Supersize It: A 15mm WWII Panther FireFight! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Sunday, 13 January 2008
When the Allied Powers had their first run-ins with the Panther, they mistook it for a heavy tank. That’s no surprise—for its time, this cat was a monster, weighing in at an impressive 45 tons, as opposed to the Sherman’s 33 tons and the T-34’s 29 tons. It was big, mobile, packed a powerful 75mm weapon, and boasted some of the thickest sloped armor to be found on the battlefield.

 


This review’s vehicles advancing. 

The Germans, however, considered her a “medium” tank. The view of the German high command was that armor would continue to thicken, and gun sizes would increase proportionately. Thus, they called a tank that in some respects was larger than a Tiger a “medium” tank. The weakened state of German production and this designation meant that the Panther was soon the primary tank in its armored divisions.

We brought in all of the Panther D models we could get our hands on and painted them up to help you decide if you want to upgrade your tank divisions.

 


Frankly, we were a bit disappointed with the entries in this review. Considering that the Panther is one of the more popular WWII models, we were able to find only four different models of the Panther Ausf D in 15mm and/or 1:100. And, those models are not the best we’ve seen. That’s not to say there are no high points in this review, but we would like to have a wider selection. After some back and forth with 19th Century Miniatures, we did finally get a Panther Ausf D we liked—one using the current mold.

Thankfully, we picked up the tanks for our Tiger 1E mid-production review at the same time, so we had something nicer to work on in between our sessions with the Panthers. 


All vehicles retreating.

With that caveat, we’ll get on with the review!

There is a bit of oddness with Panther numbering; the Panther D was the first production version, and only after it was in manufacture and on the prowl was the Panther Ausf A created. Then, just to ensure that history couldn’t possibly keep things straight, the Ausf G was rolled out. This review is only about the Panther D, early production of the tank as was used around the time of Kursk. We will look at the other variants at some point in the future if there is demand. 

Overall, the quality of these vehicles is not what we’ve become accustomed to. The Battlefront miniature had the highest quality, but it’s huge in comparison with rivals. Quality Castings’ vehicle is also nicely crafted, with the caveats we mention in the QC section. We’ve certainly been more impressed with a collection of vehicles, and were surprised by that fact, seeing as the Panther is a popular tank among wargamers.


Must be a local counterattack!

 

Where’s the Piggies??

One problem with covering only Panther Ds is that Peter Pig doesn’t make one. So just to satisfy those of you who really like your Piggies, here are a couple of pictures of the Peter Pig Panther G. We’re not going to discuss this model here, as it’s not part of the review; we just thought you’d like to see a Peter Pig Panther alongside vehicles from other vendors so you can make relatively informed decisions, until we produce other Panther reviews (not in the near-future plans).

Note that half of the reviewed vendors do not include schurzen. If you want schurzen, check out Peter Pig (http://www.peterpig.co.uk), which offers separate schurzen in packs of six. Note that Peter Pig is not included in this review because it does not carry a Panther D, only Panther Gs. 


The Peter Pig Panther Ausf G.

 

Battlefront Miniatures


The BF Panther D

In our opinion, the Battlefront model is the best in this collection, which isn’t saying much unless you’re in the market for “good enough.” The vehicle definitely presents itself well on the tabletop, and looks pretty darned good. But it is just oversized … massively so, in fact. This isn’t a problem if you’re a Battlefront-only type of player, as the Panther will look suitably impressive next to your other oversize vehicles. 

As with most BF minis, the Panther D is a resin vehicle with metal bits. The turret and hull are resin; the rest of the pieces are metal. This is one of two vehicles that include schurzen in the package, which is a nice touch.


The kit as delivered. The barrel was missing from ours, but BF quickly replaced it. 

The thing we like least about this model is the design of the turret, which is closer to the Ausf A than the Ausf D. With that said, the differences are minor, and the hatch is correct—something only Battlefront and QRF got correct for the Ausf being modeled.

The thing we like most is the look on the tabletop. From the pictures you get the idea. While oversize, when on the table with other BF vehicles or alone, you can’t really tell, and it is well proportioned. 


Heading back to Germany.

Other nice bits on this tank are the built-on stowage, which is a plus for us because Panthers with no stowage and no camouflage are pretty boring. If you have a lot of stowage you don’t mind digging out and fitting, or want to spray on camo, this may not be such a benefit for you. 

