Kit #: 5042 Construction review by Rob Haelterman

The Jagdpanther doesn't really need an introduction and Zvezda agrees as nothing of the sort is given in the instructions.


1. Contents

As this is my second encounter with a "snap fit" Zvezda armor kit, I wanted to start building it as quickly as possible. So, I started with a quick peek inside the (side-opening) box allowing me to start removing parts from the sprues.

The main sprues. Parts are crisp and, in general, well detailed. The back rows of the interleaved suspension are pre-assembled promising a speedy and well-aligned assembly.

Detail of the upper hull.


The lower hull. It is immediately clear that the suspension arms are individual pieces that will allow some customization.

Single length hard plastic tracks with more than acceptable detail.

The decal sheet with individual numbers that can be mixed and matched as required. Everything seems to be in perfect register.


2. Instructions

The instructions promise a speedy assembly. The marking option is for a generic vehicle on the Western or Eastern front.

This is how the finished article should look like. It doesn't look half bad an no gaps are immediately visible..


3. Construction

Before starting the discussion about the different assembly steps, a word of caution is in order. This is my second Zvezda armor kit and I am still discovering the properties of the plastic that Zvezda uses. First of all, it is much softer than the styrene I am used to, most likely to allow the parts to flex when "snapping them together" or bend the tracks. This means, however, that rough handling will easily deform parts (as I discovered on the drive sprockets), or melt the plastic when you apply glue (as I discovered on the idler). For those who are wondering, I feel that a bit of glue is still required to get the best results. I also have the impression that the plastic becomes somewhat brittle after painting, which I discovered on the tracks. In no way is this a complaint about the quality of the kit, it is just something that a modeler who is new to these kits needs to be careful with.

3.1 Suspension

3.1.1. What the instructions tell you to do

After having built the Zvezda King Tiger previously, I was a bit apprehensive about the tracks, but the engineering approach in this kit is much better than in the King Tiger. First of all, the suspension is extremely well detailed, with separate suspension arms, bump stops, etc. It's actually a shame to hide all this behind the roadwheels.
The idler and drive sprocket halves also have pegs to help them stay aligned, although some care and a bit of glue are still welcome.
What is obvious this time is that the building sequence is entirely logical compared to the King Tiger. No locating pegs that cannot be accessed when they need to be (according to the instructions) or hull parts that are getting in the way.

3.1.2. What I did

Dry fitting showed that the locating holes and pegs didn't line up when the tracks were closed, so I used two of them to fix the tracks in place while working with them and removed the other ones. Compared to the King Tiger the tracks are spot on in length and can be closed easily.
I am a big fan of single length hard plastic tracks that can be bent around the suspension. Still, I made things a little easier for me by pre-bending the tracks before wrapping them around the suspension. The trick is to make them supple enough to work with, but not to the point that they break.
I noticed that the teeth of the drive sprocket were too big too fit into the tracks, and even after thinning them down, they still didn't want to co-operate. I sanded down the mating surface of the drive sprockets to make them narrower and it did help, but not enough. In the end, I removed the teeth where the drive sprocket meets the tracks. I only did this after I had glued the sprockets to the hull. It would be much easier to do that before installing them.
The axle of the idler is a notably weak part and I ended up breaking both of them. Installing a metal rod solved that problem and as it is slightly off-center with respect to the center of the idler it allowed me to play with the position of the idler and get a (near) perfect tension on the tracks. Note that I decided to glue the tracks to the wheels to make them conform better. (Note that the plastic in this kit is very soft, so you will get a good joint or a ruined part depending on your thrift. I learned this the hard way as at one point I ended up with an idler that turned into mush and had to be sculpted back into shape affresco.)

3.1.3. What I (probably) should have done

The biggest mistake I made was that I didn't follow the instructions enough. (Quite the opposite as what happened with the Tiger Ausf.B.) I had decided to install as little of the roadwheels as possible before installing the tracks to have better acces to the latter. That decision came to bite me afterwards as fitting parts C13 and C14 (the outer half of the inner roadwheels) will then become impossible without partially removing the tracks again. But hey, that's what we reviewers do: we suck at building a new kit so you don't have to.
Adding these roadwheels also revealed that the fit of the inner roadwheels between the track teeth is uncomfortably tight (to the point of bending the teeth outward). This is partially because of the late installation of the wheels and because of the difficulty with which the wheels go over the axles. I believe the easiest solution here would be to
- glue the inner roadwheels (C13, C37, C14, C36) together first, perhaps sanding them down a little in between to reduce the overall thickness;
- install all the axles to the roadwheels as tightly as possible;
- glue the roadwheels-cum-axles to the hull.
Thinning down the idlers in the same way as I did for the sprockets (just a little) will also make it easier to work with them.

At one time I had thought that it might have been better to do the right track differently from the instructions so that it closes on top (like the left track) where the joint would be partially hidden by the Schürzen. In the end, the joint is so good that it just doesn't matter.

In all, while I had some difficulty with the tracks, it was much more enjoyable than with the King Tiger and if I had to do it over again, with my newly acquired experience, I am sure it would almost be the proverbial walk in the park.


