Saturday, August 12

In-Boxed: We examine the Panther II in 35th scale from Amusing Hobby

Amusing Hobby has given us their second Panther II kit, although the Jagdpanther II we reviewed has the same hull in most areas, we thought that while we were in construction of this kit we would firstly show you what is in the box in the meantime in our review.
In-Boxed: Panzerkampfwagen Panther II
From Amusing Hobby
Kit No# 35A018
1/35th scale
Marking choices for four vehicles from Ammo of Mig Jimenez
Metal cable & Photo Etched parts included.
Link on the Amusing Hobby Website

We have seen a few tanks with a real life limited production (or not at all produced in physical form) from Amusing Hobby and they have really filled a niche otherwise taken on by resin model makers – We have seen the VK series, the Loewe and Luchs in 35th scale that were great little kits and recently the Jagdpanther II in planning – now they go medium sized but still with a big boomstick, the Panther II in 35th scale

We have the second in the new series of Panther II tanks in 35th scale from Amusing Hobby on the review table today. We did not get to see the first of the two, no# 35A012 the "Prototype" Panther II. However, having made Amusing Hobby's Jagdpanther II we are already familiar with how this kit goes together and the sum of its parts.

The two kits of the panther II offered by Amusing Hobby.
Sooo what do we know about the real tank? what was it to look like and be equipped with, and was the tank ever made?

The Panther II in real life.
The Panther II was a tank that never really came to fruition because of the simple upgrading of the already in service Panther tanks being retrofitted with several features and up-armoured on the sides of the tank especially.

Blueprint drawings of the prototype that was never produced.Notice the smaller 7.5cm gun and small, angular turret that was never applied to the vehicle.
A succession plan to upgrade the Panther tank was already in place before the Panther hit the battlefield. this was re-enforced by the success of especially Soviet anti-tank riflemen and the opposition of heavy Soviet tanks on the battlefield, the opinion formed of the original Panther marques was that it was seen by many (including Hitler and Dr. Wiebecke, the chief design engineer for M.A.N.) to be under armoured. The decision to upgrade the tank into a newer variant, called the Panther II, was officially given in April 1943.

The upgraded design by Dr. Wiebecke called for an upgrade of the frontal glacis plate to 100 mm (3.9 in), the side armour to 60 mm (2.4 in), and the top armour to 30 mm (1.2 in). This, with e addition of the Tiger I's Final Drive, suspension and steering gears along with a whole newly redesigned turret, would increase the total weight to more than 50 metric tons.
There were several proposals for other, heavier and more capable properties being added to the Panther II design. Several Tiger II components were also slated to be used on this vehicle, the suspension and transmission and steering gear and overlapping roadwheel patterns also were mooted. The up-gunning of the tank to 8cm calibre from Krupp was also considered.

The Tiger II's 88mm L/71 cannon was one gun considered, (thus creating the Panther Ausf. F mit 8.8cm) A number of prototype turrets had been produced and tested by different manufacturers in slightly different shapes on and off the existing Panther Ausf. F and G, hulls. These were also tested on the Panther II prototype. None of these projects left the prototype phase, however, the Pz. IV mit Schmalturm, Panther Ausf. G mit 8.8cm & Panther II never progressed further than pencil lines on paper.
Two of the prototype Schmalturm (narrow) turrets were retrieved after the war by the Allies. The Americans took one while the British took the other and used it for ballistic tests. The remains of this turret can be found at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Here is the Schmalturm turret captured in period photos with the smaller 75mm gun mounted

...And a surviving turret now at the Bovington Museum in the UK.
Because of the factors of increased weight, complex construction and valuable resources that would have been employed in its construction, the further development work on the Panther II ceased by 1944. The designers instead continued to improve the original panther with side skirts and other solutions that worked nearly as well as their perceived successor would have. The move to further standardize German armaments was the nail in the coffin for the Panther II

However - one Panther II chassis does exist. Captured by the U.S. after the war, it now resides in the Patton Museum in Fort Knox. An Ausf G turret is mounted on this chassis.
The kit from Amusing Hobby
This kit from Amusing hobby builds on the original kit of the "Prototype design"  in what can be called a further prototype of the prototype if you like. This kit looks to a more capable model of the Panther II with what looks to me to be two new choices of mantlet on the design. These look very much like the Panther II mit 8/L71 offered by both Krupp and Maybach

"Panther" Ausf.F with 88-mm gun, and narrow turret developed by Krupp
"Panther" Ausf.F with 88-mm gun, and narrow turret developed by Daimler-Benz.

To us, this kit it is a combination of these turrets and the larger 88mm gun that are the main features of this kit. Enough about history - What's in the box...

