by: Scott Espin [ ]
IntroductionDragon has added another new kit to its Smart Kit line, a completely new 1/35 scale kit of the JagdPanther Ausf. G1 Early Production based on their outstanding Panther Ausf. G Smart Kits. Considered by many to be the best Tank Destroyer of the war, Dragon has done a great job replicating the details and unique features of the Early JagdPanther. In the latter half of 1942, the Waffenamt decided to develop a new tank destroyer/assault gun (Sturmgeschütz) based on the chassis of the Pz.Kpfw V Panther. A Sturmgeschutz is generally based on the chassis of an existing turreted tank design, but has a fixed superstructure instead. This allows for a much larger and more powerful gun to be installed, in this case the Pak 43/2 88mm gun and later the Pak 43/3 88mm gun. Production of the JagdPanther began in January 1944 and it is believed that anywhere from 413 to 425 were produced. The JagdPanther is considered by many to be the best tank destroyer of the war.
The KitDragon has added another great kit to their Smart Kit line, the JagdPanther Ausf G1 Early Production, SdKfz 173, which was released mid-December 2007. Their new slide mold technology greatly enhances the ability to mold more complex parts. This technology means fewer parts and a much less complex assembly with no sacrifice to detail. However, there are a few photo etch parts included for the grill screens on the engine deck as it would be impossible to replicate the screen detail with styrene parts.
This particular kit has nothing in common with the previous JagdPanther releases from DML. Upon opening the box, you’ll notice that several of the sprues are marked “Panther Ausf. G”, which is not surprising considering that this kit is based on the recent Panther Ausf. G Smart Kits. Obviously, there are additional sprues in the kit for the parts that are unique to the JagdPanther. There are a fair number of parts that will not be used as they are only for the Panther Ausf. G, such as the gun mantlet, and these are all good to hang on to for future kit bashing.
Kit Contents The kit consists of 583 parts molded in light grey plastic (94 marked as not used) for a total of 489 parts used in the following configuration:
• 18 x sprues molded in the typical light gray plastic used by DML
• 1 x clear sprue (vision ports)
• 1 x photo etch (grill screens)
• 2 x metal, braided wire tow cables (each a different size)
• 1 x decal sheet (markings for 2 different JagdPanther with s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654)
• 1 x bag of plastic Magic Tracks
The instructions are printed in black, white and blue with very detailed drawings. Because there are so many parts the directions can seem a bit cluttered at times, but as long as you are careful and study them before diving in you should be ok.
ReviewThe molding on the sprockets and road wheels is fantastic, and all the detail is nice and crisp. The torsion bars for the suspension and their internal mounts are included, although it will be difficult if not impossible to see them unless you don’t glue the upper hull to the chassis. This would be pointless as an interior is not included with the exception of the gun breach assembly.
The engine fans and vents are beautifully molded and will add a nice touch when looking through the grill screens on the rear engine deck. Just to give you an idea on the level of detail, the jack consists of 7 individual parts, and that’s not counting the two additional parts needed to clamp the jack to the back plate of the hull. Clear parts are provided for the vision blocks so some planning will be required when deciding how you will approach the assembly and painting to ensure they remain clear.
Decals are included for two different vehicles, both with s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654, France 1944. One is a tri-color scheme (dark yellow basecoat, with wavy red brown and khaki green blotches. The other scheme is a solid dark yellow with no numbers or other external markings except for the 4 Balkenkreuz.
The detail on the hull is fantastic and includes well detailed access panels and weld seams. The rubber rimmed road wheels are accurately rendered including the 24 bolts on the wheel rims. The two part drive sprockets are also well detailed, with detail on both sides. New final drive housings are included with separate return rollers, but so are the older Panther Ausf. G housings, so make sure you read the part numbers carefully (H7 and H8) when assembling these parts. All the details of the early JagdPanther Ausf. G1 Early Production are accurately reproduced, including the correct rubber tired road wheels, monoblock gun barrel, cast mounting collar, single piece gun barrel and larger muzzle break.
The Magic Tracks included in the kit are not workable and will need to be cemented in place, which will be very tricky especially to modelers new to individual plastic links. There are two different sets of individual track links included, one set with the guide horns already attached, which are found in the Magic Tracks bag. There is another set of links on the E parts sprues (16 to be exact) which require the hollow guide horns to be individually attached. These are for use around the drive sprockets and are properly sized so they’ll wrap around the sprocket teeth. The links themselves are all nicely molded and include the six ice cleats for extra traction during winter conditions. The track links in the kit are all right handed which is unfortunately incorrect. The real JagdPanther had right and left handed tracks. This little detail is commonly overlooked in JagdPanther models.
Zimmerit was applied to almost all German tracked armored vehicles (except for open topped vehicles) from August 1943 to September 1944. All early production JagdPanther Ausf. G1 Early were built during this time and therefore had factory applied zimmerit. This kit does not include pre-molded zimmerit, which will be a bit of a disappointment to some. DML has released two other kits prior to this one that included molded on zimmerit (King Tiger Henschel w/Zimmerit and King Tiger Porsche w/Zimmerit) so it may be puzzling as to why they chose not to include pre-molded Zimmerit on this kit. On the other hand, zimmerit generally hasn’t been pre-molded before so this has been the norm. The bottom line is, if you want your build to be accurate, you’ll either have to make your own zimmerit or get an aftermarket zimmerit set.
Be careful when you get to step 4 in the instructions. The two exhaust mounts labeled Q3 and Q4 are for the Panther G. Be sure to use parts T6 and T7 instead, as they are correct for this version of the JagdPanther. If you look at the sprue diagrams on the first page you’ll notice that parts Q3 and Q4 are correctly marked as not being used for this build. Step 10 also requires some care as the instructions show two different circular engine intake covers either H13 or H22. Parts H13 are more appropriate for the early G, whereas H22 is more appropriate for later versions of the JagdPanther. Be sure to check your references closely. The provided photo etch grill screens will accent these very nicely.
The PaK 43/2 88mm gun is the correct one-part gun barrel with the larger muzzle brake used on the early JagdPanther G series (which were produced until May 1944). Later JagdPanther had the two part, Pak 43/3 88mm gun with the smaller muzzle brake. Some people may be disappointed that a turned aluminum barrel was not included in the kit, however the kit gun tube is accurate and is molded as a single piece with just very faint mold seam lines. The muzzle brake is accurate as well and is comprised of 3 parts, single piece with separate parts for the inner grommet and end cap.
All the tools are molded separately, and like the rest of the kit the details are nice and crisp. The hatches and periscopes are very accurate and are comprised of many separate parts. These may prove to be a bit tricky for those of us with big fingers, but shouldn’t be too challenging as long as you have good pair of fine tweezers.
ConclusionMy primary reference for this review was AJ Press Gun Power 24 “SdKfz. 173 JagdPanther” by A.iW. Markowscy, T. Melleman and T. Skwiot, which is an excellent reference book on the JagdPanther (half English, half Polish). The dimensions and details of the kit appear accurate when compared to the line drawings and photographs in the book. This is an excellent rendition of the early JagdPanther Ausf. G1 Early Production and will make a fine addition to your collection. Despite the omission of molded on zimmerit as we have seen in two other recent Dragon releases, there is a lot to love about this kit.