Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6543; P z.Bef.Wg III Ausf. J with Schuerzen - Smart Kit; 594 parts (536 in grey sty rene, 37 etched brass, 19 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs); pre-orde r price US$58.99 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: The J kit now with skirts and a command antenna fit
Disadvantages: kit does not come with Magic Track single links, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
Following on the heels of its recent Beobachtungswagen Panzer III kit, DML has now released an Ausf. J command version with schuerzen skirting. This kit also replaces the previous 38 cm single link tracks with single track r uns.
According to Jentz 104 Pzkw. III Ausf. J were converted by removing the bo w machine gun and one ammo rack, adding the long range radios, a TSF 1 peri scope to the turret, and in some cases fitting them with Schuerzen side shi elds. This took place in early 1943.
As with its base kit, the hull pan is similar to that from the StuG but ha s the side hatches and other detail changes. It retains the full torsion ba r suspension from the other kit and the detailed suspension components and muffler assembly. As with the StuG all hatches are separate with some inter ior details and can be positioned as the modeler chooses. All engine deck v entilators are spaced and mounted on separate frames to get the correct app earance and "lift" needed to give an accurate representation of the origina l.
The kit provides only the early model's L/42 gun barrel with its "slide mo lded" hollow bore with a complete breech assembly. Options also include bla ckout or clear headlight lenses and all view ports and viewers may be posit ioned open or closed as well. No machine guns are provided other than the t urret weapon to match with its prototype.
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 .
Some modelers are now learning to love the new DML DS plastic tracks and t his kit provides them; others hate the fact they tend to be stretchy and ar e somewhat tedious to have to shorten and fit to the kit. As the old curse goes, be careful of what you wish for as you may get it! (I still think DML should take a cue from Trumpeter and provide both sets in the kit and let the modeler choose which one he prefers.)
This kit adds the "N" sprue which is the generic DML command antenna sprue , and also provides the etched brass "crow's foot" bits to mount on them. T hese are always a bit fiddly to assemble but look good if done properly.
Research and drawing was by Hirohisa Takada, Shin Okada, Minoru Igarashi, and the Dragon engineering team. Technical consultants were Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides four different finishing options: s.Pz.Rgt. 656, Rgt. Nac hr. Zaporozhe Bridgehead 1943 (three-color camouflage, RNZ with personal ve hicle name "Pampas", black crosses); Unidentified Unit, Russia 1943 (green over sand, no markings); Unidentified Unit, Russia 1943 (whitewash with gre y bleedthrough, black crosses); and Pz.Rgt. 7, North Africa 1943(sand overa ll, no markings). A tiny sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall this now provides a mid-production command vehicle for the Panzer III family.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.