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Mike

German Medium Tank Sd.Kfz171 Panther Ausf.A Late Production Zimmerit 1:35

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German Medium Tank Sd.Kfz171 Panther Ausf.A Late Production Zimmerit

1:35 Meng Model

 

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If you're not sure what Zimmerit was, it was an anti-magnetic coating applied to the exterior of German AFVs from the end of 1943 to the 9th September 1944 in the factories and a little later in the field.  It took the form of a thick fibrous paste with a greyish hue, and the application was usually ridged to give it a larger effective thickness without adding too much weight.  It was water-based and applied to all vertical or near vertical surfaces over primer with a comb-like tool or stamp, and drying was then accelerated by using blow-torches over the application.  There were a number of patterns used at certain factories, so it can be a minefield debating whether the vehicle had Zimmerit, which pattern it was, and how you would apply your own rendition to your model.

 

Originally you were left to your own devices to use putty and a  screw-driver tip, or later-on Photo-Etch (PE), which was a little regimented and inflexible.  Now with the advances in decal technology, Meng and a few others have begun creating 3D decals that when applied give the appearance of this rough coating.  The sheets arrive in thick plastic bags with a card header, a sheet of visual instructions and a sheet of Zimmerit decal protected by a thick piece of waxy paper.  The instructions are simple diagrams showing where each part fits on the hull and turret, including such niceties as shaped parts for the mantlet, kugelblende and even the area under the side-skirts where a brave (foolhardy) man could slap a magnetic shaped-charge.  Where appropriate there are alternative parts, which are indicated by arrows in opposite directions.  A small note at the bottom indicates that if any edges begin to peel away from your model, you can re-glue them with super-glue (CA) or modelling glue.  Personally, I'd be more happy with the CA!

 

Of course these sets have ben patterned for a particular kit, and that kit is the brand-new late-model Panther from their own stable, which has some of the decal options needing Zimmerit, which is handy.  There are four sets, as follows:

 

Decal Type 1 (SPS-050)

This is the traditional vertical pattern with blocks of grooves laid out in a matrix.

 

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Decal Type 2 (SPS-051)

This pattern is reminiscent of a waffle-pattern, consisting of large squares, although it is on a larger scale than seen on the true waffle-texture that is seen on other vehicles.

 

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Decal Type 3 (SPS-052)

This set consists of vertical lines in rows that extend uninterrupted the full width of the surface it covers.

 

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Decal Type 4 (SPS-053)

Arranged similarly to Type 3, but with diagonal grooves dragged across the surface in a sometimes irregular manner.

 

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Conclusion

The decals are just the right thickness to be believable, and would of course look best under an airbrushed coat of paint rather than brush-painted, which would be a tiresome exercise anyway, filling in all those little grooves.  The patterns have been designed with just the right amount of conformity and a little individuality to look more realistic, away from that "uncanny valley" of PE that just doesn't look quite right.  I hope that this method for Zimmerit coatings takes off, consigning PE and the messy putty methods to history at some point.

 

Review sample courtesy of

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Decals, really?

Makes me remember Tamiya's zimmerit set for it's 1/35 Elefant. IIRC, it was more a thin sheet of plastic than a decal.

Can we  expect some kind of test-fit, just to see the look of it?

It would be really nice of you.

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