Thursday, November 30

Build Guide: 1/35th scale Panther Ausf.G Late w/ FG1250 Active Infrared Night Vision System from Meng

Paul's build of Meng's late WWII-era 1/35th scale Panther Ausf.G Late w/ FG1250 Active Infrared Night Vision System from Meng (+ PanzerArt tracks) are the subject of today's story. See how he got it looking like his chosen subject in his helpful build guide...

Build Guide: German Medium Tank Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Ausf.G Late w/ FG1250 Active Infrared Night Vision System.
From Meng
Kit No TS-054
1/35th scale
Four schemes are included in the box
Price: $42 USD from the Hobbylink Japan Website
Product Link on the Meng Website
The subject: German Medium Tank Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Ausf.G Late w/ FG1250 Active Infrared Night Vision System.
The Panther Ausf.G medium tank was the most classic and most produced Panther variant, and it’s also one of the best German medium tanks produced in late World War II. To offset the overwhelming advantages of the Allied forces in the number of aviation and armored forces in night operations, the Germans installed the FG1250 “Sperber” active infrared night vision system on the Panther Ausf.G tanks. 
This system consisted of an infrared searchlight and an infrared image converter. Tanks fitted with this system could detect and attack enemy targets several hundred meters away. However, because of the high cost, only 50 to 60 Panther Ausf.G tanks were equipped with the system.
Building Meng's kit:
This Panther G is the latest of Meng’s releases making the most of its moulds, but with the addition of the night vision optics that were installed on some tanks. Unfortunately there is not a great deal of information on these vehicles, but the night vision sights turned out to be too costly so only about fifty tanks were fitted with the devices, and were generally removed in the end.

I think that comic pretty much sums up this build for me and while I wasn’t as brash as Calvin and ignored the instructions altogether, I think there was a bit of over confidence in building “yet another Panther”, and failed to pay as much attention as I should have resulting in a somewhat Frankenstein of a Panther tank. Add in a fairly large dose of indecision on what scheme I wanted to build so the result is one Frankenstein Panther. Lesson learned... One would hope.
However after a good deal of internet searching, I did come across a few interpretations of this photo which certainly pushed me towards this vehicle. However, I had originally wanted to build a tank with the night vision devices in place, but this tank only has the mounts which are visible on the side of the mantlet. While it is definitely possible that this vehicle previously had the night vision devices fitted, however the mismatched shurzen plates (which was what drew me to this scheme) would not likely to have been fitted to a new tank coming off the production line and more than likely to be replacements due to the loss of the originals for whatever reason. But would the night vision still be in place when this was done? Hence part of my indecision in what I was building.

