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Built Review
172
Flakpanzer 341
Dragon Models 1/72 Armor Pro Flakpanzer 341 mit 2cm Flakvierling
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by: Jan Etal [ TREAD_GEEK ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

With Allied air superiority growing as the war entered it later years, the German leadership recognized the need for more modern, mobile antiaircraft vehicles to protect their ground forces from marauding Allied aircraft. In 1944, Rheinmetall-Borsig started the development of new Flakpanzers based on the Panther chassis. Three variants were originally envisioned armed with 20, 37 and 55 millimeter guns. Preliminary work on the variants was begun by Rheinmetall in January 1944. All envisioned mating the Panther hull with new fully enclosed, rotating and armoured turret.

The projected final production version turret was intended to be mounted on the more modern Panther ‘G’ chassis; however the increasing demand for gun tanks eventually led to the entire program never reaching the production stage. This kit represents what would have been the projected final version on a Panther ‘G’ chassis. This variant planned was intended to mount four Flak Vierling MG 151/20 antiaircraft guns and is the subject version for this review.

The subject of this review is the Dragon Models 1/72 Armor Pro Flakpanzer 341 mit 2cm Flakvierling, kit #7487.

Contents

Contents of the box revealed five bagged styrene sprues in the standard Dragon Models light grey colour. Two larger sprues were contained in one bag and are the same as those that are found in Dragon Models Panther ‘G’ (#7205, #7206) kits. Two smaller bags contain the upper and lower hull pieces and a further medium sized bag contains the parts specific to the 20mm Flakpanzer 341. A final bag contains two lengths of Dragon Models Styrene (DS) tracks. There is also present a small sheet of Cartograph water-slide decals with generic German crosses in two sizes.

A four sided instruction card is provided displaying a parts diagram, two pages with four assembly steps in the form of exploded view CAD images with arrows for parts placement and one page showing painting and markings. The painting and marking pictures are for two tanks with the first having a two colour camouflage and the other a three colour camouflage. The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.

Sprue contents and breakdown are as follows.
  • A - 62 -Suspension components, running gear and side skirts.
  • B - 8 -Flakpanzer 341 specific pieces.
  • C - 52 -Panther hull details.
  • D1 - 1 -Upper Hull.
  • D2 - 1 -Lower hull.
  • E - 2 -DS tracks.

The total kit parts content is 126 of which 40 will find a home in your spares container.

Review

The first thing that stood out while inspecting the sprues is that all the crew hatches on the hull and turret are moulded on in a closed position. Despite this, the older ‘C’ sprue had a couple of pleasant surprises. The most notable being a part that represents the inner engine compartment with its fans, radiators and engine block. The main engine compartment hatch is a separate part and ideally could be positioned in the open position to display the interior.

All the external upper hull stowage is provided as separate parts. Granted, some of the tools are represented in clusters but should still be easier to paint than the moulded on variety. Another nice touch often missed with recent kits is that styrene spare tracks are provided for mounting on the rear upper hull. They are even of the correct size and contour to match the DS tracks. The 20mm guns have very fine detailing and even have their bores hollowed out thanks to slide-moulding.

While delicately moulded towing shackles are provided as individual parts, all lifting eyes in the hull and turret are semicircular moulded on projections of plastic. No PE alternates for these or other details are provided as in some past Dragon offerings (included with previous Panther G).

Sprue connection points (gates) are all over the place as far as size and location is concerned. Several parts on the older Panther sprues (A, C) not only have larger connection points but with some parts there are several vent gates on a part that will need to be cleaned up as well. A few of these are downright huge and will require even more careful clean-up. Ejector pin marks are mostly on surfaces that will not be visible after construction.

Flash is not absent on the kit parts and especially on the older two sprues. Most should take minimal effort to be removed. The ‘B’ sprue that contains the new turret parts had minimal flash evident.

IMPORTANT - While the ‘B’ sprue with all the turret pieces has the ‘B’ identifier tab on it, all references for assembly in the instructions identify the turret sprue and parts as being on a second ‘A’ sprue.

As with any model build, it will serve the builder well to study the instructions and determine the best construction order prior to having glue meet plastic. While the instruction steps for this kit suggest or imply a general building sequence, the timing of attaching the individual parts will be left up to the individual. As an example, fragile and any delicate part placement should probably be left until nearing final finishing.

Of the four construction steps the first two are the busiest. Step 1 has the entire hull and all it’s associated pieces entirely built. However, in this reviewers opinion, it is probably more logical to leave joining of the upper and lower hull until after the rather intricate suspension, complete with tracks in place, is completed.

The suspension is the focus of Step 2 and is fairly complex when compared to that of the recent Panther D (#7494). The construction process will require some planning as the construction sequence is not all that clear in the pictographs. There are also some deficiencies as far as parts labelling is concerned. On the review sample the inner halves of the rear idlers (parts A19) are not identified on the sprue. The road wheels shown to be A18 in the instructions are identified on the sprue as A1. It will be the responsibility of a builder to compare the parts specified in the instructions with the sprue diagram to ensure they are selecting the right parts.

