Well, keep going with the interior of the lower hull. The assembly was a joy; most parts are simply dry fitted during painting as they fit really well, and slot into their respective places. Part one went well, part two continues this trend.
I gave a few, subsequently lightening coats of AK’s dunkelgelb to the bottom, and started with the ivory interior color (also AK, then misted over with MRP’s paint to lighten it on the top), using the bottom of the crew compartment as a mask (also some masking tape for the other areas not covered by it.
The gun needs some filler. Which is a bummer.
The suspension is an unique torsion bar system, which is reproduced by Amusing Hobby -at least now I know how it is supposed to work.
Does it work? Kind of.
It is very well designed, but the metal springs/torsion bars are not very strong. The metal springs have a slot on the hull which produces the tension; it is not very difficult to install them. (First I thought the metal wire hanging out of the suspension units are leftovers, but no; they do have a role.) Some of the units do have a “spring” to it, but most are quite flaccid. It does move, though.
Onto painting details – that is the topic of the next post.
I never really liked the way the Ferdinand looked- the JagdPanther had a much sleeker outline. However, it was a very intruiging vehicle due to Ferdinand Porche’s unique solution for powering this monster, which in itself made it a must to have a model with an interior.
There are only a few illustrations available of the interior of the tank online:
There is, however, a book available if you fancy buying one (and understand German -although the photos alone would be enough I suspect).
Until now there was only one option for interior: Jaguar’s set, which only consisted of the fighting and the driving compartments -not the interesting (for me at least) bits.
It is well-worth watching the Tank Museum’s Tank Chat of this tank destroyer -although regrettably they did not climb into it.
Here are some photos I took of this vehicle.
Anyhow. I decided to start this model out of the stash. The model, in general, looks simple and easy to build, despite of the complex interior – a great news indeed after the previous tribulations. The part number is suprisingly low for a kit like this, which, after the RFM Panther, is definitely welcome news… There are some annoying ejector pin marks, however. (See photos below.)
Things to keep in mind: painting and building are very interconnected. The instructions will not take into consideration the fact that several parts will be needed to be painted together, or just the opposite, need to be painted separately… I already made a couple of mistakes of gluing parts into place without thinking about how to paint them later on. This is a normal thing with all the complex models; it is up to the modeller to modify the sequence as they see fit.
The decals leave something to desire: there are no decals for the interior or the ammunition. I suspect I will just use Verlinden’s interior set, and the leftovers from the RFM/Takom Panthers for the ammunition -whomever can read the stencils can complain they are not correct for 88mm.
The engines do not have V-belts; they can be added with very little effort. If you want to do so, here is a good page for reference.
I really like that Amusing Hobby offered an alternative for tracks: either individual track links, or if you can’t be bothered with the tedium of assembly, a flexible rubber-band-like option. There is a jig provided for assembly but it is not that easy to make the tracks workable. The point of contact between the track links is really tiny, and it is very easy to get glue where it should not be,
Interior overall has a good fit, and it is well designed; so far I am really happy with the model. The fit is so good some parts are held in place firmly without glue. A lot of the parts on the photos are only dry-fit, not glued -except for those two cylinders behind the driving compartment, which I unfortunately glued in. They will need to be painted with a brush in situ.
If you are interested in more sprue shots and individual in-box reviews, both have been covered by other modellers; the Takom model was reviewed here, and the Rye Field Model here.
Problems with the kits:
Let’s start with the problems because I am a Hungarian, therefore naturally predisposed towards pessimism and negativity. I would also mention here that some of the problems listed are absolutely a matter of taste… so do not be surprised if you see two opposing features (too much detail vs not enough detail) listed. I am trying to give an impression of both kits, and both have their positive and negative aspects.
I think the first two are really serious; the rest is more a matter of personal taste.
Fit issues in the bottom hull. Serious fit issues
Fit issues with the top of the hull… not as serious but still. There are some gaps left at the sides, and there are no side-skirts that would hide them.
