Dragon 1/35 Jagdpanther early production variant
 
Original plans for the Sdkfz 173 were for the name Panzerjaeger Panther I understand, but it seems that it was a 'suggestion' from Hitler that it be called 'Hunting Panther', or Jagdpanther, the name we know it by today.  Using the Ausf G chassis, some 382 Jagdpanthers were built between 1943 and the end of the war. The only mechanical change from the basic tank chassis was the use of the AK 7-400 gearbox., planned for use in the Panther II project.  Armed with the 88mm Pak 43/3 L/71, the Jagdpanther went through 3 slight variations.  The early ones used a welded collar around the gun mounting, along with a monobloc (single piece) gun barrel.  However, it seems that barrel wear was uneven, and to ease things a bit for changing barrels, it went to a 2-part gun barrel next.  The third variation was a simplification of the welded collar, and the later ones had a larger, bolted collar around the gun mount instead.
 
Well we saw the poster, and we saw photos of the built model, now we see the kit itself.  Dragon have now released their early production variant of the Jagdpanther, and have given it a new coat of zimmerit.  The zimmerit finish is subtely done, and clear pastic is left where you have other hull fittings to fix in place.  With the monobloc barrel or the 2-part barrel included in the kit, you can choose which one you go for, plus it has the smaller, welded collar.  It uses their Ausf G hull and running gear, which we have seen before of course, so there are a good few parts in the box that get consigned to your 'spares box'.  With clear plastic parts for vision devices, and marking options provided for 6 alternative schemes with good quality transfers as ever.  Add etched brass mesh for the engine deck screens, and braided metal cables for tow cables, this is well presented.  I also like the provision of the torsion bar suspension.  Even though it isn't seen in the finished model, it helps people get more of an understanding of how the real AFV was built, and the workings of torsion bar supension.  The one love them or hate them element for some will be the inclusion of their DS styrene tracks, not individual links.  Some may choose to replace them with metal single link alternatives, but the detail they get on this DS material these days really is pretty good.
 
All in all, another cracking kit from Dragon, and it makes up into what was one of the finest tank hunters to be built during WW2.  Had more got into service, who knows...  thanks to Dragon Models for our example.
 
For full information on all Dragon products, please see their website, Dragon Models Ltd.