For many the allure of paper panzers is very strong. The Germans certainly had more than their fair share of prototype tanks and vehicles. And many of them are somewhat shrouded in mystery and whether or not they were used in combat is unknown. Such is the case with this tank, the Panther F variant. The Panther F shares many similar parts to the Panther G, and (according to Actung Panzer
) sports a Schmalturm (narrow) turret (designed by Rheinmetall in November of 1944 and to be produced by Daimler-Benz). Schmalturm was to mount either a 75mm KwK 42/1 or Skoda's 75mm KwK 44/1 L/70 gun in a "saukopf" mantlet.
There were only 8 hulls and a few partially completed turrets completed by the wars end according to most sources. Other sources say that Daimler-Benz was able to complete and deliver a few Panther F models before the war ended. In the end we may never know if this is truly a paper panzer or one that actually saw limited combat in the closing days of the war in Europe. Either way it's a very rare subject and one that would make a fine addition to any Panther collection.
This kit was commissioned by Cyber-Hobby and produced by Dragon (their big brother). The kit is basically a Smart Kit equivalent as it uses as it's core the DML Panther G which was the first Smart Kit released last year. The kit can be built in one of two configurations (making it a 2-in-1). Either you can make it using the full G top and lower hull as many of the prototype pictures depict the known subject matter, or you can make the production version with the top F hull and lower G hull. The turret of course is the Schmalturm F turret with I believe the L70 gun. The kit includes steel wheels for the internal(?) roadwheels as this was what was spec for the production type. The kit also includes the rubber rimmed road wheels as well for the prototype.
The barrels come in both plastic and aluminum versions. I noted that the aluminum barrel was a several millimeters longer on my kit than the plastic barrel. However they both look very nice indeed. One day someone will explain to me the need to include the plastic barrel when a metal one is there.
Ample photo-etch is included and the larger sheet is clearly designated as "Panther F". The smaller grill covers are the same as those from the G. MagicTrack is also included of course for the tracks.
instructions and decals
The instructions are broken up into 18 steps. And some steps are repeated depending on whether you are building the prototype or production version. All in all (not having built the kit) the instructions do look easy enough to follow. There are 3 paint and camo schemes shown. One single color version for the prototype and 2 hypothetical versions in 3-color camo schemes. The decal sheet includes a jumble of numbers and markings to give the builder a range of unit designations to choose from.
From all appearances another great effort from Cyber-Hobby/DML and one that will certainly please a lot of the Panther and German armor fans out there. I have obviously avoided making and critical remarks on this kit as I am no expert on it. However we do hope to have this kit in the hands of Herbert Ackermans very soon and hopefully we will see a review based on his experience in assembling it. It should prove interesting as he recently scratch-built an F I believe.
The kit had technical assistance from Steven Van Beveran, Tom Cockle, and Gary Edmundson. Thanks to them and Dragon/Cyber-Hobby for making this advanced preview available to Armorama.