by: Matt Flegal [ ]
introduction Between Dragon's Panther Ausf.F and Trumpeter's E-50 there are now many Daimler Benz Schmalturm's modeled out there. However, the preceding design by Rheinmetell is far less well documented and certainly not available in plastic. Thanks to Real Model, it is available in resin.
history In late 1943 plans were being developed for a new turret for the Panther series of tanks with a smaller front as well as an integrated binocular range finder. Development was moving along at Rheinmetell until the spring of 1944 when it was transferred to Daimler Benz for reasons lost.
the kit Real Model provides three parts to use on your Tamiya Panther (or Dragon or probably anyone else's) Ausf.G. The turret is solid cast with a deep hole under the cupola opening, a mantlet, and a cupola hatch. The rest of the parts (handles, hooks, MG barrel, etc.) will need to come from a donor kit.
turret The turret itself is well molded, with the various angles nicely symmetrical and the edges crisp. Casting is very good with a few tiny air bubbles. The armorplate texture is overdone, with the sides showing a few fairly deep gouges from a motor-tool bit which is a shame as there is also a nice pebbly texture which works much better. The underside of the turret is very rough, both on the round plug that fits into the hole on the hull but also has an irregular surface on the bottom that needs to be sanded down to sit well on the hull. One nagging issue is that there are no periscopes in the housings on the cupola and that is very obvious. I will probably be cutting the cupola off of mine with a razor saw and replacing it with one that has the periscopes from the donor kit. The welds are well done, as is the detail work on the turret roof.
Mantlet and cupola The mantlet is mediocre on mine, being both warped but also asymmetrical which is noticeable. Replace it with the one from the kit. The Tamiya barrel does fit into it easily though.
The cupola hatch fits easily and is well molded. It's a simple part but well done.
ConclusionOverall, this is a nice turret to differentiate your late war Panthers from the rest of the herd. Personally, I'm putting mine on an E-50 as it will be in a display with a Dragon Panther F and the Trumpeter ScmalTurm suffers in comparison. A motor tool will be helpful to grind down the underside so it fits in the kit hull and some Mr. Surfacer to tone down the turret sides' armor plate is probably a good idea as well.