ARM: Review - 1/35 scale Pzkw. III Ausf. L Trop

Kit Review: 1/35 scale kit No. 44 (Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6587); Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. L
Tp - Smart Kit; 751 parts (490 in grey styrene, 216 “Magic Track” links, 26 etched brass, 19 clear styrene); retail price about US$49.95
Advantages: Basically late (KwK L/60) Pzkw. III Ausf. J; “Smart Kit” minimizes the amount of etched brass required
Disadvantages: kit changes out but one sprue from Kit 6394; does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
    After experiments to mount the Pzkw. IV turret on the Pzkw. III chassis proved that it could not carry the weight, the Germans then upgraded the Pzkw. III Ausf. H to the Ausf. J. When the Js had to be upgraded with applique armor and other modifications, production continued as the Ausf. L with only minor changes to the design. Over 650 of that model were built.
    This kit – if I interpret it correctly the “Tp” stands for “tropicalized” or modified for use in North Afrika - is based directly on DML Kit No. 6394 and only changes out a single sprue covering the engine deck parts. (Oddly enough this is labeled “Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. J Initial Production”!) The former kit used the direct parts from the StuG III kit, whereas this one adds a news sprue with slightly modified vent covers and layout. As a result the kit shares four sprues and the “Magic Track” links with the StuG kit and also borrows a few sprues from the Pzkw. IV Ausf. F “Smart Kit” as well (mostly the cupola and clear ones.)
    The hull pan is similar to that from the StuG but has 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 a number of options to include the complete spaced armor array but in this molding only provides the L/60 gun. The barrel is “slide molded” with hollow bore. 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.
    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 “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 again the kit comes with “Magic Track” single links. I recently saw someone ask why I list that as a disadvantage to the kit. It is not wrong, and the DML “Magic Track” links are quite popular with many modelers. But most modelers have found out that assembly of single link track is quite repetitive and tedious and now yearn for the days of single track runs. The DS Plastic tracks are excellent as they usually provide the detail of resin with the simplicity of the old vinyl tracks. Preference is with the modeler as to which is better.
    The kit provides but one finishing option: 5th Company, 8th Panzer Regiment, Libya 1942 (brown patches over sand brown, red 5). A tiny sheet of Cartograf decals is provided with the kit.
    Overall this is a better selection than some of the truly bizarre choices and should prove popular.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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