The subject of this build: A Pz.Kpfw. V Panther Ausf.G, near Vyskov in Czechoslovakia, May 1945. A late production Panther Ausf.G from the 19. Pz.Div. The tank has the three-colour striped camouflage scheme used by M.N.H. The tactical number 215 has been painted on to the spare track links hung on the turret sides.
Construction begins with the lower hull which comes in separate plates rather than the usual hull tub. There are two plates provided for the inside which help in getting the alignment of the plates right. The suspension arms slot in reasonably tightly into their respective holes, except for one arm which was slightly looser for some reason and prone to falling out. You won’t need to glue it in though as the interleaved wheels will hold it in place when they are added later on, just pay attention to it or leave them off until you are ready to add the wheels. Speaking of the wheels, the kit provides you full sets of rubber rimmed, or complete steel wheels so the option of the rubber rimmed with a steel wheel at the final station is also one of the schemes of this kit.
The rear plate gives you the options of the earlier pipe style exhaust with the rounded mounts, or the later flame dampener exhausts with the squared mounts. Interestingly enough, Meng chose not to provide the shrouds fitted to the top of the flame dampener exhausts. With this boxing being the night fighting variant, Meng has provided the options of having both standard storage boxes at the rear, as well as the back opening storage box used to store the night vision devices.
The upper hull comes as a skeleton frame with the front and side plates to be attached to simulate the interlocking plates but really, is a bit gimmicky, but an interesting solution to creating different hulls for the same vehicle without moulding an entire tub. The fit of the plates was quite good with minimal filler required so it is not a big issue. Please note in this photo, I’ve attached the front fenders which are a part of the hull sponsons. DO NOT DO THIS. Leave them off until you attach the upper hull to the lower AS THE INSTRUCTIONS tell you to. If you look at the earlier photo of the lower hull, there is an overhanging lip which the sponson is supposed to go over when attaching the upper to the lower hull. If you aren’t a sissy like me, the solution is pretty simple though and all you need to do is remove the lip from the lower hull.
For the PE averse, you can see there is some PE to be added and for the most part isn’t too difficult to work with. The rectangular grills on the right give you the options of fully opened or closed slots. The PE for the side skirt mounts is for the most part unnecessary as they won’t really be visible if you attach the side skirts, but they do have a slight vertical overhang if you leave the skirts off. The side skirts are provided in metal with no plastic option.
The tracks provided in the box are the individual link type, although they come with separate guide horns meaning there are three pieces per link. It can be a little tedious, but putting them together isn’t a hard job either, and you do get some nice details on those hollow guide horns. However for this build, I was also given a set of workable 3D printed tracks released by Panzer Art TR35-002 Pz.Kpfw V “Panther” tracks late type which turned out to be an absolute joy to use! 
Being 3D printed, each link comes ready to use and attached via a track pin at either end. The track links for a Panther tank are also fairly large so a jig isn’t really necessary and you can just hold two consecutive links in your fingers, and insert the pins with your other hand. The fit of the pins is pretty good and there is enough friction to generally hold them in place so I only had to occasionally push a pin back in when I noticed the pin head sticking out. The only downfall is that they don’t tell you how many links are necessary per side so I followed Meng’s instructions of 88, but found that to be a bit too tight so I had to add an extra link or two.
The turret is similar to the upper hull in that you get a skeleton frame to attach the outside panels to and posed no problems at all. The instructions tell you to have the turret hatch open in order to install the night vision gear, however the instructions weren’t clear enough to show that so I thought the base went on top of the vision blocks and glued the turret hatch shut. There are three mantlets provided although all schemes use the chinned mantlet. If there was one thing I don’t like about this kit, it is the clips to lock the turret in place when you push the turret down into the turret ring, which means you cannot remove the turret off once the upper hull is attached.
After all that, and now not being able to use the night vision devices, here are the pieces that are specific to this kit, the commander’s sights which sit in the hatch, and the other search light which is attached to the right side of the mantlet.
The camouflage scheme of the vehicle in the photo is a bit unclear, and interpretations range from plain dark yellow with the splinter scheme side skirts, to any of the various German in field applied camouflage. I went with the ambush scheme and sprayed with Tamiya and Gunze acrylics, with one side of the skirts in ambush scheme, while splinter scheme for the other side. I attached the tools after applying the ambush scheme, but found that the 110mm kit recommendations for the tow cables was about 20mm too short so I left them off.
I used some of the Meng track links as the spares attached to the rear of the hull and turret and painted them up with a rusty look. I didn’t go heavily with the weathering and just gave it a coat of grime, dirt and dust and this is the finished product.

Despite my over-confidence and indecision at times, this turned out to be quite an enjoyable build, and any errors in the build are on me and my indecision for the most part. But that’s why we’re supposed to plan our builds before getting into them.

The completed kit in close-up detail...
The PanzerArt tracks were a pleasure to use and being a perfect fit for this kit I have absolutely no reservations in recommending them if you are building a Meng Panther. 

The completed tracks on the kit.
Apart from the suggested length of the tow cables, this is a great Panther kit to put together. But as to what is the best Panther kit out there....

The kit in a wider walk around...
Paul Lee

Thank you to Meng for sending this kit to build and review. You can see more of Meng's kits on their website.