Friday, November 2

Painting & Weathering Guide: 35th scale Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther A Early Production from Takom

Paul has been working on Takom's 35th scale Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther A Early Production kit for a while now, we have waited patiently, but now he has pounced with his painting & weathering guide of this popular kit. See how he got it finished in his painting & weathering guide...

Painting & Weathering Guide: Sd.Kfz. 171 Panther A Early Production
From: Takom
1/35th scale
Type: Polystyrene, photo etch, vinyl tube and copper cable, multimedia Kit
Available from Takom distributors worldwide

There isn’t a Panther in the Chinese horoscope, but with all the Panther kits being released lately, you’d think there must be. Takom has released three versions of the Panther A, predictably, the early, middle, and late production versions, of which I have the privilege to build the Early version. Now I must say that I’m not the biggest fan of full interior kits because the amount of work that goes into them is just not visible once the kit is complete, and I have been previously scarred by full interiors, but it has been a few years, so I thought that maybe it is time for me to confront my fears again…
For this build, I was also sent this set of paints (for the Panther G) by Mig Ammo which consists of twelve colours for use with the Panther tank. While the set was developed for a Panther G by another manufacturer, most of the colours are applicable so I will be using them for this build, and just let the colours do the talking in the photos as I will be painting throughout the whole build.
The lower hull tub comes in separate panels and its construction requires you to attach sixteen torsion bars to one side and threading each one through its appropriate hole in some bracing on the floor plate and under the transmission. This was probably the most difficult part in the construction of the rest of the kit.
Remember the modelling adage of studying the instructions before you start building? I did so and came to the conclusion that I would save myself some effort an install the transmission after putting the hull together and save myself the effort of trying to thread the appropriate torsion bars under the transmission. Sometimes you should just follow the instructions because the torsion bars needed to be threaded through the relevant hole under the transmission. Fortunately, being completely invisible underneath the transmission, it was not a hard decision to cut the section underneath. I also had to remove some nubs which would keep the transmission sandwiched in place between the hull walls but the glue did the same job.
Most of the interior painting was done with a pre-shade, followed by the appropriate colour with a pin-wash to bring out the details. Unfortunately, the majority of this will be invisible, hence my feelings about full interior kits.
The engine is a fairly straight-forward affair, but most of this will be covered up by the air filter later so I didn’t spend too much time on this. Events later would emphasize this even more.
The ammunition boxes on the floor are cleverly done with the tips threaded through from underneath before assembling the box around it, much more convincing than having the tips moulded on.
Speaking of the ammunition, the full-length shells come in two types which I didn’t notice, another case of me of living and not learning from my mistakes of ignoring the instructions. Being a full interior kit, there is a lot of building and painting to do, the engine was a tight fit in its bay, but plug away at all the various components and you will find your kit slowly being fleshed out.
Remember what I said about the engine being practically invisible because it goes underneath the air filter? The areas on the sides of the engine also become invisible because they get covered up by the upper hull, so it really is wasted effort. Unfortunately, this is the last time any of this will be seen because of a mistake of my own making.
Imagine my horror when I discovered the next morning that I had glued the engine hatch shut after gluing on the upper hull! While pretty much only the air filter would have been visible even with the hatch open, to lose absolutely that whole rear interior, once again sums up my feelings towards full interiors. Although I have no one else to blame but myself in this case.
There is an addendum for the construction of the sprockets because the instructions in the booklet are vague, but there are two faces and hubs included but no mention of which is appropriate for the four marking schemes you get in the box. The tracks are of the length and link type with separate guide horns. Takom have taken a novel approach to attach the guide horns by moulding them onto runners at the exact intervals required on the lengths or for the individual links on the sprue, but make sure all the guide horns are straight to get the right alignment, and there is still a fair amount of clean up to be done when removing the runners. A jig is also provided to help get the shape of the run of the tracks right, although I did find that the run was about a link or so too long when attached to the road wheels.
The turret poses no problems at all and goes together with no problems, or so I thought…. I did have some problems getting the turret to sit right, on top of the hull, and with no way to see in, there was no way to work out what was really causing the problem, and can only assume that there is an alignment issue with that conical bit in the lower hull.
 No one else appeared to have this problem so I can only assume that it is operator error on my part. 
There are four schemes in the box, three white vehicles but one having Olivgrun bands, and the other being a three-tone Panzer Lehr vehicle. The Dunkelgelbs provided in the Mig Ammo paint set are also later war colours, so I had to source my own Mid-War Dunkelgelb from the Mig Ammo range. 

I was eager to try out the washable white that came with the paint set so it became a question of which white vehicle to do. One of the more difficult aspects of the Panther A is that they did not initially come with zimmerit, but had it applied later. However, in my search, I did come across this picture of 701 which is included in the box. I found the hard edges between the yellow (?) and white on the front to be really interesting and can’t think of why this would be. Also, I really should have done my research first so I could have removed some schurzen panels and the right-side mudguard but oh well. 

The real tank that I am trying to capture with this kit...
I first sprayed on the white over the whole vehicle, and then with a brush dipped in water, slowly starting removing the white. The water dissolved the paint and I was left with a very rough looking whitewash. I wasn’t able to completely remove the white from the front panel, but was happy with the slight white tint. I then sprayed another light coat of washable white over the top resulting in a patchy, but not too scruffy looking finish which I was happy with. I used a mix of baking soda and pigment fixer for the snow on the tracks, and a wash of heavily diluted raw umber and black mix finished off the kit.

A few closer shots of details of that interior under the turret...
I can’t say that this kit has won me over to the joys of building full interior kits. What I can say though, is that this is an outstanding kit. Despite the number of parts involved, this kit goes together very easily, and the hardest part of the kit was trying to thread all sixteen torsion bars at once. The turret not sitting right was a shame, but I’m willing to put that one down to operator error. I wouldn’t give this to a beginner due to the high parts count, but would definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to build a full interior kit. 

The whole kit painted up in a walk around...
I wonder what the model manufacturers will be releasing when the Year of the Tiger comes around in 2022?

Paul Lee

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to build and review