Caveat - this is a bit of fun, don't boil your wee and then write in to Avia Towers over what is a tongue in cheek look at the allure of the heavy metal death machine. Geraldine the office lady is a sensitive soul and righteous indignation sets her shingles off, and frightens the cat.
"Hello folks at world"*
Now I know what you're thinking, (yup, mind reading - another of my many talents) this blog thingy is about aeroplanes and photography (with occasional silliness thrown in), so why am I bothering armoured fighting vehicles?
In fact why am I seriously contemplating the idea of building a 1/35th scale tanky?
Well chums, it's like this. . .
I've been working from home for a while now. It can be a tad quiet and just a bit isolated some days, but it does allow me unfettered access to the magical world of You Tube of a lunchtime.
Of course, I normally browse for 30 minute slots of sifty goodness which contain aeroplane model-making techniques or British Rail diesels from the 70s.
Trainspotting, along with Matchbox pocket money kits, flying kites next to power lines and swimming in disused gravel pits was a major part of my childhood.
Even British Pathé News clips of jolly people in grey clothes making globes or novelty rock by hand gets a look in.
But tanks? Really?
"I say Esme, keep your hat on, Geraldine is quite entitled to express her opinion on welded mantlets, no need to lose one's shit".
But You Tube has other ideas and seems to know via various nefarious algorithmic chicanery, that I am also a lurker on podcasts about land warfare. One podcast in particular, is the sublimely nutty and ever so informative We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast. The tireless work of Al Murray and James Holland, it's a sort of weaponised Morecambe and Wise with the weekly episodes containing an eclectic mix of technical tomfoolery and seriously engrossing tales of derring do.
I don't recall them talking specifically about a Jagdpanther, but I do know Mr. Murray gets anxious about interleaved road wheels. In fact there's a Tank Museum You Tube post where he becomes quite belligerent about the Jagdpanther's progenitor. . . and yes, Panthers (in all their guises) were mechanically sulky, petulant things. They were over-engineered to the point of complex ridiculousness by a country that had neither the supplies of the exotic metals or the bottomless lakes of fuel needed to power the things; but they are gosh darn sexy.
All in the best possible taste
"Wait, you think a large beige coloured steel box containing five blokes in new-romantic togs is, to quote, 'sexy'? You need to see someone about that sunshine".
Well, yes, but we're talking machine aesthetic 'sexy'. Curiously mechanically attractive in the same way that you might possibly describe a Sten gun, or a Gresley A4 Pacific or the Batmobile as alluring. Argumentatively, I believe this sublime state of hot looking mechanical design aesthetic applies to all German armoured vehicles and aeroplanes. (Ok so some of the sea planes are a bit odd, but the He219. . . I rest my case).
By the same token, the Cromwell or Churchill are not and never will be 'sexy beasts'. I don't care that it's got a reconstituted Merlin engine, and sounds like Ray Winstone on Capstan full-strength. . . and as for that mobile tea caddy. . . In fact, no allied armoured thing could remotely be described as 'sexy'.
Could you honestly say that even the Sherman, that All-American cheerleader is, well even a little bit 'desirable'? And as for colour, "will that be in your usual green sir?" Sheesh.
Less "sets yer pulse racing", more "charging - clear for re-sus".
Anyway, ah yes the slinky alluring Sonderkraftfahrzeug einhundertdreiundsiebzig, or Hunting Panther.
I'd never really considered making models of tanks (it's not really technically a 'tank' but we'll get to that in a bit) because in early childhood I was exposed to the sublime yet deadly beauty of loud, fast, pretty, mad, bad and dangerous to know types of aerial killing machine. Blame Bob Todd and John Gregson, but tanks just didn't move quickly enough, they probably are a bit smelly and you can't wear a white silk scarf in one either.
But then along came the Jagdpanther. . .(actually it first came along in 1978, bought with my paper round money, and moulded in a psychedelic 1/76 scale styrene, but that doesn't count).
In the boys book of machine aesthetics, this cold-blooded killing machine is pretty fine looking man. In fact it possesses that rare quality in a machine where it looks good from any angle, while also suggesting in a darkly malevolent way, that it's rather good at what it's designed to do too. That is putting holes in the other teams hardware at ridiculous ranges.
It's so fine lookin' man, it's somethin' else. It's John Lydon encouraging you to deface the local bus stop after downing a litre of Diamond White, while the other lot are still shuffling their feet to Emerson Lake and Palmer with a half of mild in their grubby mit.
It's wholly probable that the man with the box of designer crayons was doing shake and vac and vim cocktails to come up with this way back in 1943. . . (either that or he'd been visited by aliens, or had access to copious supplies of Tremmler Werke's finest speed).
Of course the armchair historians and pre-pubescent 'experten' will decry the complex mud collecting suspension, fritzy (sorry) final drive, thirsty motor and the utilitarian interior (this 'aint no Buggati, although it does share a distinct lack of visibility with that fire breather). They'll also bang on about the trans issues because hey, it's an ambush weapon and cannot lay the gun onto the target via turret traverse. So moving the vehicle and thereby putting extra strain on the delicate transmission (made allegedly from reconstituted sweetie wrappers in a shed behind the Kassel branch of Aldi)* is also 'bad news' and loses points in Top Trump tanks.
Yeah, but Mr. REME man in your snug fitting onesie, while you were bemoaning the limitations, it's ventilated a dozen of your beloved Churchills and has now gone for a nap.
They look the dogs bollocks, they fit my still childish 56 year old notions of comic based warfare (arrgh! ieee! and gott-in-himmel!) and are borderline seventies sci-fi in their wedge shaped imperial-ness (is nothing sacred?) too.
To bump up the allure quotient, they also come in a fetching array of colours, the Rotbrun-Olivgrun and ivory is particularly striking and sets off the discerning owner's autumn wool collection by Hugo a treat.
Get to the point ya muppet
So anyway, "its. . ."
A Meng PzKpfw 173 G2 Jagdpanther is paddling its way across the South Pacific from HLJ in Japan as I tap away. Nice.
Apparently the first production run comes with a steel barrel, a raft of PE and about 1000 track links. I may be exaggerating about the track links but there are hundreds and they come with separate guide horns two on each cleat. Gadzooks.
Do I go for an alternative track set?
I was rather taken with these from Rye Field Model as they appear to come with three-piece road wheels and separate tyres. The cost though?
But it's early days, I'm still to lay hands on the kit and see what all the online fuss is about, plus take possession of a set of figures from Master Box for a StuG III to be repurposed, reposed and breath life into the big cat.
More random jottings as and when it turns up.
In the mean time (and before I get back to the Coastal Command Beaufighter), here's a restored Jagdpanther in authentic markings.
Kia kaha, go well.
Anthony - May 13th 2021.
*According to an oral statement from H.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654 (currently in Grafenwöhr) Jagdpanther with modified lateral transmission gears (Leutnant Rosenfelder) have traveled 400 - 500 km without suffering any damage. However, a great tension has been detected in the sprockets.
— Der General Inspekteur der Panzertruppen Nr. 3706/44 g.Kdos
PS: on a serious note - The We Have Ways podcasts are really excellent entertainment and enlightening on a wide gamut of military and subjects. Do check them out if you're new to this.