You can build the whole thing before painting; there are no sub-assemblies to paint first. The instructions provide a guide to the Buntfarbenanstrich (colorful) painting scheme (https://panzerworld.com/german-armor-camouflage for more information), but I kept to the plain (and very likely non-historical) panzergray for sentimental reasons – this is how I was used to the vehicle when I played it in World of Tanks. I painted it using Tamiya acrylics: panzer grey lightened with buff for the whole tank with zenithal highlight and some panel highlighting, used light grey to further highlight edges and smaller details, and then used oils (burned umber, raw umber, green, white) to “deepen” the color with filters.
Some streaking was added, some dust and some mud, and I declared the model done. I did not want to go overboard with rust, chips and scratches, as I figured the vehicle as a prototype had no time to actually get “used in”. It spent a couple of exciting days in the proving ground, and then went back to the machine shop to be dismantled. (Sadly.)
It was also an interesting experience with the AK weathering pencils: they are pretty good at making dust. The fact that the effect can be adjusted any time after drying is great.
I am very enthusiastic about farming equipment, bulldozers and whatnot, so I was really excited when ICM announced they were going to issue a rare, interwar German agricultural mover; it represents a very important, albeit little known step in tractor development.
Incidentally it also has a turret and a gun (I guess the designers were really keen on preparing for all eventualities a farm worker might face), so we may even look at it as an early attempt at tank development by the German industry. I say “may”, since at that time the Germans were prohibited from armored vehicle development by the treaties closing WWI, it is merely a coincidence, I am sure. Regardless, these little vehicles were used by the German armed forces as a substitute during training and for the development of their armor doctrine. This is the main reason that although they never were intended for combat, they had an extremely useful role in the development of the German armored tactics (blitzkrieg) employed in WWII, and also in the development of early and mid war German armored fighting vehicles. It is indeed a welcome step from ICM to issue a plastic model of this important vehicle; it seems like the company is willing to take risks and develop models of unique subjects.
The model is very traditionally designed: the hull is made up by flat parts, the turret is made up by two semi-circular halves, necessitating filling seam lines, unfortunately which I personally do not like. (One of the boons of armor modelling in my opinion is that there is no need to fill in seam lines along the fuselage…) There is even some minimal turret interior provided; you get the main gun and the coaxial machine gun with some rudimentary detail. If you plan to leave the turret doors open, just paint the interior of the hull (but not the turret…) black.
The suspension and running gear is simplified; only the parts that show from under the side covering are detailed. Looking at the myriad of tiny road wheels it is a good thing I think… although it may be very interesting to have the option to open the side hatches to show off the suspension.
The gun has a hollowed-out end, which was solved without the use of slide-moulding: the tip is made up of two parts: the long barrel with half of the end is missing, and a tiny part that makes up for the missing half. This was it was possible to mould a short longitudinal channel in the end of the barrel, and closing it off with a small “half-pipe” forms it into a complete gun barrel with a hole at the end.
The model comes with rubber band type tracks – is a matter of taste if you prefer them or not. Talking for myself only, I consider this to be the weakest point of the model. (I prefer link-and-length tracks or individual track links, if possible. In this case definitely not individual links, though seeing how small the track links are.) You are supposed to glue two parts for one set of tracks, which leaves you with two possible seams showing where the tracks meet. I would suggest using a more discreet place to join them up than I did: the drive wheels and idlers… My mistake; as the tracks bend around the wheels the seams show up. They would all but disappear when joined flat.
The sides of the tracks do not really show segmentation where the track links meet – they are smooth, which is less-than-ideal.
All-in-all the model is well-made but geared for simplicity and ease of assembly. (I will not lie, a full interior version would be extremely welcome…) On top of the mud guards there may or may not have been some anti-slip surfacing on the real vehicle, which is lacking from this model (the mud guards are smooth). I could not decide how it was based on reference photos, but there are some builds online where this surface was added using PE by the modeller.
There are also no tools provided, which is, again, something that may be accurate; don’t forget, this vehicle was not progressed from the prototype phase. It really should not be hard to add a couple of shovels and picks should you want to include them. The weird, corkscrew-like exhaust is designed in a way that after gluing the two halves together there is no need to fill in seam lines; a very considerate way of designing models.
