Kit Preview : 1/76 Matchbox JagdPanther Late

About the manufacturer
Matchbox released several ranges 1/76 armor kits in the seventies and eighties. They were characterized by their interesting choice of subject and use of two color plastic. Much of the range is being re-released by Revell (in single color plastic) and this kit is currently on the market (2007).

About the vehicle
Information is pletiful on the web for this machine. Here is the Wikipedia article on the JagdPanther.

Early models had the engine deck of the Panther A (larger 3 by 4 vents) with a small mantlet and Zimmerit. Tools are stowed on the hull sides. Exhausts are 3 on one side, one on the other. There vwere two driver vision slots up to February 1944. Mid production models had the engine deck of the Panther G (small 2 by 4 vents), a larger mantlet and revised ehxhausts with two uncovered stacks. Zimmerit was used up to September 1944. Late models have the raised left intake of the late Panther G, late exhausts (2 chimney stacks), bare sides (all tools being moved to the rear hull plate), the cleaning tool tube moved from the left side to the back of the rear deck. At some point during production the gun was changed from a one piece barrel to a two piece barrel with a fatter base and the muzzle brake was changed to a smaller model. There are numerous other detail changes, all of which make the modeling of a particular model quite a research project. To add to the complexity German camouflage colors changed in late 1944, the base color moving from dark yellow to red oxide (Humbrol 70, much redder than the previous brown) to dark green than back to dark yellow in the matter of months. Late 1944 also the application of the "ambush" scheme with contrasting dots, a very challenging paint job in small scale.

About the kit
This was the first small scale model of the the JagpPanther. It is dimensionally correct but its level of detailing is below current standards. I have a Dragon 1/72 model that will be used as a detailing set. The Matchbox kit has the later deck and gun mantlet, a two piece gun with large muzzle brake. There is no stowage but a faint outline of the stowage racks onthe hull sides. There are no fenders, skirt mountings and skirts. the fenders and skirts are optional but the side mountings need to be added. The Nitto JagdPanther can also provide detailing parts so the Dragon kit is more recent and has better definition. The scale difference is not an issue for small parts. Moreover the Dragon kit has its own scale issues. It has a spindly 88mm gun (the same thickness as the Matchbox Panther's 75mm gun) and an undersize rear hull. The engine deck and rear plate match the Matchbox kit perfectly.

In summary it looks like a neat little kit, which is a good base for extra detailing.