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My First Armour Build - Tamiya Panther Ausf A


Rob Pulham
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I say my first armour build, because although I built quite a few Airfix kits in my early teens I don't recall building any armour they were, fighter planes, ships and railway rolling stock. 

 

My good lady and I attend a local arts and crafts group for 2 hours each Tuesday and needing a change from 7mm scale railway coaches, I had been looking at armour build videos on YouTube. Having modelled railways for the last 15 or so years, I found that I don't have any interest in building planes again so on a whim I decided to buy a tank kit to have a go. Sadly, it seems, I bought the rather old and not too accurate Panther A kit before reading any reviews etc. To be fair I have less than £16 in it including postage so it's no great loss if I stuff it up. 

 

It will also give me something to do whilst preparing the drawings etc. for my MKI Gun Carrier build (I did import the first drawing and resize it this evening). Because I will only spend a couple of hours a week on construction it will be a bit of a slow burn but I have made a start.

 

The last couple of sessions have seen the the stowage boxes attached to the rear panel and that fixed in place. I have also drilled out the exhausts but will leave them off so that I can paint/weather them before I attach them.

 

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Because the original kit was designed to be motorised the instructions tell you to remove the teeth off the idler wheels with a hobby knife. I cheated and popped them in the lathe and it was the work of moments to remove the offending teeth.

 

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I have also spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the figures (no photos yet) and given the known inaccuracies of the kit don't plan to spend lots on aftermarket extras but I will scratch build what I can to improve it a little.

 

With that in mind I turned up a couple of end caps and then along with some 5mm tube and some brass shim I made up a replacement gun cleaning rod stowage container (or at least that's what I think it is).

 

Being primarily a 7mm brass kit builder soldering has no fears for me but I have to admit soldering the shim parts to the tube tested me. it was all done with 100 degree solder to keep the heat down.

 

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I am not sure how accurate it is as I took the basic measurements from the plastic it item and then worked to photos to give me the details - these are rather cruel enlargements but once the support bars are trimmed to fit and it has paint sloshed on it will be an improvement over the kit detail

 

 

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I have also had a play around with some rolled up tarps for potential stowage. These are made from spectacle lens cleaning tissue wetted with dilute PVA which I find makes a very good scale canvas.

 

Paint is still work in progress. The straps and buckles are strips of lens tissue and some 0.35 nickel wire folded around forceps. Whether they will ultimately make it onto the Panther is still in question but I had fun making them.

 

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 Who says that photos never lie, this one is about a third bigger than the first one and in the flesh doesn't look as good but oddly I prefer it in the photos...

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Rob

 

There is a lot that can be done to the Tamiya base (Original) model Panther even without using photo etch.

 

All of the staring parts are there can be improved on, the main thing that improves the model beyond anything else is a set of descent tracks the rubber band tracks of the original model do not do it any favors.

 

I'm sure that you will sort it all out and looking good.

 

Pete 

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Thanks Pete, I must confess I haven't decided on what I might do regarding the tracks. I haven't found any replacements so far that are specific to this kit but perhaps I have been looking in the wrong places? 

 

I have just ordered a set of Aber etched grills for the engine deck though as I can't see a way to scratch them successfully at the minute.

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Rob

 

To be perfectly honest you don't need a specific set for that kit an set will do.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Panther-Type-Seperate-Track-Links/dp/B000LFQUHQ

 

These will work fine A,D or G it does not matter it will improve the model so much.

 

Unless you are building a particular vehicle there was that much mix and matching that went on with the Panthers parts it's not a problem.

 

Email sent to you.

 

Pete

Edited by PeteH1969
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Thanks again Pete,

 

I think that it will take some getting used to fact that in plastic kit modelling, the tracks cost more than the kit itself.

 

Unlike railway modelling where the kit is usually the most expensive bit with wheels coming next but usually quite a bit less than the kit cost.

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It was our weekly arts and crafts session this afternoon so I managed to get a bit more done on the construction.

First I added in the swivel butterflies that can bee seen in the ends of exhausts on some photos.

52470223032_22e234f1d7_h.jpg

 

Then I assembled the rear turret plate. I must confess that I struggled to fit this and I am still not happy with the  fit at the top but I plan to disguise this with a weld bead.

 

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Then I put together the gun mantle which thankfully almost built itself. I have also assembled the gun, I put a piece of 2mm brass rod down the centre and I have had to fill the muzzle brake. I am still not 100% satisfied with it so I may have a go at turning a replacement. I would have had a go at a complete barrel but my lathe is only a mini lathe and I am pretty sure that my compound slide doesn't have enough travel to turn that long, a taper.

 

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 I also managed to assemble most of the wheels.

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Finally I have a question, the jack appears to be stowed vertically in between the exhausts and there is a hole for a locating peg on the back it's that it doesn't seem to sit very well against the other moulded features on the rear plate and it appears to sit lower than on the few photos that I have seen. 

Have I missed something that makes it fit better?

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17 minutes ago, Rob Pulham said:

It was our weekly arts and crafts session this afternoon so I managed to get a bit more done on the construction.

First I added in the swivel butterflies that can bee seen in the ends of exhausts on some photos.

52470223032_22e234f1d7_h.jpg

 

Then I assembled the rear turret plate. I must confess that I struggled to fit this and I am still not happy with the  fit at the top but I plan to disguise this with a weld bead.

