The PLASTIC SOLDIER PANTHER.
I finally pulled out my Plastic Soldiers' box of Panther tanks along with my Thomas Jentz' book PANTHER TANK-the Quest for Combat Supremacy on the Panther tank. Did a little searching on the web as well since I had purchased the box to make 2-3 German Panther very late war vehicles with IR equipment. The Panther G would get the Type A and 1-2 Panther D would get Type B IR equipment. Reference Panther by Concord Publications, Thomas Anderson & Vincent Wai pages 37, 38, and 63-66. However, research on the web indicates that only the Type A1 was available and used by the Germans - so no Panther D needed. So, (the Panther G with IR Type A will be a later message) what actually is in the box. First of all look at the Panther D article on this kit linked to this blog.
KURSK Panther. Organized as Panzer Rgt Staff had 8 Panthers. Panzer Battalion 51 had 96 Panthers (3 BN HQ, 5 BN HQ Recon, 4 Coy each 2 Coy HQ, 4 PLT of 5 Panther each. The kit does NOT include the correct parts to do an early production (i.e. Kursk) vehicle without some rework. One thing you need to do is drill out the MG port and two gun sight ports (it is a binocular sight) in the gun mantle. You can also drill out the 75mmL70 gun barrel and muzzle brake ports. Missing (and the three "sample" Panthers provided in the 'usual' directions are not correct either) parts and added components on the turret need corrections. First, on the turret roof you have to remove the loader's observation periscope (behind the turret exhaust vent); then behind that the smaller circular plate with 4 bolts and an opening (the Close Defense Weapon), and behind that the FuG 5 radio antenna base (the tiny piece)., then the two handles on the rear of the turret, one above and one on the rear turret escape hatch, and the remove the small catch/circle in the center of the rear escape hatch. Changes to the turret that need to be added. Add the smoke dischargers on the turret. Add a pistol port on each side of the turret and behind the TC position in the rear turret plate (drill a small hole, take a thin plastic rod, add some glue to the end and place in the hole. Let it dry and then snip it off as close to the turret armor as you can). Add a communications port to the left rear side of the turret. Missing from the turret will be two covered apertures in the turret armor near the rear edge of the side plate bent around the turret at the rear - these are almost flush but do show in all the drawings. Additionally the Panther D turret and the Panther A turret have a different shape interlocking armor piece to that helped lock the front turret armor plate to the side plates - there is no visible welding on the model. Use the twin thin exhausts for the Model D. This completes the changes to make a KURSK version of the Panther. Additionally, the engine deck has the late D left (facing forward) engine fan cover instead of the early version, which I don't recommend changing.
Late Model D (ending in September 1943 with assembly of 37 units) - this can be built from the kit. Use the same hull and exhaust as the Model D. Cut the right hand (facing forward from above) headlight off. Remove all of the turret roof and rear parts listed for the KURSK Panther. Add the turret pistol ports but do not add the communications port.
Early Model A . (3 Aug 43, 149 Sep43) Use the D gun mantle (Binocular (2)) gun sight with the late cupola (with the periscopes and AA MG cover). Cut off the Close Defense Weapon port, the handle on the turret rear escape hatch, and add the side and rear turret pistol ports. Leave the loader periscope.
Mid-Model A. (Dec 43-Jan 45) Use the D gun mantle but don't drill out the outer gun sight port. The sight has been changed to a single (monocular) sight and the outer hole has been plugged. Don't add the pistol ports. Cut off all other turret parts (not the periscope on the roof) as for the Early Model A. Cut off the MG cover on the front of the hull and replace with the MG Kugelblende.
Late-Model A. (June 44). Use either gun mantle, with the early one fill and sand off the outer gun sight hole so the mantle looks like the included late G mantle with the single sight hole. Add the MG Kugelblende to the hull front. Do not take anything off of the turret - it is now correct. Remove the right headlight. Use the multiple exhaust pipes (4 tubes). Note there were two variations we skipped - one moved the jack between the two exhaust pipes and one added Bergepanzer type tow coupling to the bottom of the rear plate. The first can be attempted by removing the jack from the twin exhausts and using a jack from one of the other exhausts, placed vertically between them with the smaller end up and just at the level of the rear deck. The tow coupling was only applied for about 30 days in Nov/Dec 43 - it was dropped as it decreased the ground clearance.
Early Panther G - Deliveries start in Oct 44. You use the straight sided hull sides and hull rear with vertical jack plus the top hull with the square driver/radio operator hatches. This hull moves the single headlight on the left directly above the front fender. This vehicle was made with the twin exhausts with the large pipes with metal covers around them (actually exhaust covers to hide the exhaust pipes at night because they 'glowed'.) although sometimes the covers were lost so it would look like the twin exhaust with vertical jack on the Model A. The large twin covers included in the kit were introduced into Sep 44 delivers and were an improvement over the sheet metal covers described above (the end of the exhausts sticks out on the earlier version). The Model G has the Kugelblende hull MG. Use the turret as is with either gun mantle modified as for the Late Model A (monocular gun sight with the excess hole filled and sanded clean). The chin mantle with the square bottom was introduced in September 44 deliveries but the older version was still in stock and on Production Panther G through to the end of the war.
A major number of changes were internal and can't be seen, or minor so they won't show on the model - like the rings welded on each turret side for attaching tree branches, etc. - or are too difficult to model such as a Panther G without the vehicle heater on the hull rear deck - it is the large boxy thing on top of one of the fans. Additionally, the Panther as well as other German tanks and SP guns, had the paste called Zimmerit coated on the vehicles at the assembly plants. This can be modeled, but like the IR Type A equipment may be covered in another article or looked up on the web.
1. The boxy covers for the two rear square engine deck louvers are made from pieces of Schuerzen steel and welded on to protect the engine from strafing aircraft. These were over the rear two louvers as modeled and square ones were also placed over the round fan louvers. They weren't placed over the louvers nearest the turret because the turret would hit them.
2. The troops also modified the Panther "officially" by welding the handle to the escape hatch, adding some rain guards for various periscopes and ports, adding a debris guard for the front turret roof, and adding a wiper for the gun sight. The only one of these modification that affect the model is the handle on the rear turret escape hatch. You can leave that on as a "field modification" rather than cutting it off. Eventually, it was added to the production vehicle turrets with the handle above the hatch added in production.
3. Unofficial modifications was hanging extra road wheels off the turret or hull sides, added spare track to the side of the hull or turret, and moving the gun cleaning rod container (the round tube shown placed on the side of the model) from the left side of the hull and mounting it across the end of the rear deck.