Dragon recently launched their 'Smart Kit' series with the release of the Panther Ausf.G. The series turned out to be a success, offering as it did, easy to assemble, accurate kits with the minimum of photo etch necessary to produce an accurate miniature. This has left the door open however, for the aftermarket sector to produce the extra photo etch that modeller's may want. Following on from their photo etched schurzen set, this is a more general photo etched set for the Panther G.
Included in this set are two reasonably-sized frets of photo etch, and four sides of instructions. Again the instructions are reproduced smaller than we're used to, with two sides to what used to be contained on one side of their instructions. Whilst not tiny, they would be more legible if they went back to the old size. With this set from Eduard we are expected to perform minor surgery on the Dragon kit to make full use of it, for example the first modification is to the two front fenders, where the kit ones have to be cut off. The Eduard ones have to be bent to shape of course, and then the ribs are formed with a ball point pen on the reverse side. I've used this technique before, and it does look very effective. The advantage of course, is that these photo etched fenders offer a far more realistic scale thickness than that of the kit plastic parts. In addition, they can be bent and damaged more realistically should you wish to do do.
Many small improvements are offered for kit parts, such as new hasps for the rear wall stowage bins, and rectangular surrounds for the periscopes. There is also a new bracket for the Bosch headlight, which again, means you'll have to carefully shave off the moulded bracket on the kit part. The same goes for the jacking block which gets all new straps. All the on-vehicle tools are supplied with photo etched clamps, since Dragon did not supply this option in their first Smart Kit, and neither did they supply a set of tools without moulded-on clamps, unlike their latest, so again, removal of the moulded on ones will have to be performed. There are also replacements for the racks that hold the tools in their typical arrangements on the hull sides.
There are a couple of very small improvements supplied for the exhausts, and also a new rear convoy light that just requires you to supply a centimetre or so of styrene rod..........nice bracket though! The strips that hold the brackets for the spare track links along the hull sides at the rear are supplied as photo etch, along with the brackets themselves of course, as well as small photo etched retaining pins and chains. Checking the size of these, fitting them empty will not be a problem, but actually putting spare track links in them might be..........an area I had a problem with on the original kit. There are new lifting hooks for the engine deck supplied, but these do look a little 'flat', even though they are constructed of a double thickness of photo etch. The cleaning rod case gets new handles for it's ends as well as new hasps, but unfortunately only one hasp per end when there should be two.
On the turret we get a new fragment shield for the top of the mantlet, a couple of new brackets, commander's sight and a rainguard for the rear escape hatch. We are also offered a new set of grills, but unfortunately these really don't even come close to the standard of the kit supplied ones we already get.
A nice comprehensive set that will certainly lift your Panther G to another level. Be warned though, that it does contain things you won't use, such as those grills. So recommended with those reservations.
Eduard have produced this photo etched set in response to Dragon producing their 'Smart Kit' series, which by definition only contains the minimum of photo etch necessary. Having said that they still included parts that are already included as photo etch in the original kit, such as the engine grills.