Only Battlefront and Quality Castings put sideskirts into the package; whether you use them or not, they were provided, so we’re counting that a benefit. Along the same lines, BF and QRF are the only vendors to include smoke launchers; for the first three months of production, including all Panthers involved in the beginning of Operation Citadelle, smoke launchers were standard equipment. Only after they showed an unfortunate tendency to be set off by small-arms fire were they removed.

Manufacturer: Battlefront Miniatures (link)

Model: GE060 Panther D (Kursk)

US Sourcing: The War Store (link)

US MSRP: $11.00

UK Sourcing: Battle Honours (http://www.battlehonours.co.uk/)

UK MSRP: £ 6.50

 

Command Decision

The CD Panther D. 

Command Decision is … Command Decision. Three all-metal vehicles with center-post turret mounts in a single pack. These Panthers are nothing special, but they’re certainly not the worst we’ve seen from the Command Decision line. While they look good enough when painted up, these tanks are minimalistic kits when compared with the same vendor’s T-34s. Perhaps there’s a Russian bias at the CD design shops? Just kidding, but we are curious about the differences.

As is always the case with CD vehicles, these are definitely “good enough,” with portions rising above the competition. But overall, they are not as nice as those from most other included vendors. 


The kit, as delivered.

The thing we like best about this tank is the back decking. The grille work over the engine and radiators is the nicest in the review; it jumps out and makes the model look good overall. 

The thing we like least is the utter lack of anything on the outside of the vehicle. Not so much as a jack or tow cable is included. No stowage, no optional schurzen or smoke launchers, nothing.


Heading home. 

Other things that weren’t so hot about the tank include the double baffle on the main gun, the stabilizing mount for the barrel, which is just a circle on the front of the deck—location is correct, but it looks nothing like the actual bracket. Also, when mounting up the hatches, remember that tanks using the hatch style CD includes—which was not the Ausf D, by the way—have the hinge at the 9:00 position if you’re looking at the turret with the barrel pointed away from you. When making them open, this style of turret hatch lifted up and swung out to the side, pivoting on the 9:00 location.


All three tanks from the package. 

On the bright side, the bend in the turret where it turns to the back is more well-defined than on the Battlefront model, causing this turret to look more exacting from above. The road wheels are some of the best in this review, and did we mention that the vehicles are inexpensive in packs of three?

Manufacturer: Old Glory 15s (link)

Model: 306 Panther D

US Sourcing: WarWeb (link)

US MSRP: $22.00 (three per pack)

UK Sourcing: Old Glory UK (http://www.oldgloryuk.com/)

UK MSRP: £ 16.50 (three per pack)

 

Quality Castings


The QC tank 

At first, the Quality Castings model was a disappointment. It’s standard Quality Castings fare, an all-metal casting with a center-pivot and shorter turret center pin. As is normal for Quality Castings models, it has a level of detail that likely makes other 15mm sculptors weep, however, this one was marred by problems that we suspected, and discovered, are mold-related.

The thing we liked most about this product is the attention to detail evident in the original model. This is a refrain you hear a lot where QC is concerned. It comes with a commander, sideskirts, smoke-grenade launcher, and a ton of built-in stowage. It also has clean and well-defined details in the turret and, except as noted below, the hull. 


The kit, as delivered.

Originally, the thing we liked least about the model was the left side (as you’re looking at the tank from behind). It appears that the track guard and accompanying gear are poorly cast. Readers wrote on TMP that their models didn’t suffer from this problem, so as mentioned above, we wrote to 19th Century Miniatures, and they sent us a new, rather beautiful hull. In the first case, the tow cable has gaps of several mm along its length, and the other items along that side—including the shovel—are unidentifiable blobs. Our first thought was that this was too bad, because otherwise, the QC model would have won this review. But the replacement hull made this true. It is the best model we reviewed. It does look that good.

The road wheels are well-detailed and accurate for an Ausf D, and the schurzen have markings similar to the connectors on the actual Ausf D; this is not true of BF, the only other vendor to supply schurzen.


Pretty even in retreat. 

The one item we question on the QC product is the scaling of the track guards, which appear to us to be far too short—implying that the tracks do not stick out in front of the hull far enough—when compared with line drawings of this Ausf.

While all of the other vendors made the antenna mount for the command tank’s extra radio as a bump on the back deck, QC took the time to put in a mounting ring that you can fill if you wish to mount the extra antenna. A nice touch, though not world-shattering in importance since once you place an antenna with base on, they all look the same. 

