Tamiya 1/35 Panzer III Ausf J Early

KIT #: 35215
DECALS: I guess there were some in the kit
REVIEWER: Jack Bruno
NOTES: Conversion with the usual ton of aftermarket.

 None supplied. Check the internet. Ed
               And on the Third day, God created TAMIYA armor.  Well, that's not what the Good Book says, but suffice to say I was in Heaven building this. Nothing thrills me more than building a German vehicle that's base coat was pre-1943 German Gray. There's just something about it that draws my attention.  The Panzer III along with the Panzer IV were the work horses for the German Armored Divisions for a substantial part of the war, mainly the early to middle years. When DRAGON released the Late J several years ago followed by most of the other early versions, (the G, H and E) the Early J stood neglected. One of my favorite Units was the Horse Rider Insignia of the 24th Panzer Division. This Units Early J's were unique because of the Tool Box that was located at the rear of the engine deck. Every picture that I've seen of the 24th's early J's had this variation. TW came to the rescue with not only the back date Conversion for the TAMIYA Ausf. L, but also released two resin tool boxes that served my purpose and just told me that this was meant to be.  So just kick back and enjoy yourself and imagine watching Units of the 24th Panzer embark on the opening stages of Operation Blue and ending with the Divisions destruction in the epic Battle of Stalingrad.
To begin I started out using the TAMIYA Panzer III L and took what I needed from this kit and cleaned the parts up from mold seams and flash. I then broke open the TW Conversion and carefully separated the resin parts from the holding blocks. Be careful when doing this because there were no extra parts included. Using the ACHTUNG PANZER Book on the Panzer III was the only reference that I needed. They include line drawings for the early J as well as the late J. There are significant differences between the two such as the engine deck, turret armament (short barrel) and tool placement on each side. I never knew how much of a difference there actually was until I viewed the plans. The next step was mounting the hull to the chassis. There was much filing, sanding and a little tweaking to get the right fit. I used the slow drying superglue for this task. The engine deck was very fast after the parts clean up and before you know it I was attaching thin solder wire to the headlight leads as well as the siren and horn. These are neglected on most kits I've seen built up and I wanted to do this puppy the way it deserved to be. Next to be added was the fine TAMIYA Photo-Etched screens that are mounted over the vents on the deck and one below rear deck above the exhaust. These went on without a hitch and really stand out.
The Turret was next and simple substitution of parts was all that was needed here. The gun housing was conducive to the short barrel gun which was simply inserted courtesy of JORDI-RUBIO.  The turret and bow machine guns were drilled out at this time too.  Small conical bolts were added to the rear turret ports on each lower right side as the drawings had them and the kit makers did not. I used resin bolts by VERLINDEN and just cut out the size I needed.  I left the wheels off and took it across the basement to the paint shop.
If you've followed a few of my articles you'll note that I always start my painting with a complete flat black covering of the subject. This was no exception and I started using progressive shades of gray starting with the darkest first. This effect really stands out and the pictures just do not do it justice. I then sealed it all with a glosscoat of Future and decaled the tempestuous vehicle. After the decals dried I took a brush and sealed them with Future and let it sit and think about it for a day.
The next day I mixed a fresh batch of Windsor-Newton (WN) VanDyke Brown cut with Turpentine. I gave the bad girl a thorough wash and after it dried took a new pair of cotton panties.....leave me alone....and wiped it clean. In the hard to reach area's I used a cotton swab or brush with some turpentine on it. I'm telling you I love it when a plan comes together. Next on my agenda was putting the tracks together. This took the better part of a few hours. The set I used was FRUIL ATL04 with the hollow horn. I got these from a modeler friend, Greg Metge, owner of Great Hobby Adventures in West Des Moines, IA.  When both runs were done they deserved to be punished too.....so each got a flat black base coat followed by a dark gray.  After they apologized I gave them a Future treatment and WN wash using Burnt Sienna this time.  There's nothing like that sweet smell of oils.
Being a loyal shopper at my local Goodwill Store, I picked up a beautiful base for a lousy quarter. I told the guys in the club that it was actually wood from a Stalingrad ruin......they bought it.  I mixed a batch of celluclay with some white glue added just because I could.  I masked off the area to be covered and applied it. Following this goose-step I went out to the curb and gathered some pebbles and residue and pressed it into the still wet clay.  While it was still a little moist a day later I pressed the tracks into it. This effect gave the tank some illusion of weight. I dated some girls that had that illusion, but that's another story. At this time I sprayed a few shades of brown over the base and using some diluted white glue, added VERLINDEN static grass on a small section. Now, your supposed to blow air across the grass to make it stand up. Well, I felt like an idiot to do that so I just let it be. After a couple a heavy washes using the WN Brown, I let it all dry before drybrushing both Old Girl and the Base.  I started out with light browns and ended in white. Anything in the middle was just buttah.I draped the last of my VERLINDEN brown netting over a portion of the turret and mounted it to the base. Something felt missing so I went over to the locker and decided to utilize a TAMIYA sign set that included a large decal and wooden sign that basically said, "Dresden that way....Stalingrad this way." That too was given the Future business and oil washed when dried. I just put it down on the base and my world was now complete. The last thing to do was add some small scale railroad chain to the pins on the rear hull. That sealed the deal and another one out the door.
This was the most fun in years with a project that I've had. I would love to do another, the 16th Panzer this time, but I see that the Conversion set is no longer on the TW website. Oh well.......the Afrika Korps may get the nod.  I hope you enjoyed the pics and the story.......until next time, go build something!!!

March 2007 

 Jack Bruno IPMS #25313
Region 5 Coordinator RETIRED
2003 Regional Coordinator of the Year

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