Tamiya 1/48 Panzer III ausf N
KIT #: 32543
PRICE: $34.00 MSRP  ($25.50 at www.greatmodels.com )
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Metal chassis


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.


This 2007 kit (Made in the Philippines) continues with Tamiya's very well done 1/48 armor kits. This one has the metal chassis that some like and some don't and elicit ambivalence in most. I'm not sure if I can go with 'enhances accuracy' as stated on the box top, but then, I'm not into advertising hype.

What I can tell you is that you get a lot of parts in this one. Molded in tan plastic, there are seven sprues plus the metal chassis.  One sprue, with the road wheels and link and run tracks, is duplicated. Though one thinks of Tamiya kits as having a lot of detail already molded in place, this one has quite a few bits like tools, lights and other small pieces as separate. There are not a lot of options, but one of them is the ability to add on the side skirts to the hull and to the turret. In fact, doing this adds five more construction steps to the kit. As adding the skirts interferes with some of the parts, the instructions do tell you not to add those bits earlier in the sequence.

Speaking of instructions, these are superbly done as are all modern Tamiya instructions. There is still the annoying tendency to only quote Tamiya paints, but most modelers are savvy enough to realize what others are applicable. There are two markings options. One is the box art tank from the 3rd Regiment, 2nd Division at Oryol in the Summer of 1943. This and the other option are in overall panzer yellow, though this one with the side skirts has a radom pattern of green sprayed on it. The other tank is from PzAbt 501 in Tunisia during late 1942.

Gotta say this is another superb 1/48 kit from our friends at Tamiya. I've built more of these scale kits than 1/35 as they take up less room and are still an enjoyment to construct.



February 2010

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