Saturday, May 18, 2013

Panther Masterclass Part 2: Modeling the Early-G Variant from PSC

Today, in part 2 of 4 (or 5?) of my series on getting the most from the PSC Panther box, I show you how to make an early-variant Panther G from the box, which shows only the default-D, default-A, and late-G versions.

Primarily, my information comes from Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy by Thomas L. Jentz. This book is incredibly detailed, and I highly recommend you attempt to get your hands on it if you're a Panther tank fan. It details all the steps that led up to the Panther's creation, as well as all the important points in variants, official modifications made during the run of the Panther, and after-production field modifications the crew made. In most cases, these are backed up by photographs of Panthers, and where these are unavailable, sketches are provided.

First and foremost, we must talk about what the initial fundamental changes to the Panther justified the modification from "A" to "G".

The A modifications were primarily the additional exhausts on the rear, because of an issue with engine cooling, and the commander's cupola, which now featured a fancy 8-view telescope system, and a hatch that, rather than on hinges, popped up and slid around.

The Panther G, internally, saw some crucial redesigns to the engine layout and cooling, removing the need for three 'exhaust' vents on the left side. Along the same time, the back deck engine cover was redesigned, and the driver and radioman's hatches were redesigned to not be on an angle. This then, gives us an "early G" with what look like the same exhaust pipes as the D, and a modified upper deck.

The famous chin mantlet, defining characteristic of the Panther G, was only introduced about halfway through its run (in Sept 44) and even then wasn't a universal adaptation. Similarly, the other distinctive feature, (Flammvernichter Exhaust Mufflers) were introduced in October of 44.

Another important change, and the first thing I modified on mine, was that the binocular vision slits for the gunner on the D were replaced with a singular view port. Since the chin mantlet wasn't introduced by this point, I used the D and A mantlet, and just eliminated the second view scope using liquid greenstuff.

 I put on more than might have been needed, so that when it dried (and inevitably shrunk) I could just scrape off the excess with a craft knife.

The next change, of course, was modifying the rear-hull to take the D-style mufflers. Unfortunately, the hull shape between the D and G Panthers changed enough that you can't just swap in one for the other. On mine, I used the G rear hull, but then delicately cut the bracing piece of plastic between the two exhausts, cleaning it so the two would mesh properly:

As you can see, at the same time for this panther I've cut off the jack from the back end. The G did generally store its jack between the two exhausts, but I have photos of at least one with the jack mounted on the engine access port, and two jerry cans slotted in to that place, which I had to recreate on one of the ten:

With the bracing arm removed, luckily, the two pieces mesh together cleanly and smoothly, requiring nothing more than a bit of superlgue:
After this, it was glued to the hull, and the rest of the assembly is pretty straightforward "G" assembly, as listed on their instructions, until I had applied the zimmerit.

Before the Flammvernichter were applied, the exhausts were given extra armour plating, to stop a random shot from penetrating into the engine compartment. At the point of connection of the exhausts, this took the form of the armour plates you see already on the vehicle. For the latter part of welded-on armour plates, I used some leftover pieces of photo-etched brass framing. (Throw nothing away, folks: You never know when you might need it!)

I cut two sections that looked to be long and wide enough, and bent to curve them before gluing them in place. On this one, you can see the modified jack and fuel cans I mentioned.

Finally, here's a shot of another Panther G early with the exhaust covers, but in this case with the jack in its as-issued position.

if one doesn't have access to photo-etched metal, I'd recommend either durable paper (more than printer paper, less than a birthday card) or even two layers of tinfoil bent over themselves. Another advantage of tinfoil is that it could be bent and mangled to look like the flimsy metal of the exhaust covers has been dinged and damaged by use, as it often was.

Next time I will cover stowage, and true rivet-counter details, though I am still adding stowage. As a teaser element next time, remember that every tank I've ever seen a good detailed picture of, had a bucket...

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