The Panther Project
|Catalogue Number and Description:||
The Panther Project
Publisher: The Research Squad
|Contents and Media:||DVD for PC|
|Price:||GBP £24.95 available online from The Panther Project website|
|Advantages:||Professional and authoritative; incredible detail in a compact and convenient format|
Every once in a while something comes along that is genuinely
special. We are consistently treated to re-hashes of old kits,
companies are constantly releasing the same kits that are marginally
different from the other, and of course the options for aftermarket
products are always plentiful and well covered, so it is
particularly nice to see something that is not only out of the
ordinary but exceptionally executed at the same time.
With professionally designed packaging the look of the Panther Project Data disc authoritatively stamps quality instantly, although as if to prove that not even the most thorough of research is beyond a casual oversight, the reversed negative illustration on the cover is no indication of any lack of care as far as the contents are concerned.
Sliding the disc into the computers driver brings up a well laid out and simple to operate menu, immediately taking the user through the necessary steps to ensure that the correct version of Quick time is installed for viewing. Those using the new Windows Vista operating system may have some difficulty operating the disc to its full capabilities, although after speaking to both Alasdair and Brian about it, it would seem that the problems with Vista may have been worked out. In any case, even if you run into problems viewing the DVD at first, finding an appropriate programme on line is very simple.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:
The menu is extremely easy to navigate and very simply spread out.
Allowing instant access to the various sub-categories, navigating
the disc could not be more efficient.
The content is very thorough, and covers every possible aspect of the Panther in intricate detail. Using a combination of text and images, the complete Panther story is laid out in the various sub-menus on the disc. Broken into 5 main sections “Markings”, “History”, “Technical”, “Weapons”, and, “Restoration”, followed on with the various sub-sections, navigation is not only fast, but also easy.
From a historical reference point of view the disc is a Pandora’s Box of information, and has a wealth of information that would take days to sift through. This is where I felt that the option of having a key word search menu available would have been a very useful inclusion. It would save the time and effort of finding that one tidbit of information that arises during a project, sifting through all of the information compiled in the various sections on the disc.
While none of the archive images included on the disc are groundbreaking or “never before seen” (Is that possible nowadays?) it is very convenient to have them collected in one place, and in a very easy to reference fashion. I did find that using the zoom tool to enlarge the images was a pointless gesture, as the images become slightly pixilated at that point, and therefore you are better off leaving them the original size. Either way though, they are all very well captioned and provide endless amounts of modelling inspiration.
When it comes to more direct modelling reference this disc really shines, covering the interior and the exterior very well.
The exterior section covers the unit markings comprising divisional and tactical markings, and one of my favourite features of the entire disc; the RAL colour reference chart, comprising a cross reference to the colours produced my most major paint manufacturers. As excellent as this section is as a resource, some caution needs to be exercised when using it as a definitive reference for colour as computers are not the greatest way to do this. There are so many variables when it comes to the colour as it is represented through your own monitor, as well as when it is printed from your printer, that I would avoid simply holding the colour to the monitor in an attempt to match it.
Included in the “Internal” section are the 360 degree panoramas. All shot within the confines of preserved vehicles, they make for fascinating viewing. Even though they are of preserved vehicles, they are going to be of somewhat limited value as some components of a vehicle in service will be missing. It is an unavoidable fact however, as unfortunately no one thought to photograph the interiors of these vehicles using panoramic equipment in 1943. There may be some problems when viewing the panoramas and there is some important information to pay attention to at the base of the menu, in particular you will need to allow the file to load before moving the cursor. Personally my computer had some issues with the disc shutting down rapidly after opening the panorama, but Panther Productions have produced a patch for this problem which can be downloaded from their site.
“History” takes us through the development of the Panther, with the production being covered very thoroughly. Breaking the production information down into sections covering the Model range from prototype to Panther II along with every sub variant produced including experimental versions each is covered with both images and text.
The astonishingly thorough attention to detail and research continues with a detailed examination of the manufacturers and the components of the vehicles themselves. With manufacturers diagrams dispersed throughout the disc, drawings and of course detail images, there is no particular area of the tank that is not thoroughly covered.
When it comes to the operational history, this is treated as
seriously as any body of work dedicated to examining the history
surrounding armoured warfare, and it will take me ages to read
through the plethora of information presented here, accompanied by
some very nicely done maps.
Weapons, Technical, and Restoration do pretty much what it says on the tin, and cover with just as much an attention to detail as the historical side of things. Where I have mentioned previously that the 360 panorama images needed to be taken with a grain of salt with regards to accuracy, in the Weapons section is where the image is completed, and the combination of the sections of the disc shows just how complete a reference resource this is. In a word; excellent. Accompanying the images are thorough essays covering in depth, every aspect of the weaponry. The only disappointment of this section was the defensive armament with just one image of the cupola bracket to represent all aspects of the defensive weaponry with nary an image of a machine gun anywhere to be found. However, there are several essays in this section covering every bit of information about the defensive armament, so this goes a long way to compensating for the lack of images.
Technically speaking, all of the basis are covered in great detail, from manuals to spec sheets. I was particularly pleased to see the inclusion of the Panther Fibel, which on its own is a value of at least £25.00 as to find one that is not a cheap A4 reproduction is not all that common.
The images that cover the preserved vehicles are generally very good, although the sequence occasionally fall out of logical sync. They also range in quality slightly with some being out of focus and others not being definitive about what details they are covering. That does not diminish from their overall usefulness, on the contrary, never before has such a complete collection of images been collected in one place and therefore there is no aspect of the tank left to Imagineering when it comes to modelling.
As a reference resource, this disc leaves nothing to be desired. In fact it is very difficult to find fault in the presentation aside from the small points I mentioned in the body of the text above. Personally I am very pleased to add this disc to the reference collection and in the format that it is on, it will prove to be a very convenient and compact resource for a long time to come. I highly recommend the Panther Project to anyone with in interest in Panthers, Modelling them, or studying them. Not only is this a fascinating article of work on DVD but also beautifully done and imminently useful.
Writing a review of this disc is a very hard task, simply because of the amount of data on it and the sheer depth of information presented, means that it will take weeks, and for the more casual user perhaps months to fully realise the extent of the information presented in this compact and convenient format. Despite the slight problems and drawbacks I mentioned already in the text above, I must say I am deeply impressed with this DVD. With a price tag of about £25.00 this will not be the cheapest reference resource you purchase this year, but when compared to what is currently available and weighed against what it would cost to buy all of this information in a printed format (i.e. a book) it is excellent value for money. Make no mistake that this disc has a breathtaking amount of information contained on it, and I have spent £50.00 on a single book that covers not even a fraction of the amount of information presented here. All we need now is for someone to invent a laptop that can be rolled up, tucked under your arm, and taken into the “office” with you. Until then you will have to rely on the printer and printing off sections of the disc at a time. Overall this is the most detailed examination, thus the most useful assessment of this famous fighting vehicle I have ever seen compiled into a single resource.
As an added incentive to get in there early and get your copy, the Panther Project have announced that all purchases through the website before August 1st 2007will be automatically entered into a draw to win an authentic piece of Panther History. They will be randomly selecting one lucky recipient who will become the proud new owner of a link of track from a Panther A. How cool is that?!
Text by Jay Laverty
Page Created 10 June, 2007
Page Last Updated 12 June, 2007