Tag Archives: panther

The tale of two Panthers 2: a build comparison of the Rye Field Models and Takom models

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So I finally finished these kits.

It is worth watching this little youtube video just to get into the mood:

There is also an interesting summary of wartime analyses by the Allies.

The builds can be found here: RFM and Takom Panthers. I also did an an in-box comparison with lots of photos of the parts.

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.

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RFM

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 horizontal hull sides are attached using large “flaps” which will leave some serious and visible seamlines to clean up. A bit sloppy.
  • 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.

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Takom

  • 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.
  • Static suspension
  • 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

RFM

  • 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

Takom

  • easy to assemble (well, relatively); it reminded me of the MiniArt kits I have been building, with a little better quality
  • elegantly designed
  • 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

Further advice

RFM

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.

Takom

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:

  1. Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
  2. Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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…)
  6. Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.
  7. 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.)
  8. you get more ammo than you will use. Do not paint them all… just paint as many as you need.

Conclusions

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.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A part 9. Finished

In-box comparison

Takom build so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4.

Part 5. 

Part 6.

Part 7.

Part 8.

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…

Rye Fields Panther Ausf G – part 8. Finished Model

In-box comparison

Rye Fields build so far

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

Part 7.

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.

Rye Fields Panther Ausf G – part 7. -Finishing up the exterior

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).

In-box comparison

Rye Fields build so far

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

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.

Next coat: AK Interactive dark yellow primer, followed by Mig’s Dunkelgelb.

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.

Perhaps not that stressful.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A part 8. Finishing and weathering…

 

In-box comparison

Takom build so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4.

Part 5. 

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.

https://imgur.com/QKwJkdP

 

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.

Rye Fields Panther Ausf G – part 6. finishing up the interior

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In-box comparison

Rye Fields build so far

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

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):

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.)

 

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A part 7. Interior is finished

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In-box comparison

Takom build so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4.

Part 5. 

 

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 plan is to build this Panther in Soviet colors. Since the Soviets used captured Panthers, I decided to give this model an unique twist. (Originally I planned to paint it in Bovingdon-colors.)

(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

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A, Rye Fields Panther Ausf G, comparison of the builds part 5. – Interior is getting ready

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In-box comparison

Takom build so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4.

Rye Fields build so far

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

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.

Well.

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.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 4. (plus testing AK’s streaking grime and dark wash)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now the hard part. I have been building the model now and then, adding bits here and there, but avoided to address the main issue: creating a cutaway.

I decided to can the idea.

I know, it is anticlimatic, but I realized that this should have done before even touching the glue – I am too way ahead in the building process to start cutting, unfortunately. Well, live and learn. The Tiger I and II will be handled differently. For now I will do an “exploded drawing” style model, like with the SU-122 or the E-75. I know it’s a coward’s way out, but there it is.

Anyhow, I have been working on the interior, adding parts and decals that were missing; right now it is ready for weathering.

I did some experiments with AK’s winter streaking grime and dark wash; I think the grime works better on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. (Well, the vertical surface should not really be a surprise, I think.)

I applied the wash/grime, waited fifteen minutes, and then started to blend the bands/spots with a wet brush (using turpentine, of course). The effects can be modified, refined for a long period of time, to make them subtler if one wishes so. Pretty straightforward and simple, really.

I also added the ammunition, beefed up the engine compartment, and applied the Zimmerit.

Let’s start with the ammo.

You get a lot. I mean a LOT. Do NOT paint them up, add decals all at once; you will need about third of it. What I did was to spray all of them gold using Vallejo’s gold, then painted the tips according to the type (not sure about the painting guide provided; online you can find very different colors for Panther ammunition), and added the brass/copper ring. Then I chose about ten of the painted ammunition, and removed the seamline. The paint was touched up with AK’s True Metal gold/brass, and added the decals. These were the “front-facing” projectiles: placed on areas where they would be seen (front of the ammo rack, bottom of the hull). This saved considerable amount of work on things that will not be seen once the hull is closed.

There were some parts not yet painted, installed into the hull; I finished these, and did some hand-painting. (Lack of foreplanning, I know.)

