The Jagdpanther was the tank destroyer variant of the Panther (the name means literally "hunting Panther"). While there is debate about the best tank design of World War 2, most experts consider the Jagdpanther the very best tank killer, period. In addition to its sloped armor that repelled most enemy shells, it mounted the high muzzle-velocity 8.8 cm KwK 43 gun (also found on the Tiger II). Even though the Elefant and Nashorn also carried this same gun, the former's gargantuan weight made it unsuitable for all but open field fighting (as well as susceptible to mechanical failure), while the latter was an open-topped AFV that crews didn't enjoy very much during aerial strafing.
First developed in late 1942, the Jagdpanther did not go into production until January 1944. Initially most served on the Eastern Front in special anti-tank battalions designated schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung
. Gradually increased numbers produced resulted in their showing up elsewhere, first in Normandy and later during the Ardennes offensive.
The differences between the early and late versions of the Jagdpanther (usually referred to as G1 and G2) primarily relate to the mantlet, gun shape (1- or 2-pieces) and rear engine deck. Dragon has released two Smart Kits for the G1 or "early" Jadgpanther: one with Zimmerit that follows an older and one without that cries out for an after market solution (both Atak and Cavalier make Zimmerit for the DML kit). Alliance Modelworks has released their own set of photo etch designed to upgrade either kit with everything you'll need for the build.
what you get
Inside AMW's usual zip-lock baggie suspended from a stiff cardboard hang tag are:
6 frets of high-quality PE
4 sheets of doubled-sided instructions
Just as the Jadgpanther tank destroyer was really a variant of the Panther G1, this PE set is in many ways a descendent of AMW's excellent PE set for the Panther G (reviewed by me here on Armorama
). It sports some of the same features, including three types of exhausts and the amazing AMW tool latches that come on a greenish carrier film.
These tool latches are something of a modeling breakthrough: instead of having to cut the parts off a brass sheet (with the inevitable distortions in shape or sharp burrs that require filing), you simply lift them off the slightly sticky film. It doesn't make forming the latches any simpler, but it's one less headache you have to take aspirin for. Some of you who are skittish about trying PE should invest in a set of these latches as a first step (available directly from AMW
Other excellent features of the set are delicate engine grills, heavier-gauge brass for the side skirts or Schürzen
, and several variants of exhaust pipe configurations. Consult with your sources before moving forward. Some may object to the gun cleaning tool storage tube coming as a flat piece of brass that requires some work on the part of the modeler, especially since at least one other manufacturer offers the tube pre-formed.
AMW's reasoning for this is that after annealing, the brass will form easily into a tube, and that otherwise, it would be too thick for modelers who might want to show the tube open at one end. Fabricating a pre-formed tube for that eventuality would be impossible given current PE brass technology.
I'm very impressed with Alliance Modelworks' efforts to remain engaged with their customers, and to provide them with information usually lacking with other PE set makers. I understand that most of the other companies are offering solutions to a polyglot world, whereas AMW seems focused on the American customer. Still, there's something very satisfying about getting information. The instructions don't just give you alternatives, but explanations. The three types of exhaust mounts include a Panther A variant, for example, since these vehicles were produced by different factories. The company website also includes tips for working with PE and a blog that addresses a variety of issues and features.
With a half-dozen PE makers already in the marketplace, the question of how one decides which sets are "worth the money" isn't easy. While this set isn't the cheapest on the market, it has some of the best-quality brass I've seen, the easier-to-work-with tool latches, side skirts (often an extra item with some makers), and excellent directions (in English with real words and not just symbols). Every modeler must decided for himself or herself what set is "right " for them, but this one lacks only a turned aluminum barrel and brass muzzle brake to be all-inclusive.
Thanks for Alliance Modelworks for providing the review sample. Be sure to mention you saw this item reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.