Manufacturer: 19th Century Miniatures, LLC (link)

Model: Pz VD Panther

Worldwide Sourcing: Warweb (link)

MSRP: $8.95 (USD)

Note: At the time of this writing, Quality Casting does not have a European distributor, but they assure us that you will be properly taken care of if you order direct. At the present exchange rates, it may even be cheaper for you.

 

Quick Reaction Force


The QRF Model in the attack.

The QRF model comes as an all-metal vehicle with a center-pegged turret. It is easy to assemble and has only a few parts to worry about. Our experience with QRF is that quality varies based on the sculptor who created the model and, as always, the age of the mold. Not just the age of the current mold, but the vintage of the original master. Some of QRF’s older masters were built before customers got hyper-sensitive about accuracy and detail, and it shows. This appears to be one of the newer castings, fortunately. It’s interesting that the barrel is designed to fit well with Peter Pig’s oversized barrel design … despite the fact that Peter Pig does not currently have a Panther D. 

What we like most about this vehicle are the road wheels. Some QRF models have plain or inconsistent road wheels. These are dead-on for a Panther and have a sufficient amount of detail.


The kit as delivered from QRF. 

The thing we like least about this model is the barrel. Roughly half of the barrel overhangs the front of the hull in an actual Ausf D, while the QRF barrel overhangs by only about one third. This difference is exaggerated by the decision to cast the barrel slightly heavier (fatter) than reality, presumably in the manner of Peter Pig.

Two things that QRF did right, and that only BF also did correctly: The proper hatch for an Ausf D, and smoke dischargers. The correct hatch is downright good form, and the smoke dischargers are a nice touch. It would have been cool to get schurzen also, but as we mentioned above, they were introduced mid-production of the Ausf D. 


Heading home in defeat …

One disturbing bit on the QRF model that we didn’t find too horrendous—though you might disagree—is that the turret isn’t centered. Seriously, it’s off to the left side of the hull as you look at the tank from the rear. If you push it all the way over, using up the play in the turret mounting post and hole, it still isn’t centered. If you just set it in the hole, the left edge of the turret nearly touches the left edge of the hull. 

The exhaust is very accurate on this vehicle, but rather fragile. We had to repair one of the exhaust pipes twice during painting, so be aware of this issue if you’re a QRF fan.

This tank will work for you just fine, but of the available choices—none of which grabbed us and held us—we were least happy with this one. 

 

Manufacturer: Quick Reaction Force

Model: GFV-5 PzV Panther D

US Sourcing: Wargames, Inc. (Link)

US MSRP: Unknown – Wargames was still reorganizing after change of hands when this review was written. We will update when they have the QRF items up to date.

UK Sourcing: QRF (Link)

UK MSRP: £ 5.00 GBP

 

Summary


All of them, on the move in brighter light.


One of each product. 

Overall, the lot of tanks available in the Panther D space is limited, in both number and quality. Our recommendation based on the current state of castings? Buy some Ausf A or Ausf G Panthers and squint when using them as Ausf Ds. There are definitely more options in Ausf G and, granted, some qualitative differences as well, but we suggest that is because only 850 Ausf Ds were created (according to Michael and Gladys Green in Panzers at War), while many more Ausf As and Gs were produced before the end of the war. We will use Quality Castings for our Panther Ds. Though we like the Battlefront vehicles also, QC’s entries with the new mold are just beautiful, and the two do not mix well due to large size discrepancies.

If tracks are your bag, from the front, only QC and QRF provide tracks that appear wide enough to qualify as a Panther, though CD comes close. 


Note track widths in relation to body sizes.

 

 

Name

Length

Width

Height

Notes

Original/100

6.88

3.4

2.98

Length over 8 with gun

Battlefront

7.1

3.2

3.2

Without schurzen

Command Decision

6.6

3.1

2.6

 

Quality Castings

6.5

3.2

2.6

Without schurzen

Quick Reaction Force

6.6

3.3

2.6

6.8 long with exhaust

Peter Pig Ausf G

6.7

3.3

3.1

6.8 long with exhaus

 

 


The same gun? We don’t think so …

  

Discuss this article on the forums 

Tools of the Trade

All models in this review were assembled and painted utilizing the following tools:

 

-         Armory Black Primer

-         Vallejo Military Colors Paint set

-         Adikolor inks and watered Vallejo paints for highlighting

-         Brushes are primarily Reaper, with a few Citadel, and Vallejo for specific tasks

-         Armory Clear Matte Sealer for dull-coating

-         Trimming and file tools from Foundry

-         Zap-A-Gap for gluing

  

EDIT: 26 JAN 08: Added Peter Pig Ausf G to table. 

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