Dragon 1/35 Pz.Kpfw. III ausf J (initial production)

KIT #: 6463
PRICE: $47.50 SRP
DECALS: three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart Kit

HISTORY

The Panzer III was Germanyís main battle tank for the first couple of years of WWII, with earlier Panzer IV variants serving primarily as close-support weapons. However, after Pz.Kpfw.III tanks began encountering more heavily armored T-34 and KV-1 tanks during the invasion of Russia, existing Panzer III models were found to be inadequate for the task. One solution was to up-gun the tank with a longer and more powerful 5cm KwK 38 L/42 cannon, and to add more armor to the vehicle. Thus the Panzer III Ausf.J was born. It featured 50mm-thick solid armor plates on the front and rear of the hull, an increase from the previous 30mm-thick armor plates. Among other modifications, the new armor resulted in a ball-mount MG being fitted on the front superstructure and a redesigned driverís visor. A total of 482 of these initial version tanks were produced starting in March and ending in December 1941.

THE KIT

Dragon's initial production of the Panzer III caused quite a stir amongst armor fans. It was lauded at the time as being the best and most accurate Panzer III kit yet produced. As time has moved on, Dragon has made updates and improvements over that original kit and the latest version is the ausf J initial production. Features of this kit are:

- Newly tooled slide-molded engine deck for Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.J Initial Production
- Engine hatches can be assembled open or closed
- 5cm Kw.K L/42 gun w/delicate detail
- Complete gun assembly reproduced w/full detail
- Gun barrel and mantlet are slide molded
- 3-directional slide-molded gun sleeve for greater detail
- new injection-molded tow cable for engine deck w/cable mount included
- Hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom included
- Gearbox access hatch finely designed
- Photo-etched mesh included
- Air deflector accurately represented
- Slide-molded cooling air intake
- Photo-etched air-intake grills
- Side hatches can be assembled open or closed w/interior details
- Idler wheels w/photo-etched parts
- Detailed track tension adjuster
- Slide-molded stowage bin w/fine details can be assembled open or closed
- Fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Turret realistically made by 3-directional slide molds
- One-piece slide-molded lower hull w/exquisite detail
- Lower hull sides come w/full detail
- Fully detailed weld seams on hull bottom
- Slide-molded torsion bars included
- Slide-molded hydraulic shock absorbers are well detailed
- Detailed suspension swing arms
- 40cm Magic Tracks
- Final-drive housing covers are separate parts for maximum detail
- Accurate sprocket wheels
- Road wheels w/accurate detail
- Injection-molded on-vehicle tools have clasp detail
- Exhaust pipes w/hollow ends
- Notek headlight w/exquisite detail
- Toolbox w/padlock produced by slide mold

All of that amounts to nearly 700 parts. Many of those are, to be sure, a result of the Magic Tracks individual link track system. Instructions are comprehensive and show any optional bits and pieces. I like that the left and right tracks are not the same color so that makes it easier to assemble them properly. Markings are provided for three tanks. All are in overall panzer grey. Two are with the 2.Pz.Div in Russia during 1941 while the third is with the 11.Pz.Div during the same time. The markings for these are more colorful than the norm for tanks and are provided on a nicely printed decal sheet.

CONCLUSIONS

Tank fans will be pleased that this sub-variant has been produced and it adds to a growing catalogue of military vehicles. From what I've seen, this is a popular tank as the LHS sold theirs quite quickly.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

August 2009

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.

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