Sunday, 28 June 2015

Panther G Night-Fighter from Dragon Models

My most recent project has been some very late war German vehicles.  The first was aPanther G with Vampyr Infra-Red gear. Dragon 1/35 model, mostly from box.  Wanting something striking and unusual, I chose a camouflage scheme as used by Panzer Division Müncheberg in Küstrin in March 1945.  At some point these vehicles and Panzergrenadiers were equipped with the infra-red gear used in limited quantities towards the end of the war.  Müncheberg fought all the way into the centre of Berlin and were defending Zoo flak tower.  Their last tank was a Tiger 1 disabled on Unter den Linden straße just in sight of the Brandenburg Gate.

As a point of interest I include a photo below.  A fascinating photo in that it shows an almost entirely early version Tiger with the original wheels and cupola. 

The Dragon kit model is an older kit now but the only I know of that models the infra-red gear fully in plastic.  The equipment was initially used only on the commander's cupola as 'solution A'.  Later sights were to be added for the driver and gunner 'solution B' but there's little evidence to show whether it was actually done in the field.

I chose the following colour scheme as seen in a couple of photos.

The kit was built almost straight from the box with only the addition of brass mesh on the engine deck.  I found the tracks to be a lot of work to assemble.  These are not the modern smart track links and tended to be a very tight fit with a very minor flash or mould lines being a very big problem.  Tracks and wheels were painted before assembly and patched up afterwards.

The rest of the vehicle was a quick, efficient build as I'd expect with a Dragon kit..  Once undercoated with dark green I then roughly worked out the areas to be brown and painted them in hand.  Ragged lines between the green and brown would not matter as they would be neatened up by the straight yellow lines between brown/green.

At this point I was a bit concerned, the brown and green were not that easy to discern and the whole thing looked rather messy.  I masked areas off to leave the strips that would be yellow and pressed on.  This model used Vallejo colours 70.882 'Middlestone', 70.826 'German camouflage brown' and 70.979 'German camo Dark Green'.

Once the tape was removed the model rapidly went from being something looking very rough and ready to a neat and pleasing effect.  A little patching up was required and hand painting over awkward areas that the tape would not conform to.  A fine black wash was applied to lines and recessed areas and a drybrush of light grey to bring up raised areas.  A very gentle weathering process for now which I intend to revisit when I have several vehicles to display together. 

Overall a decent kit other than the tracks which were a lot of work.  The kit also did not include side skirts which I felt was a bit cheap. There are a couple of minor issues, as I understand that one of the stowage bins on the back was specifically changed for the infra-red vehicles and yet these are as the standard model.  The camouflage scheme I was very happy with and the green and the brown are far more distinct with the yellow stripes, making for a striking model.  I plan to continue these colours onto other similar vehicles to display together.

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