Step 3 has the entire turret assembled but only involves eight parts. Final assembly of the model takes place in Step 4. During this step the tracks are added, the hull rear plate with its accompanying detail pieces are attached, the turret is placed on the hull and the side skirts are glued in place.

Build Observations

As there are numerous build logs of the earlier Dragon Models Panther ‘G’ kits on the Internet, this review will mostly concentrate on the new turret. However, after reading a number of these reviews I’ll just say that the hull is not without a few problems, primarily gaps needing to be filled due to parts not fitting the best. There is also an issue with the front machine gun’s ball mount (C20). The recess for the ball mount in the front upper hull plate is quite a bit larger than the mount itself so it will require quite a bit of careful filling.

Dry fitting the interleaved suspension parts showed that the various wheels had an adequate fit, with only the innermost road wheels being a bit loose. The idler halves however were a bit of a nuisance as they each had a fair amount of flash around the ejector pin areas and vent gates. In two cases the flash was so thick that it formed semi-circular projecting plugs of plastic (perhaps due to the age of the mould?).

The turret itself has a fair overall fit to the pieces. The gun barrels are nicely detailed and have a hollow barrel end but will require extreme care with removing them from the sprue and during clean-up. Indeed, their small size and fragility will undoubtedly cause problems for more than a few builders.

Parts A2 And A3 are internal mantlets into which the gun barrels are mounted. Part A2 is used for the upper pair of guns and is quite small, while A3 is noticeably larger and should prove easier to handle. The barrels have a half moon shaped projection at their end that fits into a similarly shaped hole in each mantlet. The fit was extremely sloppy or loose and the modeller will need to make sure that in the end, the guns remain parallel to each other and properly oriented. On each end of the mantlets is a circular “pin” that is inserted into semi-circular depressions in the turret top (A1). Once placed into their locations the lower part of the turret (A6) can be attached.

The lower turret part has four internal projecting lugs of plastic that are meant to insure that the mantlets remain in place, even dry fit, these lugs hold the mantlets such that the guns will remain at any elevations chosen. Ideally, the gun’s elevation can be changed after the bottom is glued but there is quite a risk that doing so could break one of these very delicate parts.

Unlike a few recent kits, this kit has the turret lugs that prevent the turret falling off or needing to be glued. The fit of the turret to hull is snug but not excessive and it will allow for rotation. It should be noted that while the turret details have some very decent moulding, the modeller might want to enhance a few areas. The periscope openings on the commander’s cupola are moulded open but some of the openings are not perfectly rectangular. Another point is that the lifting eyes on the turret front are represented by solid plastic projections. A few minutes work with an appropriately sized drill bit in a pin vice could open them up to create a more appropriate look.

Conclusions

With this kit we see Dragon Models combining something old with something new to create an interesting “paper panzer.” As the hull and the lower suspension are from the venerable previous Panther G kit(s), those that have built one should expect no surprises other than the need for increased clean-up due to the age of the mould. The turret, while having a simplified construction, seems quite appropriate based on images one will find on the Internet.

While not exactly what one might call a “quick build,” this kit is simple enough for even a beginning modeller. For the more skilled builder there is quite a bit of opportunity to enhance it. Since this was not a production vehicle there is great potential for a builder to use artistic license for any embellishing of the basic form and colour scheme.
SUMMARY
Highs: Very interesting and unique vehicle. Nicely moulded on details and separate stowage pieces. Internal detailing of engine compartment. Open cannon bores.
Lows: All crew hatches moulded closed, no PE and less than intuitive instructions.
Verdict: Despite some faults, should build up to be a very interesting model to add to any collection.
Percentage Rating
78%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 7487
  Suggested Retail: $19.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 08, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.51%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Jan Etal (tread_geek)
FROM: ONTARIO, CANADA

I've been building models since about age 10 with the occasional hiatus due to real life events. First armour model was a 1/76 Airfix Tiger I and was followed by a 1/72 Revell F4U Corsair. I've built primarily 1/76 and 1/72 armour and aircraft but occasionally have tinkered in other larger scales....

