ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Pz Beob Wg III Ausf. F

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6792; P anzerbeobachtungswagen III Ausf. F (Sd.Kfz. 143) - Smart Kit; 612 parts (55
5 parts in grey styrene, 32 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 2 DS plastic tr ack runs); pre-order price US$58.99 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: first new foray into the supplemental Pzkw. III tanks; many opt ions for specific display or finishing; "Smart Kit" minimizes the amount of etched brass required
Disadvantages: kit does not come with Magic Track single link tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
    In the 1950s, we had a cartoon character named Yogi Bear whose tag line wa s that he was "smarter than the average bear". So it was with the Germans w hen they developed their tank families.
    Unlike the rest of the nations - which only later on developed dedicated c ommand and support tanks - the Germans saw the need for such vehicles early one. While higher echelon command and control was carried out using specia lly equipped halftracks like the Sd.Kfz. 251/3 and /6, they also adapted ta nks for special purposes. The most common one were the Befehlswagen or comm and tanks and the Beobachtungswagen or observation tanks.
    The Pz Beob Wg III Ausf. F was a conversion of the Ausf. F line tank made in 1943 in which the following actions were taken: the 3.7 cm main gun was removed and replaced with a dummy; a ball mount for a 7.92mm machine gun wa s fitted in the turret front; the hull machine gun was removed and the port covered over; and radios for communications with artillery units were fitt ed to the tank in addition to the armored vehicle radios. Normal allocation was two for every Hummel or Wespe battery. 262 total vehicles (based on Au sf. E to Ausf. H chassis) were converted.
    Due to its unique appearance the observer tanks are always a popular conve rsion from a standard Pzkw. III, and now after long prodding DML has releas ed a nice new kit of one. This model takes their nicely done Ausf. F kit an d adds or replaces 73 parts and adds a new sheet of etched brass.
    As with all DML Pzkw. II kits the suspension begins with five "mini-sprues " and three new ones provided for the early model "porthole" drivers and mo re complex idlers, plus newly molded shock absorbers.
    The hull pan is one with the side hatches and other detail changes. It ret ains the full torsion bar suspension from the other kit and the detailed su spension components and muffler assembly. As with the earlier kits all hatc hes are separate with some interior details and can be positioned as the mo deler chooses. All engine deck ventilators are spaced and mounted on separa te frames to get the correct appearance and "lift" needed to give an accura te 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 in the turret, but in this c ase as it is the observer's vehicle they are of no use (gun breech et al) a nd so there is nothing to show inside the turret. The cupola provided is fr om an early Pzkw. IV kit and comes with a number of options and two differe nt types of view block mountings. Covers can be displayed open or closed.
    The kit comes with 36 cm DS Plastic track runs, and while not wrong many m odelers appreciate the Magic Track single links. As I have done in the past , perhaps DML should include BOTH sets in the kit and let the modeler decid e which one to use!
    Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    The kit provides two different finishing options: Abt. 500, Eastern Front 1943 (sand with green blotches, no markings save an L and 500 on the left f ron fender); Unidentified Unit, 1942 (panzer grey with black crosses on hul l sides). All markings are targeted and from Cartograf.
    Overall this is a popular conversion and most modelers will appreciate DML doing it for them! This is another nice"complete the record" Pzkw. III var iants.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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