S1/76 Panther

Dad Paul B

387 posts

Having got y son started on Airfix Battles (he has a Cromwell done and a Sherman, Calliope and Churchill Crocodile in his stash) I have been looking out for 1944 German Armour. First up was a Panther found at my local show (and built between spray coats of my Victor). Tooled in the early 1960s it is venerable. This was a boxing from the beginning of the Hornby era, though in the late Humbrol style boxing.

The tooling is very basic, not surprising given the age. Also no hatch-open/internal detail though I will need a command vehicle with commander sticking his head out at some point.

Started with the running gear. Separate axles and 2 part middle wheels. Not too fiddly (unlike the Churchill and Matilda I built in my youth).

Some slight misalignments, mainly due to the axles being crookedbut adequate for the purpose. From the side it looks OK.

Underside was painted and given a basic black wash. The vinyl tracks were a minor pain (they were back in the 70s too). The holes for the locating pins had some flash and didn't go together well on one track. Superglue was resorted too resulting in a slightly messy join. They stretched over the wheels without breaking but lacked the 'sag' onto the top of the running gear - an old problem with this type of track and no skirts.

Final build was very simple. Aiming for a Normandy machine I opted for 3 colour camouflage (Brown-Yellow, Camouflage Red-Brown and Olive Green) with a black wash which worked well. Kit decals were used. These were old and took more time to release than modern sheets. Also very basic markings. Still, final result was pleasant.

Being intended for wargaming I need numbers (preferably Panzer IVs and some support vehicles). Most of these, along with the 1/76 figures, have gone from the Airfix site so budding Airfix Battlers will need to go elsewhere. I think Airfix are missing a trick here. Modiphius are paying for the Airfix brand on their wargame and a tie in range of AFV models would be good for both. The new Cromwell is really nice and the styrene tracks are a massive improvement (they take paint for a start and can sit properly, though are fiddly on the sprockets). However existing toolings will be fine for starters, though extra decal options (numbers mainly) would be really useful, though I am thinking of getting a 21st Panzer Division sheet for the Pz IVs when I get some.

Scale is not a huge issue for wargamers so a mix of old 1/76 with modern 1/72 would be fine or all 1/76. Given that we happliy mix old and new 15 and 25 mm figures (modern versions being more like 18 mm and 28 or 30 mm) the variation between 76 and 72 is not huge.

I will be scouring the model stands at my local Air Show next month to see what I can find.

Paul - Classic Jet Fan


1214 posts

You may or may not be interested in knowing that Hannants report new stocks of the Airfix Sherman.

As to the Panther, hint from a Jagdpanther kit I've just bought is to superglue the tracks to the tops of road wheels 3 and 4 numbering from the front.

Though I fly through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am at 65_000 feet and climbing.

Patrick Camilleri

509 posts

Community Moderator

Actually it all depends on whether the tank is moving forwards, backwards or is stationary.  The Panther has its driving sprocket at the front.  This means it "pulls" the top track when moving forwards.  This lifts it up an stretches it in one straight line from the rear idler to the front sprocket.

When it is going backwards the front sprocket turns the other way an it "pulls" the bottom track. with the result that the top track is loose and falls down onto the top of the roadwheels.

When stationary the weight of the tracks themselves pushes them down to make contact with the top of the roadwheels.

Hence it makes a difference whether you are modelling the tank stationary or moving.  

If you search for "Pather Tank First Drive" on uTube you'll see what I mean. 


1214 posts

Cheers; I've never seen video of a Panther (or a Tiger 2 or even a T34) in motion.

Though I fly through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am at 65_000 feet and climbing.


1 post


107 posts

Just finished the 'Classic' Panther, a real blast from the past. It's basically a good kit but the tracks are a real let-down. As mentioned in a previous post the tracks on the old sixties model tanks were usually a diffculty but these seemed to be even worse. The fundamental problem is that they are just too short. Adding them to the tank created visible distortion to the drive sprockets and rear idlers because of the tight fit. Hopefully Airfix can sort this out with any future AFV kit production.

Saying that, it was still an enjoyable build.

Compared to a 1/72 kit from another manufacturer it looks like a poor relation but there's no mistaking it’s a Panther. The main difference in the two kits seems to be the overall height. The Airfix kit could be made slightly taller by tweaking the suspension arms but then the tracks would be a bigger problem.

Finally got the full house of the sixties series 1 Germans. It's a long time since I had all these together.

Let's hope we see some new AFV releases in 2019. Judging by what other manufacturers are turning out their seems to be no end to the popularity of German subjects.

John Symmons

977 posts

Hi Jopres57

Interesting reading about your panther biuld, and your views on those vinyl tracks. I recently made the Tiger 1 also by Airfix and the tracks were twisted in the box. I had to staple then to a piece of very stiff card and stretching them a touch then leave them in  the sun, it worked. ( See my post on a Painted Tiger.). As to short vinyl tracks I recently made the Roden Maultier were the vinyl tracks were way too short by about 5 to 7 mm. and there was no way I could stretch them over the very fagile running gear. Again I clamped them to a piece of hard board after soaking them in very hot water and stretching them by about 12 to 15 mm and leaving them again in the sun. That overcame the tracks hysteresis. I was aiming for 108 mm and the tracks came out as that. they fitted without crunching the running gear. Maybe you could use the same method on  any future builds with Vinyl tracks, you just have to measure the track run first, easily done with a thin strip of paper.


Remember we do this for fun                              John the Pom


107 posts

Thanks John, I was hoping that someone might suggest a good way of extending tracks without distorting them. I suppose the main thing is to check how long they need to be before you connect them up, something I've never tried before now. It does make you wonder though how the manufacturers can make such a basic mistake, or even, in some cases, if anybody tries to actually make a model before they go on sale?

John Symmons

977 posts

Hi Jopress57

I don't think the tracks are manufactured to short I think that the solvent in the warm plastic starts to evaporates after it's released from the mould, and continues to slowly bleed out over the years. This will cause some shrinkage if the part is left free without anything to keep it in it's original state. The Roden example I quoted had shrunk quite a bit as it was a 4 or 5 year old kit, but I also have a much newer released kit that also used the same running gear, and that track looks OK maybe just a millimetre too short. Just a thought. Maybe someone more knowledgeable could add other explanations.

Remenber we do this for fun                           John the Pom

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