Panther Ausf. G Early/Late with Full Interior Panzerkampfwagen “Panther” Ausf.G (Sd.Kfz.171)
Ryefield Model, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by James Hatch
B a c k g r o u n d
The Panther is a German medium tank deployed during World War II on the Eastern and Western Fronts in Europe from mid-1943 to the war's end in 1945. It had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. It was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther until 27 February 1944, when Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral "V" be deleted. Contemporary English language reports sometimes refer to it as the Mark V. The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive. The Panther was a compromise. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I, it had more efficient frontal hull armour, better gun penetration, was lighter and faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tiger I. The trade-off was weaker side armour, which made it vulnerable to flanking fire. The Panther proved to be effective in open country and long-range engagements but did not provide enough high explosive firepower against infantry.
The Panther was far cheaper to produce than the Tiger I, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armour, transmission, and final drive, were simplifications made to improve production rates and address raw material shortages. The overall design remained somewhat over-engineered. The Panther was rushed into combat at the Battle of Kursk despite numerous unresolved technical problems, leading to high losses due to mechanical failure. Most design flaws were rectified by late 1943 and the spring of 1944, though the bombing of production plants, increasing shortages of high quality alloys for critical components, shortage of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of crews all impacted the tank's effectiveness. Though officially classified as a medium tank, its weight is more like that of a heavy tank, as its weight of 44.8 tons puts it roughly in the same category as the American M26 Pershing (41.7 tons), British Churchill (40.7 tons) and the Soviet IS-2 (46 tons) heavy tanks. The tank had a very high power to weight ratio however, making it extremely mobile regardless of its weight. Its weight still caused heavy tank-esque problems however, such as an inability to cross certain bridges.
Extract from Wikipedia
F i r s t L o o k
If you like large kit boxes, you’ll not be disappointed. This one is almost twice the size of my Cyber Hobby 1/35 King Tiger, and the deep lid contains a superb artwork of the Panther G of what they say is an unknown unit, with zig-zag winter distemper covering the base camouflage. RFM have sent me the Limited-Edition kit with clear turret and upper hull parts, as labelled on the lid.
One side of the lid has three colour CAD illustrations of the model with its complete interior (yes...complete!) and the other side has three colour profiles for the schemes on offer with this release. This is certainly no weekender project. I thought it apt to place a little of the blurb here that Rye Field has told us of this new kit, designed to celebrate their third year in the business.
This information of course doesn’t even go into including the details of every single reproduced component within the interior of the Panther Ausf.G. If Rye Field Models wanted an epic for their anniversary release, then they got one.
Inside the box, the first thing I’m confronted with is another large but shallow box with colour illustrations of two of the schemes (I think this is the offer of drawing gift that RFM refer to), and inside here is a single, large, clear sprue that contains the Limited Edition parts, such as the upper hull, turret, glacis etc. as well as standard clear parts for the periscope et al. I do find the clear plastic pretty quirky and don’t intend to build this with a visible interior, but the option is there for you. The rest of the sprues are moulded in a light brown styrene, and there are FOURTEEN of these. Most are individually bagged except for the ones where there are multiples. Two sprues are interconnected, with two copies, counting as four sprues. A bag containing wire and a spring also contains a flexible black sprue with captive wheel nuts and four wheel rims. Track parts (x190) are included in a brown zip bag and these, moulded in dark brown plastic, come as two per sprue. TWO PE frets are supplied, one decal sheet, and lastly, a hefty 52-page instruction manual. As I said, this is no weekend project. You’ll need to set serious time aside.
We’ll now take a look through the various sprues and focus in on those fine details which really set this release apart.
I could be wrong, but it does look like RFM has thoughtfully grouped the parts for specific areas mainly together on their respective sprues. This certainly beats the constant toing and froing between sprues, especially when there are so many as with this kit. Here we see parts that seem to exclusively concern the Panther’s powerful 7.5 cm Kwk 42 L/70 gun, including turret parts and two mantlet options. The latter are for the curved mantlet, and the later version with a vertical face below the upper curved section, providing extra armour to the lower quarters. Whilst some would decry the lack of a metal barrel in this kit, the plastic one is moulded in one piece instead of as halves. Of course, the muzzle is moulded as separate parts for which no seams exist. These details are supplemented by a little PE.
We generally have a lot of internal turret details here, ranging from the traverse motor to the gun counterbalance, hydraulic drive, loader/gunner/commander seats, azimuth etc. To say the turret interior is comprehensive is pretty much on the money. You’ll certainly need no aftermarket here. The instructions show lengths of wire that must be added using the supplied material.
Sprue C (x2)
Wheels, torsion bars and other associated parts are found on this sprue, of which two are supplied. I do note a few parts from other areas of the hull, but generally this is where the rolling stuff happens. I’ve already said that the wheels/torsion bars do work, but not as they are initially moulded. If you don’t want to simply build this with static, non-moving torsion, then that is the default position. If you want them to articulate, then a small tab of plastic needs to be removed from each bar. Quite a simple task and one that satisfies all builders of this kit.