Extremely overenginered (way too many parts for details that are mostly invisible)
A LOT of PE. As they say: just because you can do something, it does not mean you always should do that thing. Some detail could have been moulded on, or provided as a plastic part. Some are not even visible.
Individual tracks are provided pre-detached only attached to a small piece of plastic, so cutting is simple, the teeth are moulded hollow, which is great, but there are two injector pin mark on each track link, which, frankly, sucks.
The gun breech is a two-part affair, with the two parts joining right in the middle. Somewhat annoying to fill. As with the Takom muzzle break -why? It is not the ’70s any more.
The tube running around the gun breach (compressed air bore evacuation system) is missing. It can be replicated using wire, but with a kit this complex you really should not have to. I would expect at least four, near invisible PE and an extremely thin plastic part for it.
fume evacuator hose from the turret basket is a rigid, two-part assembly, difficult to install
apart from the gun breech, some parts are designed so that they are joined smack in the middle, so putty is needed (a part of the turret turning mechanism, for example).
you have to add some rivets to the parts instead of them being molded onto them… (same part as above)
options are not always explained clearly
some of the injection pin marks are in visible places; technology makes it possible to do away with them, so the modeller does not have to fill and sand
the working suspension breaks/bends very easy. I know the torsion bars are made of plastic, but I still ended up gluing them in place, before the whole tank started to sit funny.
Less detailed than the RFM kit (I know, I know, contradicting the RFM list). The turret interior is especially visibly less detailed.
two part muzzle break -not a big deal, but… why? It looks like a very archaic solution
static running gear (some like it, some do not)
the teeth on the tracks are a chore to attach and not always stay on; no injector pin marks, though.
some of the pictures in the instruction manual are really tiny
some of the injection pin marks are in visible places; technology makes it possible to do away with them, so the modeller does not have to fill and sand
Good things about the kits
extremely detailed; a museum quality model can be built out of it. It is ideal for wrecks, cutaways, vehicles under assembly or maintenance
working suspension and tracks. The assembly of tracks using the little jig is a joy
the clear parts make displaying the interior simpler
easy to assemble (well, relatively); it reminded me of the MiniArt kits I have been building, with a little better quality
tries to do most everything without the use of PE; some people may appreciate it (I do), some may not -it is a matter of taste.
Link and legth tracks – assembly and installation using the provided jig is a joy. (Again, it is a matter of taste; both types of tracks have positive and negative aspects.)
the fume evacuator hose from the turret basket is a flexible part, which is amazingly simple to install
Just one: follow the instructions religiously. As with the Takom kit (and most kits) I deviated from them, and it really bit me in the bum.
Bonus advice: it is a marathon. Do not rush it.
Extra bonus advice: you get more ammo than you will use. Do not paint them all… just paint as many as you need.
Number one: follow the building sequence. It sucks because it will make painting of the interior more difficult, but if you do not, you will have to look out for the following especially:
Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side) . I found it really frustrating to do so since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously.
I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom; they covered the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary. Just follow the order of the build in the instructions.
Do not attach anything to the interior of the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts with hairy sticks…)
Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.
The commander’s cupola is easier to assemble if you first glue K2 and K24 together (top of the cupola + insert), then add the periscopes, and finish off with K3. It is really difficult to fit the periscopes in if you follow the instructions. The periscopes, by the way, are not clear, so they will need to be painted for lens effect. (RFM provides clear parts for the periscopes.)
you get more ammo than you will use. Do not paint them all… just paint as many as you need.
I have to say both kits have positives and negatives. The sheer amount of detail really makes the RFM Panther stand out, there is no question about it. It is absolutely up to the modeller if she or he is willing to put up with the problems of the kit: the overengineering and the fit issues. It is a very ambicious, a very impressive, but a little bit flawed model nevertheless (fit-wise). Many times I did feel like the model was actively fighting me, but now I am ready, I actually feel like giving it another shot, this time to build a really messed-up wreck.
Compared to the RFM Panther the Takom kit builds up like an “ordinary” model; it does what it says on the box, and builds into a respectable model of the Panther. You have to weight the pros and cons and make your decision. I could not, so I built both; I do not regret it. Both kits are excellent -but you have to make your own decision which one to get.
