Dragon 1/35 SdKfz 141/2 Panzer III ausf N with Schürzen
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
On January 11, 1934, following specifications laid down by Heinz Guderian, the Army Weapons Department drew up plans for a medium tank with a maximum weight of 24,000 kg and a top speed of 35 km/h. It was intended as the main tank of the German Panzer divisions, capable of engaging and destroying opposing tank forces.
Daimler-Benz, Krupp, MAN, and Rheinmetall all produced prototypes. Testing of the prototypes took place in 1936 and 1937, leading to the Daimler-Benz design being chosen for production. The first Panzer III A came off the assembly line in May of 1937, and a total of ten, two of which were unarmed, were produced in 1937. Mass production of the tank, then in model III F, began in 1939.
Between 1937 and 1940, attempts were made to standardize parts between Krupp's Panzer IV and Daimler-Benz's Panzer III.
Much of the early development work on the Panzer III was a quest for a suitable suspension. Several varieties of leaf-spring suspensions were tried on Ausf A through D before the torsion-bar suspension of the Ausf E was standardized. The Panzer III, along with the Soviet KV heavy tank, was one of the first tanks to use this suspension design.
The Panzer III was intended as the main battle tank of the German forces. It outclassed most of the tanks of the time However, when it initially met the Soviet KV and T-34 tank designs it proved to be inferior. To meet the growing need to counter the T-34 the Panzer III was upgunned with the 50mm KwK 39 L/60 and received more armor which made it a very formidable opponent for the T-34. This still failed to address the problem caused by the KV tanks though, so in 1942, several self propelled guns as well as the longer barreled 75mm Kwk 40 L/43 Panzer IV Ausf F2 and the Panzer IV Ausf G were developed and produced.
In 1942, the Ausf N model of the Panzer III (and the subject of this kit) was created with an L/24 75 mm gun, a low-velocity gun designed for anti-infantry and close-support work. For defensive purposes however, it did carry a few rounds of hollow charge ammunition which could penetrate 70-100mm of armor depending on the round's variant but these were strictly used for self-defensive purposes. These tanks also started sporting side skirts to help alleviate the effectiveness of anti-tank rounds by causing them to detonate before actually hitting the tank proper.
Adding to their growing line of tanks with Schürzen (side skirts) comes this Panzer III ausf N. Typical of the Smart Kit line of products, this one has everything the tank fan needs to build an excellent replica without having the added expense of aftermarket parts. One of the keys of this kit is the link on link Smart Tracks, giving the best representation of real track links possible. Like all new Dragon kits, there are new and upgrade parts included and I'll let the Dragon USA folks tell you about that.
- Newly tooled Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N w/authentic details
- Side-skirt armor produced in metal for scale thickness
- Side-skirt armor plates can be installed separately
- Newly tooled side-skirt bracket accurately designed
- Newly tooled fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Rifling inside gun barrel
- Gun sleeve has fine detail
- Gun shield is newly tooled for Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N
- New turret roof rendered w/turret-skirt armor brackets
- Add-on armor tailored to 7.5cm Kw.K. L/24 gun mantlet
- Turret-skirt newly reproduced w/realistic detail
- Slide-molded stowage bin specific to Pz.Kpfw.III
- Turret made from 3-directional slide molds
- Brake cooling inlets newly produced at the frontal plate
- Includes hollowed out undercut on turret bottom
- Side hatches can be assembled open/closed w/interior details
- Extra armor on fighting compartment front plate
- Brackets for extra hull top armor
- Air intake covers w/mounts realistically reproduced
- New injection-molded tow cable for engine deck
- Slide-molded engine deck for Pz.III Ausf.N newly reproduced
- One-piece slide-molded lower hull w/exquisite detail
- Fully detailed weld seams on hull bottom
- Slide-molded hydrulic shock absorbers are well detailed
- Detailed suspension swing arms
- 40cm Magic Tracks
- Idler wheels w/photo-etched parts
- Detailed road wheels and sprockets
- Final-drive housing covers are separate parts for maximum detail
- Floor treadplate pattern is correctly done
- Two types of muffler mount provided as options
- Two types of exhaust pipe included as options
- Jack reproduced in multiple parts
- Injection-molded on-vehicle tools provided w/clasps
Instructions are superb, just as you'd expect. Markings are provided for five tanks, all in a base color of panzer yellow with either brown, green or both camouflage in various patterns. Starting from the top left is one from PzBrig Norway in 1945, then PzAbt 212 on the Western Front in 1944. On the bottom row is 2.PzDiv with another from 6 PzDiv followed by a 18PzDiv vehicle; all three lower vehicles from Kursk in 1943.
With over 700 parts, this will not be a quick build, but the beauty of the Smart Kit series is that everything you need is in the box. The end result will be a superlative reproduction.
Thanks to me and my fondness for anything different from the norm for this one.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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