Over the years, Hasegawa has released four versions of the Panther Medium tank. The original Panther G kit was released long ago, I believe in the mid-1970's, and it does not compare favorably with the new breed of small scale armor kits to have hit the shelves over the last decade. Unfortunately, the three follow-on kits are all based on that original outdated kit, so are likewise not some of the best kits available today.
Panther G (kit No. 31109 - MT9)
This was the original Panther kit. Although the size and shape of the model are basically correct, the amount and quality of the detail is lacking by today's standards. It is a fairly simple model to build, and will likely prove satisfactory to wargamers who need large numbers of cheap and sturdy models. But for those who wish to build highly accurate scale replicas, the newer Revell Panther G kit is far superior.
|Sprue 1||Sprue 2||Wheels||Tracks|
As can be seen in the scans, the detail is soft and archaic in style, i.e., raised panel lines, closed engine deck grates, closed hull hatches, poorly-detailed wheels, anemic pioneer tools, and worst of all, very poor, one-piece vinyl tracks.
On the positive side, the kit includes two crew figures, and a choice of gun mantles. The cannon barrel is straight and well molded, with a very good muzzle brake. Also, the wheels are to be glued onto a backing plate which is separate from the hull. This feature makes it easy to glue, paint and weather the wheels and tracks prior to attaching them to the hull. I wish that more modern kits included this design feature.
All in all, while this kit was considered fairly decent for its day, it has been bypassed by the newer and much more detailed Revell Panther G kit.
Panther G (Steel Wheels) (kit No. 31137 - MT37)
As mentioned above, this kit is based on the earlier Panther G kit, and shares all of the same weaknesses. The difference with this kit is the inclusion of the late war style, all-steel road wheels. These new wheels are actually very well done, and make this kit worth buying simply for the new wheels. The main drawback to the Revell Panther G kit is that it does not give the option of steel wheels, so a kitbash between the two would provide for a very nice late-war Panther. Luckily, Hasegawa kits can usually be obtained very cheap at model shows and some hobby shops.
Panther F (kit No. 31140 - MT40)
Once again, Hasegawa simply took their old Panther kit, and added some new parts for the new version. This kit is the same as the Panther G (Steel Wheels), plus a new sprue of parts for the schmalturm (small turret). Also once again, the new parts are very good. While there are a few finer details missing from the new turret, with a little bit of added detail, it builds into a very fine replica of the Panther F. For my own Panther F project, I used the new turret and wheel parts in a kitbash with a Revell Panther G in order to build a more detailed and accurate Panther F.
Panther F Schmalturm
Panther II (kit No. 31164 - MT64)
This is a special edition kit, which I don't think was produced in very large numbers, nor with the world-wide circulation as most Hasegawa releases. This is no great loss, since the kit does not represent an accurate Panther II. The kit is identical to the Panther F kit (new steel wheels and schmalturm) with the addition of a turned brass 88mm gun barrel. Again, the new parts are much nicer than the old, and the metal gun barrel is especially fine.
But this is inaccurate for a variety of reasons. First, the main hull of the Panther II was based on the Panther G, but with thicker armor. I recall researching this a while back when I first bought this kit, and although the differences in hull dimensions are minor, a brand new hull would have been much appreciated. Also, the wheels are not accurate. The all-steel wheels used on the Panther II more closely resembled the steel wheels from the Tiger tanks, than the Panther. Also the chassis is completely incorrect. Again, the real chassis was altered, and also resembled the chassis on the Tiger II.
Basically, there is no way to build a correct Panther II from this kit. The project which I have in mind to undertake at some later date, is to kitbash this kit (the turret and metal gun) with a Revell Panther G (hull) and an ESCI Tiger II (wheels and track). There will still have to be numerous scratchbuilt additions and corrections as well, but that should prove to make a fairly accurate Panther II replica.
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