Well, the second Panther is finished, too. There were things I liked better in the RFM model, but overall the experience was much more pleasurable with the Takom kit. I did not go overboard with the weathering: some rust, some streaking, some dust; nothing major. I still need to figure out how to display the interior best -a cutaway would have been the best option. Next time…
The last thing to finish now is that third Panther waiting for me since 2006…
Well, the model is finished -at least I decided to stop. The masks have come off – the results are OK, but not as good as I expected. Some weathering was done, but not much, beforehand, and I sprayed on a coat of flat varnish before touching the mask.
There will be another post with the Takom Panther, and a final one comparing them; and finally these kits are finished. With the RFM Panther I felt the model was actively fighting me several times; it is a very ambicious model, but it sure has its shortcomings. More on that in a final comparison post.
Chieftain’s article on the Panther in French service is very informative; this video sums it up pretty well, if you don’t have time to read it. (By the way, the Bovingdon Panther was one option I was considering, having seen it first-hand. I don’t see myself building yet another Panther -especially that I have a Takom Jagdpanther on my shelf waiting to be built- but if I do, it will be in this setup.)
I tried to find photos of Panthers in French service, but there are not many around. I suspect this light yellow color could be a light version of dunkelgelb (AK Interactive has one).
I decided to use masking fluid on parts of the chassis and turret I wanted to keep transparent, and use the ivory interior color as a primer -this way I only have to paint one surface, making masking and painting simpler, although the interior would be gloss as a tradeoff.
What I did not count on was the upper plate on the front. This is a two-part affair; for some reason (techniqual I suspect) you have to glue a transparent plate over the transparent upper hull. For obvious reasons I was very careful with the amount of glue I used as I did not want the glue sweep between the plates -capillary forces are not very helpful as they would drag the glue over a large distance. Which they did in a couple of areas.
Well, they dragged the masking fluid as well as you can see (the white area in the front). Fortunately this is exactly where the large French ensign will go, but I would have preferred not to have to worry about it.
Once the masking fluid was dry, I proceeded to use AK’s Cremeweiss (which I reviewed) almost straight, with very little thinner. It went on better than I thought it would. (I was worried about the gloss surface and the fact that I spray white.) It really gripped the plastic well; I was very happy to see the results.
The decals were custom-made. They went on once the paint dried, and now the model is ready for the running gear and weathering. I will keep the masking on until I am done with weathering and adding a flat varnish – I am quite tense about how this will turn out in the end.
I painted the roadwheels, finished and painted the tracks, and installed them. RFM does give you the option to leave the drive wheel off -the axle it goes onto is detailed, not just a peg sticking out. It is a shame to cover it up.
Added the spare track links (some of the PE brackets were lost during the handling of the model… damn), the tools and painted everything.
Overall it is getting there. Everything is attached -except for the AAA gun, which I suspect would not have been used by the French- and now it is “only” the weathering and the painting of the small details are left. The last step will be the removal of the mask… which is really a stressful thought.
Well, the finish line… I do not want to do a very heavy weathering, but I do want to make the tank looked used -after all it is a captured vehicle.
The turret itself will be light on weathering, since it was re-painted “recently”.
I did some experimentation with Italery’s black wash, and a mixture of Vallejo’s dust washes with some pigments added to the mixture; the results are kind of pleasing to the eye -grimy, dirty, but not overdone. (Truth be told, the black wash completely disappears under the dirty…)
Acrylic washes are interesting: it does run into details as pinwash, but you do need a wet brush to remove the residue from the surfaces you want to keep clean. Overall I like it – the disadvantages are balanced by the lack of organic solvent.
I used the remaining of the mixture on the Zimmerit after diluting it with water; it worked as a nice wash/dirt combo. I concentrated most of it on the lower parts, but made sure some got to the top of the hull, too.
