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135
Panther D in Transit

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When I started up modelling again, my wife asked me "what are you going to do with them once you're finished?"

I didn't have a good answer at the time, but in the interim, I decided to look for real-world ways to display the kits I build. Reading Wolfgang Schneider's Tigers in Combat, I was struck by how often the Germans moved their tanks into battle (and backwards in retreat) using the Reichsbahn rail network and tracks laid down over the wider Russian railroad gauge. In fact, the Tigers were so wide, crews had to remove the outer road wheels and equip the tanks with special, narrower "transit tracks."

Fortunately, the Panther wasn't as wide as the Tigers and could fit onto a heavy-duty flatcar without special tracks or modifications. And good news for modelers! Dragon put out a styrene version of the four-axle, medium-duty Schwerer Plattformwagen Typ SSy 60ton ("Heavy Flatcar Type SSy 60 ton") that was used to transport the Panther (the Tigers required a still-heavier six-axle flat car). Unfortunately, the kit is OOP, so when I found one on the Internet, I pounced.

The flatcar kit comes with a fairly unrealistic styrene molded roadbed, which I replaced with one made of styrofoam covered with different grades of gravel, all held together by white glue. Making the road bed was one of the trickier parts of the entire build, since I wasn't sure what size gravel to use. I tried real gravel, but ended up using model railroad ballast, which is more to-scale and easy to find in any railroad hobby shop. I would put down a layer of glue, then sprinkle on gravel, layer upon layer until it looked "right."

The tracks included in the kit were fine, especially after painting the rails with Testor's Model Master buffing metalizer paint (gun metal), then highlighting the places where metal-to-metal contact occurs with MIG gun metal pigment (it's just graphite, so a soft #2 pencil will work, too). For the ties, I used a light base color, followed by drybrushing with darker oils. I used the same technique on the wooden flatcar bed, but with different overcoats.

The usual combination of pigments and washes followed to give the whole car a look of heavy usage (including splinters caused by the tank treads). A few leftover Friulmodel track pieces, some Tamiya gas drums (improved with Aber PE brass ends), some scale medium-weight chain to "tie down" the tank, along with linen twine to act as rope for securing the gas drums, and the whole thing looks ready to roll.

The Panther D kit itself is heavily-altered with AM PE sets and accessories, including:

Friulmodel tracks
brass tow hooks (though I used the kit's base metal hooks in the rear)
Archer dry transfers
brass radio mast
PE anti-aircraft armor for the air intakes
an AM PE cleaning rod tube
a turned metal barrel with brass muzzle brake

It turned out the AM barrel was wasted, since I put a "cloth" cover over the muzzle brake once I decided to put the beast on the rails (the cover is tissue "painted" with white glue). I banged up the Schurzen, wrecked a few of the tools and tried to give the whole thing the look of hard, fruitless fighting, including "damaging" the molded-on Zimmerit and cutting out dings in the rubber road wheels. If you compare the "before" and "after" photos, you'll also see how I had to re-do the PE transit lock for the barrel, which is shown in the "open" position in the photos of the unpainted model.

Again, the usual washes and pigments give the tank the look of long service in the field, including three shades of "rust."

If I can find another one of those Dragon flatcars, maybe I'll do up a brand-new Panther heading off to the Russian front. And if I can find the money for the Tank Workshop Schwere Plattformwagen Typ SSyms 80ton, I'll put one of my Tiger kits on it!
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About the Author

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.


Comments

That's a cracking job, Bill. Lovely finish all round, and some great attention to detail. One minor niggle (if I may): You appear to have taken the gravel right around both ends of the track section, leaving you with a piece of track all on its lonesome, rather than giving the illusion of it being part of a continuous railway line. That's the only criticism I'd level at it. Otherwise - superb work. - Steve
MAR 30, 2010 - 03:46 AM
Steve, thanks, that's a good point. I didn't come up with a way of creating the illusion of continuous track (and my wife said if I put in a length of railway in the basement to replicate reality I'd be sleeping on the sofa from now on! ). The Dragon track & embankment set that was included with the flat car is identical, I just scrapped the styrene embankment and created my own with styrofoam and gravel.
MAR 30, 2010 - 04:05 AM
Very nice build, Bill. Only the muzzle brake cover seems a little tight, but that is a very small thing. Great small diorama with great details overall, but especially on the base and the stowage which are realistically tied down. Thanks for sharing your great job
APR 08, 2010 - 11:39 PM
Very nice! I agree with Jesper, the muzzle cover looks tight, although, if he hadn't mentioned it, I probably would not have noticed. My question is would a real tow cable be flexible enough to wrap around the block the way yours is? I don't know, just asking. Again, very nice work!
APR 09, 2010 - 12:11 AM
The resin muzzle brake covers from Tank Workshop, for example, are quite different, but I preferred to make my own. Perhaps I should thicken it? I saw a photo of a cable wrapped around the jack block like that, but I'm not sure if it was from reality or another model.
APR 09, 2010 - 04:18 AM
Very nice work Bill. Good to see something out of the ordinary. What kit is the rail car? Regards, Colin
MAY 14, 2010 - 03:29 AM
well, if it has been bumped: A very nice build Bill! looks very realistic. in re. of the muzzle cover, we used to try and get it as tight as possible so no dirt could enter, so I think it's OK.
MAY 14, 2010 - 03:39 AM
Bill, very nice dio. The details and weathering are amazing...Vince
MAY 14, 2010 - 04:15 AM
Very nice work Bill, it looks very realistic. I built the same flatcar with the Pak 43 that was entered in the DOM contest lat month. I used railroad ballast and cut my own wood base since I was not happy with the d one included. I thought that Dragon re-issued this flatcar recently, and believe I saw it on Sprue Brothers. I would like to see Dragon come out with the 6 axle car so I can put a Tiger on one.
MAY 14, 2010 - 05:04 AM
Thanks, Ernie. I'm sure the moment I order the Tank Workshop 6-axle car, DML will announce theirs, LOL! And congrats on the DMOM! Thanks everyone, I'm glad it pleases you. It's the old DML car.
MAY 14, 2010 - 05:31 PM