Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited (cyber-hobby.com)1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6431; Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. N Smart Kit; 838 parts (565 in grey styrene, 216 "Magic Track" links, 42 etched brass, 15 clear styrene): price via Dragon USA US$41.99
Advantages: builds one of the more asked-for variants of the Panzer III; may be made with or without desert options; "Smart Kit" minimizes the amount of etched brass required
Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans, and anyone doing a Tiger I diorama
F I R S T L O O K
DML continues to release variants on its line of "Smart Kits" and now adds another entry to its line of Pzkw. III kits. Following the Ausf. J and the StuG III Ausf. G, this kit offers the last production variant, the Ausf. N, which mounted the L/24 gun of the early Pzkw. IV tanks. Designed to provide heavier firepower for infantry support, its first primary role was as escort tank for the German Tiger I. That was a rather hazardous tasks, for the Soviets note in their writings how many of these tanks were usually lost or damaged in protecting the Tigers from Soviet infantry and tank forces.
The old Tamiya Pzkw. III kit from 1971 was originally offered as being able to built up as nearly any variant of the Pzkw. III from the Ausf. J to the Ausf. N. but did not have the right detail parts for most of the variants in that kit. Now DML has released this one, based on its nice Ausf. J, and which mixes the parts from the DML Pzkw. IV Ausf. F with 28 parts new to this kit and their nice set of etched- brass enhanced jerry cans.
The hull pan is a later one (as most of the Ns were built from Ausf. L chassis) minus the side hatches and other detail changes. It retains the full torsion bar suspension from the other kit and the detailed suspension components and muffler assembly. As with the StuG all hatches are separate with some interior details and can be positioned as the modeler chooses. All engine deck ventilators are spaced and mounted on separate frames to get the correct appearance and "lift" needed to give an accurate representation of the original.
The kit provides some of the options for spaced armor arrays as well as the choice of locations for the racks for the jerry cans - either on the rear edge of the engine deck or on the front part of the turret. Options also include blackout or clear headlight lenses and the "kugel" mount for the bow machine gun. All viewports and viewers may be positioned open or closed as well.
Once again this kit includes the rudiments of an interior, which accurate as far as they go. This should please the "after market boys" as there is more than enough room for a nice resin interior here and enough ports and hatches to see it.
Once more this kit offers the DML "Magic Link" single link 40 cm tracks. Also the kit only comes with a modicum of etched brass - mostly grilles, brackets and the track guides for the idler wheels.
The kit provides four finishing options: s.Pz.Abt. 501, Tunisia1942/43 (sand overall, white 07); s.Pz.Abt. 501, Tunisia 1942/43 (sand overall, white 124); s.Pz.Abt. 501, Tunisia 1943 (Sand overall, black 242); s.Pz.Abt. 501, Tunisia 1943(sand overall, black 832). It would seem that for some reason DML was in a rut! Note that extra numbers are included on the sheet, but no information is provided. All markings are targeted and from Cartograf.
Overall this is another good choice and with the popularity of Tigers does offer some opportunities to "branch out!"
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.