The box is a very nicely illustrated piece - a familiar panther shape, but this new BIG gun on the front dominating the picture, the scene looks more contemporary than some of the other futuristic "what-if?"  box arts of a Panther II we have seen in the past. the box shows us on the side, a little of the main feature of the tank - the two turrets offered in this boxing complete with bigger guns in line drawing form. 
Opening up the box it is fairly full of plastic, paper, PE and decals. The sixteen plastic sprues, twenty-one step, eleven-page instruction booklet and four-page colour scheme guide make this a full.
The instructions
A twenty-one part instruction guide is given here in an eleven page booklet on paper. Only some small details are printed in colour, but the colour isn't really needed here, as the instructions are very clear and not cluttered, mixed up or hard to follow at any stage. The kit itself is a simple build as you can pick out from this guide. 

The first four steps are centred around the making up of the suspension, wheel pattern and drive units.
 The rear Panther deck and side tool OVM set up is reminiscent of many Panthers you might already be familiar with. 
The rear deck and front crew hatches are again a simple installation.
The main real difference between this and the other Panther II kit is the armament and larger gun. The instructions are fairly clear in which mantlet, front turret plate and other parts to use.

The simple barrel construction and aaargh those tracks are on this page.

Smartly, they leave all of the "breaky" parts 'till the end of the construction process.
…And for some reason, I never took the picture of the last page of the instructions which simply says put the turret on and the option for the travel lock on the main gun. Soz guys...

The four colour "What-If" choices given by Mig Jimenez' team and picked out in his AMMO colour range are good food for thought if nothing else. Because this kit never happened I tend to make up whatever I would like, but I would always shy away from a camo that looks too "neat", as the timeframe would not have allowed for perfectly turned out vehicles against the numbers of enemy faced. Two of these schemes are reminiscent of late war colours of regular Panthers.

Two of these are of the more extreme and probably popular with a tank that never was produced. There are definitely two schools of thinking in these colours and that would suit more modellers.
The decals to suit these four markings are provided on two small sheets. The regular red and white numbers with Balkenkreuz and the numbers of the tanks made, especially for this kit. You would probably find your own markings, but these are a nice start.
Added to this kit is some heavy (light) metal in the form of two photo-etch sheets and a wire twisted rope to represent scale towing cable. The first sheet of PE houses the mesh grilles for the engine covers and a few brackets. The tow cable is made from brass and it is twenty centimetres long. It fits into the two cable loops on the OVM tool kit.
The second sheet of Photo Etch comprises the side skirts of the Panther II. The brackets to hold them on are also included here on the smaller fret at the top of this picture. These will give us a better scale thickness, but P/E haters might not like the brackets the side-skirts sit on.
On to the plastic...
The kits plastic sprues are very cleanly moulded with no real flash to speak of. The moulded surface texture on the hull in several places is nice. the pitted surface stands out to the eye, and although some of the plastic of the tool brackets is moulded on and therefore less accurate than photo etch, it's a good start if you like a simple build.
Sprue T: The kit is moulded in both medium grey and brown sprues. The latter being the sprues for the tracks, which are in a multiple of four sheets. Now, this is the first part of the kit that I am not looking forward to, as I have made these type of tracks before on the Jagdpanther II from Amusing Hobby.
They house the eighty-eight needed (and a few extra) tracks, each of these is a five-part construction. you can see most of the parts here on both sides. the main pads capture the middle links and a single smaller link that joins the track at the edges.

The jig in action in the instructions.

There is a lot of cleaning up to go into each track link, and this my friends is the only real bummer of this kit. You do have the help of a track jig on sprue "A" to help you align these easier, and you WILL need it.

I can say from building these twice now that the work that goes into each of these is just so time-consuming that they sure do take the fun out of this kit during their construction phase. The good point about it is that they end up really strong and flexible, they don't tend to break when installing them on the kit which is good. Just put a few night's work into them in front of the TV and this part of the process isn't so bad.

