|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III Sd Kfz. 141 (abbreviated PzKpfw III) translating as "armoured fighting vehicle". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside the infantry-supporting Panzer IV; however, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, stronger anti-tank guns were needed. Since the Panzer IV had a bigger turret ring, the role was reversed. The Panzer IV mounted the long barreled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun and engaged in tank-to-tank battles. The Panzer III became obsolete in this role and for most purposes was supplanted by the Panzer IV. From 1942, the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24, better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ended in 1943. However, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III until the end of the war.
The Panzer III Ausf. H was a minor modification to the Ausf. G, which was armed with the larger 5cm KwK 38 L/42 gun late in its production run. The G had more armor on the gun mantlet than the previous F variant. For the H, bolt-on armor was added to front and rear hull (30 mm + 30 mm plates). 308 produced in 1940-1941.
I seem to recall in the distant past that one of Dragon's most touted kits was the then new Panzer III ausf E, which hit the modeling world with a bang. The kit quickly sold out at various stores and the rest is history. While things have improved steadily over the years, that kit seemed to be a major goal.
- Newly tooled 40cm Magic Tracks
- Newly tooled one-piece slide-molded lower hull w/exquisite detail
- Newly tooled idler wheels
- Accurate newly tooled drive sprockets
- Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.H realistically produced w/authentic detail
- Complete gun assembly reproduced w/full detail
- 5cm Kw.K L/42 gun w/delicate detail
- Gun barrel w/rifling and mantlet are slide molded
- 3-directional slide molded gun sleeve for greater detail
- Slide-molded engine deck for Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.H Early Production
- Engine hatches can be assembled open/closed
- Armor plate realistically presented w/weld seams
- Injection molded tow cables for engine deck w/cable brackets included
- Beautifully detailed lifting hooks
Hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom included
- Turret realistically formed by 3-directional slide molds
- Fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Rear hull accurately tooled w/smoke candle rack
- Turret slide hatches can be assembled open/closed w/interior detail
- Gearbox access hatches finely recreated
- Full details on lower-hull sides
- Fully detailed weld seams on hull bottom
- Starter crank port can be assembled open/closed
- Detailed track tension adjuster
- Fine-drive housing covers are separate parts for maximum detail
- Road wheels w/accurate details
- Slide-molded torsion bars included
- Injection-molded on-vehicle tools have clasp details
- Slide-molded cooling-air intake
- Photo-etched air-intake grills
- Injection-molded fender catches accurately depicted
- Slide-molded hydraulic shock absorbers are fully detailed
- Detailed suspension swing arms
- Exhaust pipes w/hollow ends
- Toolbox w/padlock produced by slide mold
Markings are for five tanks, all in panzer grey and all from 1941. They differ only in hull numbers, size, and placement. One is unidentified, one is with 1 Panzer Division, one is from 2 Panzer Division in the Balkans while another is in Greece with the same unit. Finally, one is with 7 Panzer Division in Russia. Instructions are well drawn and pretty crowded so one will need to take care when assembling the kit. There are bits to be removed and holes to be drilled so keep an eye on those.
In all, it is really a great kit. It offers all the detail most could want and appears to be quite accurate. It is an early/mid war tank so those concentrating on that time period will want this one in their collection.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can get yours at your local hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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