I did add an overall wash using Mig’s Dark Wash to accentuate the Zimmerit pattern, but to my shock the turpentine alternative (ZestIt) I use simply lifted the Mig Ammo paint up. I suspect normal turpentine would have done the same. I never had an issue with Tamiya paints, so I think I will stick to those in the future. Regardless it created a nice chipped look, so perhaps it is something to remember for the future.
It is a sort of Bob Ross moment.
Takom provides a rig for assembling the tracks, which is really nice of them; it does make the job simpler. I assembled sections of the tracks, and painted them with dark grey primer as a base.
Installation is simple, but it takes time – I had to wait for the glue to set before I could move on to install the next section of tracks/idlers/drive wheels.
It is not completely done yet but getting there. I added some tools, the AAA machine gun and other small bits… the problem of having little time to build, and building an almost 2000 part model is that sometimes things get left off. Well, now it is time to make good for these little slips.
Once these are painted up, the engine deck is weathered and some dust is added to the model, I will declare it to be finished. One more post I guess.
The turret looks great with the transparent parts; it really saved me the headache I had with the Takom turret. (Not much can be seen from the outside.)
Before I closed up the hull I needed to finish the engine -but once that was done, hallelujah! – the hull is closed! The nightmare is ending! Now it is merely another 1000 parts to finish the outside of the tank, and then I can start painting it. As mentioned in the previous post, it will be painted in French service. I already have the decals printed.
Well, not so much finished as only getting there… a lot of small details are still to be added.
So I spent another few hours doing just that…
Another unpleasant experience (actually two):
the hose leading from the turret basket to the extraction fan is rigid, and needs to be assembled from two parts –after the turret interior is fit together. Yeah, good luck with that. The fit was not good, and while I was fiddling with fitting the second part in, I managed to break off the first one coming from the top of the turret. Takom solved this with a flexible hose – I suspect if you build this model, you should find a flexible alternative, too. (Unless you love keyhole surgery, and your family members do not mind strong words.)
The top of the hull does not fit well. I mean I got used to fit issues, so it does not surprise me, but this model does not even have side-skirts that would hide the problem. It does have the mounting brackets for them, though… maybe it would be a good idea to buy some PE aftermarket?
Regardless, most of the small details are attached to the exterior (some extremely small parts are still to be added, as well as the front mudguards), so painting can finally commence.
Now the problem of masking. (This is what I was dreading all these two years of building this model.)
Well I ended up closing up the turret without cutting out the top. I experimented with the Zvezda Panzer IV which is still unfinished, but ended up deciding against a half-attempt of a cutaway.
I used Meng’s zimmerit decal set for the Meng kit – it fit more or less. (There are some differences between the dimensions of the two Panther kits – I have no clue which one is more accurate.) The decal is really fragile, and handling it is a pain, but at least it looks like some realistic heavy damage when breaks… If you know what is good for you, you use white glue to fix it to the model because using CA it is a hell to apply and adjust.
The hull was also closed up, and we are ready for masking and the paintjob… now it is only a matter of time to finish this bad boy. The only issue I have is that I can’t seem to find all the tracks I have built for it…
(The RFM Panther will be an example used by the French – after all they were the longest operators of the type, and I have not seen many models depicting a French Panther.)
The hull was sprayed using Mig’s Dunkelgelb colors (they carry two shades; I used a mixture of both as I found one of them too yellow, the other too light; using both also allows you to create shades and hues), and the turret was painted using one of AK’s Russian green color. I did make a mistake, and used a post-war, 1947 era color… not that it matters a lot -when it comes to Russian green, any green will do, as we know. The star and number was painted by hand- somewhat intentionally clumsy as on the photos you can clearly see a similar sloppiness in their application.
I also finished the engines – the RFM one will be installed, but I decided to close down the Takom hull without the engine. It would not be visible through the maintenance hatch, anyhow, and will use it for the Jagdpanther I still have on my shelf. The engine will be quite hidden in the RFM models as well, so I did not spend too much time detailing and painting it. (It is the more detailed of the two, truth be told, but they both are great.)
That is it for now. There is still a lot to do, but it is getting finished finally