Panther Ausf. A Late Production, "Black Knight"

Published: July 4th, 2011     
Reviewed by: Robert Folden - IPMS# 45545
Scale: 1/35
Company: Cyber-Hobby
Price: $41.95
Product / Stock #: 6624
Product provided by: Dragon Models USA

"Die Erzahlung des Schwarzen Ritters", translated as The Story of the Black Knights, is a popular comic book series set in WWII. The series follows Oberleutnant Ernst von Bauer and his 8th Tank Company known as the Black Knights. The series begins in the fall of 1943 on the Eastern Front, and follows the unit through the end of the war as they change vehicles several times (the unit uses Panthers, Panzer IVs, StuG IIIs, and even Jadgpanzers). The Panther A enters the story early on, after the unit loses their Panzer IV's in a battle with the Soviets. By luck, they find several Panther A's and fight back, repelling the "Reds".

Dragon has released numerous offerings of the Panther A over the years, and now under the Cyber Hobby brand comes this latest special edition kit. The special edition kit is part of a 5 part series. Each box has special comic inspired art work and includes a limited edition figure of the Oberleutnant for the commander's copula, as well as a second full figure. The full figures can be joined together to make up the Black Knight tank commanders being inspected by the Oberleutnant. The kit itself is the Dragon premium edition of the Panther A, including photo-etch, DS tracks, and stamped aluminum side skirts. The kit also includes special Black Knight decals allowing the builder to choose the turret number.

The construction of the kit went without issue. I will caution that some of the PE parts are very delicate and not easy to work with. These include the tow hook pins and the spare track pins. The PE chain for the gun travel lock also gave some trouble. By far, the worst issue was the side skirts. I first glued the brackets into their locations on the hull, and when I went to hang the skirts, I found the first and last skirt on both sides did not line up. I recommend leaving the two end brackets off until you get the skirts in place, and then add them on.

For markings, I went with the Oberleutnant's tank. The decals were some of the best I have seen. The numbers, for instance, have virtually no edge film, and actually have the centers of the zero removed. A little decal solution and a flat coat and they look painted on. I decided to heavily weather the Panther, as the comic has the Black Knights finding the Panthers during a battle. I figured they would get pretty dirty and banged up, with little care at the time. So I gave the tank a wash, followed by rust chips and streaks. I finished up with some airbrushed weathering powders to simulate mud.

I usually don't bother with figures in a Cyber Hobby kit, but this time I decided to build both figures. I did add some Eduard Pre-painted badges to finish them off. The Oberleutnant fits rather well in the turret, and both figures had excellent fit, with few seams to fill.

Overall I am very impressed with the kit. I also have the StuG III, and plan on picking up the remainder of the series. My thanks to Dragon Models USA for providing the review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it. Happy Modeling.

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