Dragon 1/35 Panzer III ausf M w/Wading Muffler

KIT #: 6558
PRICE: $56.00 SRP
MARKINGS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart kit with photo etch parts


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.

The Ausf.M was successor to the Ausf.L, and it shared the same 5cm KwK39 L/60 main gun. Among its modifications was a deep-wading muffler with a series of associated hatch seals that allowed fording of water obstacles up to a depth of 1.3m. This performance represented a significant fording improvement over earlier Panzer IIIs. The hull-mounted smoke generators were also replaced with three 90mm NbK dischargers mounted either side of the turret. A total of 250 new Ausf.M tanks were produced from October 1942 to February 1943.


Though I do not think they have done them all, Dragon continues to fill in the blanks in their extensive Panzer III series. I can recall the hoopla made when they release their first Panzer III, the E version several years ago. Since then, they have continued to upgrade and update the molds. This one is a Smart kit with the individual track links. At a mere 750 parts, it is one of their mid-range kits in terms of difficulty.

Like all their other Panzer III kits, this one has a number of options, most of which simply pin down when during the production run the tank was made. Below is a full list of details.

- Slide-molded engine deck for Pz.III Ausf.M
- Water-resistant muffler w/realistic detail
- Two types of exhaust pipe included as options
- Two types of muffler mount provided as options
- Optional add-on armor for gun mantlet
- Top plate for spaced armor over mantlet
- Photo-etched parts provided as option for mantlet add-on armor
- Turret made by 3-direcitonal slide molds
- Commander's hatch w/interior detail
- Direct sighting post can be made from photo-etched part
- Clear parts for vision port glass
- Gun barrels are slide molded
- Slide-molded recuperator housing w/great detail
- 3-directional slide-molded gun sleeve for greater detail
- 5cm Kw.K L/60 gun w/delicate detail
- Optional brackets for extra armor on hull top
- Optional extra armor on fighting compartment front plate
- Side hatches can be assembled open/closed w/interior details
- Finely detailed rear turret hooks and stowage bin brackets
- Injection-molded tow cables for engine deck
- Incorporates toothed ring in turret interior
- Access panel w/great design
- Delicate brake-cooling inlets produced for frontal plate
- Commander's cupola realistically recreates structural details
- Cupola vision blocks can be assembled open/closed
- Complete gun assembly w/full detail
- Includes hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom
- Turret side hooks especially designed w/undercut details
- One-piece slide-molded lower hull is superbly detailed
- Lower hull sides come w/full detail
- Finely detailed hull bottom weld seams
- Slide-molded torsion bars included
- Cooling air intake cover included
- Toolbox w/padlock produced by slide mold
- Slide-molded stowage bin w/fine details can be assembled open/closed
- Jack reproduced in multiple parts
- Slide-molded hydraulic shock absorbers extremely well detailed
- Detailed suspension swing arms
- Air intake covers w/mounts realistically reproduced
- Fenders w/pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Injection-molded on-vehicle tools provided w/clasps
- Final-drive housing covers are separate parts for maximum detail
- Accurate sprocket wheels
- Road wheels w/accurate details
- Idler wheels w/photo-etched parts
- Detailed track tension adjuster
- 40cm Magic Tracks

This kit provides five different markings options. A winter wash vehicle from 4./Panzer Regiment 'Totenkopf at Kharkov in 1943, another from the 3 Pz.Div in South Russia during 1943, another more densely camouflaged one from 23 Pz Div at the same place. An overall panzer yellow version from 3 Pz.Div at Prochorovka in 1943, and a grey version from 8 Pz.Reg 'Das Reich' at Kharkov in 1943. The small decal sheet is well printed and should go on without any problems.


Dragon has been providing a nearly bewildering number of variants and ones with special gear and this kit continues in that trend. Like all of Dragon's armor kits, this one needs to be built carefully, but will result in a fine replica when finished.

November 2011

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or have them order it for you.

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