck fittings and including the snorkel’s armoured cap that has been a mystery for so long. After them you find the two- and three-plate variations of the belly plate, then more large drawings of the cupola hatch, driving compartment roof and the gun crutch. The last full plan is a 1/35 five view of the September 1943 production standard Ausf D, and finally the end cover has top views of prototype V2 and the first production series Ausf D to show their differences.
All of this is accompanied by splendidly clear photographs with excellent captions pointing out the features shown, and some interior ones too. With those large drawing showing not only every bolt but also where they had lock tabs detail fans can have a field day. There is no longer any excuse for Panther modellers not to show their Kursk Panthers with the correct configuration and then go on to build the Autumn style as well! Since this is volume 5-1 we can hope to see the Auf A and Ausf G covered in as much detail in further Panzer Tracts books, and I can hardly wait.
Very, very highly recommended.

John Prigent