I also tried the Meng Zimmerit. Generally I do not like Zimmerit, and the only good, workable solution I found was the resin one. (Don’t even get me started on PE… and doing it by hand -well I ain’t got no time for that.) Only resin is quite expensive – so I tried Meng’s decal solution provided for their own Panther model.

Well, once the model is painted up I will write up a short review of it, but for now: it generally fit. It is extremely fragile (no problem with battle damage, I guess), and it does not work without adhesive. I used white glue; much better than CA.

I added some decals, where it was necessary, and now the interior is ready to be weathered. I am not sure how heavy I want it to be, but we will see. I will post some better photos later on. But the main thing is: finally I am working on both Panthers, almost after a year. I did some progress on the RFM one, too…

 

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 3.

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Part 1.

Part 2.

Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Engine and transmission

These are pretty straightforward bits; nothing major. The detail is nothing sort of amazing.

The central rod which holds the controls (handles and pedals) is somewhat awkward to assemble, since the central rod is made up by tiny sections. Due to the small sections it is kind of difficult to make a straight rod. Not to mention the narrowness of the hull makes it difficult to keep it straight. (It bent further when I dry-fitted -or rather, attempted to- the transmission into the hull. Tried to straighten it out but I was worried it would break.)

 

Issues with the hull

Well, there is one issue, which kind of causes a whole subset of issues. The hull is too narrow. Simple as that. This causes the torsion bars to not to fit properly (as mentioned in part 2 of the build), and it means the PE brackets on the floor of the hull will also not fit.

The torsion bar issue could be solved with a simple sanding. Tedious, and a bit annoying, but doable.

The hull brackets, on the other hand, are a whole different matter.

The PE is thin, and bends easily -it also warps easily. And this is not a good thing when you are trying to install a delicate, multipart PE bracket system into a too-narrow hull. I did my best, but the results are far from perfect. At places the cross-brackets had to be trimmed to fit them into the hull, which threw some of the alignment of the longitudinal brackets off a bit. This caused further cascades of misalignment. The model has been engineered to such a tight fit, even the smallest deviations will make it difficult to install further parts (such as seats, the cabin floor, ammo holding bins). See the above photo: the seat of the driver sits on molded-on bars which had to be trimmed so that the platform fit into its place due to a tiny bit of deviation of the placement of the underlying PE brackets. At this point I was seriously feeling the model was actively trying to fight me.

Filling up the hull…

Where to start? This is where the lower hull starts to look kind of complete.

The tight fit caused further headache. The instructions would have you install the ready-bins first, and then add the sqare-shaped floor panel which holds the rotating turret floor. Take a good, long look at the panel itself: it has all the space for the read-bins pre-cut; mostly just on the sides, but one is completely enveloped by the floor panel.

The fit, as I said, is extremely tight; test-fitting the bins on their own showed how difficult it was just to push them into place. (Perhaps some sort of a lubricant would make it easier…) However, when these bins are attached to the bottom of the hull (and PE brackets), it means you have to push several of them through the panel at the same time, while the panel itself is a tad too wide to fit inside the hull comfortably, so you have to keep pressing. It is not the case of “just drop it straight down”. Without some serious pushing you cannot install the the panel in its place even when the hull was bare without anything installed yet. The fact that there are things in the way complicates matters tremendously.  You have to install the floor “sliding” (=pressing hard) through five bins, and the side of the tank -plus the firewall. Oh, and the bins are a tiny bit misaligned as the PE brackets made it difficult to attach them exactly to where they were supposed to go.

I ended up removing the bins, installing them into the floor panel, and cutting off the pegs that supposed to attach them to the bottom of the hull. After this I pressed the panel down in its place while trying to pry the walls of the hull apart to create more space for it, and once this was done I tried to force everything in its place. Needless to say this sort of manhandling is not exactly what you want to do to a delicate model… I did manage to damage the paint on the side of the tank.

And there it is. This was finished in August, but I did not have the strength to touch the tank again. Will have to plow on soon, I guess. Not looking forward to painting the ammunition for this and the Takom kit…