Dragon
1/72 German Panzer Crew
plus Panther G early production w/Zimmerit
Kit Number: 7363
Reviewed by  Scott Hollingshead, IPMS# 34786

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MSRP: $19.95
Web Site: www.dragonmodelsusa.com

Let me begin this review by stating that if you like 1/72 scale armor, you are going to love this kit, as Dragon has once again set the standard for others to follow. Included in this little gem is not only a Panther G model tank with molded on zimmerit, but four multi-part figures, and a sprue full of extra parts that include gas mask canisters, bread bags, ammunition pouches, entrenchment tools, and more. The level of detail in the kit is right on par with their 1/35 scale kits, but will take up much less space on a shelf.

Typical for the latest releases from Dragon, there is a painting on the top cover (an inset of the painting used on the 1/35 "Achtung Jabo" figure set, and a pen and ink drawing of the side of a Panther G, and photos/CAD drawings on the sides and bottom of the box. There is one sprue of parts for zimmerit covered front and rear hull panels, mantlet, turret, rear turret panel, and hull machine gun cover. Included in the kit is a nearly identical sprue with the same parts, but lacking the zimmerit coating. There is also a sprue that contains the multi-part figures for this kit (three of the figures consist of six parts, one has seven) that replicate the 1/35 scale "Achtung Jabo" figure set released a few years ago. On a cardboard "extras" insert in separate plastic envelopes there are decals, a small PE fret, a small length of metal tow cable, and the two tracks (made of the new Dragon Styrene 100). All totaled, there are over 215 individual parts in this kit, making the price per part relatively inexpensive, if you look at kits that way. I found very few flaws on any of the moldings in my sample, just a little extra flash on a few of the individual parts. There is also a direction sheet and suggested paint numbers for Gunze and Testors paints.

To the best of my knowledge, Dragon was the first company to release kits with molded on zimmerit, and this makes modeling far easier for those wanting to show a tank with the paste installed. I cannot imagine the challenges involved with trying to do this yourself in 1/72 scale, so this really is a greatly appreciated release.

[review image] The level of detail with the parts included in this kit is outstanding. You are provided with PE lifting hooks to install around the fan intakes, but the molded on hooks for the other hatches look just as good. I also appreciated things like the engine compartment, which cannot be seen through the PE screens, but the hatch above the engine can be positioned open, to at least show the engine. I did opt to use the included metal tow cable rather than the all-plastic parts included on the sprues (there are eyes for the cables on the sprues that attached easily enough).

As far as what I would consider "misses" on this kit, I would question the turret as the back edges of the sides seemed to go past the rear plate a little too far, and seem rather thick for this scale. I also ran into some difficulty when I added the main gun barrel to the mantlet and turret, as the directions were not clear enough for me. Finally, I found that my tracks were about 1/8 inch from properly meeting to allow me to cement them, so I left them installed without glue.

Aside from the level of detail, my "hits" would be the figures, the presence of an engine compartment and radiators, the metal tow cables, and extra parts. The use of the Dragon Styrene 100 for the tracks should also be a hit, as you should be able to use regular plastic cement to join them, but as I mentioned, mine were a little short.

Overall, construction was straightforward with my only issue involving the mounting of the main gun and mantlet to the turret, as mentioned previously. Although I finally did get this part right, there is very limited up and down movement with the main gun. As there are side skirts provided (these are nicely thinned on the outer edges), no one outside of those reading this review will know that the tracks are not glued together. The figures also went together just fine, but you need to pay attention to the directions to get the heads installed properly.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to those who enjoy building 1/72 scale armor. The level of detail in this kit was like nothing that I have previously experienced in this scale with other tanks. Dragon obviously uses parts from this kit for other Panther variants as well, as there are two extra main gun barrels, mantlets (including one for a Jagdpanther), and several exhaust variants just to name a few.

I want to express my thanks to the folks at Dragon for providing this kit for IPMS to review and allowing me to do this evaluation, and to you for taking the time to read it.

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