by: Todd Michalak [ ]
Originating in the 1930’s the Panzerkampfwagen III Sd Kfz. 141 (Pz.Kpfw.III) or the Panzer III was developed to see action against armored fighting vehicles in support of the Pz. IV. However, with the introduction of heavier armored tanks such as the T-34, the roles of the Pz. III became more or less obsolete until 1942, when the larger 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 or 75mm tank gun was added allowing the new Pz.KpfwIII Ausf. N to be more equipped as infantry support until 1943 when all production was halted. The Pz. III hull was continued to be used on the Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun.
• 1 lower hull section
• 5 Sprue containing 144 parts
• 2 Photo etch sheets
• 2 Dragon DS one-piece tracks
• 1 Decal sheet
• 1 Instruction booklet
Upon opening the box to inspect the contents, the lower hull section, labeled on the directions as “X”, is the first piece I pulled out. Extremely detailed, the hull is molded with the torsion bar suspension, return roller mounts and even weld beads on the lower front plate. The inclusion of separate struts adds to the level of detail of this already detailed part.
The next section out of the box is the combo sprue labeled “a”, “b” and “Z”. This contains the upper hull pieces, lights, various detail parts and two slide-molded barrels. The directions do not reflect the inclusion of the50mm kWk 39 barrel in the kit which is most likely for the Ausf L version and will not be needed. As most Dragon kits go, there will be a nice selection of left over parts when the model is completed. In looking at the main upper hull section, I noticed the tow cables are molded onto this section. Other than the lack of an option to include the cables, they do appear to be highly detailed and do not look out of place.
Next out of the box is the sprue labeled “A”. This tree contains the turret and turret ring, turret bin, struts for the lower hull, upper hull construction and the fenders. In looking at the fenders, the first thing that pops out at me was the pre-installed tools, hooks and extinguisher. The lack of an option of tool placement is made up by the crisp detail of the tools and fender in this scale. After taking a good look at the turret there is some really great detail molded into the one-piece section.
The next sprue tree out of the box is entitled “armor”. This contains the schürzen or additional side armor plating for the hull and turret. There is very fine detail on all the side-skirts and turret armor as well as all mounting brackets. The side-skirt armor, which would be four separate pieces, is molded in one section. Modifying the section to depict the individual plating or the appearance of missing plates, could be easily done.
The last large section of sprue is labeled “D”. This section contains all the wheels and drive sprockets. These are highly detailed to just about the same standards that you would find in 1/35 scale. The definition between the rubber and the steel rims on the road wheel, as well as bolt heads, are all present.
The last section of plastic parts to look at is the section labeled “C”. This is the instructions suggested commander’s cupola. In the kit, Dragon supplies a cupola version with the split hatch and a one piece hatch version. All of the depictions as well as all of the photographs I searched through, with the exception of the box art on this kit, show this hatch as being a two piece split hatch and not the one piece. Both hatches are here in the kit and you can decide which you wish to use.
Next I pulled out the two photo etch sheets supplied in the kit. The first sheet contains the intake grills that go on the rear deck which have very fine details in the grating. The second sheet contains an upgrade to the front armor located on the upper hull.
Out of the box next is the decal sheet. This sheet contains the marking for one of five different marking schemes:
• 2.Pz. Div. Kursk 1943
• 6.Pz.Div Kursk 1943
• 18.Pz.Div Kursk 1943
• Pz.Brig. Norwegian, Norway 1945
• Pz.Abt.212 Western Front 1944.
The final pieces to look at from this kit are the two, one-piece DS tracks. These DS tracks may have a slight variation in track length due to the elasticity of the tracks themselves. Stretching the tracks if short, or, cutting off some links may be needed.
Upon beginning the construction of this kit I noticed right away there were a few issues with the directions. There are a few mislabeled parts as well as a few omitted steps. I will outline many of these to aid any viewers of this review in constructing their kit.
Overall, the parts on this little kit just seem to fall together. The molded suspension into the hull makes for just about a one-step assembly of the lower hull. Once the wheels are cleaned and assembled, with very little effort, the complete assembly took just a little over an hour and a half.
The one-piece fenders make for quick installation too. Even though the onboard tools are molded to the fenders, the detail of the fenders makes up for this. Once the upper hull section is constructed, the fenders and topside go together with a great fit in minutes.
The turret is outlined fairly well which make for quick assembly of the turret, mantlet and barrel assembly. I chose to cut and sand off the grab handles on the top of the turret and install handles made from some fine copper wire. The only trick to assembly with the turret I found was the schürzen. Removal of the bracket for the turret as well as the hull schürzen is a careful process. These are tiny, very delicate parts and you should take care when removing these from the sprue. Once these brackets have been installed, the model is basically complete and is ready for a little paint before you know it.
I was thinking the painting process would be much more problematic than it was. Using AK Interactive’s Dunkelgelb Color Modulation Set the little tank just comes alive smoothly. I decided to depict this build in one of the suggested concepts outlined by the direction. I chose the version based on the 6.Pz.Div. from Kursk in 1943. This uses the application of camouflage and the usage of the schürzen.
After the paint came a little weathering and a final mount on a small base. I added some mud to the base and the lower section of the hull using AK Dark Earth, European Earth, Dark Mud Wash followed by a few dabs of Wet Effects Fluid. Finally I added a small amount of vegetation from Armor Farm and the build is complete.
For the purposes of informing anyone who wants to or will be building this kit, below is an outline of discrepancies with the directions as the way I see it
1 – The part labeled ‘A5’ is used on the rear of the lower hull and is not labeled in the directions. It just appears attached in step 2.
2 – In step 2 the parts labeled ‘b12(b11)’ should be labeled ‘a10(a9).
3 – In steps 3 and 4, the instructions show the installation of lights on top of the fenders. I chose to move these lights to the front of the glacious plate. However, there is evidence to support placement of the lights in either location. After searching through several pictures of the Ausf. N variant, I noticed the difference in the location of the lights on many tanks. This could be for a number of reasons as there were many Ausf. J’s and M’s converted to the N at this time.
4 – In step 4, the construction of the right fender, the bracket used to hold the antenna in the down position is supplied in two versions in the kit. One if you wish to depict the kit stowed or in the up position.
5 – In step 5 I chose to not install the two parts labeled ‘b7(b8)’. These are covers installed on top of the intake grills on the rear deck. I have seen many more N versions of the Pz. without these installed. Once I had installed the supplied photo etch grill screens I liked the look of them without the covers.
6 – The kit supplies two versions of the drivers hatch upper hull section. I chose the one not outlined in the direction as this seemed to more closely match the N variant. The kit suggests part ‘b10’, I used the part labeled ‘a3’.
7 - In step 7 the schürzen brackets that are outlined in the exploded picture for the schürzen construction have the numbers reversed. ‘B13’ and ‘B15’ are to be installed on ‘B8’ and ‘B14’ and ‘B16’ get installed on part ‘B7’.
8 – The kit supplies two commander’s copulas. The parts labeled on ‘sprue C’ are suggested. However, I found no evidence that this was ever used on the N variant. The parts labeled ‘A8’, ‘A9’ and ‘A10’ appear to be a close match to the copula installed on the Ausf. N. This does not mean the suggested parts are incorrect, I just had not uncovered any evidence supporting this.
9 – The lower hull schürzen labeled ‘B13’ and ‘B14’ are shown being installed on the opposite sides than the way they should be installed. Just reverse the two and all should be good.
10 – Please note the right rear fender flat is not installed in the mold. There are two choices within the kit. I chose to leave this off to add a bit interest.
Research sites used: