Sunday, June 13

Read n' reviewed: Panthers – Modelling the TAKOM Family from AMMO Publishing

Takom and Ammo have been working in tandem on the 35th scale Panther series of tanks for a while now, with the Ammo team contributing to the kit colours and markings of several of the feline Takom family. Finally, we see the fruits of these combined labours in print with the book from Ammo of Takom's Panthers in Ammo shades. See what we thought about the book after we read it in our review...

Read n' reviewed: Panthers – Modelling the TAKOM Family
From AMMO by Mig Jiménez
Author/s: Sergiusz Pęczek, Charlie Pritchett, Bernhard Lustig, Mario Eens, David Pérez, Khoi Tran, Yuebiao Huang, Daniele Guglielmi
Languages: English, Spanish or French
Soft Cover, A4 Portrait Format
208 pages, Over 800 full-colour high-quality photos & 49 camouflage profiles.
Price: 25€
Product link on the AMMO Website
Ammo's recent book on the modelling of the Panthers of the Takom family is the latest book we have received to read here at TMN. It combines the talent of the Takom designers who made the kits with the model makers who made these kits with AMMO paints and accessories (with more than a little modelling skill thrown in there). The book looked interesting to us, and the fact that I was making my own Panther right now certainly spurred me into wanting to read the book.
We will look at the book itself, the makeup and style of the writing, graphics and images, and then the contents chapter for chapter in our review...

The book in its physical form:
A thick book, about a centimetre in-depth with two hundred and eight pages of a matte finish paper.  The book is full of coloured photos, and in our case, the text is in English and for the most part very well written. The photos of the modes are taken in sharp images with good clarity of what is being shown on the page and the processes that are being explained. the effectively nicely backs up what is being shown. The book is weighty for an AMMO publication, bridging that gap between books and magazines this definitely is the former, with a lot to get through. I must note I like the way that the layout of the book complements the material, the worn-looking pages on the edges through the graphics suit the WWII timeline of the subjects in the book.
The book is broken up into (a lucky) thirteen sections or chapters, with most of them being model builds from some very notable model makers from all around the world, there is also an introduction to both Takom's series of Panthers and the Panther family in real life. There is a photo walk around of Panther types before we go into the ten articles of builds of Takom's Panthers. 
Page by Page...
Takom's project Manager Charlie Pritchett gives us a brief introduction into the process of the creation, the designing and the making of the Panther series on the 35th scale from Takom. Of surprise to me was that we have already had these kits for a few years now, and we get to see all eighteen releases (so far) in this series in this brief into.

Daniele Guglielmi then gives us a twelve-page history of the Panther and the extended family. Packed with photos with interesting captions, the stars of this section are the solid information given, in a world of boring historical texts this one gives you just enough to inform but not to bore or get in the way of why we are all here, the models. The other star are the period photos of the tanks on all fronts, in all conditions, with most types shown that include shots from the "Panther Fibel" instruction guide which were issued to tankers to educate them on their mounts during WWII.
Helpful photo galleries are next, with walkarounds of the exterior of a Panther D over four pages, a restored Panther A from Samur over three pages including the Maybach HL 230 P30 engine, then the Bovington Panther G constructed from workshop parts by workers from the factory after WWII over four pages. If you are after a Panther walk around the book I think this is just a taste of the Panther walkaround book offered by AMMO last year.
The first part of the build focuses on an area not often seen before the Takom Panthers came into existence, the interior of the tanks. Sergiusz Pęczek shows us the materials he paints with and the process he uses to detail and shade the inside of his Panther. this is a very good SBS (step by step) guide over fifteen pages. It is impressively shot in images and in the accompanying text that shows not only the shades but the process of weathering of the grubby and war-worn interior of the tank, but also includes the engine, weapons stores, crew compartments and every other bit that is crammed into the hull. It is a great place to start I would suppose, as every full interior Panther kit starts here also. It also helps you understand a little more about the tank.
If the image below doesn't say anything about the quality of modelling on offer here nothing will. Charlie Pritchett's Panther that has been literally exposed to the world cut down the middle is shown over a simple four-page showcase of the model from several angles that really show you the insides out. the most effective way to show inside a tank that I have ever seen and definitely a favourite for a lot of modellers out there. It is only a shame the model was completed before the book was conceptualized and so no step by step for us here...
A "late" Panther D is shown next, complete with a beautifully represented zimmerit coating. This full interior kit is built by Yuebian Huang, and we see just the briefest of interior building sequences before we get straight into the painting, weathering and finishing of the kit. We see the addition of wooden construction boxes for stowage and photo-etch parts to polish and populate the kit, then undercoating. The shades of the tank in a rather light looking three colour scheme is darkened with further weathering, chipping and a few layers of dirt, grime and grease to the tank. The result of the full spectrum painting and weathering shown here, including a great tutorial on tracks, wheels and running gear is shown in SBS form in a great sequence in a solid, educational article.
Charlie Pritchett's 35th scale Bergepanther is next, and although it is not a common variant of the Panther, it takes pride of place as the one I was most impressed with within this book. The that Charlie has gone to on this kit is pretty impressive, especially to this mere mortal, and seeing it here in the book gave us a peek behind the curtain as to just how he made it so very well.
Although we never really get to see this being built in bare plastic, we DO get to see every part of the painting, weathering and extra detailing of each of the parts before the modeller puts them together. The dirty, dusty and grimy floors of the tank, the rear deck, digging blade (wow) pulleys and winch equipment, the hull of the tank with all of the tools and equipment that is hung from it is shown in step by step detail with handy numbers next to each part of the text and the photo of the described action. The tank is shown hauling another Panther engine which looks just as nice as the rest of the tank. This is a real work of art, it is a deserved showpiece of this book.
We next see Bernhard Lustig's Panther Ausf.A kit. The all-white boxing with full interior under examination, and although we do not see any of that interior - or exterior being built, we do see the application of the wafer-like Daimler Benz Zimmerit application style, and we do get to see some of the detail he applies to the extra additions on the tank's hull before he takes us through his camouflage and weathering of this very nice Panther A in a Step by step fashion. 
One of my favourite modellers Mario Eens I next with my favourite Panther variant, the Jagdpanther. This one is an Ausf.G1 version with a full interior, which unfortunately we do not see much of, with only a partial painting of the hatches, ammo and a photo of the hull floor, but we do get to see all of the exterior preparation to the parts that add so much detail and individuality to his work. 
Using Fruil tracks, heaps of weathering products from AMMO right throughout the project (this is common with almost all of the modellers, and seeing that it is an AMMO branded book I suppose no surprise. The expertly done camo, weathering and ageing of the tank displayed for a very good length and informative step by step guide. Follow this man and you can't go wrong people!
David Pérez' late war Panther G with infrared equipment (one of nicest box arts from takom) is next. David starts us at the painting stage with no construction here again (sigh) but the three-tone ambush scheme is shown (as is the rest of the article) in a step by step method. The rather dark camouflage with Oilbrushers applied is lightened, dusted and dirtied with earth pigments until it becomes not so much of a worn vehicle, but a more realistic (in wartime) dirty, muddy and weatherbeaten tank.
We go all "What-if" next with the Flak panther from Khoi Tran, who thankfully not only makes this odd variant, but shows us how the tank hull looks with BOTH included turrets in the kit, enabling the modeller to see which version they want to portray of they make their own kit. Smartly, he has made the hull from a regular variant donor tank with both of the turrets looking a little newer or unfinished in red primer. His colours match the time period (that never happened) well, and his use of old is with the admission price on the article by itself. a very nice two-in-one build.
As a bit of a bonus, but a valuable one, Mario Eeens comes back to show us how he paints, details and weathers his tools, accessories and stowage for his Panthers. As he does this so very well, we appreciate this section being added to the book.
Just before we finish the book we have a camouflage guide with 49 colour profiles of every type of Panther. I would think that these are taken from the box kit variants, as these would already be made by AMMO (who of course published the book).  
And that was all they wrote...
I would like to see a bit more variation in painting and weathering products used in this book. Not everyone used just one brand, and it would widen the appeal of the book, but not that much in this case, as the subject of the book really is the Panthers of Takom. 

Again, I would like to see a more complete building guide, with more plastic on show, but I do concede that the painting, weathering and distressing of these very cool subjects are worth so much to the modeller who is finishing his tank that this book's knowledge given and experience and learning handed over is invaluable to anyone wanting to make their own Panther of any type from any model maker.

One of if not the best books on modelling the Panther I have read - excellent work!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Ammo for sending this book to us to read and review. It is available directly from the Ammo Website...