This rare version of the Sd.Kfz.171 Panther G was fitted with steel road wheels rather than the rubber rimmed type. It's hard to find a lot of information about these Tiger II style wheels on the Internet, but there is some information on Achtung Panzer!
"Originally, it was planned to manufacture model Ausf G with steel-rimmed road-wheels (instead of previously used rubber-rimmed road-wheels), but in 1944, only small series of 24 was produced."
According to some of the Internet sources I read, the Germans had dabbled with the use of steel road wheels since the early prototype phases of the Panther project and indeed the addition of this particular steel road wheel was a carry-over from the Panther II project, but it's not clear whether they were being employed as a rubber-saving means, a method to improve the ride and maintenance of the tank, or both. (Editors note: If anyone has some research on this point it would make for a good discussion in the forum.)
So once again we have a production vehicle but one that was very rare but saw some combat in the closing days of the war. The Panther is a much beloved tank by modelers though so I am certain this kit will be well received by most.
This is a "Smart Kit" release by Dragon and is based around their G release from last year. There are 600 plastic parts, Magic Track for the treads, (1) sheet of photo etch for grills, two types of metal hull/turret hooks, (1) clear plastic sprue, (2) metal tow cables and (1)wire. There is a minimal number of unused parts in this kit. A set of alternate (regular G?) hatches, rubber road wheels (8), chin-type manlet, G-type MG-34 ball mount, and a few other minor parts.
For an overview of the original Panther G release you can check out this review
, as obviously there is not a lot different with the basic parts of this kit. There is also a build feature of this kit here
For those who haven't purchased a Smart Kit before you will probably note the absence of an aluminum barrel with the kit. This is because a very nice one-piece plastic barrel is provided along with a 2-piece muzzle brake (not two halves but a circular ring tip with the remaining brake assembly). The overall level of detail in this kit is pretty amazing even considering the low amount of brass photo etch included. And even though the box says for modelers 10 years and up I would say that this kit is definitely not for beginners. Many of the smaller parts are so delicate and finely molded they will come right off the sprue with just a little encouragement.
Dragon has included a dozen metal hooks for the turret to attach additional track. Something shown on the box art but visible in one of the CAD drawings on the side of the box. Obviously additional track is provided for this option. The positions for attaching this hooks are marked on the turret in darker grey (see photo).
paint schemes & markings
There are (4) provided paint schemes with the kit. Three of them are similar 3-color schemes and one is a winter white-wash. They are:
- Pz.Rgt.1, "LAH", La Gleize 1944
- Pz.Rgt.2, East Prussia 1945 (winter scheme)
- Pz.Rgt.24, Eilendorf, Germany 1944
- Pz.Rgt.24, Aachen 1944
Another very nice release by Dragon Models on a subject that will surely generate considerable interest with modelers. The Smart Kit line of kits is the way to go if you are not really a photo etch modeler and even if you are these kits will make a great starting point for any aftermarket upgrades. The inclusion of the regular G parts means this kit can easily be made into a normal G model as well giving the kit even more value. It's easily the best Panther G kit available on the market (or soon will be) today and that is not just my feeling.