Here they are in construction. Only two places of the track needs glue, and the end result is flexible track. I will have to go through these once installed and clear up some of the edge joints to make sure they are properly glued together.
Sprue A  - this is actually the same one used in the Jagdpanther II kit. It features some of those parts not applicable for this kit, like the Jagdpanther II mantlet and rear door. There are however lots of parts on there that suit our Panther II. The bulbous front MG cupola, the engine fans and shrouds, front towing points, tools, headlights and other smaller parts.
The slide moulded big gun is actually from the Jagdpanther II, as are the rear hull wall. The Panther style stowage bins with options to have them open or closed are here, as is the engine hatch, front fenders and the smaller details here are suitable for the Panther II.
Sprue B is supplied in a  multiple of two, and for good reason, it houses the main drive and rear return wheel for the tank, the drive sprocket. engine vent covers and the driver and machine gunner's rounded off rectangular hatches for this particular tank are also housed on this sprue. You can see both sides of the sprue in this shot below.
 A close up of the drive sprockets showing bolt details and the other rollers with not that many attachment points which is good.
Sprue C is replicated four times in this kit, it is used for this and the Jagdpanther II kit. Each of these four runners features four of the larger Tiger II style steel wheels and four suspension arms each. The other multiple parts are for the suspension and brackets of the tank which smartly needs to be replicated several times. You can see some flash here, but nothing major to clean up.
Sprue E is the next part runner, and this one is dedicated solely to the Panther II kit. It is dominated by the Panther II hull on the left, as well as the rear deck we need for this tank on the right, the elevated cooling fans for the engine, rear engine deck and smaller hooks and points on this tank make it an all in one place to find your uppe rhull details for this kit.
The top of the Panther II hull. The welded seams of this kit are apparent here in some nice detail. The rear of this hull will be built up onto by the parts from the other side of this sprue.
The texture of the rolled steel is apparent in this shot. This is a great feature of this kit, if you wanted to you could add a little more raised detail, and I think I will on the cast parts of the tank, but the glacis, with the added welds on the corners, looks very nice to me.
The rear deck in close detail. As I mentioned, this will be built onto with engine and fan covers, mesh grilles from the photo etch and covered with tools and lifting hooks.
The rear deck of this kit comes with the holes for the supplied exhaust, stowage bins and exhausts already pre-drilled. You will have to putty these up if you want a different setup.
Some of the parts which will be placed on the rear engine deck. Simple but effective, however, I don't think much of the actual exhaust fan's thickness. These are covered in the build process.
Ok now on to Sprue F & G, and a no-doubt controversial part of this kit, the narrow turret that was designed for this tank. The two mantlets, the frontal plate of the turrets and gun are here, as is the cupola for the commander and hatches (again) for the driver and Machine gunner/ radioman.
The angle of the turret is more apparent here, as are the welded joints between the plates. You can see the pitted texture of the cast turret sides that I think I will enhance with some Mr. Surfacer on this build. 
The bottom of the otherwise empty turret. If you are going to show this large commander's hatch open you will need to fill it up with a figure. The lack of a gun on the insides of the turret is a time saver, one that I appreciate a lot in this case. It totally fits the simplicity and ease of build empathised in this kit's build ethic. The Sterioscothic rangefinders are here n the left-hand side of the picture below.
The second version of the front hull is here, as are the front of the mantlets and the two different Krupp and Maybach frontal turret plates. Also, the only part of the gun, the swivel mount, is in the centre of the picture below. 
Below is the gun for the other "prototype" version of this kit is here, along with the interior gun hinge and the travel lock for the larger 88mm gun barrel particular to this kit.  Below that is the cast textured moulded mantlet for the larger gun and the inside of the turret front.
Lower Hull
The one piece of the lower hull of the Panther II makes this build even more simpler for the modeller. No glueing in place large flats of plastic at the correct angles, it all sits neatly in place ready for the top and rear parts of the hull to be glued to it. It has all of the good things you might want on a modern kit. Access hatches and wild seams on the joints of the slabs of the hull.
Sprue P is the standard Amusing Hobby used for all of their German tank kits. It houses the OVM (pioneer tools) of the tank and the frames that these tools and parts hang on. The sprue houses several tow hooks, a shovel, a sledge hammer, wire cutters, pinch bars, an axe and a fire extinguisher for the engine deck. These are well moulded and clean here. The two loops will need some work in hollowing out their ends so the twisted wire can fit into them, and the brackets here might need some thinning out to make them scale correct, that is if you don't prefer your own photo etch frames.
So that is all that there is inside this kit...

The decision to make this would have been academic - many of the parts follow on from the Jagdpanther II kit and the same type of modeller would, we think to be interested in both of these kits. The option to up-gun this from the "prototype" boxing is again smart for the same reasons.

The tracks  - they need to be built slowly and casually. take my advice - get a buddy to help, or do it slowly over a few nights in front of something good on TV and all of a sudden you have the required links ready. The pain from putting them together is then minimalized and what you have in front of you then is a simple tank that goes together just so easily, and one that looks very cool in your display cabinet or on the modelling show benches.

This is a kit that is fine as is, but pretty simply can be super detailed by the modeller into a show stopper. I am building this up (tracks are finished already) and I hope mine can go in the middle category between super detailed and fun. Stay tuned to see how it went in our build guide here on TMN

Adam Norenberg

More about this particular kit as soon as we build it up for you here on TMN. This kit is available from Amusing Hobby's Distributors Worldwide.