Copyright ©2017 text by Jan Etal [ TREAD_GEEK ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Darren, My thanks to you and whoever else was involved for getting the review of this rather unique "Paper Panzer" posted. Cheers, Jan
OCT 08, 2013 - 12:44 PM
what happened to Dragon? They used to make GOOD 1/72 kits
OCT 08, 2013 - 02:20 PM
Jan, Thanks for this review and as the other person commented, it's rather disappointing. It looks like an interesting kit but why cutting their standards. I will admit that the turret looks cool but...It's reviews like this that make this site great. Regards, AJB
OCT 08, 2013 - 06:11 PM
Another admirably thorough review from you Jan. The name "341" - I wonder if that is correct for this particular design concept, as I see that same tag is applied to another design of Flak Panther in the Jentz / Doyle Osprey book Panther Variants? I must admit however that the accounting for the various names is a little bit confusing. They seem to refer to what now seems to be widely known as Coelian, as 341, while the name Coelian doesn't arise at all in that book. Have you decided which scheme you will be going for yet? My vote is for "Nuremberg, 1945"... Unsurprisingly, your observations are remarkably similar to the kit I am currently preparing the review for, the 5.5cm Flak, and which will be quite hot on the heels of this one... I will however try hard to say something other than what you have covered here!
OCT 09, 2013 - 07:35 AM
@Sgt_Pickle and weathering_one, Thanks for having a look and commenting. The purpose of these reviews is hopefully to help you make an informed purchasing decision. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- @firstcircle - Matthew, In my research the naming of the different versions of these Flak vehicles definitely proved confusing. For the sake of continuity I've referred to these vehicles by Dragon's box top name. One reference suggests that all these vehicles were candidates for a production vehicle that was to be initially referred to as Flakpanzer 341. Another, that these vehicles were part of a competition and the "winner" would have been referred to as Coelian. However, most Internet sources refer to the Coelian as the 37 mm gunned version. Similarly, it is suggested on a few sites that Flakpanzer V was the "unofficial" name for the 37 mm version. Go figure! As for the painting scheme, I am at this point undecided. However, this paint issue caused me to re-examine the instructions and in particular the colour references and it appears that I made a mistake. While the first two paint references have always been for the GSI Mr. Color range and the third for Model Master, with this particular kit the third reference is for Italeri Paint No.? Now it gets even better! The reference numbers for the most part are for Model Master paints as the Italeri numbers are in the 4000+ range and also have a letter or two appended after them. For the "Nuremberg, 1945" scheme the base colour (the reddish brown) is called "Russet" with a number of 2063. After a quick search the only 2063 paint out there is a Model Master and it is "RAF Trainer Yellow Gloss"! The Dragon instruction inaccuracies strike again! Pertaining to your review of the 5.5 cm version, as with the paint issue, I'm sure there is something that I might have missed in my previous Flakpanzer reviews. I will be curious to read and see how the turret compares with the other two and whatever else you and the Jentz/Doyle book may unmask. Cheers, Jan
OCT 09, 2013 - 11:22 AM
Jan For the sake of continuity I've referred to these vehicles by Dragon's box top name. Quite right, and I wasn't suggesting anything else Another, that these vehicles were part of a competition and the "winner" would have been referred to as Coelian. Seems a bit odd as I thought all of these designs were coming out of Rheinmetall or a subsidiary. Similarly, it is suggested on a few sites that Flakpanzer V was the "unofficial" name for the 37 mm version. It sounds like a generic name - presumably V referring to the fact that it is based on the PzKpfw V. Nevertheless this is really just a quite enjoyable diversion into speculation, since none of them were built even as prototypes. I was trying to work out what Coelian means - apparently it is one of the seven hills of Rome, which used to house an imperial garrison as well as important residences and temples. I guess that figures, they did have a bit of a "thing" for ancient Rome. Italeri Paint No.? I wonder why they have started to quote Italeri paint... not that I have ever seen their brand of paint anywhere. So, I think you should definitely go for a finish of "RAF Trainer Yellow Gloss"!! Pertaining to your review of the 5.5 cm version, as with the paint issue, I'm sure there is something that I might have missed in my previous Flakpanzer reviews. Well, maybe... I'll try, even if it is merely the result of another one of my construction errors...
OCT 11, 2013 - 07:25 AM
Matthew, I believe that the key word with this topic is speculation and then it gets cloudier as one attempts to "interpret" the limited information about these projects. Perhaps the most solid fact is that there were Wehrmacht requirements for a more modern antiaircraft system but they weren't all that detailed. My guess is that Rheinmetall-Borsig designs were trying to give several options "and run them up the flagpole and see which would elicit a salute!" At for the question of any being built, there are images of a Coelian prototype on the Internet. From what I can tell it is based on a Panther D hull and the turret was made of wood. I wasn't even aware that Italeri had their own brand of paint but it appears that it might have been introduced earlier this year. As with the Flakpanzers, there is quite a bit of speculation about who actually is making the paint. As for the colour, if I chose the scheme that you prefer I'd probably end up trying to mix my own. While the colour is referred to as Russet, a Google search showed that it can be anywhere from a pinkish-red to a darkish red-brown. on the instruction sheet it is quite different from the red-brown used for the second vehicle. My first impression was that it might be a primer often seen used for engine compartments on German vehicles. Cheers, Jan
OCT 11, 2013 - 11:06 AM
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