Captured Soviet Panther A (Part 1 and 2)

Can you keep a secret ?

I’m going to paint up a decoy tank company. And it’s going to have a Panther. I like Panthers. Always have done ever since I was a child. And it pains me that I always see them on the other side of the table. Threatening me and my precious IS-2s. So it’s time to take the Power back from Chris and have 1 of my own:

I’m not going to go into all the well-rehearsed technical details about the debut of the Panther and its performance throughout the War. I’m only going to look at eligible paint schemes that I’ve been able to find after a fairly diligent trawl of the Web. Whilst conceding that some historical photographs exist to guide you, Battlefront state that captured vehicles provide an opportubnity to ‘let your imagination run wild’. I’m not altogether comfortable with this, preferring instead to root my painting in something vaguely historical. My search has turned up 5 variants of repainted Panther from 3 separate units that can all be conveniently located here:

  • A Pzkpfw V Ausf G of the 366th Guards Heavy SP Gun Regiment. The 3rd Ukrainian Front, 47th Army, vic. Lake Balaton, March 1945
  • Another Pzkpfw V Ausf G of the 366th Guards Heavy SP Gun Regiment. The 3rd Ukrainian Front, 47th Army, vic. Lake Balaton, March 1945.
  • A Pzkpfw V Ausf A of the tank company under command of Gds. Lt. Sotnikov. The 8th Guard Tank Corps, vic. Praga (Warsaw’s suburb), August 1944.
  • Another Pzkpfw V Ausf A of the tank company under command of Gds. Lt. Sotnikov. The 8th Guard Tank Corps, vic. Praga (Warsaw’s suburb), August 1944.
  • Pzkpfw V of the 1st Bulgarian Armored Brigade, Sofia, summer 1945.

Relative to the T34s currently being painted and my time / ability as a painter, I’ve opted to have a crack at the Panther Ausf A under the command of Gds. Lt. Sotnikov, 8th Guard Tank Corps:

Well, my Communist Kitty has finally arrived and I must admit I’m really looking forward to getting started. It’s a nice kit with lots of options: side skirts (which I plan to cut up an attach pieces thereof), open and closed turrets and even a spare road wheel. There’s not to much flash so I should be up and started by the weekend:

Well, 24 hours later and she’s all glued together and in need of a washing-up liquid bath before priming. It’s been a pleasure to work on. I decided to cut the side skirts and fit single pieces like those depicted in the photos and drawing above. I had to work a little with the file to get a neat fit between the tracks and the hull. I’m a little troubled by the large gap the absent skirt reveals but, looking at the wartime photos, I’m consoled by the fact that this really was the case:

I’ve undercoated the turret, hull and tracks black and then sprayed Vallejo Model Air 71017 Russian Green over the turret and 71025 over the hull and tracks. Over the Russian Green I sprayed a light coat of 71006 Camouflage Light Green. I think I’ve cracked the problem of my (admittedly relatively cheap) airbrush spraying in spits and spots: thinned paint. When I thinned the Light Green using 061 Thinner I was able to get a nice smooth coat across the Panther’s turret. This must be compared with the finish on the T34/85s. In some cases, spits and posts don’t look too bad and give a smooth surface some texture, but it’s something I’d like not to see on future AFVs I paint. Finally, I’ve applied MIG filter P242 TAN for tri-tonal camouflage to the turret, hull and tracks. I’m hoping that, despite the two different colours, the filter might help the two separate colours work more effectively together:

Next step is to dry brush the turret with a 50:50 mix of Vallejo 096 Russian Green and 001 White and wash in MIG Dark Wash:

Whilst the MIG wash looked OK on the turret, I was stuggling to like the finish on the hull, particularly around the zimmerit. Here, the dark brown of the wash is very stark against the yellow of the hull. To get over this, without reverting to a re-spray, I dry-brush a 50:50 mix of White and Middlestone over the hull, varying the quantity of the white where greater highlights are needed. Over this, I wash MIG P245 Brown and P242 Tan filters to try and soften the effect. Whilst I’m not altogether happy, the effect is acceptable if a little dirty looking:

Part of me yearns to be able to paint the wonderfully smooth finishes you see on some of the AFV photographed on the Flames of War forum. You know the type. Wonderfully airbrushed, subtley shaded and neatly darklined. But that other part of me, the dark, grubby side, likes the fact that my tanks look lived in :)

