Academy Panther Ausf. G Late Version
in 1/25 scale with motorized wire control
by Frank De Sisto
Item number 1341, Panther Ausf. G Late Version in 1/25 scale with motorized
wire control. Contains 218 parts in injection molded styrene, 44 parts
in vinyl, 21 metal parts, four vinyl track lengths, waterslide decals,
12 pages of kit assembly instructions in 15 steps and a double-sided instruction
leaflet for the assembly of the wire control device. Price: $79.00 USD.
Lately, Academy has taken some risks in tooling up well-appreciated new
Allied World War IIsubjects, but with mixed results. Their M10 and M12
represent their better efforts while the M3 and M3A1 were good, but not
as outstanding as the treatment these sought-after subjects deserved.
Now, they have gone ahead and released the third in a series of (almost)
new-tool 1/25-scale plastic kits. I fear, however, that this kit is also
represents a mixed blessing.
Firstly, I believe Academy should have made the plunge and gone to 1/16
scale so as to compliment the already existing DML and Tamiya (not to
mention resin) kit, figure and accessory ranges. Secondly, Academy should
have provided much more detail on this kit than they did, thus fulfilling
the potential that makes larger scale models appealing. This particular
version of the Panther also has parts included for remote (in this case,
wire-guided) motorized operation, much like many of the large-scale kits
currently on the market.
So, in order to review this kit I got out Jentz and Doyle’s book,
Germany’s Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy,
and began to make comparisons. Note that I made no checks regarding whether
the model scales out properly, since I have no reliable means (I am math-challenged)
to do so.
Starting from the ground up, the road wheels look fine and the outer wheels
even have manufacturer’s info on the rubber tires. The drive sprocket
is well done and the idler wheel is the earlier style of the smaller circumference
with six single spokes, which is correct (a point Tamiya missed on their
1/35-scale kits) for most versions of the Panther. However, later Panthers
had a larger diameter 650mm idler with six twin spokes, which would be
more appropriate for this version. The tracks are in vinyl lengths consisting
of two runs per side, which are each joined by a metal track pin. The
guide teeth are much too short and are squared off, resembling stunted
Tiger II-style teeth. So, from the start one would hope that Friulmodel
will, at the very least, make a set of tracks and possibly the larger
diameter idler wheel to spruce up the base kit.
The lower hull is fairly plain and has flexible plastic torsion bars that
mount much like the prototypes. The belly is lacking in any detail and
has motorization slots for this wire-RC version. The hull pan is also
from the older Academy copy of the even older Tamiya Panther Ausf. A,
which is probably the basis of its detail problems. Some small parts are
added to this, but, there are no parts to represent the very visible details
around the final drives, where they meet the lower glacis plate, and that’s
quite a discrepancy.
The hull rear plate has the square welded connections for the mufflers
built in as well as the usual access plates. The mufflers are the final
exhaust flame-dampening types with the curved ends as separate parts.
The stowage lockers have separate lids, but those have part of the box’s
top molded on. Opening these would require some easy work with styrene
strip and a knife.
There are no sponson bottoms, so more sheet styrene will be needed here.
The upper hull has separate crew hatches with basic internal detail molded
on, while the engine deck hatch, curiously, is molded in place. The circular
engine deck fan castings are separate and feature the high crew heater
tower on one side but there are no slats included for the two rectangular
grills, which along with pie-shaped covers, complete this particular device.
All lifting hooks (even the smaller ones) are provided as separate parts;
a nice touch. The bolts that fix the various engine deck plates are probably
too large and are the wrong number for the late version hull. The engine
deck cries out for screening, which Academy does include in their smaller
scale Tiger I kits.
Up forward, the crew’s positions have separate internal periscope
heads and the MG34 blister is a three-part affair, including gun barrel
and inner mount. However, the front upper glacis plate weld detail is
incorrect, being the same on the front and sides. On the front it should
be changed to represent the fact that the side plate is thinner (50mm
vs. 80mm) than the front plate.
The turret has a well-done cupola including internal periscope heads,
blade sight and hatch lock open device. The AA MG34 and mount are basic
and also lack ammo belt and canvas sack. The turret-rear escape hatch
can be made to work. The rest of the turret is OK with late features such
as Pilzen crane mounts, IR device linkage splash plate, close-in defense
weapon and sheet metal mantle rain guard. However, the representation
of the outside weld, where the rear plate mates with the side plates is
too large. Also missing are the gas detection panel mounts. The mantlet
is the so-called “chin” type and includes lifting lugs. However,
the mantlet and the way it mounts to the turret, is incorrectly represented.
The inner mantlet, where it meets the turret face, should be offset to
one side with the
gun tube offset on the mantle itself so it runs down
the turret’s centerline, so some work will need to be done here.
Finally, the tools and smaller fittings, where the potential for real
finesse was there, are letdowns. The jack and block are poorly shaped
and detailed while several tools have knockout pins on visible spots and
poor representations of the mounting clamps or brackets. The strips the
tools are attached to are nicely done and include the small circular bits
to hold the tow cables, while the cables themselves are one-piece styrene
moldings that need replacement. There is no thinner track mounting cable
or ends included. The spare tracks are fine, but the mounts are chunky.
The 7.5cm Kwk 40 gun tube cleaning rod container is nice and has separate
handles for the end caps, although they are much too thick. There are
two nice spare road wheels and also a decent (but unfortunately incompletely
detailed) jerry can as accessories. There are no side skirts or mounting
hooks, only the rails.
A dedicated photo-etch set would go a long way towards upgrading this
kit, so one would hope that Eduard, Aber or Royal Models have taken notice
of the release of this kit.
Instructions are easy to follow and illustrate two color schemes, while
the water slide decals provide for the prescribed markings as well as
sets of generic numbers. The separate leaflet presents the modeler with
instructions, in five steps, on how to assemble the remote-control device.
Parts marked as not for use include a mono-block 8.8cm gun tube and the
mantle collar associated with the early production Jagdpanther, which
was released after the original static (non-RC) version of this kit came
This kit could have been a real eye-popper out of the box, but will need
(perhaps too much) work and TLC to bring it up to snuff. It is not up
to current standards as regards detail or overall accuracy. It will greatly
benefit from, at the very least, a dedicated photo-etch set, new tracks
and refined tools and small fittings. Furthermore, most serious modelers
will not run this thing around, so those who will consider this kit in
the first place, will probably opt for the earlier and less expensive
static version of this kit.
Recommended with great reservation.
MRC (Model Rectifier Corp.) is the North American importer and distributor
for Academy kits. Academy kits are available at retail and mail order
shops. See their web site for photographs of reviewed kit at: www.academy.co.kr