The Ausf D can be identified by two main features. It had a straight sided “drum” commander’s cupola, with viewports for periscopes low down on the side, and there was no hull machine gun mount. Instead the crew machine gun was fired through a narrow slit in the hull front.

The Ausf D was developed as the Ausf A, but its designation was changed before production began in January 1943. Tests on the first few machines revealed a large number of flaws with the new tank. Most seriously the engines caught fire and the final drive chains broke, in a worrying sign of the mechanical unreliability to come. The issue of new tanks stopped in April, and all existing tanks were recalled for major modifications. Only in May was the Panther ready to go back into service, equipping the 51st and 52nd Panzerabteilungen (Panzer detachments).

By the start of Operation Citadel these two detachments had 96 Panthers each, and the Germans had great hopes for them. The Panther did not live up to expectations. Fifteen broke down before even reaching the front. After three days 40 tanks were still in front line service, and three days later, on 10 July, that figure had been reduced to only 10! Very few of the missing 182 tanks had actually been written off (23 had been destroyed by enemy action and 2 by engine fires). Nearly 160 tanks were under repair at the time, with enemy action and mechanical failure responsible for roughly equal numbers of losses. The Panther had failed as an offensive weapon.

The Panther soon proved itself as a defensive weapon during the Soviet offensives that followed the battle of Kursk. Here its thick armour and powerful gun made it a very effective weapon, and it would be in this role, during the two years of defensive battles that followed Kursk, that the Panther would earn its reputation. This kit the Panther Ausf. D by DML/Dragon around 2002. It contains 473 parts (461 in grey injected styrene and 12 in .010″ grey styrene).which includes individual track links. This kit a dream to build,and the panels went together very nicely. Rather than use etched metal for the skirts, the kit came with twelve pre-punched 0.010″ styrene skirts that attach to the brackets on the hull. They are probably a tad thick in scale (being equal to around 1/3 of an inch or 8mm in scale) but are probably much easier to deal with for younger modelers and people who just want to built the kit straight out,in which I did. For the paint scheme,I used Military Models in Review,Issue# 29,based on the Italian Campaign.The paints I used were Vallejo acrylics,which went on smoothly,and used Hudson and Allen for the pigments. This kit was built around the time the kit came out,many moons ago. I still get a kick looking at it.

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