Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6631; Pz. Kpfw. III Ausf. E France 1940 - Smart Kit; 827 parts (560 in grey styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 links, 26 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 2 prebent steel wire); price US$47.95 via DragonUSA Online; also available as Kit No. 6631S with figure set No. 6654, Ghost Division Tank Crew Blitzkrieg 1940, for $52.95 from the same source
Advantagesw: changes or adds 46 parts from Kit No. 6632 (Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. F) kit
Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
The Pzkw. III Ausf. E was the first variant in the family to essentially =93get it right=94 and have a production run of more than 30 vehicles with 96 being built. It was also the last of the prewar Pzkw. III designs with the last ones produced in October 1939.
As the vehicles entered into service they soon were found to be wanting in the way of armament, and as soon as later models with the short 5 cm gun began to roll of the production lines the survivors were either rearmed with that gun and given applique armor protection or used for conversions into armored observation posts.
This is the second new build kit of an early model Pzkw. III to come out from DML, and many modelers are hoping they keep moving =93backwards=94 to the earlier production variants.
This kit changes 46 parts from the previous Pzkw. III Ausf. F (No.6632) kit, mostly being a new set of road wheels, fenders, and the early model turret shell. As with the F DML requires the modeler to drill out holes in the kit for specific parts, as well as calls out options. Alas, theses are tucked into the very busy directions and thus the modeler must be attentive to ensure he does not miss them.
The suspension begins with four 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 as well as replacing the road wheels with the new items.
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. One amazing thing (which shows why the Soviets laughed at it) is the huge amount of room in the early turret with the 3.7 cm gun. 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.
The cupola provided is from an early Pzkw. IV kit and comes with a number of options and two different types of view block mountings. Covers can be displayed open or closed.
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 construction.
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides seven different finishing options: 1st Panzer Division, France 1940 (brown over grey, white 219); 5th Panzer Division, Greece 1941 (grey, yellow 124); Pz.Rgt. 36, 4th Panzer Division, France 1940 (brown over grey, white 156); Unidentified Unit, Poland 1939, (brown over grey, white crosses, no number); Unidentified Unit, France 1940 (brown over grey, white 332); Unidentified Unit, France 1940 (brown over grey, white 132); and II/Pz.Rgt. 1, 1st Panzer Division, France 1940 (brown over grey, white 700 or 701). All markings are targeted and from Cartograf.
Overall it is nice to see DML continuing with the early war variants and it is hoped they continue to go =93backwards=94 along the line.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.