So... WELCOME BACK to the hobby, Pard!
(I returned to this mess back in late 2008 after about 35 years off...) NOT quite like the old "riding bicycles never goes away" bit, but the good old stuff came back fast and I've picked up oodles of great new (to me) insights and techniques from all over these threads! The wealth and adventure await, Sir!
That's a great kit, IMHO - and a very cool subject, too. You should probably just plan from the start on going "full what-if", whatever that may mean (Panzer '46?), I think, as I don't believe any of these schmalturm F ever actually were completed or saw action. Far as I know, while a couple of schmalturm shells were built, they were never completed, as the optics were not fully-assembled by May 1945.
But so what? It's COOL and a great Panther, by me!
PS: This kitty hangs in my stash, too. As I don't yet have the roof armor nor those AA vent-armor bits (the things I think would have really gone onto this were it to have entered the war...) in PE, and I don't want to scratch them right yet... I'm going with a different kitty for this campaign. But there will be another on the Panther, so...!