1 week on and 2 stay-at-home Snow Days later, I’ve got back to my worktop to resume work on the Panther… The photos below show where we’ve got with the decals. Rummaging through the T34 set, I’ve cut up a set of the orignal Soviet decals to obtain the exact numerals required. I’ve them laboursiously stuck each ofthese on the side of the Panther with meticulous care. It was a bit nerve-wracking but we got there in the end. They’re abit smaller than the photos and illustration show, but it saves me a complicated job. All I’ve got to paint on now is the semi-circle and dot (right!):

With Christmas and New Year over, I’ve returned to the Panther.  Thinking again about the star decal, I went through all my old 1/72 / 1/76th scale kits that have been lurking in a bedroom cupboard since we had the loft insulated.  There, hidden in the bowels of an old airfix bren gun carrier kit, were 2 ‘large’ white stars.  Suitably salvaged, I set about removing the original smaller starts with copious of amounts of warm water, a cotton bud and a cocktail stick.  I was able to do this without damaging the underliying paint-job, but applied a liberal coating of gloss varnish to even out the surface for the ‘new’ decals to prevent silvering. A liberal coating of Microsol to ensure the decal sinks into that zimmerit and I think they look much better:

The tracks have received a coat of Vallejo 179 gunmetal washed with Citadel’s Badab black.  All that remains is to run a coat of Vallejo 168 black-grey to depict the ?rubberised road wheels (can anyone confirm if the Panther A even had rubberised road wheels?):

Finally, the tools on the chassis have been base-painted Vallejo 168 Black-Grey and 150 German Camouflage Black Brown and highlighted with a 50:50 White:Black-grey mix and 135 Beige Brown respectively after reference to this useful photographic walkround of a Panther A.  The exhausts were base-painted Black-Grey and, whilst wet, Vallejo Panzer Aces 302 Dark Rust was mixed in:

Ok, I’m struggling now. The weird oval turret marking was irking me all weekend. It struck me that I could canabalise a white 0 decal from an old 1/72 scale kit and paint in a white line at it’s base and – voila -I’d have sumfink vaguely similar without all the fiddly brushwork. Having done it, I don’t know what I think about it…and when I don’t know what to think about it, I tend to get rid of it.

What’s the general consensus out there? Do the decals stay or do they go?

I finally got some time this weekend to resume work on finishing the Panther.  Taking Mark’s advice, I’ve ploughed on.  I started today touching up the chassis by painting any chipped zimmeritt areas with 167 German Grey and then highlighted with a 50:50 Grey / White mix.  I’m not altogether sold on the idea of having the red oxide primer showing underneath chipped areas that seems so common at this scale.  Looking through my old modelling books, I don’t see any comparable examples and can’t say that I’ve seen it in any photographs or museums. With that done, I gave the chassis a coat of dullcote and returned to the tracks:

To finish the tracks, I mixed MiG Track Brown P414 pigment with alot of water to make a wash that was liberally applied to the treads.  When dry, I ran a damp cotton bud over the raised areas to bring out the bare metal.  I then did a similar wash but this time with Russian Earth P034 and lodged it in all the recesses around the wheels.  I’m conscious that I often overdo the weathering on my AFVs, so I’m determined to keep this to the minimum this time round.  I’ll also finish quicker.  The same treatment is applied to the spare links attached to the rear.

After dullcoting the turret, I dig out a Soviet crewman painted according to our beginner’s guide and glue him into the open turret.

Sealing the pigment on the tracks with MiG Pigment Fixer, I go for a dry run before supergluing the tracks to the chassis:

Looks OK, but notice that unsightly fault line where the tracks meet the chassis?  This would be covered up if the skirting had been retained.  Hmmm, looks ugly.  To get over it, I paint the chasiss black and wash a further mix of Russian Earth and Black Soot P023 pigment onto the top of the tracks to hide the joint:

Not very tidy, but it’ll do the job.  I want to get this done 🙂

20 Responses to “Captured Soviet Panther A (Part 1 and 2)

  • This looks great. I love the Panther…but then I have a German Panzercompany so I would do. Look forward to seeing how this turns out.

  • Thanks Big Lee, it’s an interesting project to work on. Pondering now on how to do those decals…

    By the by, luvin’ your 88s.

  • what’s the problem with the decals? what to put on or how to soften them enough?

    • Well, more a case of what to do with them.

      Option 1: paint everything on and make it look like the photos.
      Option 2: use a white star and number decal and leave as is.
      Option 3: option 1 and option 2, plus painting in the half-circle and dot. P’haps add some dribbles here and there.

