ARM: Review - 1/35 scale Pzkw. III Ausf F Op Seeloewe

Kit Review: 1/35 scale Kit No. 71 (Dragon Models
Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No. 6717); Pz.Kpfw. III (3.7 cm)
Ausf. F =93Operation Seeloewe=94 -Smart Kit; 854 parts (578 in grey
styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 links, 26 etched brass, 25 clear styrene, 4
steel wire, 3 DS Plastic, 2 pre-bent steel wire); pre-order price US
$77.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: unique variant of early model Pzkw. III; use of DS Plastic
hoses permits either stowed or =93in action=94 poses
Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint
a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German Panzer III fans
As countries mechanized in the 1930s many soon came to the conclusion
they would have to either deal with amphibious landings or water
crossings. As the old farmer said, =93cast iron sinks=94, and so all of
them understood as designed tanks cannot float. So each nation came to
its own conclusions on how to address the problem.
The US and Japan opted for pontoons to allow the tanks to float, but
this resulted in either having to have specially designed lightweight
tanks (Japan) or enormous floats (US) to work. The USSR opted for very
lightweight amphibious tanks, but they had minimal combat value other
than reconnaissance. Britain opted for a retractable waterproof canvas
skirt and propellers driven by the tracks, but this proved to be
fragile and only really effective in light seas or calm water.
The Germans basically conceded that the tanks would sink, so their
approach was to waterproof the tank and fit it with a snorkel system
and pressure relief exhaust so it could operate autonomously under
water. For their invasion of England that was planned for late 1940
(after the pesky RAF had been eliminated) the Germans converted 168
Pzkw. III Ausf. F tanks to use this system; these were dubbed
=93Tauchpanzer=94 or diving tanks.
The system consisted of a number of seals to prevent water leakage
into the hull and a pressure relief exhaust fitting that prevented
water backflow into the engine. A floating snorkel buoy was developed
that was fitted with a rubber hose that could stretch up to 15 meters
in length for air intake; to avoid taking in the exhaust gases which
would bubble up and also to avoid problems with a high sea state there
was an extended intake tube on top of the snorkel buoy, as well as a
short radio antenna for communications. For navigation purposes
underwater a gyrocompass was fitted for the driver.
The tanks were to be driven off a ramp from a landing ship into the
water and then driven to land, where the seals would be removed so the
tanks could then join in combat. But after the cancellation of
=93Seeloewe=94 at the end of September 1940 the tanks were then converted
to a simpler system to provide for limited water crossing capability
of only about five meters for use in the invasion of Russia. The best
known use of the vehicles was on 22 June 1941 when the modified Pzkw.
III tanks of the 18th Panzer Division crossed the Bug River.
The best solution for all concerned was later proven to be either
dedicated landing craft to get standard production tanks ashore on
landings or simply capturing or building bridges over rivers.
DML=92s boutique affiliate has now produced an
interesting kit of one of the original =93Tauchpanzer=94 Pzkw. III
conversions. They have modified their Pzkw. III Ausf. F kit (No. 6632)
by adding 100 new parts to the kit. These include the depth gauges
(apparently fitted for testing), the snorkel buoy and its hose, racks
to stow them, and the mantlet and cupola flexible canvas seals.
As with all DML Panzer III kits the suspension begins with five of
the original seven =93mini-sprues=94 and three new ones provided for the
early model =93porthole=94 drivers and more complex idlers, plus newly
molded shock absorbers.
The hull pan is one with 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
earlier kits 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 =93lift=94 needed to give an accurate representation of the
original. A completely new engine deck is provided for the early
variants of the Pzkw. III with this kit.
The kit includes the rudiments of an interior, but unlike many
Russian or Ukrainian kits the details they provide are highly accurate
as far as they go. This should please the =93after market boys=94 as there
is more than enough room for a nice resin interior here and enough
ports and hatches to see it. The gun follows most of the DML standard
design concepts and faithfully replicates the internal mantlet as well
as the rest of the small details of this petite weapon. But externally
this one has a one-piece DS Plastic sealing cover.
This kit does not provide the early Pzkw. IV cupola but instead has a
new cover and a DS Plastic flexible mount with clear styrene inserts
for the commander=92s cupola. The hatch covers are closed on this kit.
The kit comes with 36 cm =93Magic Track=94 single-links, and while not
wrong many modelers appreciate the DS plastic tracks as they speed
The snorkel assembly includes the float and its transport mounts for
fitting to the engine deck, the hose and mounts. No antenna is
provided for the snorkel buoy, so the modeler will have to provide one
on his own. Modification parts for the standard tank include fender
tie-downs (parts V36/37) and headlight guards (Q20) as well as a
fitting for connecting the hose to the turret (Q15).
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides one finishing option: a test version of the vehicle
at the Puttlos Test Center in 1940 which is Panzergrau with the very
colorful depth gauges fitted. Happily a set of Cartograf decals are
provided for the latter.
Overall this is a truly unique conversion of the Panzer III and while
expensive is a really interesting model.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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