Many general interior parts here, such as the driver’s seat, transmission, comms system power supply, periscope storage, front drive brake units etc. In fact, many items from the lower hull forward interior will be found here.
Sprue E & X (x2)
Both of these sprues are supplied connected, and there are two frames included. The most obvious inclusion here are the many shells that will be distributed around the hull interior. That much explosive in one space must’ve played on the minds of the crews. Note also a jig for building the tracks, and the multitude of track pins. The individual links are first sat on the track jig and then each bank of pins is installed whilst on the sprue. When in situ, the sprue will then be removed. Genius! Other parts here include wheels, engine fan amongst many other small components.
This sprue provides the rear and front glacis, lower hull sides, fenders and the hull floor. As this kit has a full interior, the hull floor has details moulded within. I can’t understand the reason for the forward glacis as this is moulded in situ on the clear upper hull, as the non-clear F1 part is designed to fit over the top of this, despite the test models showing it without F1 attached. Detail is excellent, especially on the hull sides. Some very nice weld seam details to be seen too.
Many items here that appear to be associated with the rear engine decal, with numerous options provided, such as those for the four different permutations of exhaust layouts, heaters, tool racks, access doors (poseable), front fender mudguards etc. Note also options for the rear stowage bins.
This Panther kit can be fitted with the heated duct system as an option. This means that RFM needed to be able to enable the modeller to easily install these parts. Note here two internal bulkhead options which provide the means to display the model with or without the heat duct system. Certainly better than having to mod the part yourself. Internal rear compartment walls, shell racks, lower hull central floor, fuel tanks, filters, etc.
Another multitude of small and key components to be found here. Everything from the 20T jack (that can be posed deployed or stored), drive gear housings, rear glacis parts (including towing mechanism), hull tools, towing cable ends etc.
Here you find the mighty Maybach and other associated parts. A variety of other components are moulded here too, such as the rear mantlet plates (two options), ammunition storage rack parts, hoses and ducting, radio sets, and the remainder of parts that are scattered around the interior.
Sprue L (clear parts)
As I already stated, this particular kit is a Limited-Edition version with these parts being moulded in clear styrene. From this, I can only presume that regular editions will have this in the same colour as the rest, with the periscope parts etc. being moulded separately. I honestly don’t know. However, that’s a story for a different day. Like or loathe clear parts, these really are superbly moulded with exceptional clarity, should you wish to finish your model, so the interior can be viewed through the plastic.
This is a rubberised sprue containing four wheel rims and a series of captive collars for holding the wheels in place on the torsion bar arms.
Moulded in a dark brown plastic, these are moulded in twos, interconnected with a small sprue. There are 85 each of these, totalling 190 separate track links. I can’t comment on how easy these will be to assemble at this stage, but they look straightforward enough with the supplied jig and method of applying the track pins that I mentioned earlier.
Two frets are included in this release, packed into a wallet with a card protector. Quality is excellent, with narrow part gates that will make it easy to remove and clean the individual components.
Included in PE form are the heater grilles, internal hull lower chassis frames, clasps, etc. There are a lot of parts to keep you occupied.
Only a few bits here, namely different diameter wires and a spring for the main gun recoil.
A single sheet is included with decals for the three schemes included. A whole load of stencils are also included. Printing is excellent, with the decals being nice and thin and with minimal carrier film. Colour is solid and in register.
RMF provides a 52 page A4 manual for this release, with there being a total of 71 constructional sequences. However, many of these include enough assembly to have merited further breakdown. All drawings are in line format and are clear to understand. Coloured ink is introduced to illustrate some of the finer nuances of construction, such as new part placement and where parts are only to be dry-fit at certain stages. Some of the English annotation is a little messy and could do with having been corrected, but the general gist is easy to follow. Paint references are given for Mig AMMO and Gunze paints.
C o n c l u s i o n
Well, what can I say? Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kit with as many options available to the builder, nor one with this incredible amount of full interior detail in 1/35. You’ll need your wits about you as you progress through the build in order that you use the correct permutation of parts, plus any component modifications that are required to common parts. It’s a minefield, but at least it’s a fun one! Perhaps one of the most complicated kits I’ve yet encountered. Moulding quality is up there with the very best, with hardly a seam to be seen, and zero flash that I can determine. Any ejector pin marks should also be hidden behind installed equipment, so again, no concerns there.
There’s no doubt that Rye Field Model have created a masterpiece and if the images and videos from the recent Nuremberg Toy Fair are anything to go by, then this will look simply amazing when complete. As I have said, this is a complicated kit and you need to check assembly at each turn with relation to parts options, so ensure you know exactly which vehicle you’ll be building, right at the outset. All I can say is this is just stunning!
Thanks to Ryefield Model for the sample www.ryefield-model.com
Text and Images by James Hatch