Tamiya 1/35 Panzer III ausf L

KIT #: 35215
PRICE: $46.00 SRP
REVIEWER: Jack Bruno


Updating Armor in the Second World War was as crucial as the development of new Tanks. It kept the current situations at bay giving time for new weapons to come online and even updating armor add-on's in the field. The Panzer III and Panzer IV were two of the many units/vehicles that underwent changes during the War. Be that it's chassis was adapted into an Assault Gun or just plain up gunning to stay in stride of the complete surprise that the KV's and T-34's were to them in those opening moves of Barbarossa. In 1942 the Ausf. L came on the scene and featured more armor, in the form of additional add-on panels for turret and front hull, and a better gun recoil system. Also the escape doors on each side (in between the tracks) were removed as were the turret side ports and loaders vision port. Also it was the first of the Panzer III series to see the inclusion of a machine gun mount for anti-aircraft use. This was also included on further Panzer III's and Panzer IV's.   Other internal revisions were made and according to my research 653 units were made. The Panzer III Ausf. L was used on all fronts and earned respect from Africa to the Steppes.
                   I've always loved pre-1943 German Armor in the Dark German Gray scheme. A whole new world opened up for me when Dragon/Tamiya started to Issue new molds of the Panzer III and Panzer IV, the  true workhorses of the German Army. During the rearming of Germany and up to 1943, the standard German paint scheme was Dark Gray. It wasn't until the Spring of 1943 (pre-Kursk) that it was changed to Dark Yellow and then allowances made to use camo at will.  The Panzer III Ausf L that I did this time around is a Unit on the Russian Front during the Winter of 1942/43.  This is the time and area that the Germans will never again achieve success in the East. The Fall of Stalingrad has already happened and the Americans have not started to impact that much yet......the German Veterans already know Victory is not going to be achieved..........the Russians have taken all that they could give them and still come at them wave after wave.
                  The kit is magnificently done and is very close to a shake and bake kit...........follow the instructions and you are in the money.....but here is when the fun starts. Screens were added over the intake ducts and Tamiya makes a set just for this kit and the Stug III Ausf. G.........it also comes with a screen for under the rear deck which you really can't see but should be added.........they are cheap, so just like Nike, do it!!!! 

During your construction of the hull never forget the wire electrical leads that go to the lights/horn and siren.....most people forget those but if your building a contest kit, you better . I use small gauge solder wire. It bends really well and mounts with no problem. I've dated girls like that too. Deviating from the instruction I added a couple of steps that are optional, yet were almost alwayz used in the Field,  a Stowage Rack. I made this one different from others that I've done in the past. I secured seven small strips of photo-etched brass that were actually the holding strips that held parts from other sets. Normally you would toss this away, but we Armor guys never throw stuff away. I cut them in equal lengths and bent the end portion to be used as the mount to the rear deck. I super glued these in place and I added green putty around the posts and tapered it with a tooth pick to look as if it was welded on. Then, I took six cut pieces of bass wood and secured in place........simple as that. There were thousands of ways to do this and feel free to experiment with it. Nothing you do is wrong. I got most all of my ideas from pictures....such as the welded fuel drums on T-34's ;)  (all off the Internet) 
Since I was going to use the fantastic set of Dragon "Magic Track, Winterketten", I decided to cut the fender after the right drive wheel. I did this not only to portray battle damage but rather to highlight the track.  The German crews envied the maneuverability of the T-34 in weather conditions due to the width of the track which gave it superb handling in snow. Whatever the case, it looks cool!!!!   Magic Track is e most fantastic thing ever produced for an armor model. These two runs took me only three episodes of The Big Bang Theory to complete and test fit with that panzer sag. Again, search the net for a picture to get your sag right. Conditions and vehicles were always different. I use the Model Master glue in the Black bottle and long neck for this. It allows enough set up time to have a great session. Again, I knew some awwwwwnevermind....but I did.  I put the lower hull with the mounted tracks off to the side to dry and started the turret. 
The turret is very detailed already and the only thing that I added was strip plastic (or wood) along the sides of the stowage box. You see a lot of this in pictures and it's because the radio's were shorting out when the antenna's were striking the metal stowage bin....hence, crews added wooden strips to prevent this.  It's the little things that you do that make good things happen.  The gun was cleaned up with Flex File and no problems were encountered here. Then again, I've built enough of these and hardly use instructions anymore. The Additional Armor that was added to the III Ausf. L was in the form of spaced armor on the front turret.  It came out great but also leads to several possibilities .I've seen several pictures (again, search the net) with the "face" of the armor being off.  Thinking about doing that for a Afrika Korps version.  After all of the kit parts were place on "ELLE", I started to test fit several stowage pieces that I keep in the stash box. Too old for stash, but that's a different story. I got the look I wanted and off she went to the paint shop......
I painted, as always, the entire model Flat Black.....I removed and sprayed the turret first and then the Chassis.  Remember to treat the bottom of the Tank just like the rest of it. After a good 24 hours I gave it a real nice "misting" spray of German Dark Gray. I used the Tamiya color for this. Then in just a few minutes I shot a Vallejo medium Gray and just covered the inside panels. In the same sitting I took a lighter Vallejo Gray and hit the top of the turret and chassis to give it a faded look. The stowage was painted at this time and only a few what I call "Buffer" colors were used.  My theory is that I want to add some kind of color to enhance the overall scene.  When this was all dry I Futured the kit for decals and wash.   My usual wash is Windsor-Newton Dick Van Dyke Brown. Love the stuff, and the show..........taking a larger brush I had fun applying it over the kit and letting capillary action do it's deed. Smells great too.  As it dried I started to work on the base that would consist of groundwork with three layers of Baking Soda added to give the illusion of several snowfalls.  When the primary wash was was dry I painted the tools with a buff color and after that dried a bit took a small amount of Oil Paint, raw umber, and streaked the tools giving them a real wood look. These would be sealed under the flat coat so you do have plenty of time to make adjustments. I like to use burnt umber on a separate tool just to mix up a bit for the sake of being different.  I did use more wash around the tread plate/fender/tool areas and on the area where feet would be walking over.  After a few dayz of working on the base and letting "ELLE" dry, I started other projects that I'll show you soon.   When I was satisfied with the overall look, I flat coated the kit and started the second round of weathering.
                           I found myself liking pigments more and more so I started with a bit of Russian Earth and applied it by brush over the tracks, wheels and under the chassis. To fix them into place I used an eye dropper and Tamiya thinner. A little goes a long way so just put a drop down and let it take it's coarse. When this dried it looked really cool and I added some Dried Mud for the turret roof and upper points of the Tank. Again, seal/set them with Tamiya Thinner.  More attention was given to the track as you use more pigments to give it a more used look.  I also used a pencil to give some metal wear on the handles and track area. All of a sudden you are finished except for the snow.   I use Baking Soda. I apply a little at a time and on some area's I apply a little wet wash and cake it up a bit.....not much, just enough.  The cool thing about this is you can take a brush and remove it and start over if you wish. Then, I used a few dabs of Elmer's Glue and set it on the base.
                             I had a lot of fun with this kit and enjoy a Winter Scene more and more. Next time I'll utilize a white-wash and work that in but this was to portray a First Snowfall and it did come out better than I thought it would.  I was very pleased when it took a Gold Medal and Best Armor at the November Butch O'Hare Show in Chicago.  It placed in Murfreesboro too.  So use your imagination and have FUN for crissakes!!!!!   Until next time............................

Jack Bruno

February 2014

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