The German Panther II project was started in 1943 in an attempt to deal with the short comings of the new Panther. The project was cancelled with some of the design upgrades being incorporated into the Panther G series. One prototype Panther II chassis was completed and is currently on display in the Ft. Know museum in Kentucky, USA. This is a "What If" kit of a possible Jagdpanther variant based on the Panther II chassis and is the first Panther II kit of any type in plastic released since Dragons 1994 kit. The closest this subject has been addressed was with FCM's Panther Zerstorer resin conversion for the Tamiya Panther series back in the '90's.
12 Plastic Sprues
Separate Upper and Lower Hull in plastic
3 Photoetch frets
Copper wire for tow cable
As a Paper Panzer fan, I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing Amusing Hobby was releasing the Jagdpanther II, with the Panther II coming shortly. This is my first Amusing Hobby kit and I was impressed by the quality of parts, not to mention the overall low parts count, other than the tracks. The molding is quite good overall and very nice on the tracks. Weld seams are particularly well done with both torch cuts and welds nicely represented.
The 9 step instruction manual is quite clear and well laid out in the typical armor assembly sequence, starting with the suspension and road wheels. It should be noted that when comparing the suspension locations, Amusing Hobby did their homework and it matches drawings from Panzer Tracts, No. 5-4: Panzerkampfwagen Panther II and Panther Ausführung F by Jentz & Doyle. The earlier Dragon kit suspension is way off. That's about all that I used the reference for as the rest of the kit is supposition.
The torsion bar suspension is made so as to be somewhat workable providing the swing arm end isn't glued. The detail on the ends of the swing arms facing outward is disappointingly simplified and plagued by sink marks due to the way they were molded. Fortunately, little of them will be seen once the wheels are mounted. A separate part for the swing arm/torsion bar attachment point would have been preferred, even if it were just a small plate that attached to the swing arm.
Wheels and hubs are decently represented. About the same detail level as the old Dragon kit, so not nearly as nice as Dragon, Meng or Takomís King Tiger steel wheels. The drive sprocket is the 18 tooth version and the idler is the same late type Dragon used. The idler mount keys into the lower hull and, unfortunately, is not adjustable without work. While there are no poly caps, the all wheels can be made to rotate with careful assembly.
Many hatches can be positioned either open or closed and have interior detail, though there is no interior with the kit, not even a gun breach. Tools are all separate and are decently molded with the fire extinguisher being very well done as well as the multi part jack. Tool clamps aren't really represented on any of the tools, which is sad considering the level of detail elsewhere. The jack block had some nice raised wood grain detail with is pop with some weathering.
The tracks are crisply molded and are in multiple link segments that may be made workable with very careful assembly. The intermediate sections and outer links attach by very dainty pins to the main link and are sandwiched to it by a separate cleat section for the main link, an interesting if not very delicate and labour intensive way to assemble tracks. There is an assembly jig provided although a small one. The instructions do indicate how many links per side are required, though as the idler is not adjustable, some fiddling may be necessary.
All the small parts are well done, even the antenna. The glaring exception to this is the spare track hangers. These are rather thick and clunky looking. The hanger brackets do not appear to stick out far enough to hold the spare tracks properly and have enough room for a retaining pin (not included). This could easily be fixed with some sheet styrene. There are no secondary MG's or AA guns. There are no figures with the kit.
The photo etch is nice but limited. You get a couple of tool holders, some stowage box latches and engine deck screens. While the screens are etched to look somewhat like woven screen, they are not as nice as more aftermarket types such as Aber, Voyager, Loin Roar, etc. they are much better than Tamiya though. The side skirts are photo etch and look the right thickness. There is also two large screen sections the can be used to replace the late two sections of side skirt, as shown on the box art, but there's no mention of them anywhere in the instructions other than the parts map.
The decal sheet included two types of balkenkreuz (German cross) and white outline, red numbers from 1-0. There are no unit or other markings. There are no instructions for decal placement. Also included is a 4 page, full color paint guide with 4 camouflage schemes and MIG color references.
This looks to be another great kit from Amusing Hobby of yet another Paper Panzer. Assembly appears to be easy and straight forward other than the tracks. While no placement instructions for the decals was odd, a quick look at online reference will easily guide modelers to the most likely places they would have been put. I would recommend this kit to anyone who loves the What If/Paper Panzers or who just wants something different.
Highs: Very interesting new take on an old prototype, accurate suspension layout, overall nice molding, clear instructions.Lows: Complex track assembly, some oddly clunky details and parts, no decal placement instructions.Verdict: Looks to be a great kit. Simple enough for beginners, other than the tracks, but has lots of opportunity for the super detaining and scratch builders to add on to.I look forward to Amusing Hobby's Panther II when it arrives!