My next major project is scratching an itch I've had for some time. I am a big fan of the Panther tank, and always lamented the fact that even in late-war, the points of a Panther platoon limited one to a very very small force at a 1500pt level. I rejoiced, as a result, when Blood Guts & Glory came out and had reluctant trained Panthers, allowing me to finally field a real company!
To this end, I purchased two boxes of Plastic Soldier Company's Panthers. These kits are fantastic. I will eventually do a "BF Versus Zvezda/PSC" post, but for now, let me say I am unlikely to ever buy another type.
To fit Panthers that would have been around during the Battle of the Bulge, my force consists of mostly Panther Gs, with the 2iC still rolling around in a Panther A (my only BF model in this force so far).
There's a great book regarding Panther tanks, called, appropriately; "Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy" by Thomas Jentz. It details - by month - when all the upgrades and modifications were made to each tank variant. I decided to split my force between later-production Panther Gs and earlier-production ones, meaning in essence "with zimmerit but without chin mantlet" and "without zimmerit but with chin mantlet". The late Panther Gs are made exactly as they would be made by the instructions provided, but for the earlier Panther Gs, some conversion is required. Here then, is my "how to" on making earlier Panther Gs!
These pieces have a connecting nubbin that are not perfectly circular, and so only one will fit on each side. This is helpful because it also ensures the pieces will line up properly when the tracks are connected.
I find the upper track pieces easiest to put on first, because they lay flatter, and curl around the wheels tighter.
Panther G Early Customization
So now comes the part where I put on my crazy conversion hat for a bit, as the tracks dry. There were two parts of the early-G that were distinctly different from the late-G, and one requires some customization, namely; the tailpipes. The Panther D had two thin ones, modified during the A's run to have twin extra exhausts off the side of one, to make the engine run better. In the early Panther-G run, they modified the engine's in-out to make it more efficient, eliminating the need for a triple-pipe, and returning to a twin, thin exhaust. Luckily, with minor modification of the PSC's G back, and the PSC's D exhausts, you can imitate this look:
Fun Geeky Fact Time
The big round exhaust vents from the later Panther G were put in place to mask the glow and occasional bursts of flame visible out of the exhausts of the Panther at night. They were called Flammvernichter exhausts, and weren't installed until October of '44, about a month after the chin mantlet started to be installed. However, as of May '44, the Panther G had thin metal 'guards' welded to the thinner exhaust pipes, meaning all Panthers modified like above should also have curved exhaust guards going from about halfway down the socket where they enter the tank to just above where the upper strut is. I will be modifying mine after zimmerit's been applied, likely with leftover photoetched metal I have.
Early Panther G Distinguishing Feature, Part II
The other thing that made the earlier Panther G distinct was it lacked the later's chin mount. It's also the case that not all Panther Gs were built with the chin even after it was enacted, so it's entirely possible to have a Panther G, without Zimmerit, with the Flammvernichter, and yet no chin! For mine, in various points during the Panther build where I had to wait on something else to dry, I was assembling the turret:
Of similar importance: unlike the drive wheels, the commander's cupola does not have a guiding mark for where the 'front' should be. On the drawings I've seen, the hatch's connecting pole will be at 270 degrees (front of tank being 0), which will put the various viewscope mountings at cardinal directions as well. Oddly, this means the commander had no view directly left from inside the hatch, and I can think of no reason why this was considered the most efficient setup, but hey, hindsight perhaps?
Final geeky bit of detailing that one must be very careful to do without cutting a piece improperly is the driver's scope. It had a weather cover, which on the model is a flat piece on the front hull. To get the best look, I cut a small wedge out from underneath, first by making the horizontal cut until I touched the hull, then cutting extremely carefully along the line of the hull, slowly so as not to entirely take off the periscope cover:
*Edit* Looks Like I Forgot Something
One last thing that significantly varies from the default construction of the Panther G, is the AA cupola ring. It was rare that the AA MG was used (and FoW doesn't even recognize rules for it) but the ring itself seems to have been welded to all period tanks. There is, then, two modifications to be made to the ring. The first is to remove the post to stick the MG on to, and the other is to correctly shorten it. The ring did not wrap all the way around, but stopped at the rear, or 180 degree point of the cupola.
Tune in next time as I do a masterclass on making the Panther G kit sing with all those fantastic details one would expect of a mad modeller!