      To soften over the zimmerit I’ll use some trusty microsol 🙂

      • Think I’m going to try option 3. Thenumbers won’t be right, but you can’t have everything 😛

  • was rummaging ’bout t’internet other night and found the markings for your tank in 1:35th.. Didn’t think that would be much help but then thought if you had one of those arm things to scale them down you could make your own stencils??

    • Thanks for that. I’ve stick on what I’ve got now, but with the benefit of hindsight I could have got hold of a large US star that the ones in supplied in the T34 pack.

      Still, I think it looks ok. Will resume painting this one after the trees have been finished. Video to be posted ‘soon’ :)!

  • Niels R.
    7 years ago

    I like the idea of using a Panther as a “captured Axis vehicle”. Well done!

    Have you any idea why the turret is green and the body is “khaki”? Did they capture 2 Panthers and made a new one out of it?

    BTW: I only discovered your website today, but I’ve read almost all of it already. I really like the content AND the design! You both did a wonderful job.

    Please keep on the good work so I can have more fun reading times in 2011. ;o)

    Cheers,
    Niels R.

    • Hi Niels,

      Glad you like the site.

      No idea why they painted this one’s turret green, but left the hull dunkelgelb or dark yellow. Perhaps they ran out of paint… 🙂

  • I thought the soviets overpainted the captured tanks with their standard green colour – it would help with identification – but not necessarily completely. So then I thought maybe the hull had been left alone – in which case where was the balkenkreuz? Then I noticed the overpainting of the spare tracklinks so the hull has been overpainted dark yellow as well as the green… curioser and curiouser

  • Panther D, A & Early Gs had the rubber tyres on the roadwheels, as per your walk around pictures. I read somewhere the late Gs had the late model Tiger “steel” wheels in preparation for the Panther F and Panther II models which was planned to have had more part commonality with the KingTiger (possibly the E-series – I dunno); be interesting to see which version of the G Battlefront produce (late version with IR should shake up the night-fighting rules?). It’s looking good and not long to the finish line now so keep up the good work (not that I managed even this much 🙁 I’m more an armchair spectator)

    • just seen the pictures of the Panther G on the Flames of War site 🙁
      Looks like you’re going to have to be creative if you want steel wheels, IR, the extra armour on the mantlet chin, the raised heater box and additional anti splinter armour on the rear decking…

      • Yes, slightly disappointing.

        If you’d like IR on LW Panthers, check out Peter Pig:

        You like?

        • yes I like – I also like the zimmeritt version and after a rummage I also like the Brit para bikes the jeep trailers the various Para jeep versions (but how to use the signals one in FOW I dunno yet) and and and oh and please would someone outbid me on all the eBay FoW company sets before I spend all the rent money and my wife kills me…

  • just seen your question re the decals and markings: don’t think I can criticise anything since I haven’t managed to even get my brushes out for months now 🙁
    Answer really is depends, what are you trying to do? a perfect 1:100 scale replica of the tank in the photos (in which case why no etched brass?) or a well turned out decent wargaming piece representing a captured Panther in Russian service. If the latter I think you’re on track for a winner – you’ve still got some weathering to do I think? For someone modelling a russian army you are agonising over one tank aren’t you? Remember Quantity is it’s own Quality!

    • The latter (get’s off couch and blinks after revelation), you’re right.

      I’m worrying about nothing. It doesn’t look that bad and it’s slowing up production.

      Thanks for the wake-up call! 🙂

      Where are my pigments!?

  • I wonder how he’s getting on with that Panther I thunk to mesel’ … I know I’ll go and take a peek…
    Slow mobile broadband slowly reveals a complete Panther..quick russian urrah! urrah! urrah!… what a tidy job he’s made of that! just a bit of touch up work and some weathering maybe and “jobs a goodun” but wait what’s this??? Slow reveal to “IT’S IN BITS AGAIN!”
    p.s my take on zimmeritt chips is that the stuff was grey, anything that went down to metal; well…went down to metal…

    • Heh…Dry tuns eh? I’ve painted it black tonight and will glue and then weather for finishing this weekend. Don’t fret it’s nearly done and it’s only take about 3 months…these part-time painters, what can you do? 🙂

  • “only three months” eeek you guys are my inspirational wind under my wings – dads who model and game; if you can do it so can I.
    But three months! At that rate It’s going to take me years to get through the model mountain….

    • Perserverance. I work on the assumption that my productivity will rise as my children get older. This means I can ignore them longer without risk of catastrophe 🙂

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