|PRICE:||3300 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Kit bought 'used' and came with no decals|
The Panzerkampfwagen III, commonly known as the Panzer III, was a medium tank developed in the 1930s by Germany, and was used extensively in World War II. The official German ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 141. It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside and support the similar Panzer IV, which was originally designed for infantry support. However, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, more powerful anti-tank guns were needed, and since the Panzer IV had more development potential with a larger turret ring, it was redesigned to mount the long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun. The Panzer III effectively swapped roles with the Panzer IV, as from 1942 the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 that was better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ceased in 1943. Nevertheless, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun until the end of the war.
The most common variant of the Panzer III was the ausf J. This had the hull and turret front armor increased to 50mm and had spaced armor placed around the gun mantlet. When the larger 5cm KwK L/60 gun was installed, it was redesignated the Ausf L.
The Panzer III is a staple of most armor kit lines in all scales. The Tamiya kit is one of the best in terms of ease of construction. Like all Tamiya kits, the builder will find that they have not received a 600 part kit as with some other companies, such as Dragon. While this may be seen as lacking in fine detail, when the kits are done, it is difficult for most to tell the difference.
This particular kit was bought 'as new' from a Facebook vendor. However it was missing the decals and the vendor has refused to reply to inquiries about replacements, eventually blocking my e-mails and disappearing from the site. While aftermarket decals are available, it is irritating to find someone who is so concerned about keeping his dollars that he goes to such lengths.
When building the suspension, the mounting points are already molded onto the hull so one simply installs the arms and shocks before adding the road wheels and the return rollers. The sprocket is held in place by a polycap so you can move it when installing the single piece vinyl tracks.
The upper hull has the spaced armor appropriate for this variant along with various hatches and pioneer tools. When all that is built up, then it is attached to the lower hull. Construction then moves to the gun and the turret. There is a full breech assembly provided, though the rest of the interior is barren. The upper and side hatches can be posed open if you so desire. Tamiya does provide a tank commander figure to install in the upper hatch if you are so inclined. Also included are spare track links to install on the front of the hull. This was common practice and though to add a bit more protection.
Instructions are well done as you'd expect from Tamiya. All painting info is in Tamiya colors. If your kit has decals, you can do one of three options. All tanks are in a basic panzer yellow with the box art tank from sPzAbt 502 in Russia during late 1942 having green squiggles over the the upper and side surfaces. The other options are with 10th Panzer division in Tunisia during February 1943 and an 18th Panzer division vehicle in Russia during 1942.
I know that this one will turn into a nice model as I've seen several of them built in the past. If you don't want to deal with the frustration of hundreds of tiny pieces or individual track links then this is for you.
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