The thin handrails around the top of the hull are very well done, but a pain in the neck to use because it is really difficult to clean them properly from the sprue gates. They are very thin and snap easily. What I did was to shave off as much leftover plastic as I could, and then brushed on some liquid glue to melt the plastic a bit, smoothing out the sharp, protruding sprue gate remains. In all honesty if the model was not for review I would have just switched the plastic to wire, keeping the vertical holders. (It is also very easy to break them during the painting and weathering steps. Don’t ask me how I know this.)
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
I decided to do a joint post since both tanks are in the same state right now, and some comparison between the two is quite timely.
In short: Takom is detailed and it is easy to build. RFM is extremely detailed (it is indeed incredible how much detail they have put into the interior -a lot of it is missing from the Takom kit), however it is not as a joyride to build as the Takom kit. The reasons are two-fold: the kit is extremely overengineered AND bad fitting. As I detailed in the previous posts, the hull is too narrow, so the torsion bars, the transmission, the metal braces within the hull, the crew’s floor panels can’t properly fit.
The overengineering is something that is a matter of perspective. The model is full of details which are hidden -for example the cogs in the final drive, the cooling fans which are made out of fifteen parts, many of which are also hidden (after all only the top is visible), and so on and so forth. Takom, in contrast does offer some solutions that simplify the build: for example the ready-racks do not need to be filled with individual pieces of ammunition: you get a single part which has all the protruding heads moulded onto.
At this point I have the interior -both the hull and the turret- finished, but I am stalled with both kits. Since the RFM model felt like it was fighting me during the build I lost some of my drive to finish it; and since I do want to show off the turret interior, I need to figure it out how to do so. The different hatches do not show enough of it for my taste, so there is something else to be done. I may actually do a cutout on the turret roof; not sure. It is certainly a bit stressing to cut into an almost finished model…
Well, here are the photos. The color authenticity I am not sure about. Primer red / blue-gray may or may not have been the correct one. There are some widely-accepted wisdoms online about it, but I found a lot of contradictory evidence as well. At the end I decided not to sweat it, and just use whatever the instruction booklets were suggesting.
It really is worth looking at is the comparison between the two models. By itself I would say the Takom kit is really comprehensive and very detailed model. Next to the RFM one it looks bare. So there you go. With RFM you get a flawed but an incredily detailed model. With the Takom kit you get something you will actually enjoy building.
Stay tuned; I hope once the interior is closed up the models would be finished in a reasonable time.
First part was about the build, and a quick review; now we start the painting…
As usual, priming and preshading was done with Vallejo’s primer.
Since the lockdown seriously affected my ability to go to some hobby shop, after some deliberation I used Hannant’s ivory color as a base. It is brownish, rather than ivory, so it is not very good for interiors, but it looks very similar to the brown color I saw on photos of IDF vehicles.
Once the paint dried, I used black pinwashes to bring out the detail. I did that in several sessions, waiting a day, removing the excess with a damp brush, reapplying the wash… I also used this as an opportunity to create streaks on the armored side-skirts. Once I decided it was enough, I went on creating paint chips. I know it is a contentious issue, but I personally like the look, and despite of not being historically accurate and realistic, it does lend a realistic look to the model. Go figure. The chipping on the barrel did turn out to be a bit on the overdone side; I will have to do something about it.
First was to do some sponge chipping on the edges, larger surfaces. Then I went on to work on the muffler covers. Now, these metal parts were heavily corroded as they were subject of both heat and cold, so they are realistic with such a heavy application of rust. I went on using AK’s Rust Effect set to paint different hues of rust on the thin metal over the mufflers -using both a brush and a sponge. Once that was done, I used a rust wash as a filter to unify the colors, and modify the base color.
I also painted the details (tools, roadwheel rims, etc), and applied a thin spray of middle stone by Gunze on the lower parts as a first layer of dust. From then on I used Vallejo dustwashes, pigments, tamiya’s “make-up set”, and washable dust paint. It looks a bit overdone on the photos, but by eye it actually looks a-OK.
I shall be practicing making dust on this model; keep tuned in.
I took photos from two settings: one using a small, cheap lightbox I ordered on Aliexpress, and use for smaller models (it has a strip of LEDs on the top), and the yellowish-looking ones at the end were taken using a “proper” lightbox with diffused light.
While the first box is easy to set up, it is not that good for proper “finished” photos. It is great for detail and WIP shots, the diffused light (obviously) is better suited for photographing the finished article.