ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Pzkw. III Ausf. F - Smart Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.

6632; Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. F -Smart Kit; 816 parts (551 in grey styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 links, 26 etched brass, 23 clear styrene); price not known but estimated at US$52.50

Advantages: first new foray into early model Pzkw. III first of a new series of kits; many options for specific display or finishing; =93Smart Kit=94 minimizes the amount of etched brass required

Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all WWII German fans


In the late 1930s =96 and prior to 22 June 1941 =96 there was a good deal of cooperation between the Soviet and German military. At one of the exhibitions the Germans proudly showed off a production version of the Pzkw. III tank. The Soviets reported back they were astounded by the vehicle. First off, they laughed at it as overengineered =96 it was a tank, not a luxury automobile =96 with even things like chromed posts for the adjustable crew sets! They also shook their heads at wasting space for a crew of five men.

While history provided the Soviets were wrong on crew size =96 later admitting five men gave you a higher chance of survival on the battlefield and better chance to repair your own tank =96 they were eventually proven right as German tank production did prove to be overengineered and they could never catch up with either the Soviets or the Americans,

The Pzkw. III Ausf. F was the first full-bore production version of the tank starting in 1939 and eventually 435 were built. The tank equipped seven panzer divisions during the French campaign but was soon found to be wanting due to its weak 3.7 cm cannon. While some were eventually upgraded to the better 5 cm gun, most were not and the last ones noted in combat were still in service in 1944.

A number of years ago DML released =93Imperial=94 series kits of the early model Pzkw. III tanks but these were based on the Gunze Sangyo molds and tried to get four variants (B, C. D, E) from one kit. Now, using the excellent basis of their original Pzkw. III Ausf. J =93Smart Kit=94, they are starting over with the early models and this is the first of the early Pzkw. III kits to be released.

While about half of the kit consists of =93carry-over=94 sprues from earlier Pzkw. III, Pzkw. IV and StuG III kits, there are seven new sprues and three modified ones. Once again 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 =93Calvin and Hobbes=94 dictum of =93directions are for sissies=94 doe= s NOT apply to kits this complex!)

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. 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 three different finishing options: Pz,Rgt. 3, 2nd Panzer Division, Greece 1941 (grey, white 123); 1st Panzer Division, Russia 1941 (grey, white 300); and 14th Panzer Division, Eastern Front

1941 (grey, yellow 233). All markings are targeted and from Cartograf.

Overall while not as popular as the late-war variants (as they are more colorful) returning to the early models of this =93workhorse=94 tank is an excellent choice and will permit DML to =93complete the record=94 of Pzkw. III variants.

Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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