3.2 The rest of the kit

The remainder of the assembly is a breeze, apart from the rear hull plate. In step 9, all major components of the hull come together in one step, and whatever building sequence one choses, it appears that one part will always interfere with another, unless some part is put into place with a stern hand.
Further minor remarks:

  • The gun can be assembled in a way that allows it to move in both azimut as in elevation.
  • There is a small insert that provides a very rudimentary engine compartment when looking through the grilles in the engine deck.
  • I drilled out the exhausts (parts C57 and C58) and engraved a depression between the exhaust tubes and the metal guards.
  • The gun barrel was drilled out.
  • The interleaved armor on the tip of the nose is only presented partially (on the lower edge). I engraved it on the upper part.
  • An antenna was added to the right rear of the fighting compartment.
  • The opening for the vision block in the driver's periscope was deepened.
  • Too late in the construction sequence I discovered that there was a seam around the ball mount that should'n have been there.
  • The left rear split hatch on top of the fighting compartment is put into a small square depression, which shouldn't be there and is very hard to fix, unless the modeler cuts out the whole area and glues it back in place flush with the rest of the roof.
  • Early in the construction I had decided to replace the towing cable with scratchbuilt items, using twisted strands of copper wire and spare towing eyes from a Dragon Panther (or Jagdpanther) kit. This made me lower my guard, as I assumed that two small holes on the edges of the engine deck were there to accept pegs of the original kit-supllied towing cables. I wasn't wrong about that, but I didn't notice that these pegs weren't on the eyes, but on the cables themselves. This meant that I took measurement for my hand-made cables based on these pegs, assuming that the small holes would, in the end, be covered by the thickness of the towing eyes. All the while I was wondering what the two rectangular pegs at the extreme rear of the engine deck were doing there, as I didn't find them on any plans or pictures of the real thing.
    Only when I was almost ready to add the towing cables to the (now almost finished) kit, did I take a closer look at the instructions and noticed that those pegs on the engine deck were there to hold the eyes of the towing cables. Conclusion: my towing cables were too short. As I didn't fancy making new ones, I decided to put the vehicle in a diorama where the crew is waiting for the vehicle to be towed away. This would allow me to attach the cables to the towing points on the hull at one end and have them lay on the ground at the other. I also meant that I had to fill in the holes on the engine deck, after the kit had been completely painted, which turned out to be a challenge. Luckily, armor kits allow the modeler to add scratches and other weathering where needed. Incidentally, having the kit end up in a diorama, also gave me the possibility to hide the right rear idler (i.e. the one that had earlier turned into mush).
    A last word on Jagdpanther towing cables: from the photographs that I studied it seems that there was no standard way to fit them, and many vehicles appear to have driven around happily without them.
  • A PE mesh was added to a part of the engine deck. As there is no dedicated set for the Zvezda kit (yet), I used the Hauler set for the Hät kit, which fitted perfectly on the forward rectangular ventilation grilles and the round ones, but not on the rear ones (which are the Jagdpanther Ausf. G1 type, while the Hauler parts are for the G2). I left the rear ones mesh-less. If a set is ever released for the Zvezda kit, it can still be added later.

    The Hauler set

    Dry fitting the Hauler set



3.3 Camouflage and markings

The vehicle was painted in an imaginary 3-color camouflage scheme and marked using a subset of the kit decals.


3.4 Conclusion

This kit is based on Zvezda's Panther Ausf.D and the engineering choices of the lower hull thus predate that of the King Tiger. Surprisingly, the choices made on the Panther make more sense. While the suspension is extremely well detailed, it does not help to make the suspension any sturdier or the construction any easier, but overall, the kit goes together very easily.

Basecoat, before blending the colors and adding weathering.

At this point a bit more weathering should be done, especially on the lower hull. I will only do that when the diorama is finished, to be able to make the kit blend in better. The towing cables will then also be added.



4. Accuracy

4.1. Features

(Based mostly on [1] and, to a lesser extent [2].)
Jagdpanthers were produced between October 1943 and March (April ?) 1945. Worthy of note is that all the Jagdpanthers produced in 1944 were sent to the Western or Italian front.
Most people are probably unaware that there were two different models of Jagdpanthers: the Ausf.G1 and the Ausf.G2. The latter is mainly distinguishable by a slightly longer rear deck and a slightly shorter and steeper rear plate on the fighting compartment, although this is barely noticeable when seen from most angles.
Apart from this distinguishing feature, modifications during production were numerous (in bold those found on the kit):