 

52470994439_f509ec1203_h.jpg

 

Then I put together the gun mantle which thankfully almost built itself. I have also assembled the gun, I put a piece of 2mm brass rod down the centre and I have had to fill the muzzle brake. I am still not 100% satisfied with it so I may have a go at turning a replacement. I would have had a go at a complete barrel but my lathe is only a mini lathe and I am pretty sure that my compound slide doesn't have enough travel to turn that long, a taper.

 

52470222732_bf38f172b0_h.jpg

 

 I also managed to assemble most of the wheels.

52470719656_a801d0d74f_h.jpg

 

Finally I have a question, the jack appears to be stowed vertically in between the exhausts and there is a hole for a locating peg on the back it's that it doesn't seem to sit very well against the other moulded features on the rear plate and it appears to sit lower than on the few photos that I have seen. 

Have I missed something that makes it fit better?

Rob the foot of the jack should sit on the bar/ridge that's above the round hatch on the back plate, I usually cut the peg from the jack and use it to fill the hole and then mount it after the painting is finished.

52468284465_fb6eda5240_h.jpg

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Tuesday has come around again so a bit more progress on the Panther. Today's session focussed on the gaps between lower hull and body. I filled them in with styrene sheet.

 

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Don't you just love that sad face on the bottom. The kit isn't that bad...

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Not much is visible from the side view but it feels more solid having done it.

 

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The only other thing done today was to take Pete's advice and cut the mounting peg off the jack and use it to plug the hole on the rear panel ready for mounting the jack in the right place later.

 

 

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Further progress was made this afternoon. Sadly photos will have to wait, as when I got back home it was hammering it down. So I left the modelling box in the car boot. I should be able to rescue it tomorrow.

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Well I retrieved the modelling box from the car and took a few photos of prgress, TBH there isn't much to see for a couple of hours work but hey it's porgress.

 

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Gun Mantle fitted in place.

 

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I am getting dangerously close to adding texture with diluted Tamiya putty.

 

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Commander's cupola cleaned up. The hatch is just sat in place for now.

 

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The Crew... they still need work on mould lines and filling of the joints where the pieces are stuck together.

 

52504587433_3e423ec0dd_o.jpgIMG_0005 by Rob Pulham, on Flickr

Finally the spare tracks, I have no intention of using these because they lack ay kind of detail on the rear which is the bit you would see mounted on the tank (not sure what Tamiya were thinking here, they would have been much better leaving the out face plain and detailing the inner but ours is not to reason why). I just wanted to see just how difficult they were to fit together - a right pain.

 

Still I can always rust them up and bury them in a diorama so the detailed side shows.

 

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The attention to detail is transforming this old-school kit into a more updated version. I was interested in that butterfly valve you mentioned in the exhaust, as I hadn't heard of those valves before, so I looked it up online: it seems these valves play a part in directing exhaust gases. I always believed that object in the exhaust was a piece of metal placed there to prevent an enemy soldier dropping a grenade (say) into the exhaust. (Maybe it does that as well?) I read elsewhere that German tank turret armour was made from fairly smooth rolled steel and so there should not be a huge amount of model putty texture required in that particular area. Another trick to add texture is to spread some liquid glue carefully and then stipple it gently with an old toothbrush.

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If you want to improve this old kit might I suggest redoing the weld seams, the ones on the kit are not very well defined, some are incorrectly positioned & others are missing altogether too. Its a bit of work to do but it really helps to bring this old kit to life.

 

panther_a_10.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Mig Eater
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8 hours ago, Mig Eater said:

If you want to improve this old kit might I suggest redoing the weld seams, the ones on the kit are not very well defined, some are incorrectly positioned & others are missing altogether too. Its a bit of work to do but it really helps to bring this old kit to life.

 

panther_a_10.jpg

 

 

 

Hi @Mig Eater,

How you have done yours is pretty much what I plan to do with mine.

Thanks for sharing the image it gives me a visual of what I had going on in my head.

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10 hours ago, Peter2 said:

I read elsewhere that German tank turret armour was made from fairly smooth rolled steel and so there should not be a huge amount of model putty texture required in that particular area. Another trick to add texture is to spread some liquid glue carefully and then stipple it gently with an old toothbrush.

Thanks Peter @Peter2,

I am pretty new to this type of modelling but had planned on a reasonably smooth finish but with texture. I may try the glue method first before applying any Tamiya putty. 

 

As Mig Eater has mentioned, redoing the weld seams will be the biggest visual addition I think. The good thing about this kit is it's cheap enough to learn on. 

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I was curious as to how much after-market tracks cost. I entered Cheapest Panther Tracks on Google and a plastic Tamiya set came up on Amazon at £21. One review of these states 'The quality and fit is good as you would expect from Tamiya, and at a reasonable price. The downside is that the track guide horns are molded solid, not hollow as on the actual Panther tank, so this can make it look overly simplified or incorrect to some people's eyes. Decide for yourself if this is important.'

.

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Hi Peter,

Please excuse my ignorance but are the "guide horns", the vertical plates on the rear which fit between the rollers? If so then, while it might be tedious  it aught to be possible to drill them out.

Being the careful Yorkshire man that I am, I managed to find a set for just over £18 delivered, they should be here on Monday. 

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As I understand it, the guide horns are those little 'prongs' sticking up from each track section, intended to help the track run between or against a tank's road wheels, and reduce the risk of the track being 'thrown' (a phrase that means 'thrown off'), which would be disastrous for the mobility of the tank! Some tanks, for example the Panther, had a hole in each track guide horn to reduce the overall weight of the tracks. Sometimes tank kits don't reproduce this small detail: especially older kits.

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