  • October 1943
    • The first Jagdpanthers had the same engine deck as the Panther Ausf. A but with narrower air intake louvres directly behind the superstructure and larger ones at the rear.
    • The antenna base on the engine deck (of the Panther) was bolted over as the antenna was fitted on the superstructure. Later this antenna base was no longer present at all.
    • Smaller 600 mm idler wheel.
    • Zimmerit.
  • January 1944
    • Introduction of the Nahverteidigungswaffe
  • February 1944
    • Introduction of rain guard over driver's periscope
    • [2] mentions that the antenna was only now moved from the engine deck to the fighting compartment
  • March 1944
    • Fittings for rangefinder installed in front of loader's hatch
  • April 1944
    • Hole for telescoping air tube on engine deck no longer cut in armor plate.
    • Two part gun tube gradually introduced
  • May 1944
    • Tow coupling fitted, jack moved as a consequence
  • June 1944:
    • All vehicles fitted with Nahverteidigungswaffe (the kit has it plated over)
    • One driver's visor blanked over and rain guard modified
    • Smaller muzzle brake gradually phased in
    • Larger idler wheel (665mm) with double-ribbed spokes gradually phased in; only fully in March 1945.
    • Larger mantlet with external bolts phased in
    • Pilzen fitted on roof (also retrofit)
  • July 1944:
    • Rain guard over driver's visor dropped
    • Thicker roof armor (difficult to tell)
    • Extra cooling pipes for exhaust
    • Panther Ausf.G type rear stowage bins
  • August 1944
    • Eye bolt for gun mantlet
  • September 1944
    • Zimmerit ended
  • October 1944
    • Rear stowage bins with vertical stiffeners instead of "X" possible, but rare
    • Heat guards around exhaust
    • Higher left engine cooling fan housing with pie shaped segments
    • Mantlet with thicker lip
    • Removal of additional exhaust pipes by MIAG
  • November 1944
    • Fume extractor moved forward on roof on a small number of vehicles
    • Bore brush tube moved to the rear edge of the engine deck
  • December 1944
    • Only one opening for driver's periscope
    • Field modification consisting of covers for the louvres on the rear deck.
    • Flammentöter exhausts (also as retrofit)
  • January 1945 (?)
    • Ausf. G2:
      • Longer engine deck with Panther Ausf.G features;
      • steeper rear of fighting compartment;
      • same overall length as G1;
      • twin cooling pipes no longer needed.
  • End of production run:
    • squared bases for exhausts
    • small return roller replaced by skid
    • cast drive sprocket cover

Note that

  • s.Pz.Jg.Abt.654 installed extra stowage boxes on the rear of the fighting compartment and moved the bore brush tube to the rear edge of the engine deck in the spring of 1944. Most other tools were also moved to the engine deck or rear of the fighting compartment.
  • s.Pz.Jg.Abt.564 often modified their vehicles by repositioning the shovel and fire extinguisher to the right rear of the fighting compartment [2].
  • Later vehicles often lacked the Schürzen.
  • A few vehicles were assembled from parts under supervision of the British after the war [2].
  • MNH produced vehicles had Panther track guards with a cut-out for the shovel, allowing the showel to be installed horizontally on the side of the superstructure (and which is the cause of the infamous "half shovel" in the Dragon kits). MIAG vehicles didn't have this feature and thus the shovel needed to be installed at an angle [2]. Based on this, this kit represents a vehicle from MNH.


What would this mean ?

  • The kit represents an Ausf.G1
  • The latest feature is either the single driver's periscope (12/44), or if we believe the other one is just plated over, then it is the fume extractor (11/44).
  • Assuming this is a November 1944 vehicle (or later), like the vehicles at Aberdeen Proving Grounds or at Kubinka, then
    • The vehicle would most likely have the reinforced mantlet, although the early bolted one is still possible
    • It would need to have the raised cooling fan on the engine deck (10/44)
    • It could have the larger idler

I have no idea if vehicles without the raised cooling fan were still produced in November 1944, but my general impression is that this kit is consistent in its features.


4.2. Details and dimensions

  • The number of bolts on the roadwheels is accurate.
  • The sprocket has the correct number (17) of teeth.
  • The rear convoy light is missing
  • Most other details also seem accurate.


A table with the dimensions can be found in the Jagdpanther comparison article. In general, the kit doesn't scale out too badly except for

  • the drive sprocket that is closer to 1/80;
  • the height at the rear of the fighting compartment, that is closer to 1/65. Surprisingly, the rear plate of the fighting compartment is actually too low (1/76), while the height of the engine side plate in the area of the spare tracks is closer to a whopping 1/58. Fortunately this is partially hidden by the Schürzen.

The overall look of the kit isn't that bad, until one really starts to focus on the height of the fighting compartment, but even then it's not that obvious. Surprisingly, all Jagdpanther kits are overscale here.
Also worthy of note is that compared to other Jagdpanther kits, the Zvezda offering is actually (one of) the best when it comes to the accuracy of the dimensions.


4.3. Markings

The suggested markings in this kit are very generic, with just some black numbers, outlined in white, and some Balkenkreuze. The instructions also just mention "Western or Eastern Front", clearly indicating that Zvezda did not have any particular vehicle in mind. Researching the accuracy of the markings is thus an exercice in futility.



While the suspension is perhaps a bit over-engineered, the kit goes together very well (which is the whole point of Zvezda's concept), is well detailed and generally accurate.
It's a kit that I would recommend without reservation.




[1] Panzer Tracts No.9-3 "Jagdpanther". T.L. Jentz & H.L. Doyle, 2005

[2] Jagdpanther. Ł. Gładysiak, A. Rejmak & K. Mucha. Kagero Photosniper 3D N° 8, 2013



Review sample received from Zvezda through IPMS/Belgium.


Zvezda kits can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated:
17 March 2018

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